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Why Are Long Domain Names Useful For SEO?

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Why Are Long Domain Names Useful For SEO?

The main attraction of long domain names is that you can stuff your domain name with relevant keywords for your site, and by doing so, increase your site’s ranking in the search engines.

At least that’s the theory.

When the maximum length of domain names was increased to 65 characters I was bombarded with emails from marketing “gurus,” including most of the big names, urging me to hurry up and get in on the “once in a lifetime” marketing opportunity of owning a long domain name.

The way most were talking, you’d be forgiven for thinking that owning a long keyword-rich domain is the key to bringing heavy traffic to your site!

Here is one such example:

“Register domain names that are rich in keywords and drastically increase your search engine rankings! Search engines just eat up the domain names that describe the website and are loaded with keywords!” (emphasis mine).

However, none offered any proof of that, just a “helpful” link to their “preferred” registrar (almost without exception, one of the more expensive services that pays a sizable commission).

I personally think the value of such domain names highly questionable, especially for the average webmaster/mistress. Whilst I don’t prentend to be an expert in getting top search engine rankings, I have spent a lot of time studying them, and not done too badly.

This is what I think:

  • There is no proof that search engines place significant weight on keywords occurring in domain names. It’s only speculation that they look at the URL at all. Some search engines specialists feel that they do, others think not (more likely some search engines do and some don’t).
  • If the search engine does actually check the URL for keywords, then it is unlikely to be important exactly where in the URL they occur. Taking that to be so, almost the same effect can be obtained just by using keywords in your directory and file names.
  • A long domain name stuffed with keywords as search engines ‘fodder’ is certainly not attractive as your main domain name. This means it will only be useful used in conjunction with a doorway page. However, the majority of the major search engines are placing increasing emphasis on link popularity in one form or another. As a result, doorway pages are becoming less and less effective as a marketing tool (you can’t create good link popularity for 20 doorway pages on different domains).

    In addition, many search engines are very unhappy with the massive amount of spam they have been receiving through the misuse of doorways. What is to say they won’t decide that all doorway pages are spam in the near future? So much for the $$$$ you just spent on ugly keyword-dense domain names!

  • If using keywords in the URL had a major effect on rankings (as opposed to a possible minor effect), it would already be a very popular technique even with short domains (just fewer keywords). This is not so. In addition, in a single keyword search, the site returned at the top of the search results would usually contain your search term in it’s domain name. As it is, this only happens occasionally.
  • There is no single ‘trick’, ‘secret’ or whatever to gaining good search engine ranking. It’s a complex process, taking many factors into consideration. In addition, search engines are modifying their algorithms so often at present, that what works today may no longer do so tomorrow.

In my opinion, keyword rich domains may improve your rankings in some search engines, but not by much. The cost of buying a load of domain names would be money better spent on the services of a quality search engines specialist that charges based on results.

This is not to say the availability of longer domain names is of no importance. Previously you may not have been able to use your desired name because it was over 23 characters. Or you may wish to dedicate a domain to a particular product the name of which exceeds the old limit. You might even be able to think up some good ones for possible resale in the future at a substantial profit.

However, short and catchy domain names are better. They are far more memorable. They are easy to type directly into the browser, and there is less possibility of the user making a mistake when doing so. Just compare amazon.com, or even amazonbooks.com, with amazonbooksandmusicstore.com!

Although it doesn’t hold up in the Amazon case (you don’t want to spend millions to be remembered!), you should also try and find a name that relates to the business you’re in, or your company name.

Oh, and don’t believe anyone that tells you there are no good short domains left. You just need to be more creative these days!

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