Domain Names: Keywords

In the past, it was recommended that domain names included their target keyword phrases to benefit them in terms of SEO. So for example, if you wanted to rank for the keyword red pots, you could choose a domain like (known in the industry as an exact match domain or EMD) or (known as phrase match domain or PMD). By having the keyword phrase in the domain, it was easier to achieve a high ranking for that keyword phrase.

All this has now changed. Google has changed how it views keyword based domains and has introduced algorithms such as the Penguin update and the Exact Match Domain (EMD) update to reflect this change in stance. To check the impact, third party research has been conducted which concluded that a website’s page ranking no longer gets the same degree of boost from EMDs (and PMDs). That said, EMDs can (and often do) continue to rank successfully and therefore it is not to say that there is no benefit to your existing domain name. However, the new suggestions you have made do not add any new keyword dynamic and we would therefore not consider their purchase to have significant benefit.

In light of the Penguin update and EMD update, in choosing a domain name, the emphasis should no longer be on keyword phrases. Instead, the recommended focus has shifted to branding. If these two factors can be combined: a domain that does not sacrifice branding whilst including one or more of your keywords, you may have achieved the best of both worlds.

But in absence of this, think branding!


SEO interactions of branding are less transparent but branding should in fact be the key SEO consideration for choosing a domain name. Both on and offline, your brand affects how people perceive you and whether they will remember you and will in turn impact your SEO strategies and their outcome. The reason… as said by Google’s CEO, Eric Schmidt, “Brands are the solution, not the problem. Brands are how you sort out the cesspool.” Google likes brands because users like brands. A simple example of the effectiveness of a branded domain would be to ask yourself which site would you rather read/ link to/ share: or ?

If you have a strong online brand, visitors are more likely to click on/ read/ share/ link to you and each of these action help your site to achieve higher Google rankings.

In light of all this, our strategy needs to be more all-encompassing than trying to focus on the merits/benefits of each individual change that we can make to your website. Instead, we will focus on creating the best website for you that we can with a constant awareness of search engines’ likes and dislikes and an acceptance of the fact that no one (including your competitors) will have access to their algorithms.

Wildfire Brands: SEO 101

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