Google’s very own John Mueller has been put on the spot to settle a seriously contentious SEO debate. In this instance, he was quizzed by a Reddit user on the long-standing suggestion that keyword-based domains could provide some kind of SEO bonus.
For some time, it has been theorised that using keywords in domain names could be advantageous in SEO stakes. A theory which makes perfect sense on the surface, but how does it all stack up in practice?
Long story short, the answer is no – there is no SEO bonus whatsoever for bringing keywords into domain names. Not that this means using keywords in domain names is a bad idea outright, but it is not something that’s going to hand you an SEO advantage.
John Mueller Weighs In
Some time ago, Mr Mueller made it clear that Google is smart enough to differentiate between keywords in URLs and those that appear naturally in web content. In doing so, he suggested that the impact of keyword-based domains in SEO stakes would be minimal at best.
Now, he’s put the debate to bed once and for all, having been presented with the following direct question on Reddit:
“How would Google rank the following domains: web-design.com, web.design, web-design.net?”
Summarising the whole thing in surprisingly simple terms, Mr Mueller offered the following answer:
“No difference. Also no difference if you used sabertoothed-hedgehog.com,”
“There’s no secret (or public) SEO-bonus for having your keywords in the domain name. And for those coming with “but there are keyword domains ranking well” — of course, you can also rank well with a domain that has keywords in it,”
You can rank well with other domain names too, and a domain will not rank well just because it has keywords in it.”
So while keyword-based domains can be useful in giving web users and indication of what it is you do, they carry no specific SEO value whatsoever.
Strategic Domain Name Selection
Instead of focusing on non-existent SEO value, Mr Mueller instead recommends choosing a domain name with long-term relevance and value.
His suggestion is to strategically select a domain that will support your business indefinitely, irrespective of how radically your business changes direction or evolves in the future:
“Pick a domain name you can build on for the long run. Maybe you’re doing web-design now, but what will you do in 5, 10 years? Pick something that lets you grow, or go with a domain name that’s more like a brand which you can build out & which people can find you with directly. That would be my recommendation,”
“Creating separate sites for sub-business-ideas is a hassle, merging sites is a bigger hassle, moving domains is a hassle. All of these things take a lot of time, some money, and more. Go with something you want to keep for longer, which gives you room.”