Of course you want to go for a catchy and memorable domain name, I even bet you sat long & hard working out a long list of potentials to narrow down. But as you compile your possibilities, keep in mind it’s not enough to only have a cool-sounding name for your site, it helps to have one that’ll eventually help boost your site’s ranking.

Other than throwing darts, typically there are two ways to go about choosing a domain name. One is using an ‘exact match’ domain name, where the URL reflects the exact name of your business. The other is incorporating your target keywords into your URL. Simply put, having keywords in domain names. I bet you’re wondering which of these formulas you should use, so let’s chat about exact match domain names first…

Exact Match Domain Names

Some very familiar examples of exact match domains are Amazon.com and Apple.com websites, whereby the popular business name or brand completely represents the URL address. Quite frankly, I prefer exact match domain names because not only do they establish brand recall, they also help when you start building back links.

So you’re probably wondering, ‘how exactly do they help?’ Well, Google actually likes it when brand terms are used for anchor text during link building. Google digs the idea that you’re authoritative enough for people to specifically use your name when linking back to you. Not to mention Google has an aversion to back links which are excessively keyword optimised, so mixing them up with brand terms as anchor text here and there is a great idea.

Now you might be wondering whether using just keywords for your domain name will work a treat or not for your SEO campaign

Keywords As Domain Names

While I prefer exact match domain names, it doesn’t mean keyword URLs are a bad thing or should be overlooked. For instance, a business named Shoes of Prey ranks for the keywords “custom made shoes”, so they may want to use a URL to reflect that, such as: custom-made-shoes.com (editor’s note: URL used as an example only).  By using keywords as their URL, or as part of their URL, it can have a positive impact on the site ranking.

Then again, since Google’s been all update-happy over the last few years, you might be worried about keywords as part of your domain because of the Exact Match Domain (EMD) Update. So, to ease your mind, let me clarify a few things about EMD.

What The EMD Is After

Google’s Exact Match Domain Update was unleashed in September 2012 and targets keyword-rich domains (I hear you gasping but wait for it…) with thin content. I’d like to stress ‘with thin content’ because Google won’t penalize your keyword-domain as long as healthy doses of quality content are on your pages.

However,Google does penalize when a domain name is comprised completely of, or peppered with, keywords yet has very little content or nothing relevant on it. Google then lifts its discerning eyebrow and holds back on link juice or drops a previously generous page rank. Why? Because it knows you’re using keywords in your URL simply to game the search results.

Like a person’s name, a domain name isn’t something you can just change without consequence, so you should think hard before committing to one.

But don’t obsess too much over whether or not you should use an exact match name or keywords as your URL. Focus your attention on creating quality content for the best end-user experience… because that’s what Google is really particular about.

As you probably know, Google is fussy about a lot of stuff and this makes SEO all the more complicated. It takes an expert to fully understand how to effectively use SEO and yield quantifiable results. The good news is… we live and breathe SEO here at Melbourne SEO Services and can help you, whether thinking of using keywords in domain names or overall SEO campaign. Click here to know more about our SEO starter pack.

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