Are you planning on starting a new website for your business? There are a lot of things that you are going to need to keep in mind. You are going to need to start thinking about your marketing strategy before you even settle on a domain name for your website, because your domain is going to be an important part of your brand.
However, you need to be cautious about using outdated guidelines when it comes to choosing your domain name. You should be especially careful about buying a domain just because it has certain keywords in it, even if this approach used to work before. It is a lot easier to buy the wrong domain if you don’t know what you are doing, which is why it is a good idea to work with a company that specializes in matching business owners with the right domain names.
In the past, Google placed a lot of weight on websites that had target keywords in the domain name. The theory was that websites with keywords in their domain names were usually more relevant to search queries including those keywords.
Although it is still somewhat of a ranking factor, Google does not place nearly as much emphasis on keyword-based domain names anymore. They actually removed parked domains in 2011, which was a big deal for many in the industry. They have focused a lot more on other ranking factors, such as quality and relevance of content and how natural the link profile looks.
Nevertheless, many domain registrars and brokers still attach a steep price tag to domain names that include competitive keywords. You might be tempted to spend a lot of money on those domains, because you think that they will rank higher as a result. Unfortunately, you will often spend a lot of money for nothing.
You want to buy a domain that will actually help your business. You don’t want to spend a lot on one that is on a blacklist or is overpriced merely because it has certain keywords in it.
What Should You Look for When Choosing a Domain?
In the early days of the Internet, you just needed to focus on choosing a domain name with the right keywords. Things are totally different now.
Instead, you should pay closer attention to the quality of the domain and its history. You want to see if the website is ranking well. You also want to be familiar with its backlink profile, because that might make it easier to rank for new keywords or identify red flags about potential penalties. You should also look for a history of the domain owners, because that might indicate whether there are any unscrupulous practices that could get you penalized later.
IT can be confusing to do all of this on your own, which is why you need to consider working with an expert domain appraisal and brokerage firm. They will help make sure you don’t buy an overpriced domain that could suffer later.
An example of an overpriced vanity domain
Back in 2010, one of my colleagues was an SEO professional that did some work for a website called homeownersinsurance.org. In those days, it made sense for his client to use that domain, because it would rank well for search terms that included the words “homeowners insurance.”
However, Google gradually changed its algorithm over time. It stopped assigning greater value to a domain purely on the account of its inclusion of relevant keywords. The site also appears to have been penalized due to the unnatural link profile that was the result of excessive use of keywords in anchor texts on non-relevant blog posts.
You can see how performance of this website in Google dropped sharply over time. Data from SEMRush shows that the site had a ranking of 1422 back in March 2012. It fell sharply within the next couple of years and only had a ranking of around 30 by the end of 2013. Around a year ago, SEMRush measured the site as having a search engine traffic ranking of only 6 before the site closed down.
In spite of having a very competitive domain name with an exact match of a very competitive search phrase, the site performed terribly in the search engines in recent years. In fact, it only seemed to rank well for two years out of the decade or more that it was online.
It appears that the domain is on a blacklist. Any marketer that tried to launch the site again would probably find that their search engine rankings were very poor.
Yet, the domain is still being auction for $199 on go daddy. It appears that the company that purchased the domain is banking on the idea that people will want to purchase it because of the keywords that it has.
You don’t want to make this mistake. You would be a lot better off getting a fresh domain that is not on a blacklist.
This isn’t 2010 - Domain names with keywords are not nearly so valuable
The rules of SEO are changing all the time. Around a decade ago, it made a lot of sense to acquire domains that had relevant keywords in them. This is no longer the case. You don’t want to spend a lot of money on these domains, especially if they have ended up on a Google blacklist.
It is far better to come up with your own domain name that accurately depicts the goal of your business. Think about it carefully end don’t spend a lot of money on one just because it has keywords that you want to rank for.