Matt Cutts in a video in 2011 talks about his preference for brandable domains as compared to keyword rich domains and how Google would make adjustments to its algorithm to reduce the weight given to keyword rich domains.
On the other hand, Duane Forrester, Sr. Product Manager at Bing claims this to be a myth. According to him ranking of a website is based on a number of signals and the words used in the domain are of lesser importance as compare to other signals that the system takes into account for ranking purposes.
Does this strategy really work?
In late 2015, we were approached by a Wedding Catering business who wanted to promote their newest beach venue in Sydney through SEO techniques. During our first round of discussions the client mentioned that they had purchased the domain- sydneybeachweddings.com.au and were in the process of micro-site that would promote this venue. The idea was to capture a slice of the market interested in beach weddings.
So I go back to the office and start the process of finding appropriate keywords for the website after exchanging a few emails we narrowed down on a list of most appropriate keywords.
Some of the keywords apart from the most obvious ones (Beach Weddings Sydney, Sydney Beach Weddings) included, Beach Wedding Venues Sydney, Beach Weddings, Beach Wedding Receptions Sydney. The keywords that were finalised for the campaign fell under medium to high competition category according to Google Keyword Planner Tool.
The Campaign Kicks Off
So we start the campaign mid November 2015 and follow our usual SEO checklist which starts off with finalising the website structure to target keywords followed on-page optimization, off page optimization, competitor link analysis, developing content for blogs and so on….
One and a half month into the campaign the website was already appearing on top for most of the keywords on Google Map listings. Four months into the campaign the website had achieved a top 5 position for all the keywords that were shortlisted at the beginning of the campaign.
What did we learn here?
Having Keyword rich domains (exact-match or partial-match) does work and certainly helps in attaining rankings faster. The general time window we provide clients for achieving Page 1 rankings is 6 months but in this case we could achieve our targets in roughly four months. But keep in mind that you will need to put in equal amounts of SEO efforts to attain these rankings. I would like to point out that each industry is different while in some Industries this strategy may work very well due to say lack of competition levels however in other Industries it may not work so well. The bottom line is it does give you an advantage over a brandable domain but the question is how strong is the brandable domain name that you are competing against?