Domain names are sometimes overlooked when it comes to ranking a website in the search engines. Although not as impactful as some other factors in search engine rankings, your domain name still plays a role in how well (or not well) your site ranks.
Domain Attributes to Consider for Ranking Purposes
So how does a domain name effect SEO and your ability to rank well? Let’s take a look:
Age of Your Domain
Many people think that an aged domain is far superior to new domains, but Matt Cutts from Google has stated otherwise. He has suggested that although older domains may have a slight boost, it doesn’t make a huge impact over newer domains. Although a domain name less than a year old might still not have gained the trust from search engines quite yet.
I also believe that the amount of times a domain has changed hands can have an impact. Google is pretty smart, and I’m pretty sure they’re not going to give a huge boost to someone who just bought a domain name because the domain name did well in the past.
Country Top Level Domains (TLDs)
Although limiting on a world-wide basis, country specific top-level domains give a slight edge in the country the TLD is intended for.
Domain’s Historical Track Record
If a domain has gone through multiple owners or has been dropped multiple times, the Search Engines may treat it like a new domain.
Additionally, a domain that has a shady historical track record with poor backlinks may actually be harmful to your site’s ranking potential.
Before registering, check to see if your domain has been blacklisted. If it has, you should consider a different domain name.
Search Engines have the ability to know what sites an individual may own. If one site has issues, it’s possible that the other sites owned by the individual may be penalized as well.
Exact Match Domain (EMDs)
Although they received a boost in the past, exact match domains can appear spammy in today’s algorithms, and are treated as such if it’s a site with thin content. With that said, if the site is informative, then you should be okay.
You should also consider the visitor here. Long, keyword packed domains tend to look a little spammy and it may be a turn off for the visitor.
How Long to Register Your Domain
Google has suggested that sites that are paid up for more time indicate the potential for a more legitimate site, while sites that are only registered for a year at a time are more volatile and subject to misuse (otherwise why not register them longer).
Because of this domains that are registered for a longer period of time will get a little boost.
Keyword Appears in TLDs
Not too long ago, having a keyword in your top-level domain meant a huge potential increase in rankings. That doesn’t always hold true today. Although you might get a slight tweak upwards, this doesn’t make a huge impact on the rankings in today’s algorithms.
Keyword as First Word in Domain
If your keyword is the first word in the domain, it is slightly better than having it in the middle or end of the domain name. However, it still doesn’t provide a huge up-tick in the rankings
Keyword Presence in Sub-Domains
Having your keyword in the sub-domain will give you rankings a slight boost as well. Again, nothing huge here, but sometimes you just need a little push to get to the next level.
Public or Private Domain Registrations
Matt Cutts from Google has questioned the integrity of those who use private domain registration, suggesting that some private domain owners may be trying to hide something.
So Does a Domain Name Effect SEO at All?
You bet! But always remember that great information is what really counts. Always provide the reader exactly what they’re looking for and your website traffic will grow. But these considerations might help out a bit if you’re neck-and-neck with another site.