I am not a search engine optimization expert by any stretch of the imagination. At best, I am fair at SEO on my websites, and at worst, I am dangerous to them :). One thing I can tell you though is that a domain name is critical to a successfully SEO’d website, and having the prominent keywords within the domain name is important to its search engine results page (SERP) positioning.
NetBuilders, a well respected Webmaster forum, began a SEO contest a couple of months ago, with a prize of $1,000 going to the webmaster whose website achieved the #1 position for a keyword phrase it coined, Sulumits Retsambew (webmaster stimulus spelled backwards). With the competition nearly over, I wanted to have a look at the top 5 results to see how important experienced webmasters believe domain names are to good SEO, with a virgin term like Sulumits Retsambew.
Here are the top 5 organic results (not including Google News):
With the competition ending today, it seems clear that the domain name should have the keywords of the search term, however, it appears that .com isn’t necessarily king for SEO. Clearly some people spent more time than others on this competition, but you don’t need to have the .com for good SERP positioning.
The major caveat is that most search terms for which people want and need to rank aren’t virgin terms, and you can’t start from scratch. Domain age is something that search engines look at for positioning as well, and generally the best generic .com domain names were bought years ago, so it would be an uphill climb if you register a new domain name and try to compete with other older domain names and websites.
Bottom line is that having a keyword domain name is very important in SEO, but extensions other than .com can still rank very well.
Not a SEO expert either but I understand site age is more important than domain age and if one can find a less competitive term, one can still rank well with the right domain. I registered a 3-word .net in May which is the Spanish equivalent of women’s dresses but a searched phrase. I put several pages of videos for different types of dresses – wedding dresses, fashion, evening, quinceañera, full-figure, etc but text is minimal as what do I know about women’s dresses? Initially my site was on page two of Google for that term but in short order made it to the middle of page one and is also on page one for a few other similar phrases. The site is only three months old but in the last month organic traffic was around 1250 visitors. If you type in the phrase without quotes Google shows over 900K results but with quotes only 19K.
The exact match bonus, which is given by search engines when the domain matches the exact search query, is applied to .com, .net, and .org equally.
I put a placeholder page up for a 2 word .org domain that I won at auction about 4 days ago. Yesterday, while checking my website stats I realized that the site was on page 1 (rank 8) with 12.2 million results. It was also the #6 spot for the term in quotes, which provided over 6million results.
Needless to say I put a site up instead of a sales page and integrated it with Amazon’s affiliate program. Hopefully it works ehh?
I’m not an SEO expert. But I’ve been able to get the .com to #1 when the domain name matches the search term we target (on a consistent basic) and .net(s) in the top five. Several of these were for significant search terms with more than 10,000 exact searches a month.
Great post. It’s interesting to me that you as a domain expert haven’t looked that much in the SEO industry. I am on the opposite side…know fairly enough about domaining, but know SEO extremely well. I am always stunned when I see the domain industry not monetizing their portfolios outside the box (e.g. not parking but using services like Inlinks.com to sell links off their sites…) or connect closer with the SEO industry.
Anyways..great post! Always great to read your blog (even as a non-domainer).
There is something more to add…..Matt Cutt said that keywords in domain can help but quite little. You cannot only emphasis on that domain and get ranked.