Looking to attract more website visitors with a keyword rich domain that can give you a Google rankings advantage?
Before you do, think through the pros and the cons.
Many businesses buy a domain such as www.keyword.com. This is known as an Exact Match Domain, or EMD. Examples might be www.longisland(nameofservice).com or www.longislandpatentattorney(dot)com or even longislandmarketingcompany(dot)com.
Some basic benefits of keyword rich domains:
– They often get a little higher rankings power, though most search engines deny it
– Instant recognition of what you do or what you provide
– Boldcasing of your website occurs in SERPS (search engine results pages) when that exact term is searched in Google, resulting in more prominent visibility in search engine results pages
However, despite some of the benefits, there is one thing many companies do not think about and that is the hidden cost of marketing yourself with a generic brand name and generic domain name:
If you have a generic domain name e.g. Long Island Patent Attorney, using longislandpatentattorney.com, and you are in a competitive industry, three negative consequences could happen.
First: You may drive potential searchers right over to your competition.
A company called us this week. Their name was (keeping them anonymous) www.longisland(nameofservice).com , in the Long Island contracting industry. Apparently they have selected a domain name and company name that is generic. The keyword is high demand and the service offered (part of the name of the domain name) is in high demand right now.
As a result, many competitors have cropped up over the past three years, each providing the same exact service – each optimizing their business off of the same exact keyword. The company is experiencing a negative consequence of their generic domain name: their competition are easily found for a search of their company name. Combine that with the fact that they have not trademarked their domain name (the keyword), and there is little protection that they have when a searcher online types in the term and then sees the company’s website along with all of its competitors.
Adding insult to injury, their website’s overall design, usability and content is relatively weak in their industry. The result: business performance is almost certainly being affected.
Second: Even when you receive a referral through Word of Mouth, if the potential customer looks you up online with a generic keyword e.g.long island house cleaning, they may have trouble finding your website. This is bad for business. A generic name can also make it very hard to protect your reputation online and make it easy for customers to look you up and review your track record. It may also make your company look “cheap” or even “spammy.”
Third: Many sites that choose a keyword rich domain name may also be over-optimized in other ways, triggering a search engine rankings penalty. For example, if you have a keyword rich domain but your website provides a great experience for visitors; is optimized well; is mobile friendly; and, is filled with great content (assuming no bad links), then you may have very positive results. But far too often, keyword rich domains are accompanied by bad SEO (black hat SEO) or over-optimization of your website. This can lead to a penalty. Matt Cutts and other Google Execs have repeatedly claimed that Google would go after exact keyword match domain sites that offer low-quality content. If you have a keyword rich domain, you MUST make sure all other elements of your site are strong, in our opinion, to maintain rankings into the future.
Final advice: building a unique, memorable brand with a strong, recognizable internet presence probably has no downside, whereas being generic almost always does. It’s important to not be hasty or shortsighted; what you decide now can not only impact what customers think of your business, it can directly impact results.
What type of domain name do you think will resonate most with your audience? What type of image do you want to present publicly? If you are not sure, remember that all big brands started out small at some point and most carved out a niche with a unique name. What can you learn from this?