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Does Having Automotive Keywords in Your URL's Give You a Search Engine Advantage?

SEO Question : Are keywords in URL and domain names important? And how does it differ across various search engines? Although this would seem to be a very basic question, I’ve been asked this many times by automotive digital marketing proessionals. For years, this question has also been frequently asked in many forums and blogs; whether keywords in URL and domain names are important and how each search engine treats such domain names.

In a highly competitive industry like automotive retail, other vital factors such as text based links from multiple unaffiliated web sites and the branding of your dealership will easily outweigh the advantage that you get from having automotive keywords in your domain names, but the keyword in the domain or URL structure is highly beneficial to rankings within all major search engines.

The importance of having the right automotive keywords in your URL and domain name structure is significant for all search engines, but more so for some than for others... Here is a list of the 3 major search engines ranked by the level of importance for keywords in the domain name:

1. Microsoft Search
2. Yahoo Search
3. Google

Advantages of Keywords in URL Structure
One advantage of having the primary keyword in a website’s domain name is that even if some other sites link to the website using just its URL, the website's indexing gets the benefit of the keyword showing up in each link's anchor text.

One of the most signiicant impacts of having the right keywords in your domain names is the psychological impact it has on consumers in driving people to click on your listing. Having keywords in the domain name helps to improve CTR (click thru rate) since the URL with the keyword gets bolded in the search results which grabs more attention of the consumer seeking automotive related information.

From Google’s perspective, having automotive keywords in your domain names plays a smaller role than your site's overall content in determining the rank of your website in Google search results. Google is more focused on the quality of the sites that have links pointing to your website and the content of your site. Although having automotive keywords in your domain name is a factor, it is not as important to Google as it is to Yahoo! and MSN. Google does not say that keywords in URL's are not important, it’s just not weighted as heavily in their algorithms as site content site and links to the site from other high quality content web sites.

When this question was asked in the WebProWorld forums, a member said:

“Domain names are for people. There are plenty of sites at the top of the SERPs for their chosen keyword(s) that don’t have them in their domain name. Make the name easy to remember and spell because it’s for people.” This is very true! If you query Google for Computers, you will find that the sites placed at the top are leading computer brands that do not have the word “Computers” in their domain names.

If you are targeting a long keyword phrase such as “” then trying to include this domain name in your online listings won’t be very good from the users’ perspective. You’d be better off using a URL like "" and then using the URL in a Craigslist ad...

However, there were views against this thought as well, another member of the WebProWorld forums said:

“We’ve seen good results with keywords in the URL, if no reason other than to entice searchers to click your search listing. Human visitors are becoming better at ignoring spam in search engine results, and are looking to important clues in your listing. Keywords in metadescriptions, titles and URLs get clicks.” This is a great pointl, with more and more spam sneaking into the search results, users now look for vital clues in the URL that shows up search engine listings to determine which link they should be clicking on.

Also another member of the forums said:

“URLs are not so important for Google but do play a more important role with Yahoo. However, in more competitive categories so many other things come into play - branding particularly - that I wouldn’t be driven by the URL alone.”

Microsoft, Yahoo and Keyword Rich Domains
If you want to be listed in Microsoft and Yahoo search engine results in your search marketing campaigns, then you should probably have a domain name that has your targeted automotive keywords in it, especially in Microsoft Live Search.

We also ran across several posts in the Contractor Web Development community which explain how each search engine treats keywords inside domain names:

“Google, while highlighting keywords in the domain name, does not give preference to them, as that would be unfairly shifting favour to an aspect of a site that can easily be manipulated and does not necessarily determine content or its quality."

"Yahoo has been reported to take into account domain name keywords in the past, but recent search results suggest that less emphasis is placed on domain name keywords, which has helped filter out keyword-stuffed and spam-riden sites with low quality content."

"MSN Search apparently does take into account domain name keywords. As an example, compare the results of “used cars” on MSN Search and Google. You will notice that the MSN results are dominated by keyword domains containing the keywords "used" and "cars", while Google results do not."

So to boil it down, having the right automotive related keywords in your domain names is an advantage in several ways, but provides less of an advantage with Google, a airly signiicant advantage in Yahoo and it is a major ranking factor when it comes to MSN and MSN Live Search.

What are your thoughts on this issue. Do you think that it is important to have keyword in domain names? We would love to see some dialogue on this issue...

You can learn a lot more about Digital Marketing in the Automotive Industry by visiting the Automotive Digital Marketing Professional Community at

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Tags: Advantage?, Automotive, Does, Engine, Give, Having, Keywords, Search, URL's, You, More…Your, a, in


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Comment by Paul Rushing on May 25, 2008 at 12:01pm
All of this is good stff but one thing that people have failed to mention is that an form of paid offsite SEO will probably violate googles "paid" link guidelines and dealer are not going to use evergreen content as "link bait" to get other websites to link to them.

In the example given above with the Matt Cutts Interview the link would never be given unless the content helps the user experience and not for the sole purpose of delivering a marketing message.

However you can use some SEO tactics that incorporates some "link bait" content with "link washing" to help push up your main target on those keywords.
Comment by Ralph Paglia on May 24, 2008 at 9:58am
Posted by SEO Practitioner Johnathan:

I had reason to check out generic keywords for a client; Below are some comments from leading SEO experts

Matt Cutts, the head of Google’s Webspam team specializing in search engine optimization issued statements last week reinforces the strength of the keywords in SEO ranking

“Domain names are the primary way of mapping where domains are on the web and Matt expects that to continue. Domain names are important and inseparable going forward”
“Owning a keyword match domain name is going to carry some weight in Google for the foreseeable future. It is something they want to reward. ”

“The keyword in backlink is golden, if I launch or, been a half decent SEO I should be able to get top 3 of those terms, BUT and this is a big but, if your in a highly competitive term area and you are good you can actually bind your brand to a search term which is golden as well”

“Having a generic domain helps with link building tremendously, if you owned the domain, it is likely that when people link back to you from their sites that they will use the anchor text ””. The fact that this is one of the main keywords you will be targeting in the search engines, combined with the fact that it is used exclusively in anchor text to your site and it matches the domain location exactly adds up to a very powerful piece of SEO, with the additional benefits of direct type in traffic”

“content is king…but only if users can find it, generic keywords and good SEO guarantee good placement”
Comment by Ralph Paglia on May 24, 2008 at 9:56am
My experience, like that of Chriss1, has been that having the keyword in the URL is important primarily for the anchor text links, not necessarily because the search engines give the keyword in the domain more weight. I don’t even take that into consideration. If having the keyword in the domain name gets more weight from any given engine, great, but it’s not on my list of SEO concerns. - Richard Burkhardt
Comment by Alvin Newton on May 23, 2008 at 11:38am
Great Info!!

Let me give you an example of what Ralph is talking about. 6-7 months ago I built a test site. Using the key words Tahoe Hybrid in my URL, has placed me on the first page of MSN search results for over 3 weeks now. Click here for example.

Yes it took the site a little over 6 months to acheive these great Organic Search Results, but now I am getting over 200 visits a day from MSN, Yahoo and Google, and I am paying nothing!! Remember build them, market them, then sit back and reap the benefits in 6-8 months for free!!

Alvin Newton

Automotive Professional Network and Resource Exchange for Car Dealers, Managers, OEM and Marketing Practitioners seeking Best Practices.

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