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
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 “RefurbishedToyotaCorollaforSale.com” 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 "UsedToyotaCorollaDealerChicago.com" 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