When it comes to search engine marketing, one issue that many people struggle with is the domain name. There’s some confusion out there regarding domain names and how they effect a site’s ability (or inability) to rank well in the search engines. I thought I’d talk a little bit about domains in general, mention some issues involved when it comes to domains and rankings in the search engines, and how one might go about searching for and evaluating domain names.
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Domain Names in General
Several years ago (I actually don’t remember exactly when it changed, so if you know please comment to let us know), the keyword in the domain name had an effect on rankings. So, before 2003 or so, if you had your main keyword in your domain name and your site was about that subject, then you had a good chance of ranking well in the search engines for that main keyword.
Nowadays, after 2003, having your keyword in the domain name really started to not be as significant. It kind of stopped being a factor when it came to the actual search engine rankings. Many people still say that having your main keyword phrase in your domain name is a big factor when it comes to search engine rankings. However, this effect can be confused with the fact that many other sites link to that domain name with the keyword phrase because the site is about that subject. Anchor text still is a big factor. Let’s take, for example, a site like www.companyname.com. The site tends to rank for that company name because the majority of links pointing to that site use the company’s name as the anchor text. So, it’s going to be difficult to “out rank” a company for the company name; because of the anchor text, not because a company owns “companyname.com”.
Domain Name Age
Some say that an “aged” domain name, one that has been in the search engine’s index (mainly the Google search engine index), is a help when it comes to search engine rankings. So, when some consider domain names there’s a big push now to buy domain names that have been “aged”, domain names that are a few years old.
There’s a lot more on the subject of domain name aging, and Google has a patent out there that explains how Google might be using domain age as a part of their search engine algorithm.
There are a few things that can effect search engine rankings; someone can buy an older domain name that has links and traffic and is “aged”; they can buy it at an auction or just buy it from its current owner. They can continue to use that domain name that they buy. Or, they can purchase the domain name at an auction and set up a 301 Permanent Redirect from that domain name to their current site.
Domain Names and Rankings
When it comes to analyzing search engine rankings, you might consider going to Yahoo! and performing the following search on a domain:
This search at Yahoo! will show all of the links from other websites that are pointing to the domain name. By adding the -site command to the search, it excludes internal links on that domain name. [Read more...]