Improving the visibility and find-ability of your website is a familiar challenge for most of us. Particularly in the small business space where time and resources are often in short supply .
Facing limited budgets for search engine marketing (SEM) and optimisation (SEO), simple and cheap solutions to put wins on the board without breaking the bank can be highly desirable.
One of the ideas that comes up frequently is purchasing domain names that match the search terms that we want to rank well for. For instance: www.TaxAccountantBrisbane.com.au might be purchased by a Brisbane based accountancy targeting the search term “Tax Accountant Brisbane”.
While having a direct match in your website’s domain name for a search term will improve your ranking for that search term, it’s important to understand that this is only one factor in demonstrating relevance (to Google) for a search term with your website.
There are a few key things to understand before you go out and spend too much money on domains with the goal of boosting your search engine ranking.
1.) Google places more value on having relevant content on the site for a search term, then just seeing the search term in the domain name.
Using a domain name that includes a key search term makes sense if it complements the content that Google finds on the website. The key here is that the domain needs to be directly connected to a website not just redirecting to another domain/website which contains the content.
Google treats each domain/website as separate properties. So having the domain taxaccountantbrisbane.com.au registered but redirecting to realaccounting.com.au (for example) where your primary website sits, means that you lose the SEO value of the domain, because Google indexes the content of realaccounting.com.au and treats that as being unconnected to taxaccountantbrisbane.com.au. So it doesn’t really help with improving your main site’s ranking for the search term “tax accountant Brisbane”.
2.) Domain age is relevant to rankings
One of the factors that search engine’s look at when evaluating your website is Domain Age. Or how long ago the domain your website uses was registered. The longer the domain has been around, the better as this indicates that the business has been around longer and is more likely to be well established, stable, etc… This may mean you’re better off keeping your old domain rather than switching to a new one, just because it includes certain keywords.
3.) There are effective ways to include keywords in a URL without using different domains
For example, you could setup a page on your site that targets a search term you want to rank well for just by setting the page URL to include the keywords (i.e. realaccounting.com.au/tax-accountant-brisbane). This is simpler and less expensive than changing the domain name and it means that you can focus on a range of high priority search terms/keywords without purchasing lots of domains.
These points touch on a small group of factors that affect how well a site ranks in the search engines. There’s lots of other things that will affect site ranking too. Hopefully armed with this knowledge you can now make a more informed decision about whether it’s worth registering additional domains for your site.
Please note: details of what affects SEO rankings change from time to time. For more up to date information on this and on choosing the right domain name, please see this Yoast article.