Keyword Rich Domain Names Next To Be Hit By Google

Mar 16, 2011 • 8:49 am | comments (51) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google Search Engine Optimization

Google Domain DiceIt should come to no surprise of readers of this site that Google and Matt Cutts next target will be domain names ranking too well on the merit of the keywords being in the domain name.

We covered several times already on how well keyword match domain names rank in the Google search results. We also documented that Google's Matt Cutts said he would look at keyword match domains while giving a presentation at PubCon.

In any event, new news. Google's Matt Cutts posted a video recently saying they are going to look at this stuff, again. Here is the video:

Aaron Wall transcribed it:

Now if you are still on the fence, let me just give you a bit of color. that we have looked at the rankings and the weights that we give to keyword domains, & some people have complained that we are giving a little too much weight for keywords in domains. So we have been thinking about at adjusting that mix a bit and sort of turning the knob down within the algorithm, so that given 2 different domains it wouldn't necessarily help you as much to have a domain name with a bunch of keywords in it.

So be prepared.

Forum discussion at Sphinn.

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03/16/2011 12:55 pm

Finally... Somebody must have called them on the "French Toast" Search. Not that Bing is any better on that. But, I believe the state of search can be completely be assessed by that one search. I mean school uniforms have nothing to do with my all time favorite breakfast food. You can tell when everybody has their s&*t together when you can search for that and no longer see anything about school uniforms.


03/16/2011 01:29 pm

No disrespect to you, but I don't think that's googles problem (or any other search engines). I googled "French toast" and the very first site was a website that sells school uniforms. Unfortunately, the websites name is It's a major coincidence. The search engine dd it's job correctly. It found a site with the keyword being "French toast" Intel Recently created a super computer that was on Jeopardy. They brought up a great point about words having different meaning. It's easy for us humans to differentiate and understand word plays. Computers are not quite there yet. Plus, "French toast is a very broad term. It may be the name of a food or company or website and so on. I think people should be less picky about certain things.

Paul (yes, another one)

03/16/2011 01:33 pm

With a kid that needs school uniforms, it makes a lot of sense for the company whose name is "French Toast" to actually match higher in the list than 10,000 breakfast foods. The actual label and brand is "French Toast". Yes, they've given it a silly name, but isn't (formerly or or heck, kind of silly? But they've become synonymous with their product -- web search portals. So in the case of French Toast, I think that the results are almost exactly what I would like and expect to see. A company who's name is an exact match for the term and has been around since 1958 above an entire flock of recipes, etc. for the food. Just because their name is the same as a food doesn't mean they can't be allowed to have They should be the only one's allowed to have Unless all those recipe sites are selling french toast, they should only have .info or .org or otherwise. Actually, I would have liked to see a competitor or retailer that sells the French Toast brand uniforms on that first page as well instead of just the one listing for the company and the rest being food. Seems like it's not quite smart enough of an algorithm in that regard. I would also have hoped that the "related searches" google creates at the bottom would have had a "french toast school uniforms" or similar instead of just food related options.

Nick Stamoulis

03/16/2011 02:33 pm

I've had clients truly believe they only way they would ever rank well was to purchase several keyword heavy domain names and use them as micro-sites for their brand. I can understand the desire to include keywords in your URL, but the URL should really be a place to brand the company. You can include keywords, but they shouldn't be the only thing you rely on.

Web Studio

03/16/2011 03:53 pm

I think they might turn down the power of keyword domains a little but not too much. Most keyword rich domains are relevant compared to all the ones that are spam. But if their only ranking factor is the fact that they have the keywords in the domain, then maybe their rankings will diminish a little.


03/16/2011 04:06 pm

Google will lower the importance of keyword rich domains but I would think you will still have an easier time ranking for "cheap toys" if your domain name was If you are building a site about "cheap toys" why would you buy and not We shouldn't stop buying keyword rich domain names in my opinion.


03/16/2011 05:10 pm

I find the whole branding idea to be a bit ridiculous. If you want to build a brand it takes either the luck of a lightning strike, or millions of dollars in money to run branding advertising campaigns (Think etrade's 2 million dollar monkey). If you have millions or plan on having millions (realistically) great. But don't plan on a lightning strike. Google didn't do better than FastSearch because FastSearch had keywords in the domain and Google was more brandable. It has far more to do with your underlying technology than what name you pick. I think a lot of people who think about branding have pie in the sky dreams. I'm a lot more realistic. I don't expect to be building the next billion dollar company, millions will do just fine. In anycase, I wouldn't worry much yet. Saying "We might look at this." is a far cry from saying "We will look at this, and the outcome will be negative." Of course, keyword domains do have one benefit... word of mouth, and the ability to advertise on the radio. With some of these names you need to spell it out, which can make verbal recitations clumsy. Then for say the local small business owner they don't plan on building a national brand, they just want to find more local customers, so a domain like "clevelandtattoos" or something is going to be far more useful to them than some made up word. Not every website wants to be the next Groupon.


03/16/2011 06:22 pm

Really hard sentence the online business can get shutdown...


03/16/2011 06:43 pm

I'd go so far as to say that it's intentional for the school uniform company to rank #1 in google for the query 'french toast.' Google's typical take on verb-free queries like these is to be an informational search...and those searches tend to lean towards companies and retailers and whatnot. As soon as you put a verb in front of the query, the results change. In the case of "buy french toast," the results are heavier on the school uniform company. "cook french toast" is almost all recipes. Here's an interesting one..."blue french toast." I would have expected more about school uniforms, but the top handful of results are cooking-related. It's not until #7 or so that I see a result having to do with clothing. I haven't heard Google say a whole lot about query intent, but having rank #1 for the query "french toast" seems, to me, consistent with that they have said about it. I vaguely recall Google (probably Matt Cutts in one of his videos) suggesting that they used click-through of the search results to adjust how they interpret a query, in order to correlate "what the user apparently wanted to get to" with "what google thought they were asking for with their query." Anyhow, that's my (unresearched) two cents.


03/16/2011 07:09 pm

I can see in a way why should not necessarily rank for 'french toast', but if you're looking for cheap toys for your kids, I see nothing wrong with a bit extra being given to the site cheap-toys-com because it makes perfect sense. I provide article services and my holds top 2 positions for the keyword 'article services' and why not? It's otherwise well SEOd with good LSI keyword relevance.


03/16/2011 08:21 pm

On reflection, having watched the video a few times and read all the comments, I agree with Web Studio that if the ranking is highly dependent upon an exact-match URL, then it will be dropped somewhat but that well-designed pages with good content will be likely to get away relatively free from any significant effect.

Roie S

03/16/2011 09:00 pm

And not a moment too soon... or yet another case of Google trailing 5 years behind marketers..


03/16/2011 11:35 pm

I would agree with Steve. "French Toast Official School Wear" has been in business with that name since 1958. They are definitely not trying to mess with rankings by adopting a search-heavy domain. What Google and the rest do when they place that site first is perfectly understandable, and I would even go so far to say that any of us in the same situation, with the same breadth of knowledge, would dish out the same answer. i.e. IF you knew the uniform company existed and IF someone came up to you on the street and said to you ... "french toast" ... and nothing more, you have to admit that you would seek confirmation by asking something like, "Do you mean the uniform company or the food?" Google does the same, it's just that they don't wait around for your reply ... they give you links to anything that might match such a broad search, starting with the most likely. After all, if the person on the street were really looking for the food, they would have probably asked something more refined, like, "Do you know where I can get some french toast?" As long as searchers are lazy, they get a broad array of results. The "better" the query, the "better" the results ... and I can't believe we've come all the way back to GIGO! Everything old is new again!


03/17/2011 05:46 am

Most of the people are going for keyword rich domain names for getting indexed. Eventhough some people honestly choose the domain name stating the content of the page, they may also be considered as a culprit in the crowd.

online shopping uk

03/17/2011 07:34 am

Keywords in domain name is vastly over-valued as a ranking signal. Too many sites are ranking for a keyword because they bought the domain rather than because they're the best result for that keyword.

online coupons

03/17/2011 08:24 am

I think this is something already happening up to some extent. Those sites which have keywords in their domain names already ranked on top result of Google.

SEO Services

03/17/2011 09:59 am

I’m glad this has happened because how many time have we come up against poor quality websites that are in the top positions just because they are keyword rich within the URL? - bad news for my affiliate site :-/


03/17/2011 10:36 am

finally! I am so annoyed at low quality domain names ranking highly just because they have the keywords in the domain, however i can see this being an issue for affilaite or adsense type websites

Luke, Reach Students

03/17/2011 10:56 am

They should never have given points to keyword domains in the first place. Since they did, they've encouraged a mess that's going to be hard to clean now. Matt's examples of how you can still be successful in search going down the 'branded route' do not make sense. Nobody searches Zynga, Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo etc.

custom logo design

03/17/2011 10:56 am

those websites should not rank well only that have keywords in the domain but should be ranked those that have top quality content and relevant services to it. its a huge loss of those people who worked very hard for their sites to rank well.

stephen dodds

03/17/2011 11:03 am

What's the fuss? If you have a keyword rich url that reflects the market you are targeting, content to match and a well optimised site then no problem. Trouble is people deal with things in isolation and think that 'relevant' domains will give them a quick win without having to do anything else - never mind understanding what people are really using to search for their sites


03/17/2011 11:09 am

A very bad idea to change this, i think the ranking system makes a lot of sense already. Not always a good idea to change things that are working fine

Aluminium Kozijnen

03/17/2011 11:11 am

Thanks for sharing this video.. Its really happen? Aluminium Kozijnen

SEO Services India

03/17/2011 11:50 am

With so many new Google algo's I am sure the overall quality of the SERP's will increase.

Kebaikan SBY

03/17/2011 12:36 pm

So, the price of keyword domain name will decrease, right? It hits domainers. :D


03/17/2011 09:16 pm

I assume you own keyword rich domains :) There is no question that this move is an excellent one both for improving results and stopping spam. So many of these sites take up the top spots when they add significantly less value than other sites/pages offering the same content type. I find it annoying when my search results are taken up by these pointless sites, most of which are just set up to sell affiliates. Only a keyword domain spammer would disagree.

Andover IT

03/18/2011 10:31 am

"Only a keyword domain spammer would disagree." Not really as some companies are called what their domain name is - for example Andover Groundworks (not one of my clients) owns They have been going for years and their name says what they do. Why should a localised service company like them be penalised? Ultimately good SEO will beat a keyword rich domain name any day imo.

Web Design Andover

03/18/2011 10:39 am

Agree with that. Ultimately it will (and should) come down to relevance. Having a keyword rich domain name does not guatantee you top spot if you are up against a well built website with good content, well applied SEO and relevant links.

Christian Logan

03/18/2011 11:59 am

Oh come on! Google just keeps finding ways to keep everyone on their toes. Nice business strategy but honestly very annoying

Just Outsourcing

03/18/2011 05:01 pm

The only way to determine a well built website with good content is to personally view it. And I doubt Google will personally view a billion websites.

Owais Ahmed

03/18/2011 08:03 pm

It will bring a disaster to online marketers! :(


03/19/2011 03:05 am

"some people have complained that we are giving a little too much weight for keywords in domains" So if I had the pioneering spirit to get to the game early, you are going to make me give up my seat to a procrastinating whiner?


03/19/2011 03:10 am

Only to whining online marketers. There an easy workaround for any obstacle. It's a principle hard wired into the universe. "for every negative, there has to be a positive." Leon Marrow, world record setter for Rexair, Inc.


03/19/2011 03:15 am

it's not the name Google the keeps it popular, it's the mystery of Google.


03/19/2011 11:38 pm

It will bring a disaster to online marketers! :( Yes it will!!! A LOT of website owners have used a lot of money buying keyword domains , and will be a big disaster for all us and our families. Please think about us also Matt, when you change above


03/22/2011 03:11 pm

I like the notion of devaluing the domain name keyword nonsense. Just one less question I need to answer in client meetings!

Atlanta SEO Company

03/22/2011 03:15 pm

I love that Google continues to update algorithm... the localization algo change was the best in years. Finally Google realized that people want to work with local companies!


03/23/2011 04:30 pm

At the end of the day, good SEO and a good targeted domain name beats good SEO.... It also assumes that consumers have no relationship between the keyword(s) in the domain name, are not educated with respect to ccTLD and gTLC and only use search engines... Evidences suggests otherwise...


03/23/2011 04:40 pm

A keyword is only a brand name to those that are interested in the relationship, that keyword is not mutually excusive the DN rights, they have a competitive advantage albeit perpetual..


03/23/2011 04:46 pm

oxymoron = online shopping UK and the suggestion that DNs are over-valued.... the cost of advertsing on G is the over-valued concern... whilst G et al argue that domainers are the issue they are ignoring the economic / political issues of selling DNs in a manner that isn't condusive to real economic value of DNs and allowing G to control the sum of global online ad revenue and perhaps the future of the DNS...


03/23/2011 04:49 pm

Most? you know 160 million registrants... people search product more than brand, companies are re-acting to the habits of consumers which guess what.. de-values brand..... the changes are digital colonialism...

Luke Jones

03/23/2011 11:25 pm

How do you think this will affect companies whose actual name is the same as they keyword they're trying to rank for? For example, a company registered through Company's House as "Website Design Ltd" who are trading as this shouldn't be penalised, right? Even though to many of us, may appear to be a spammy domain.

Luke Jones

03/23/2011 11:25 pm

Haha, that's an actual company — didn't realise that.


03/31/2011 02:56 pm

I agree with Luke... but I also understand the frustration that many marketers have with spamdexing... i think in being just... those sites with non relevant content should be penalized but not just any site that has a keyword domain (How do you accomplish this with out slapping everyone around Google?). How I see it the internet leveled the playing field for the little guy, so if you were a mom and pop business you at least have a better chance to establish real presence globally online than a brick and mortar from a cost standpoint (through niche marketing which larger companies have ignored up until now hmm I wonder why? could it be the very thing they took for a joke 20yrs ago is actually where they're seeing year after year growth hmmm!).. This will no doubt benefit those large companies with larger brand loyalty to keep doing what they have been doing take all (because they have large marketing budgets for your SEO/PPC etc) and leave the scraps for us to bicker about instead the real powers that be... not saying you can't establish your brand online if you're starting out (happens every blue moon. truthfully) This doesn't make it any easier for us people... think about it any seo keyword strategies you can do ...your competition can do as well... and probably better ... so if you think you can keep up with a Saks Fifth with your start up $ .... think again.. you need to leverage evey crutch you can get little guy ... (Crutch ie... nano niche keyword seo tactics... you name it)... keyword domain are rare in the fact that once its gone its gone... so it does matter if your the exact same walmart that put every mom and pop out of business when it established its in your neighbor hood... On the internet it is a different playing field for now... but I guess what happened over 20 years ago is trending in the direction to repeat itself in the world of ecommerce... to keep the big giants happy... because they are pi$$ed... think of as an organize military (Big Guys) trying to fight against a bunch of renegade gorrilla's (nano nich marketers -little guys) not easy to do... so from my long winded response its not worth us whinning about the few that break the rules because inevitably you will be allowing each Goliath to fight you (David) toe 2 toe do you want that people???? because they're coming've gotten there attention now... and they got the $ and the people....


04/15/2011 08:00 am

I believe the matt would be foolish to negate what people actually type in when they are doing a search on Google. It is relevant targeting in the Google algo that made it into a billion dollar company. So, no I believe that he would shoot himself and Google in the foot!

Brad Dalton

04/21/2011 09:30 pm

He's been talking to the big corporations who lobby him to get what they want and protect their SERP positions. He's probably getting some decent sized brown paper bags as well.

Brad Dalton

04/21/2011 09:32 pm

Its actually an American Company protecting American business

Sachin Sharma

04/27/2011 12:04 pm

I think Short domain name works well no matter it matches to your keyword or not. This post is all about having domain names........ such as I dont know about others, if I am searching some useful information I give less attention to such domain names. It clearly shows that practice is only for Top Ranking not for users.

Vince Lin

07/29/2011 08:48 pm

Domain name relevance is just being downgraded in important in SERPs. Doesn't mean it doesn't matter anymore.

Karl Jackson

01/30/2012 01:40 pm

When keyword domains no longer mean relevance it will probably be the end of Google and what made it a multi-billion dollar company. We will be witnessing the beginning of that as Google begins to chip away at that relevancy.

Manicure Set

05/05/2012 11:13 am

is this domain name  ok: ,can somebody tell me suggestion,is it easy memory?

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