Google: Keywords In Domain Aren't Needed For Ranking Well

Jun 6, 2014 • 8:25 am | comments (44) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google Search Engine Optimization

popular domain namesGoogle's John Mueller posted a response in a Google Webmaster Help thread responding to someone asking if they need their keyword in their domain name.

In short, John said no, you can rank fine without having a keyword in your domain name. Heck, my company, RustyBrick, doesn't have our money keyword in our domain name. Not that I rank that well for our money keywords. :)

That being said, John Mueller said it isn't needed.

You don't need your keywords in your domain name. Websites without them in there rank just fine. Instead of focusing on that specific keyword, I'd recommend spending the time to make your site the absolute best of its kind.

This isn't new advice, he said something similar back in 2011 and we now have the Exact Match Domain Google filter, so be careful with that.

Forum discussion at Google Webmaster Help.

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John Romaine

06/06/2014 01:22 pm

Yet we STILL see thin, rubbish sites using EMD's to rank (especially for local search related terms)

Michael Martinez

06/06/2014 01:42 pm

And Wikipedia still ranks for a lot of stuff. It's a big search index.

John Romaine

06/06/2014 01:58 pm

I was referring to terms such as "plumber north Sydney" etc. It can be frustrating trying to help clients when you're competing against businesses who register dozens of EMD's in an effort to capture SE traffic.

Sick of badly written English

06/06/2014 02:31 pm

Some title, thank goodness SEO's focus on individual keywords and not content marketing, oops


06/06/2014 03:02 pm

You need to be better then :)


06/06/2014 03:29 pm

I am sick of hearing best best ... that will be their line for another million years from now and they themselves know it's not always the case.


06/06/2014 04:31 pm

While you can rank without it... google has flip-flopped on this numerous times and likely to flip again in the future. They fall short of saying it doesn't provide a boost. They just hint that it is possible to compete without it. Both of which I believe to be true at this point in time. I do think the benefits are minor and much less valuable than developing a proper brand.

Joseba Umbelina

06/06/2014 05:12 pm

Well yes, you don't need keywords in the domain to rank well but at the same time, there are still so many EMDs ranking in first position with crappy content..

Dave Fogel

06/06/2014 05:49 pm

I advised a client against using keyword in his domain because the EMD penalty, then he showed me 3 of his competitors who are using keywords in their name and were all ranked 1,2,3. sigh..

Michael Martinez

06/06/2014 05:55 pm

"You need to be better then :)" That can be said of everyone.


06/06/2014 06:15 pm

Nice example... if a PR9 website can do it then anyone can.

Michael Martinez

06/06/2014 06:45 pm

The fact you can't doesn't mean others can't.

Durant Imboden

06/06/2014 07:06 pm

I can think of some location-based EMDs that do very well with little or no real content. [Cityname].nu comes to mind.


06/06/2014 08:23 pm

Your example continues to be weak despite your dig.

Takeshi Young

06/06/2014 08:29 pm

I call bullshit.


06/06/2014 09:18 pm

You Dont have to be Beautiful but it helps - Pet Shop Boys. What about subdomains? See softonic, that has a subdomain for each software and spamming Google like hell!

Mark Warner

06/06/2014 09:47 pm

You don't get penalized for having keywords in your domain name, that's not really what that update was about.

Dave Fogel

06/06/2014 09:52 pm

I realize that. It was for sites with crap content with keyword rich domains... but those still rank.

Michael Martinez

06/06/2014 10:18 pm

That wasn't a dig. I'm just stating a fact. In the article you linked to in another comment Matt Cutts said what I said: whenever someone loses in the SERPs, someone else wins. They replaced what they felt were low quality sites in the long tail queries with what they felt were higher quality sites. Search engine optimization still works as it always has. It's the manipulation that is struggling.


06/06/2014 11:16 pm

You forget that the "someone else wins" does not always mean another website wins. Google can win the clicks with ads. Google can prevent a click with knowledge graph. Google can crush a long tail search term's traffic with instant by sending it to a shorter tail search... and the list does go on... The long tail traffic largely went away from a webmaster's perspective. If you actually read articles at the time it was noticed across the board in traffic logs and the AdWords keyword tool stats. Your facts are woefully lacking.

Mark Warner

06/06/2014 11:56 pm

Roger that. It's worth noting to clients that if they have junk websites that exploit an EMD, they are not likely to be ranking well for the phrases that are not in their domain name. There is a ton of traffic that they will need a real website in order to compete for.

Peter Watson

06/07/2014 01:33 am

Non EMD's can obviously rank well too, but EMD's rank faster. So John Mu is correct.

Michael Martinez

06/07/2014 02:21 am

"You forget that the "someone else wins" does not always mean another website wins." I see you don't understand how search results work. You see, wertwert, a search result consists of listings of pages found on the World Wide Web. So if one listing is removed another listing is usually put there in its place. It's true that for some types of queries the search engine may choose to simply show fewer listings on the front page, but they still continue to show up to 1,000 listings altogether in any search result (provided they have at least that many relevant items they feel deserve to be listed). Long tail queries did not go away. And so the search engines have continued to serve results for those long tail queries all along. You just have to accept that sometimes they are going to show something other than what you expect or want. If you need any further illumination in this topic, please follow up with more inexpert sarcasm and insults; I'll be glad to continue explaining the very basic stuff until you understand it. In the meantime, have a great weekend!

Michael Martinez

06/07/2014 02:22 am

I'm curious: do you call it on a cell phone or a land line? Perhaps you use a short wave radio? On a more serious note -- sorry, I can't be more serious tonight.


06/07/2014 11:25 am

What about this? It ranks first on the first page for "mobile home movers" (2.9k searches/mo). The site's quality is the worst I've seen, and it only has one backlink, or 0 backlinks...depends on what homepage you search, because it has a duplicate (/index.htm). Isn't that love for exact match keywords in the domain? Google people are always talking like they crawl the web, not some bots which are not that bright.

chirag sachdeva

06/07/2014 11:33 am

I have domain,, whatever said in the above comment is 100 percent true. I have experienced the same in my domain name.

Ben Guest

06/07/2014 01:23 pm

Yup. EMDs aren't needed. But they sure as heck do well. If they didn't then how come I can't find any? They're all taken!!! Lol

Aunty SEO

06/07/2014 04:03 pm

There is no discussion needed here. All you need is a (or couple or more) high authority back links. Keyword or no keyword - anywhere - be it on domain or anchor text. G is all about links (mainly - 75 to 80%) rest all are your guesses.

Father support

06/08/2014 02:06 am

Well, after reading about the exact match filter... it's not the greatest news for us. Now reading this, it seems that URL names are less and less important. So for people like us, we have a bit of a lost. We picked thinking it was a great name... but now thanks to google, someone with a totally rubbish name can out rank us... Even worse, we may be penalised for this name if Google for some reason decideds our site is of poor quality. Another nail in the coffin for small businesses, especially non-profits.

Father support

06/08/2014 02:08 am

I think the best is to forget Google and focus on other traffic sources. If you're chasing Google traffic you're in for a loooong run, where if you focus those same efforts on other traffic sources you'll get better results. Google seems to have forgotten where they came from, that it was the small guys who got them where they are today, but now they neglet those people. Time to look at alternatives people...


06/08/2014 07:15 am

Surely text book words. Don't use similar domain for ranking well but you can still Google many keywords and you can see many website doing good with keywords in their domain names. EMD has an impact but its not a totally new algorithm where Google say Bye bye to consider keyword in URL and domain name.


06/08/2014 08:20 am

Dude... your grasp of search and SEO is whack. Wert didn't say long tail queries went away... You keep saying he said it though... wert said long tail traffic mostly went away... which is true because google took a lot of it for ads and also converted a lot to shorter tail like Wert said.

Michael Martinez

06/08/2014 04:25 pm

Dude, your grasp of what has been written here is whack. Wert wrote: "The long tail traffic largely went away from a webmaster's perspective." So calm down and stay out of this.


06/09/2014 05:53 am

You are not that smart as you think of yourself. Arguing pointlessly will not bring you redemption old buddy. Stop arguing. You have this bad habit like our old Durant has a habit of licking big G's a**. Though he is more logical nowadays. But you should abandon your bad habit buddy.


06/09/2014 08:35 am

In Italy EMD never coming!


06/09/2014 08:36 am

In Italy EMD never coming! @rustybrick:disqus

Michael Martinez

06/09/2014 01:54 pm

"You are not that smart as you think of yourself." Wow. And it took YOU to tell me (and everyone else) not only what I am thinking but that it's wrong. Thank you. At least now I know what I REALLY think. So very clever of you.


06/10/2014 10:28 am

You are so childish. You think you can fool people with this silly reply. Dude, I have no problem with you. I really appreciate your SEO jokes. But you have grown a bad habit of arguing over the years. Don't do that. Be happy and let others comment happily.

Michael Martinez

06/10/2014 01:54 pm

"You are so childish." Coming from someone using a screen name of "OldMichael" that is absurd.


06/11/2014 05:36 am

Your statement is absurd dude. People do not call children childish. Because it's their natural behavior. When a grown up man/women or rather I would call 'old man' behave like a child, is called 'Childish'. I guess you got it dude.:))

Michael Martinez

06/11/2014 06:22 am

You're really wasting your time and everyone else's with this nonsense.


06/11/2014 07:51 am

Yes true. I got it now. It's impossible to change you.

Michael Martinez

06/11/2014 01:57 pm

You are incredibly ironic.


06/16/2014 12:24 pm

EMD domains will always work great because it's easy to tell what kind of benefits your site provides. I usually create two different types of sites: niche reviews site and authority sites. I use EMD for all my niche review sites because they only have 10 to 20 pages and the focus is affiliate commissions. For authority domains, I recommend a brandable domain because you want to target direct type-in traffic first. The shorter, the better. A good example is my SEO blog ( that's only 5 characters. I made it short so people could easily remember it. I rank for a few solid keywords on page 1 so keep focus on great content and delivering that content to as many people as possible.

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