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Using Domain Names as the Cornerstone of SEO

By on January 12, 2012

Savvy domain investors have been aware of the concept and benefits of using keywords in their domain names for SEO purposes since the beginning. The rest of the world has started to catch on in recent years.

While doing some freelance projects for my New Year website development special, I couldn’t help but notice a trend that comes up in almost every site; keyword domains. Clients are either interested in finding a great keyword domain or already have one ready to go.

Leading SEOs and even Google’s Matt Cutts have confirmed that keywords in domain names offer benefits to search rankings. The benefits have been observed by many and even thought to be too much by some.

My personal philosophy and reasoning for using keyword domain names extends beyond this primary benefit. In this article, I will share some ideas on keyword domains and why I think everyone should consider using them.

Keyword Targeting

The #1 reason that keywords in domain names are beneficial for SEO is not because of some secret Google algorithm, it’s simply that other web properties will link to your website using the keywords in your domain or business name.

  • Business Name – It’s 2012 and the domain name should now be an essential part of naming any business. I’m sure you’ve heard that picking a domain name can be frustrating. Many business owners are not familiar with keyword tools or the domain industry for that matter. This leaves an opportunity for those in-the-know to gain a significant competitive advantage using keywords in their domain.
  • Generic Domains – These are the “Holy Grail” of keyword domain names, representing the exact match term(s) and nothing else. Generic domains are typically highly valued and sought after virtual real estate. However, it is still possible to acquire them on the aftermarket or speculate on new and emerging industries. Generic domains can provide tremendous boost to SEO efforts.
  • Long-tail Domains – Opportunity awaits those willing to venture into the territory of longer domains. Three word domains are fast becoming commonplace and are being used to rank for exact match phrases, products and services. Developing one or more long-tail keyword phrase domains can set you up to receive consistent targeted leads from organic search traffic for those terms.

You can use the popular Google AdWords keyword tool to discover high search volume / low competition keyword phrases that may be available to register as .com domains.


It’s true that brandable domain names can work just as well as purely keyword domain names; a previous post covered all those details. As mentioned in the editorial, keywords can also play a part in the branding process.

  • Keyword + Brand– Using a keyword connected to a unique brand identifier is a great strategy for those on a budget or in a somewhat crowded niche. These domains can be easier to find and may help you along the brainstorming process of naming your business.

For example, a Raleigh Catering company could find SEO benefit using a domain like RaleighCateringPros.com. The Pros suffix is relevant to the business, but will not be searched for by new customers. However, over time, the site will gain backlinks which include the phrase “Raleigh Catering.”

  • Short Links – Many businesses and publications are beginning to use their own custom domain names as link shorteners. This can potentially provide additional SEO benefits through social network sharing as articles propagate through the web.

Keywords provide instant recognition which is great for usability, advertising and marketing. They also bring preconceived expectations, so be sure to deliver with relevant content.

Remember that domain names are essentially your cornerstone for SEO. You’ll still need to work hard to optimize you website, it’s content and engage in a constantly changing social web.

Do you use keywords in your domain names? Are you struggling to find a viable domain? Please leave a comment below to share your experience using domain names for SEO.


About Mark Fulton

Mark is the Founder of DotSauce Magazine and a full time web developer, domain investor, SEO and online marketing professional residing in North Carolina, USA. Visit MarkFulton.com for information on freelance website development, SEO and consultation services.