Bing: It’s A Myth That Keyword Rich Domain Names Improve Search Rankings

bing-2013-logo-featuredMicrosoft Bing’s Senior Product Manager, Duane Forrester, wrote last night at the Bing Webmaster Blog that it is only a myth that in today’s ranking algorithms that a keyword rich domain name will make enough of an impact on your rankings to give you a major boost above your competitors.

Duane said that maybe “10 years ago” there was some truth to that but today – that is not the case.

The domain and keywords in that “domain send less and less” ranking signals to the overall Bing ranking algorithm. Duane said this is a good thing because the other signals can rank sites based on better merits than the words in a domain name plus “it’s better simply because those sites trying to abuse their way to the top with a keyword rich domain and irrelevant or poor content cease to rank well.”

But it doesn’t mean having keywords in a domain name is bad. Duane said it is important to do what is best for your users.

Related Topics: Channel: SEO | Microsoft: Bing SEO | Top News

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About The Author: is Search Engine Land's News Editor and owns RustyBrick, a NY based web consulting firm. He also runs Search Engine Roundtable, a popular search blog on very advanced SEM topics. Barry's personal blog is named Cartoon Barry and he can be followed on Twitter here. For more background information on Barry, see his full bio over here.

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  • http://websitecash.net/ Scott McKirahan

    Interesting choice of words – “a MAJOR boost.” I’m not sure anyone ever claimed it would give a website a MAJOR boost. If you don’t think it gives a website a little bit of a boost, you’re kidding yourself. Every website I have had where keywords were in the domain have ALWAYS done better than ones without – even when they were in the same niche and the one with the keywords had absolutely zero backlinks. It was the case 10 years ago and is still the case today – in Bing, Yahoo and Google. And face it; any kind of boost at all is a good thing in this day in age where many people are petrified of backlinks.

  • Durant Imboden

    Dunno about Bing, but in Google, location-based EMDs appear to have a significant impact on travel destination searches.

  • Travis

    EMDs do better because search engines give you a break on excessive
    exact match anchor text if it’s part of your domain name or brand.

  • Travis

    EMDs do better because search engines give you a break on excessive
    exact match anchor text if it’s part of your domain name or brand.

  • http://www.thinkgeeks4u.com Hiral Patel

    This is false – Domain name makes a big difference – Here is a great example

    Search on both Google or Bing – Chicago Bathroom Remodeling or try Kitchen Remodeling Chicago

    Results will show – chicagoremodeling.4everremodeling.com/‎ for both search engines.

    So now sub domains which contain those keywords rank significantly high. I have seen many of the competitors in this market segment shifting to sub domains to rank higher.

  • http://www.tenthwave.com/ Samuel Edwards

    I completely agree with you on this, Scott. As I was reading this I couldn’t help but look at past campaigns I’ve run and every single one that utilizes EMDs has ranked higher than those without. It’s probably safe to take this article lightly.

  • http://websitecash.net/ Scott McKirahan

    They don’t even need to be EMDs. If the search phrase is contained within the domain name (especially at the beginning), it definitely has an impact!

  • http://websitecash.net/ Scott McKirahan

    While I agree that CAN be the case, I think that anchor text plays a very minor role these days – certainly no more than the domain name – and that relevance and authority are far stronger signals than something as easily manipulated as anchor text. It also does not explain how websites with zero backlinks always rank better than almost identical websites without backlinks that do not contain the keywords in the domain name.

  • http://www.tenthwave.com/ Samuel Edwards

    Agreed. This has been especially useful when creating web properties for ORM campaigns.

  • http://www.BarnesFamily.com/ davebarnes

    Bing?
    What is Bing?

  • Chris Koszo

    Thanks, good to hear Bing’s comments on this! I think one of the major reasons EMD’s still tend to rank better today is because semantic relevance is higher if the webmaster subconsciously (or not) sets out to be very topically relevant by registering an exact match domain and then sticking to the formula as to not “go off-topic” for the visitors. Any thoughts?

    Of course citations (especially for local), and brand mentions, which of course utilize the keyword to some regard also play a role. Not sure how big though.

    TL;DR: Exact match domains on their own aren’t a big boost. But if the whole site is laser-focused on a specific keyword due to the domain name dictating said topic, obviously it will tend to rank better.

  • http://www.moviein3d.net/ Caitlin Roberts

    erased

  • Sophie Tran

    I think that having –not so much a “keyword-rich” domain, but a– relevant, strong, and unique domain name is very important for branding reasons.

    I’m happy to read that algorithms are smarter now than “10 years ago” to prevent domain abusers from cheating their ways to the top of the ranks. However, having a easy-to-spell, relevant (to keywords or industry terms), and brand-centric domain name is very important in building strong brands.

  • Gareth Mailer

    Agreed, but on that basis you could conceivably argue that this has always been the case and there never was an innate EMD boost, but rather it was down to leniency on the part of the search engine around anchor text.

  • Gareth Mailer

    I’ve seen bloggers, webmasters and search aficionados argue the case around the death of EMDs time and time again, despite the evidence staring them in the face: EMDs are still all over the place. What’s more, do a simple bulk backlink analysis via Majestic, and you will find tons which rank in the top 10 while surrounded by far more authoritative domains.

    This is just more misinformation written to push webmasters to avoid tactics which aren’t in the best interests of engines – public relations is far easier than filtering or penalising EMDs through algo updates.

    n.b. I’m not arguing the case for EMDs; for a whole host of reasons I generally consider them to be a plague on the internet.

  • JB

    I thought the same thing until I clicked over to the actual post and read through it. Unfortunately, the choice of words with “a major boost” is Barry’s alone, as they said no such thing. Their actual explanation is much less hyperbolic.

    The problem, though, is what Mr. Forrester says and what’s actually happening aren’t necessarily congruent. Just like how some of the stuff Matt Cutts and John Mueller say are more wishful thinking than factual statements. It’s clear on an anecdotal level that there are way more crappy EMDs at the top of the SERPs on Bing than Google.

  • John

    EMD s and tools are a way to combat competitors with large advertising budgets.

  • Durant Imboden

    Sometimes an EMD makes sense. If you’ve got a site about travel in Widgetville, why shouldn’t it be called widgetvilletravel dot com if that domain is available? Similarly, if you’ve got a site that publishes a different Bible story every day, wouldn’t dailybiblestory dot com be a reasonable name?

    The problem isn’t with EMDs per se, it’s with how they’re treated by search engines. A keyword in a domain name might suggest relevance for that keyword, but it shouldn’t trump other factors to the point where a shallow or “thin” page gets a free pass to page 1 of a SERP just because somebody managed to buy a relevant domain name.

  • Durant Imboden

    Sometimes an EMD makes sense. If you’ve got a site about travel in Widgetville, why shouldn’t it be called widgetvilletravel dot com if that domain is available? Similarly, if you’ve got a site that publishes a different Bible story every day, wouldn’t dailybiblestory dot com be a reasonable name?

    The problem isn’t with EMDs per se, it’s with how they’re treated by search engines. A keyword in a domain name might suggest relevance for that keyword, but it shouldn’t trump other factors to the point where a shallow or “thin” page gets a free pass to page 1 of a SERP just because somebody managed to buy a relevant domain name.

  • http://www.sbwebcenter.com/ Steve

    Google never said they had an issue with EMDs. They said they had a problem with EMD sites with low quality/spammy content. So, with that said, I do believe EMDs still help to a certain extent.

  • ashutosh rajput

    Mr. Scott you are little right but ………i am working in this industry last 5 years i know keyword in URL is not enough reason to rank there is almost 200 factors require to rank well….and at the i would like to say Bing is good search engine than Google it’s my experienced says……you can discuss anything with me i will give you many reason why Bing is better my email ID-ashutoshrajput@live.in

  • ashutosh rajput

    you are right Sophie

  • http://lathesis.com/ Lathesis

    Agree with your point but if your domain name is rich with the
    keyword which relevant with your business that’s really help to boost
    your ranking in search engine but only if you are good enough into it.

    On the other hand
    today your search ranking depends on the quality of content and quality
    of back links. If you post good quality content with interesting stuff
    then it helps to boos your search ranking.

  • http://www.swayamdas.com/ Swayam Das

    Hmm.. sounds kinda interesting cause the maximum domains that usually rank on Bing primarily have exact match keywords as their domain names. When Google launched their EMD update and swiped these types of domains the same was ranking in the Top 10 results on Bing :-)

  • Gareth Mailer

    Agreed. I’m usually very reluctant to voice opinion without conducting experiments, however there are far too many EMDs assigned position in competitive SERPs and with non-existent link profiles behind them for there not to be some sort of boost behind them.

    There may be less of a boost now than before, but it clearly still exists – that said, many people won’t just look at the SERPs for the evidence, they’d rather believe articles such as these.

  • TLDS

    I have just finished a post http://new-web-domains.com/seo-web-domains/seo-google-boosting-domain-name-ranking-power-new-web-domains/ which goes the other way. Google seems to be RANKING HIGHER domain names.

  • http://www.LeadDiscovery.com/ Jerry Nordstrom

    It seems as though the article puts this sensational statement in context with “If you have no content or poor content” then the EMD has no impact. Yes of course, for many a year EMD’s with little to no content of value are spam sites and get dealt with accordingly. But this is not what real marketers concern themselves with.

    I have always had and continue to have a great deal of success with EMDs. No, I don’t think search engines see the name and instantly give it cred. Instead, multiple indirect factors come into play that ultimately result in high search engine rankings.

    Clear and obvious branding
    Easy to remember and find website address
    Combined with social user names makes for a powerful 1-2 punch.

    When your audience reacts positively to your EMD by searching for, clicking on, visiting and performing social activities such as like, follow and share then you are generating the types of indicators that ARE evaluated by Search Engines.

    Outside of this why in the world would a search engine think
    Plumbing.com, Lawyers.com, Dentist.com or Flowers.com would be spam?
    We are only talking about long tail silly domain names with a foreign TLD that are considered spam: TheBestDentistsInSeattleWashingtonWA.info

    That said, if you feel your .com EMD is now junk, please reach out I would be glad to take it off your hands.

  • http://www.LeadDiscovery.com/ Jerry Nordstrom

    It seems as though the article puts this sensational statement in context with “If you have no content or poor content” then the EMD has no impact. Yes of course, for many a year EMD’s with little to no content of value are spam sites and get dealt with accordingly. But this is not what real marketers concern themselves with.

    I have always had and continue to have a great deal of success with EMDs. No, I don’t think search engines see the name and instantly give it cred. Instead, multiple indirect factors come into play that ultimately result in high search engine rankings.

    Clear and obvious branding
    Easy to remember and find website address
    Combined with social user names makes for a powerful 1-2 punch.

    When your audience reacts positively to your EMD by searching for, clicking on, visiting and performing social activities such as like, follow and share then you are generating the types of indicators that ARE evaluated by Search Engines.

    Outside of this why in the world would a search engine think
    Plumbing.com, Lawyers.com, Dentist.com or Flowers.com would be spam?
    We are only talking about long tail silly domain names with a foreign TLD that are considered spam: TheBestDentistsInSeattleWashingtonWA.info

    That said, if you feel your .com EMD is now junk, please reach out I would be glad to take it off your hands.

  • Darpan Ghosh

    Bing was pretty reluctant about updating its algorithm all these years! But, it appears they are walking the path of Google EMD!! Spammers wont be happy! They cannot be happy! Everyone who hated Google for anti-spam algorithm updates also run out of supportive argument it appears! :)

  • http://pestcontrolseo.wordpress.com/ Thos003

    “10 years ago” is a bit of an exaggeration… unless he’s referring to internet years at a rate of 1 human year to each internet year.

  • http://pestcontrolseo.wordpress.com/ Thos003

    “10 years ago” is a bit of an exaggeration… unless he’s referring to internet years at a rate of 1 human year to each internet year.

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