MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA – In a recent discussion on Mastodon, Google’s John Mueller – the company’s Senior Search Analyst and Search Relations team lead – was discussing the topic of domain names, and while offering tips on search engine optimization (SEO), he relayed his opinion that whatever an individual or company’s domain name is – “it’s never going to make or break your SEO.”
This factoid came out after Mueller was questioned about the utilization of dashes in domain names, and whether or not it was a good idea to use keywords in your domain. In response, he wrote, “In the domain name, is the use of dash ( – ) recommended or not?”
Mueller then laid out a series of tips on domains, essentially saying “it’s fine” to use keywords or dashes but that they are in no way vital or even necessary in the long run; instead, he suggested that it was more important to establish and build upon your domain instead of trying to assign relevant buzzwords to it.
Mueller’s points are as follows:
- Pick a domain name for your brand for the long run, don’t just collect keywords (the common reason for dashes). Build out a domain.
- For SEO, dashes are very minimally better in URLs than underscores. Don’t change your URLs for them though. Don’t use spaces, commas, colons, etc in URLs.
- Your domain name is never going to make or break your SEO.
These assertions caused quite a bit of chatter amongst Mastodon users, with one replying, “as long as keyword domains work, people will use them. Maybe Google can delete this bonus finally?”
Mueller disagreed with the user, however, echoing the stance that Google has held for years that the company doesn’t place great importance upon domains when it comes to ranking and SEO.
Do they really work though? I think it’s a lot of “keyword in the domain” plus “there’s a lot of other SEO things we do” — and I don’t think you can separate out the effect of a word in a domain,” he said. “They can be cool for branding, they can be memorable, but I don’t think you get any measurable SEO bonus out of it. (It would be totally weird to do that, anyone can buy a domain name; it’s not a sign of relevance.)”
As always, I’m cautious about taking everything Google says either works, or doesn’t work when it comes to SEO at face value.
About The Author: John Colascione is Chief Executive Officer of Internet Marketing Services Inc. He specializes in Website Monetization, is a Google AdWords Certified Professional, authored a ‘how to’ book called ”Mastering Your Website‘, and is a key player in several Internet related businesses through his search engine strategy brand Searchen Networks®