It’s one of the oldest SEO tips in the book: Put keywords in your domain name because Google will rank you higher.
Years ago this tip wasn’t even questioned. Google placed great emphasis on the words in your domain name. If you wanted to rank for “Cute cats in hats” your best domain name would be “CuteCatsInHats.com”.
Being the genius that I undoubtedly am (not really) I decided to load one of my blogs with keywords in the domain name. The blog is GamePlayersReview.com. That domain name is literally packed full of keywords. There’s “Game” “Gameplay” “Play” “Review” and “Players”.
Just one problem. And it’s not the problem you’re expecting. It has nothing to do with Google penalising me for having too many keywords in the domain. It has nothing to do with SEO or algorithms (both slowly dying fields). It has everything to do with personality.
My blog name (or rather, that specific one, as I have others I’m much happier with) is simply too darned dull to take off.
Indeed, that specific blog has not taken off. Other blogs of mine have. Just not that one. That one is stuck in the mud (actually it’s where the majority of blogs of its age are, but I would rather it be much more successful).
And the reason is largely because of those keywords in the domain name.
Putting keywords in my domain name essentially forced me to have a dull name. This is unavoidable. If you put keywords in your domain name you won’t have a very effective blog title. The reason is simple: people already know those keywords.
There’s nothing original about the words “Gameplay” “Game” “Players” or “Review” and as such “Game Players Review” cannot possibly be original.
And the same is true for all keywords. Keywords are keywords because people search for them. If people search for those terms they obviously already know them. In other words, keywords are old news. And as such, if you base your domain name and blog title on keywords you will end up sounding old and familiar.
I mean really GamePlayersReview.com. Yuck.
I actually strongly dislike the sound of that blog now. It sounds old fashioned. Not cutting edge. It’s not where it needs to be.
And so long as you stuff keywords in your domain name, your blog title will sound dull too. Try it. Try creating a clothes store and calling it “ClothingStore.com”. It’s not really going to WOW anyone.
You cannot achieve a high quality brand while stuffing the title full of keywords. In fact, the best online brands don’t have keywords in their titles at all. “Buzzfeed” “Lad bible” “The Mind Unleashed” “Lulu Lemon” “Yahoo” “Google” “IGN” “Bleacher Report”. Think about your top ten favourite blogs. I’m willing to bet that 8 or more of them do not have keywords in the title, because the second you put keywords in the title you force your domain name to sound familiar.
Naturally I am about to change my domain name for that website. I don’t actually know what I will call it right now. But I do know a few things:
- The title will not include keywords
- Instead of keywords the title will include original words (this will give it a more unique name and will make it stand out more online)
- The title will resonate with personality, because online personality is king.
Naturally, your domain name is also immensely important for social media. For instance, consider Facebook. On Facebook, 99% of the time your fans engage with you via their feed and not via your page. Their experience of your page is limited to a few aspects, the aspects they see in their feed. Those aspects are: post title, words, image and the name of your Facebook page.
The Facebook page name is at the very top of the post, above the post contents. In other words it’s one of the first parts of the post people see. If that part of your post (your page name) is dull, people will immediately move on, completely skipping over your post.
You can test this for yourself. Hop on to Facebook and take a gander at your feed. If you’re like me you’ll find that you scan the page names or profile names first. You’re looking for people and pages you know and like. This is the very first part of engaging with a Facebook post. It’s the first consideration:
- Do I like the person / page (based on seeing the name and thumbnail)
- If so, do I like the post
- If so, perhaps share, like or comment.
People only get to stage 2 or 3 in that process after going through stage 1. In other words if they don’t like your page name they won’t interact.
And what that means, essentially, is that your social media marketing depends heavily on your title. Get that title wrong and it’s curtains.
And when you weigh all this up, you’re left with the realisation that a blog title is far too valuable to be loaded with keywords.
When you create a domain name, remember that that name is the name of your brand and the name of your presence online. If people do not like that brand name you’ll be shooting yourself in the foot. So ask yourself: Is it worth putting keywords in your domain name? Is it worth potentially crippling your branding just to please Google’s algorithm?