During the past week, two of my clients have been approached by domain name vendors offering 'prime domain names' that have relevant keyword terms for their business within them.
The emails the client receives often contain bold claims that these domains will "pay for themselves within weeks rather than months by virtue of the extra business that they drive to their websites by means of type in traffic and greatly enhanced search engine positions".
"Great!" the client thinks, "The domain names offered have keywords present, that's got to help our existing website rank for those terms in the natural listings hasn't it?"
Well, actually, the answer is not necessarily. There are other factors that need to be taken into consideration when purchasing domain names. Having keywords within a domain name is certainly a bonus, but purchasing a domain name to help an existing website rank well within the search engines solely on this basis is not advisable.
First, let’s take a closer look at the claims in the email. The term ‘type in traffic’, I can only assume refers to people typing the domain name directly into the address bar at the top of browsers. Hmmm, when was the last time you typed directly into the address bar? Probably ‘google.com’ or ‘bbc.co.uk’- brand names, not search terms. People use search engines for that, so I think we can safely say the extra traffic the domain name will generate from ‘type in traffic’ will be very small.
Next up, ‘greatly enhanced search engine positions’ – well, possibly, but let’s take some other factors into account before we start getting excited. I have briefly outlined these main factors below:
- Domain Age
- Domain History
- Indexing by the Engines
Search Engines take this factor into account when ranking websites on relevant keyword terms, as an older domain name has more trust about it than a brand new domain - the older, the better.
This is an important factor when it comes to search engines determining how trustworthy a domain, and therefore a website, is. There are tools that allow you to view the history of a domain, so you get to see a ‘snapshot’ of what content was on the domain in the past. If the site has had a good amount of relevant text content on it in the past, that’s a definite plus.
Is the domain recorded within the search engines? A site command in the engines will allow you to see the current indexed version of the website sitting on that domain name.
Backlinks (links pointing to the domain from other websites) are an important aspect of ranking well within search engine results. Checking to see how many backlinks the domain currently has and whether they are of any value (determining this is a whole other blog post) in the eyes of the search engines will give a better idea of associated value of the domain.
After taking these factors into account, we will have a much better idea of value.
In my experience, really good domain names are hard to come-by and cost a lot of money, so be suspicious of emails making bold claims that buying these domain names can help improve search engine ranking results.