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There was a time when domain names were critically important to a website’s organic search rankings. Buying an exact-match domain name (EMD) for those search terms could propel you to the top of the search results pages in a matter of weeks.

Do you remember those times when the internet was just getting started?  You could keep in touch with your friends through ICQ, MIRC and AOL messenger for the entirety of the day while browsing through Yahoo directories to find what you were looking for.

In the old days, if you went online to do some shopping, there was a good chance that you did it on a site that had an exact match domain (EMD). This was because there was less competition among online retailers. For instance, if you were in need of a car insurance, you would most likely find yourself on a website that had an address similar to  No wonder why in 2010 sold for $49.7 million becoming the most expensive domain purchase for all time.

In the days when search engine optimization was still in its infancy, it was common practice for businesses to include their precise target keyword phrase directly in the URL of their domain.

Unfortunately, con artists and other nefarious actors took advantage of this fact, snatched up a large number of these domains, and linked them to sites of poor quality.

These times have passed. In this article, we’ll discuss how domain names factor into natural search engine results.

Indirect Effect on SEO

Domain name itself has no bearing on search engine rankings. John Mueller, a Google employee, recently confirmed what we already knew: including keywords in a domain name does not improve its search engine rankings.

John Mueller addressed the topic of whether or not keywords in a domain name help with search engine rankings in a Reddit thread claiming that using keywords in the domain name does not improve search engine optimization and offered a number of other arguments against doing so.

Domain names that include keywords do not improve search engine rankings, and in fact, selecting such a name could have a negative impact, according to Mueller’s research. To be sure, there are a few (non-search engine optimization) scenarios where using keywords in domain names makes sense.

In 2011, Google stopped rewarding domain names for having keywords that are exact matches. However, many SEO Agencies still continue to hold this view because of how slowly the algorithm shifted.

Some believe that a domain name rich in keywords will attract links with those keywords as the anchor text. Of course, this is a very rare occurrence. Also, keywords in anchor text are becoming less and less significant as ranking signals.

Google’s new intelligent query processing algorithms will reduce the importance of keyword matching. For this reason, using exact-match domains or links is not a sustainable SEO strategy.

It has no bearing on search engine rankings how long a domain has been around. Google has never confirmed that the age of a domain is factored into its ranking algorithm.

Multiple times, Google employees have confirmed the opposite. Still, modern marketers look for aged domains in the mistaken belief that this factor alone will boost rankings.

Domains are ranked independently of their registration duration

Another persistent SEO myth is that if you register your domain name far in advance (say, ten years), Google will see that as a sign of your dedication to that site.

Google, however, has stated that it ignores such considerations.

Domain registration is still vitally important, though. The transfer of a domain name, for instance, has been confirmed by Google as a factor in search engine rankings. That means Google could potentially use the registration to track down all domains owned by the same person or company.

It also means you shouldn’t waste money trying to reclaim rankings or backlinks from expired domains. Any prior signals from those domains will be devalued by Google because of the change in ownership.

Rankings are unaffected by a domain’s authority

In this piece, I’ve discussed the fallacy of putting too much stock in a site’s domain authority for search engine optimization. To sum up, Google only looks at backlink data on an individual page, never an entire domain.

The concept of “domain authority” was created by SEO experts but has no basis in Google’s ranking system. The value of inbound links to individual pages within a domain name is not added together. Misconceptions like this one cause businesses to make ineffective advertising moves.

Domain extensions (such as “.com”) are ignored by search engines. Before recently, having domain was beneficial for search engine optimization (SEO), especially for queries with a commercial intent.

That’s not the case any longer. As of recently, Google has been uniform in its treatment of domain names that are not country-specific. In addition, Google has explicitly stated that it does not take into account keywords in TLDs like .attorney, .seo, or .events.

Yet, country-specific top-level domains (ccTLDs) like .tr, .ru, continue to carry significant weight in local SERPs. A searcher in Turkey, for instance, is more likely to come across domain in the results.

Domain names have not lost their value

There is no correlation between domain names and search engine rankings. But it’s still important to pick a name that stands out. When people are more familiar with your brand and domain name, they are more likely to click on your search results and interact with your page. Both have an immediate impact on rankings.

In Google’s search results, domain names often appear in bold and can influence users’ decisions to click through. When you search for a phrase “coffee table for living room” you are more likely to click to a domain like or

Wrap Up

With the growing number of TLDs, however, the advantages of using a specific one for branding purposes are likely to dwindle. Defensive domain registration, which consisted of protecting a brand by securing its name across numerous TLDs, is now nearly impossible to accomplish. However, you should remain vigilant in case any impostors try to pass themselves off as the real deal. Brand name searches have a high search volume and should be prioritized for optimization.

In a nutshell, prioritize human users over search engines when selecting a domain name. Choose a moniker that stands out and prompts positive associations with your brand.