Do domains and URLs actually matter? Do they help SEO? Should you have multiple? Today we chat about everything domains & URLs.
What’s In This Episode?
- Do Keywords In My Domain Help SEO? (1:28)
- Should I Buy Multiple Domains? (8:15)
- Domain History (9:39)
- DO NOT Duplicate Sites On Different URLs! (11:48)
- Should I Buy Variations Of My Domain? (.net .org etc.) (12:30)
- Should I Have www. Or Not? (17:20)
- The Only Time To Use Multiple URLs (19:15)
Josh: Today we are talking about domains and URLs, and we’re answering all of your questions from do you include a keyword in your domain, or do I purchase multiple domains? Do I do www.? Can I do .physio or .website?
Whatever you’re thinking, we’re going to answer today!
Welcome to Creative Juices the show where we help you feel personally confident about your online presence.
I’m your host Josh and today I’m joined by the whole team, Julz and Em!
Julz: Hey Josh!
Em: Hey Josh!
Josh: How are you guys?
Julz: Good, good!
Josh: We are going to be talking about domains and URLs or if you really don’t know what those are it’s your web address as in www.newcastlecreativeco.com.au.
Julz: Or is it www.?
Josh: Or is it? These are the questions that we’re going to be talking about. So, a lot of questions that we get asked about domains is do I buy multiple domains? Do I buy like my personal domain? Do I keyword stuff my domain? Do I use www.? Do I use .com or do I use .com.au? And we are going to be addressing all of those, and there’s a lot of technical aspects, and technical pros and cons for everything, and that’s what we are going to be doing today.
Julz: Yeah for sure! There’s a lot in it!
Josh: There is, absolutely a lot in it! So the first question is do keywords in my domain help my SEO? So before we answer this question, SEO is your search engine optimization, as in, if I keyword stuff my domain, or if I have a domain that I use my keyword in, will I rank higher or will my website be optimized better for search engines? So again, do keywords in my domain help SEO?
Em: Yeah, it’s a good question, and I think the answer is yes and no. So… I mean obviously if you have keywords in your domain name that relate to the service that your business offers, and it lines up with the rest of your website, then obviously that’s a good thing. But I don’t think Google rates it as important as maybe they once did. So, it is a ranking factor but I don’t think it’s a very highly weighted one so to speak.
Josh: So how many ranking factors are there at the moment approximately?
Em: Um hundreds!
Josh: Hundreds, and so next year, we mentioned on a previous podcast that Google’s also introducing web vitals.
Josh: And so, those kind of things will be weighted better and ranking better than other things. So, for example, like keywords in an H1 may give you three SEO points but then something else may give you 20 SEO points. And so, that’s what you’re meaning by weighted, right?
Em: Yeah. Exactly, but one thing Google is figuring out is that people are learning how to manipulate their algorithm I guess, which means that it’s not really fair. So they’re really trying to lessen the things that people can manipulate to try and rank, so that the algorithm is more fare. So what happened a while ago is that people just bought out a bunch of keyword rich domains.
For example, super random one, let’s say redspottysocks.com. So if you… if your business was selling red spotty socks then people would buy that domain so that if anyone searched “I want to buy red spotty socks” in Google then technically they would think they would come up first. But there’s so many more ranking factors than just your URL name and Google also found out, you know, people are doing this to try and manipulate the system and rank better. So while it is still a ranking factor it’s definitely not the be-all and end-all. And I think something that’s important for your business is to actually have like a brand awareness, so to speak.
So if you have a brand name over just a keyword rich name I guess I would think that’s a good thing. So for example, if your business is called Port Stephens Physio then it’s likely that your URL will be portstephensphysio.com or something along those lines. And so if someone’s searching for Port Stephens Physio, obviously you’ve got a good chance of ranking towards the top of Google but then you have to think about all the other Physios in the Port Stephens area are going after that ranking term which is also your business name. So technically you have higher competition because everyone else wants to rank for your business name, compared to if you have a branded name maybe you’re called… I don’t know… Inspire Physio and you’re located in Port Stephens then you technically have two chances of ranking, if people search for your brand name and as well if they search for Physio in Port Stevens if that makes sense.
Julz: Yeah, it’s good!
Julz: I think the other… one of the other things I was thinking about as well with keywording, like those are short tail keywords Port Stephens Physio, but I’ve also seen people pull in like long tail keywording into their domain. So you know, we’re talking like 20, 30, 40 character long domain names! And from a user experience that’s pretty poor. Like…
Julz: Exactly!! Or you know, like that that’s exactly it! It would just be a frustrating domain name to have, so you’ve got to kind of be smart about it.
Josh: You want to think about user experience as well. So like if you buy a domain that doesn’t line up with your actual business name, like let’s say portstephensphysio, but and then I’ve got a branded name let’s say my actual business name is Josh Carter Physio, but I’ve bought porstephensphysio.com.au people are going to click on portstephensphysio.com.au, land on my site, see my branded name and go what??? I saw… I thought I was on Port Stephens Physio!
Em: There’s no continuity.
Julz: And the flip side of that also, is that if somebody were to do that right, uh portstephensphysio.com but they have a different branded landing page or their business is a different brand but, let’s say somebody comes along and actually opens up Port Stephens Physio as their business name, then that business has all rights, trademark and everything, to go to you and pull that domain.
Em: Yeah, wow!
Julz: You’ve got no choice! And so the site that you’ve built, and the effort that you’ve put into trying to rank a keyword rich domain can be totally pulled out from underneath you! So…
Josh: Absolutely! So I guess the other thing is that if you keyword your domain so let’s say I’m a mechanic and I specialize in radiators. So if I write okay Josh Carter Radiators or I don’t know, like Port Stephens Radiators, the other thing is that you’ve suddenly limited yourself just to radiators, and if someone clicks on my site to do radiators, but then I’ve actually maybe expanded my services to encompass more, I’ve totally limited myself to that service as well.
Julz: Yeah true! So you’ve got to spend more money with advertising and, you know, pushing off to landing pages and things like that as well.
Josh: Absolutely! So I guess the answer to do keywords in your domain help SEO? Yes and no!
Josh: There’s a lot of thought that goes into it and that’s actually… we spend a lot of time speaking to clients about that.
Josh: So this kind of leads to the next thing, because as well as getting a keyword in a domain, what we see people do is also…
Julz: All the time!
Josh: Do I buy, let’s say my brand URL? So let’s say joshcarterphysio but and then do I also buy portstephensphysio and then direct it to that, or do I just buy the two domains. So, do multiple domains actually help?
Julz: Um… I would… I’m gonna just say flat out no, in most cases. I know that it’s been a popular thought… like no with a small yes. The yes being if you purchase out multiple domains like that you are limiting your potential competition from attempting to get that. But if they find out that it just simply doesn’t exist and it’s just a parked domain and that that business hasn’t been trademarked I think like we said before, they can just create that business, approach you as the domain owner and force you to hand that domain name over. So in terms of SEO, there’s no real ranking factor in doing that so just parking out a domain and letting it sit in your account really does nothing.
And it can actually, it can have a negative effect as well. So, you know, if that domain has history because domains actually, if they’ve been previously registered and used, and now they’re not, there could be a risk factor in that they’ve been penalized by Google, and so…
Josh: Yeah. Absolutely!
So like we’ve we came across this even with one of our clients, right?
Julz: Early clients, yeah. And so they had a .com at the time and when they came on board they said, oh we don’t use the .com.au because like a couple of years ago we actually keyword stuffed our website, poor SEO technique, and Google penalized us and took it down, and so we can’t… we can’t use that domain. But after a quick little search and finding out that enough time had passed, and it was more beneficial for them, their domain had been whitelisted again and it was more beneficial for them to go .com.au for the localized aspect of the search, for that would be more beneficial. So we ended up setting up redirects and that site’s going good now.
Josh: Yeah. So that’s actually a pretty common thing as well, because 10 years ago or however long ago, I can’t remember exactly what it was but, people would keyword stuff their websites. They’d have a white background with a whole load of white text which is keywords and then what happened was Google introduced this search engine update called Penguin. And Penguin destroyed the internet. Everyone freaked out because Penguin started to implement these things like we will flag you if you were keyword stuffing.
Josh: And then what happens is… let’s say like in this example, let’s say you purchase a domain which in the past has been penalized, and there was nothing done to fix it. You’ve suddenly inherited a flagged domain with bad SEO which will negatively affect everything that you’re directing it to as well.
Josh: So it’s just not worthwhile! The other thing that I’ve seen done personally, which is really bad is that people have purchased the different domains and instead of redirecting it, they’ve gone “Okay I’m just going to duplicate my site across to that”. So it’s like I’m going to have joshcarterphysio.com.au but then I’m also going to purchase portstephensphysio.com.au and then just duplicate all of the content across. Do not do that!!
Em: No!! You’re competing against yourself and you’ll probably both get deranked.
Julz: Yeah. Well it’s duplicate content right? Because you know, Google doesn’t know that. It just sees that you’ve got the exact same content across multiple different sites.
Josh: Yeah, absolutely! So I guess we’ve kind of spoken a little bit about different domains but a lot of people, what they… a common one we find is that I’ve owned like I own the .com.au should I buy the .net.au, the .org.au, the .org, the .com, the all of that. Is that something that should happen?
Julz: Uh… I mean… it’s good for ownership in terms of being able to… I don’t know… have the… what do you call it, the rights to that. So there’s no harm in doing that, but I guess you’ve got to think about if you’re going to use one of these obscure kind of .io, even .nets, .events, .physio…. these sorts of tag on URLs for your primary domain there’s something called a TLD which is Top Level Domain, and basically that’s Google going we have a certain list of prefixes or you know, the .com.au, .com that are TLDs and so TLDs are the preferred domain that they are going to rank and place in search results over and above those other more obscure ending URLs. So yeah. There’s no real benefit and just like we said, buying a domain and parking it just for the sake of it except for the fact that you own it and no one else can get it. But even if a person got a .physio domain of your domain name, and then created a website using that, you’re still going to outrank them if you’ve got the .com or the .com.au.
Em: So what would you recommend as like a top-level domain?
Julz: If you can, and I know it’s getting harder and harder, it’s always that… if you’re a local business get the .com or .co.nz if you’re in New Zealand, or .co.uk if you’re in the UK…
Josh: Or .com.au if you’re in Australia
Julz: …in Australia of course, or of course there’s always the ultimate .com, yeah.
Josh: And it’s something that like… it’s also about that user intent. Like if I look up a site that’s got .io or .co.nz or something like that, like Australian businesses still have this tendency to buy random domain names that I look at and I’m like are these people actually in Australia? Most people understand the internet enough to know that if it’s an Australian business it will have .com.au…
Julz: Yeah, yeah!
Josh: …so it’s better for the user intent, and the local aspect of it.
Julz: It is interesting though, on that .io. So there are one or two of these domain names that have become so popular that Google has turned them into TLDs. So .io is really popular in like the startup kind of software environment and it’s actually the Indian Ocean postcode if you will.
Em: I didn’t know that!
Julz: So, but io is also input output. It’s a technical coding term that you know, these software geeks .io input output…
Julz: …so that kind of caught on. And some of these startups gained so much traffic, and so much power on the internet that Google was like “Okay, I think we’re going to make this a TLD now because it’s getting millions and millions of hits to it.” So there is power in that, but you know, with the little really weird obscure ones that’s a very unique situation.
Josh: So to summarize the question, do multiple domains help? Number one is that if you duplicate your site across to it absolutely not! If you snap up all of the different variations of your site, the only benefit is that you may be stopping a competitor, but in terms of your SEO there is no impact positive or negative unless there is bad history for that domain, and it goes vice versa. If you somehow manage to get nike.com like there will be a positive effect of getting that, but that’s very rare. So in our situation, we generally recommend not.
The other thing is that let’s say you have a confusing brand name, and it’s constantly being misspelled. It may be worthwhile looking into purchasing the domain that it’s commonly misspelled for…
Julz: Yeah, sure…
Josh: …and then redirecting it.
Josh: The next question that we have is do I go with www. or do I just cut that off the front?
Julz: Yeah well, we’re still seeing a lot of websites… it’s like 50 50 at the moment. You can go without it but I personally build all of our sites with it. Just from a technical perspective it’s not necessarily going to hurt your rankings but one of the benefits of www. is that there’s a thing called a CDN which is a Content Delivery Network and what this does, I think we’ve spoken about it in a previous podcast, but essentially it serves up your website content from servers all over the world and the only way that a CDN will operate through is via www. So I always factor that in just because I use a CDN on all of our websites because it helps increase the speed, which helps increase…
Josh: User experience…
Julz: …performance, hence rankings. So yeah!
Josh: Okay! So we would recommend www.
Julz: I do, yes.
Josh: …and then get a CDN.
Julz: And I also look at some of… because when I was doing the research for this, I was like okay what are the big sites doing, because you know, I want to know what the really big site’s doing, and it was still torn between the two.
Julz: There was no real… you know, one swinging the other way but… no actually I would say that there was maybe like a 60 percent more would, we’re leaning towards www.
Julz: …and that’s things like Pinterest and stuff like that so…
Josh: The international ones we would use…
Julz: Yeah, yeah.
Josh: Awesome! So that’s all of our questions done for this one, but I will make a last… a last comment that you mentioned Julz, that there’s a very small ‘yes’ when it comes to multiple domains, and the very small ‘yes’ is actually if you can split your brand into different aspects, which is not very common across most industries.
So an example is Shutterfly has shutterfly.com but it also has a separate website for shutterflytinyprints. And then what they’ve done is they’ve matched tinyprints with the searcher intent. So both domains have totally different copy, totally different target markets and what they’ve done is they’ve used that to kind of snap up the targeting of that target audience.
Julz: Yeah sure!
Josh: And so, what happens is when you search up shutterfly, you get shutterfly.com and then you’ve got shutterflytinyprints, and then you’ve got their other brands, and suddenly they’re the one who’s dominating it all!
The only thing that I will mention is that if you decide to go down that route, let’s say you have an internal clinic within your clinic or whatever, if you have duplicate content that’s a bad ranking factor. The other thing is if you have a similar designed website and you don’t fully design your site around that target market it could increase your bounce rate.
So many times I’ve got onto websites where I’m like this isn’t actually what I wanted to get to so then I press back. The bounce rates increased, therefore you’ll get deranked more because Google would go well they’re obviously not finding what they want. So that’s the very, very small reason why you would actually have multiple domains.
Julz: Yeah, sure! Yeah, yeah.
Josh: So is there anything else that you would address when it comes to domains or URLs?
Em: I think we’ve covered it! I mean, it’s probably not the sort of thing that if you’ve already got a business with a website that you’re going to go out and all of a sudden change, but it’s good to know what helps and what doesn’t, and should you be hoarding domain names or not. So hopefully we’ve cleared that up a bit.
Julz: Yeah, and if you are in the position of realizing that your domain name maybe isn’t the best suited for your business, you need to have a really solid plan for a rebuild, redirection. The last thing that you want is to lose traffic if you are going to pivot your domain name out and change that. So speak with a professional when it comes to redirection because it’s far more involved than what you probably realize.
Josh: Absolutely, and we’d be happy to chat with you, and you can actually head on to our website and click on test your site for free and we will get to audit your site for you.
So that’s it for this episode and we will see you next time! Thank you for listening.