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How Not to create a Search Optimized Domain Name

Or, The Effectiveness of Keyword Density in Domain Names for Start–Ups

Various and numerous Search Engine Optimization (SEO) pundits stress importance of service or product-type keywords in domain names. That theory does have some minor merit: search engines parse domain names first. Adequate SEO practitioners insist on all keyword domain names because of it.

That Logic’s flawed.

The following method illustrates the The Elementary Group theory regarding domain names and keywords.


All sites have two competitors as regards search engines: commerce competition and search phrase(s) competition. All sites have two users: visitors and spiders.

The difficulties for keyword inclusion in the domain name are twofold: branding difficulties and poor search results. New sites with a unique or artistic domain name may expect 1 - 3 months before their domain name results in prominent placement on search results pages. However, when a domain name includes multiple keywords, a site not only is competing for it’s name recognition but it is competing against general search terms. It may take between 12 – 24 months for a new site to be found because of this factor.

It would be nice if your domain name had first natural search position, wouldn’t it.


Domain Name Research

Let’s suppose that some clever software engineers had manufactured numerous search engine optimization tools that spider search engine spiders.

They had their product but they hadn’t found a company name.

Some liked The Lamprey Tool Company since they christened their tools “Lamprey.” But, they hadn’t decided on an adjective for the first word. [Note: They were inspired by late-1960's psychedelic bands, e.g., The Strawberry Alarm Clock, The Chocolate Watchband, The Peanut Butter Conspiracy and The Electric Prunes.]

Some would have liked something more business-like. And, since they had read that websites need keywords in the domain name for prominent search results, they decided that the company name will be Search Engine Optimization Tools, Inc.

Let’s say — after backroom negotiations — they all wanted a professional domain name.

So, they researched various domain names based on the words “search” “engine” “optimization” “tools” but found they were all actual sites or they were parked in farms or fraudulent sites.

Then, they decided that the domain name will have “search engine optimization spider tools”. It wasn’t taken.

They had also read that you should not include dashes in the domain name because visitors don’t know about them or that these things confuse people. Some type names with spaces; some don’t. They had read about camelHumped domain names on business cards, e.g., www.SearchEngineOptimizationSpiderTools.com, of which visitors would remember.

That aside, they decided search engine rankings require investigation before they make their decision.

Keyword Research

So, company management researched keywords and plugged them into search engines on October 1, 2006. They were displeased.

They found competition for the keywords that would comprise their name. They needed words that had few results.

“search engine optimization tools”
Resulted in about 65,200,000 pages from Google.
And, about 17,300,000 pages from Yahoo.

That didn’t work.

“search engine optimization spider tools”
Resulted in about 4,280,000 pages from Google.
And, about 738,000 pages from Yahoo.

That still didn’t work.

[Note: Their domain name—some thought— should be “searchengineoptimizationspidertools.com”, Right? There's one small flaw. “searchengineoptimizationspidertools” is a single word; “search_engine_optimization_spider_tools”, too. (Search engines do not consider underscores whitespace.)]

They thought that—Maybe—they should use the name of the tools. And, an executive found that they should use dashes in Uniform Resource Indicator (URI). So, they did.

“lamprey search spider tools”
Resulted in about 29,500 pages from Google.
And, about 740 pages from Yahoo.
“lamprey spider tools”
Resulted in about 34,100 pages from Google.
And, about 990 pages from Yahoo.


“lamprey search engine optimization tools”
Resulted in about 25,500 pages from Google.
And, about 188 pages from Yahoo.

Still better.

“lamprey search engine spider”
Resulted in about 21,700 pages from Google.
And, about 590 pages from Yahoo.
“lamprey search engine spider tools”
Resulted in about 19,400 pages from Google.
And, about 210 pages from Yahoo.

Things were getting better when they decided that they would research an artistic name.

“orange lamprey spider tools”
Resulted in about 21,300 pages from Google.
And, about 212 pages from Yahoo.
“mauve lamprey spider tools”
Resulted in about 339 pages from Google.
And, about 29 pages from Yahoo.

Things were getting better still when they decided research of really artistic name was necessary.

“paisley lamprey tools”
Resulted in about 509 pages from Google.
And, about 76 pages from Yahoo.
“paisley lamprey spider tools”
Resulted in about 241 pages from Google.
And, about 19 pages from Yahoo.

Then someone remembered about word placement in a sequence for search engines.

“lamprey paisley tools”
Resulted in about 509 pages from Google.
And, about 75 pages from Yahoo.
“mauve lamprey tools”
Resulted in about 427 pages from Google.
And, about 79 pages from Yahoo.

And, someone thought about invented words.

Resulted in no pages from Google.
And, no pages from Yahoo.

That did it.


They chose Lampreyous.

Their domain name became “lampreyous.com”.

[Note: They also registered various name variants and top level domain (TLD) suffixes, e.g., “lampreyous.org”, because they read about name theft. And, they did not choose “lampreyo.us” as their domain name. It’s clever. It’s edgy. It’s forgettable. Especially, when explaining it to them what does not know Web 2.0. names with clever TLD usage, e.g., “polar.la.va”. ]

It had immediate, memorable brand name recognition. And, marketing’s easier, too. It had no results in Google or Yahoo. And, that’s when they knew that that domain name could be used for branding, marketing and user recognition; not for search engines.

All search engines showed their website first in rankings—for their domain name—by fortnights’ end.


Brand identity recognition for new websites has more significant benefits than waiting two years for search results. Domain names with all keywords is a marketing blunder.

I do not suggest nor advocate the sole use of keywords in domain names. Domain names based on the company name with a single keyword included are beneficial. However, all of the search terms for the services or products should be placed in the site structure, in the page URI, e.g., sub-directories, or in editorial content on the page and a single word in the domain name.

As for the effectiveness of absolute keyword density in the domain names of start-up companies: there isn’t any.

Sean Fraser posted this on October 17, 2006 10:43 AM.

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The Elementary Standards: A Compendium of Web Standards, CSS, Linguistics and Search Engine Optimization methodology Copyright ©2005-2007 Sean Fraser. All work is published under a Creative Commons License. All Rights Reserved.

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