Using Keyword-Rich Domains and Subdomains for SEO

keyword-rich domain or subdomain?What are the strategic SEO advantages of having a relevant keyword-rich domain name? Is it a temporal search engine loophole or viable long-term ranking strategy?

Is Using Keyword-Rich Domains a Solid SEO Strategy?

Is Using Keyword-Rich Domains a Solid SEO Strategy?

They say what is but a name, but in reality, to search engines having a keyword present in your domain name can tremendously cut the time it takes to reach the top 10 for a cluster of  relevant keywords.

Less Time to Market, Lower Barrier to Entry

Keyword-rich domains require less links, less content and less time to market. The hard part is finding a prime “exact match” domain such as “the search term.com” (since most are long gone or ridiculously overpriced).

However, one alternative is resorting to domain names with affixed search modifiers (which are still a very effective SEO strategy) that can be skewed to communicate a primary marketing message such as “Affordable-IPhone-Gadgets.com”, etc.

Aside from the obvious advantage of being relevant and memorable, on a landing page / keyword by keyword basis, punchy keyword-rich domains can significantly impact the degree of impulse purchases from searchers aside from other typical barriers to entry.

For example, if you are selling red flags, the purchasing the name redflags.com as a pseudo name makes it a Top 10 search engine “candidate” for any variation of multiple lucrative key phrases associated with the root keyword.

While this tactic is not always guaranteed to work (as more competitive keywords require additional metrics meticulously synchronized for optimization), the impact it has on SEO provides a significant ranking factor.

They Are Perfect for GEO Targeting

In certain circumstances, such as GEO targeting for local search, keyword-rich domains can be a definitive and successful marketing tactic.

  • chicago.domain.com
  • los-angeles.domain.com
  • new-york.domain.com

It is no secret that entire search engine optimization strategies are often devoted or predicated entirely based on the creation or acquisition of keyword-rich domain names by purchasing an array of related modifiers as prefixes or suffixes for domains if the “exact match” spelling is unavailable.

In addition to adding relevance as a base URL, tactics such as (1) using relevant naming conventions (spell-it-out.html) (2) relevant h1 tags (3) relevant keyword usage (on a page by page basis to mirror the other metrics) is a sure-fire tactic to quickly conquer keyword verticals in search engines.

They Are “Game Changers” for Affiliates

While this method is widely used for squeeze pages, affiliate offers or mid-tail keywords in conjunction with “action verb” / pain killers such as “crm software” via crmsoftware.com or other keyword / domain parrot-like metrics mirrored throughout the web as an echo of relevance; this tactic can also be accomplished through deploying keyword-rich subdomains.

We are not suggesting you hang your hat on this method alone, but when considering (a) the time spent optimizing a website vs. (b) purchasing or creating a website which already has these type of attributes, it is a tangible consideration of budget, ROI and market share. The real advantage is realized by monetizing multiple web properties as a tiered ranking strategy for an array of keywords and phrases.

The question arises frequently, when is the right time to consider a subdomain vs. a new domain? This depends on a few critical metrics, however the inclination for consideration also depends on the volume of content present in the primary domain and how you intend to leverage the potential subdomain.

If your website is sagging under its own weight and losing relevance and / or rankings fast or simply unable to keep up with the competition, then employing a targeted keyword-rich prefix (leading, deals, affordable, etc.) for a subdomain can produce significant momentum (if you keep the content in that subdomain themed and siloed to gel continuity).

They Work Perfect with Subdomains

Using the same search above for “crm software”, by scrolling to the footer of a Google search, there are some additional stemmed variations which would either serve as potential site segments or a potential subdomain (depending on the size of the site).

  • crm software review
  • crm software small business
  • crm software comparison
  • open source crm software

Since the thresholds are rather low for these keywords, you could potentially keep these types of phrases “close to the root” in exact match (add a hyphen to separate the keywords) and implement targeted landing pages and feed those pages with relevant internal links from articles, white papers and / or a blog within the site.

On the contrary, they could be used as subdomains to target a specific variation such as business.crmsoftware.com or taken a step further business.crmsoftware/open-source.html or reviews.crmsoftware.com/comparisons.html

With so many ways to generate rankings and results, it is not surprising why affiliates use this tactic through creating a network of sites based on this simple, yet effective model. Even though it may not knock the most competitive keywords out of the park and into the top 10 results, it’s not always about targeting “the most competitive or the most trafficked phrases” it’s about owning the conversation through context – and keyword rich domains are just another tool in your toolbox to capitalize on a plethora of organic search traffic.

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7 Comments

  1. Pluto
    Posted January 14, 2010 at 11:26 am | Permalink

    So much for an Esoteric Industry. :-)

  2. Jeffrey Smith
    Posted January 14, 2010 at 11:33 am | Permalink

    Speaking of toolboxes, this is for those who only have hammers. Crude, yet effective, but who knows for how long?

    Thanks for breezing through Pluto.

  3. Dan
    Posted January 28, 2010 at 5:59 am | Permalink

    Thanks for the post.

    You forgot to mention something under the subdomain section. If you choose to go down that route, then you have to do seo for each subdomain separately! link building, etc. This is one of the major drawbacks of subdomains.

  4. Marc
    Posted April 14, 2010 at 6:36 pm | Permalink

    Very good post though I’m abit confused with respect to the following comment.

    “The real advantage is realized by monetizing multiple web properties as a tiered ranking strategy for an array of keywords and phrases.”

    I don’t follow the concept of multiple web properties being tiered unless this specifically is directed towards sub-domains. If not, would you elaborate a bit more?

    As a rule, I do follow this process as an affiliate and would have to agree that the domain alone has helped in my case with some sites that I have propagated. Having said that, there’s no question that the other SEO techniques must still be adhered to along with quality content.

  5. Frank Motola
    Posted August 30, 2010 at 10:39 am | Permalink

    Great Article. Thanks

  6. Frank Motola
    Posted August 30, 2010 at 10:40 am | Permalink

    Anyone have experience with keyword rich geotargeting giving benefit in Local Search, that is Google Places? I am testing using a masked domain with geotargeted meta info as GoDaddy allows to see if we can break into the top of some map results. Not sure if it will work better to unmask and just 301 it, or mask with limited meta info as allowed. We will try both ways and see what happens. Any input will be appreciated.
    Frank in Orlando

  7. Jerome
    Posted September 25, 2011 at 1:45 am | Permalink

    this is the one that i want to do next. i don’t know if it will be effective to use subdomain. i want to go into accomodation affiliate in thailand and every province i will make as a subdomain. i am going to do this one so i don’t have to buy lots of domain.

6 Trackbacks

  1. By uberVU - social comments on January 14, 2010 at 6:13 am

    Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by seobag: Using Keyword-Rich Domains and Subdomains for SEO http://bit.ly/5OHfHj

  2. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Seo Keeper, Vaidhyanathan, Jeffrey_Smith, 01crea.com, 01crea.com and others. 01crea.com said: Using Keyword-Rich Domains and Subdomains for #SEO: What are the strategic SEO implications.. http://bit.ly/8B1l93 SEO #Referencement [...]

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  4. [...] for subdomains in application, our team recommends using this tactic to distinguish nodes of relevance within your [...]

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  6. By Google Search Engine Optimization Tips on April 16, 2010 at 1:41 pm

    [...] names and using subdomains: Names matter and “exact match domain names” still carry lots of weight in search engines. Specifically if you wanted to target a keyword, [...]

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