Should You Change Your Domain Name To Boost SEO?

Oh, SEO, you multi-legged alien creature shrouded in mystery. Will Google or Bing ever let us in on the secret to cracking your code?
In a word, no. However, SEO researchers continue to pursue the ins and outs of what makes search algorithms tick, and one of the main pieces of the puzzle is keywords. We have written plenty of articles about keywords and how they factor into SEO through the years.
One such quandary that comes to mind from seekers of the SEO fountain of youth is how many places they can find to pack with keywords. A consideration that will no doubt cross the minds of those inventive and inquisitive souls is: “Will changing my domain name to a keyword boost my site traffic?”
Sorry to disappoint, truth seekers, but – again, in a word – no. Let’s do our best to shed some light on this challenge and get to the bottom of keywords in URLs, and why they simply miss the mark when it comes to SEO.
Once upon a time, exact match domains, or EMDs, were the bullseye on the target of SEO strategists. What simpler way could there be to attract people to a site about, say, buying office supplies than to register Boom. Mystery solved, case closed, get me a warm glass of milk and a story about kings and queens of the olden days because I’m going to bed.
Enter the boogeyman, aka Google and Bing algorithm smartie pants, to awake you from your sweet slumber. Writers of search algorithms wised up to this all-too-simple SEO strategy back in 2010 and moved EMDs way down on the list of importance, to the point that it now has very little to do with whether a site appears on page one of search results or not.
What’s an SEO strategist to do? Can’t we give those guys a break and let them pump those URLs full of keywords?
The truth of the matter is, while using a domain name that plays host to a keyword may not boost your SEO ranking, they are not entirely without benefit. Although they may not get you higher on internet search results lists, they may score you points on another type of search result altogether: the consumers’ own brain search result. The more obvious and easily remembered a domain name is, the more likely your consumer is to remember it. It may seem glaringly obvious, but if you can manage to score the EMD for your industry, as well as get it followed by the ever popular gTLD “.com”, you are giving yourself a big leg up in the online marketplace of your industry.
Of course, there are other circumstances where you may have to change your domain name, such as if your company merges with another company or if your business changes its name, then you may be forced into changing your domain name. If your hands are tied and change you must, there are a few things you can do to ensure you bring your already-sparkling search ranking along with you:
First, get your former domain so dripping with 301s that all visitors can’t help but end up right where they are supposed to: at your new domain.
Second, make sure that as soon as you have registered your new domain, you publish at least a little bit of content on there. All those creepy-crawlies that check out the worldwide net daily will look for parked sites, and even just a couple paragraphs or a ‘lite’ version of your site will be enough to make them know that you are the soon-to-be-real deal and not just a placeholder or domain squatter. Finally, tell Google and Bing that you have moved. More on how to do this with Google here and with Bing here.
Should you take advantage of a sweet opportunity and change your domain name to one with a killer keyword? Probably not. But if you have to, there’s a right way to go about it and still keep those visitors coming. If you’re in the market for a new domain name, WestHost has all the tricks of the trade to help you find just the URL you are looking for.
Find your perfect domain name over on our domain name registration page.