October 27, 2021

Keyword URL or Brandname?

keyword-URLKeyword URL or a brandname for a domain? Which to choose? There’s a lot of debate and certainly many disagreements about SEO advantages. However, choosing between a keyword URL and a brandname domain can be easily decided. Let’s start with some real world examples rather than delve into optimization theory.

Clearly, we here have chosen a rich keyword URL but that’s because it accurately reflects what we provide–copywriting services. It’s a safe bet your local plumber, HVAC, printer, real estate agent and hardware store probably have “keywords” in their business name as well–after all, it makes sense.

But monster sites like Google, Facebook, TwitterPinterest, and Mashable don’t have a keyword URL. Instead, each of these examples has a brandname.

Keyword URL and Brandname Differences

New businesses want to get exposure and a keyword URL certainly seems like the way to go over a brandname. After all, it will show up in a keyword search. But the truth is, there is a difference between spider, index and rank. And that’s only part of the equation. However, it is known that a keyword URL will initially perform better than a brandname:

[Google has] looked at the rankings and the weights that we give to keyword domains, & some people have complained that we are giving a little too much weight for keywords in domains. So we have been thinking about at adjusting that mix a bit and sort of turning the knob down within the algorithm. —Matt Cutts, Google Head Webspam Engineer

The nearby blockquote is right from the horse’s mouth. Google does give more weight to a keyword URL over a brandname domain. But if search engines tweak their parameters, that could no longer be the case.

What’s more, having a brandname means “owning” something, unlike a keyword URL. Take Xerox. For years, people referred to making copies as “Xeroxing”. And “Google” is often used as a verb–“I Googled it” or “I’ll Google that”.

Keyword URL and Brandname Facts

Let’s look at some interesting facts and considerations regarding a keyword URL versus a brandname. All things being equal, no one would choose a keyword URL because there wouldn’t be a need to. But search engines don’t recognize a brandname as a keyword until it becomes institutionalized. So, it’s back to the chicken or the egg argument.

Brandname and Keyword URL Pros and Cons

What is abundantly clear is there are advantages and disadvantages to both a keyword URL and a brandname domain:

  • brandname is often shorter; hence, easier to remember
  • keyword URL will rank higher in search results
  • brandname is better for marketing purposes
  • keyword URL will get more link juice
The downsides are a brandname has to be built, because it won’t be instanly associated with a product or service. And a keyword URL can look spammy.

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