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What's the big fuss about long domain names?

By Alan Yap
Posted Saturday, August 14, 2004

The word is out. You can now register domain names of up to 67 characters. This is going to shoot your ranking way up on the search engines. Because if you stuff all your keywords into your domain name, search engines are simply going to love your site. Or so they say...

But is that really the truth?

No point speculating. Let's do a little test...

Go to your favorite search engine, say AltaVista. Key in your search term, say "website promotion." Look at the top 10 rankings, closely.

How many of these top rankings actually have the full term "website promotion" in their domains?

No hype, just facts.

Call me a natural sceptic if you want. When the news hit the town, with all the "Special Announcements" flying everywhere, urging people to "go grab a new allyou -can-stuff keyword rich domain name and emerge tops in search engine ranking," I was not at all moved. I believe this is too simplistic an approach to getting high search engine placements:

Besides keywords in domain names, search engines look at a few other factors for relevancy. In fact, this is what Don Dodge, AltaVista's Director of Engineering said: "Keywords in the domain name do not help much in ranking. We look at half a dozen factors in ranking. The words on the page, their frequency and position on the page, are still among the most important factors."
Search engines are constantly evolving. Once they find out that such keyword-stuffed domain names are content-poor sites with low relevance, they are going to come up with new rules to preclude such sites from getting the top spots.
Don't get me wrong. I'm not against registering for long domain names. I just feel that we should see things in perspective. If you're getting a long domain name in the hope of securing a high search engine placement, err... based on the facts, please don't expect miracles.

So what should we look for when choosing a domain name? I use a simple "3 Es" guide:

Easy To Remember Yahoo is certainly easier to remember than AltaVista. No surprise why Yahoo is doing a LOT better.
Easy To Spell If you have a long domain name, be careful. One spelling mistake by a potential visitor is all you need to lose him forever.
Easy To Pronounce If your domain name is hard to pronounce, how do you expect people to spread the word and tell others about it?
What do the 3 Es have in common? They make things simple for your visitors! Our world is complex enough. We don't need another complex domain.

Must your domain name be relevant to your site content? Not necessarily. What has the name "Yahoo" got to do with a search engine or a directory? And is there any real connection between the words "Amazon" and "books"?

Selecting a domain name is an extremely important step. So do it carefully.

About the Author
Article by Alan Yap, founding editor of Alan offers free tips and strategies for effective Internet marketing. Visit ( now or subscribe at and receive a Mystery Gift, guaranteed.


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