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Google no longer bolding keywords in domain names

Another blow to domain names in search.

Domain names and URLs that contain terms people search for on Google have long been thought to have some sort of advantage.

For a while, Google seemed to give preference to “exact match domains”. Then it tweaked the algorithm to downplay this, at least for low-quality sites that were created to take advantage of this benefit.

I believe that good domains with popular keywords still can get a boost thanks to the anchor text people use to link to them. But the other day I was doing some searches and noticed that domain names have been demoted again.

Google used to bold the words you searched for if they were present in the URL. This was something new top level domain marketers pointed to as a benefit; even if the keyword was part of the top level domain it was bolded.

But Google has apparently stripped the bolding from URLs. It still bolds words in the description, but not the URL. This is bad for domain names, as every bolded word has to give some sort of boost to click-through rates.

A search for “hockey” has bold terms in the description, but not the URL or title.

Things are even worse on mobile. Two years ago, Google stopped showing domain names at all in mobile search results.

It makes sense for Google to downplay domain names. They want people to start their navigation at Google instead of remembering domain names.

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  1. Nick says

    Google is just Yelp’s doorway page now anyway. If I search for a local business page on Google they just always send me to Yelp.

  2. Eric Lyon says

    I’ll definitely have to run a few tests and check stats on some of my existing lead generator sites that use keyword driven domains. I noticed an increase, actually, over the last 30 days, but that may be related to something else.

  3. Jonathan says

    Marketing is still about the root domain, not sure about the AI algo input ? The D-Wave comparable like 4 like where algos are created without mortal intervention surely the root domain generic in terms of like 4 like cannot be superseded ?

  4. John says

    >”It makes sense for Google to downplay domain names. They want people to start their navigation at Google instead of remembering domain names.”

    Nice to see you willing to admit the truth even if not as bluntly as I would like to see. And the truth is that Google is one of biggest enemies of domain names ever, and was the first big enemy of domain names. People seem reluctant or afraid to admit that plainly. And just as you said it “makes sense” for Google, sadly enough it makes a little sense for some people to be reluctant and “afraid” since a big part of their business is what they publish. But is that any way to live, in fear of a virtual monopolist like that?

    I could say more about the very real advantage of the best EMDs with Google and search, including very long multi-word EMDs, but maybe later…

  5. christopher brennan says

    sometimes you have to believe in what you believe and let google and the rest of the experts do or say what they want. personally i have a thriving construction business based on emd geo niche domains.

  6. Eric Lyon says

    I have to say the same Christopher. I have a few thriving Geo-EMD lead generator sites that still sit on page #1 for multiple niche terms and convert with quote requests. I still have more number crunching to do though to see if I can isolate the spike in the last month. That’s something I can try to rinse & repeat 😉

  7. Bonnie Jones says

    Well, I was not aware of it but it somehow seems expected. Gone are the days when just buying an exact match domain and getting 100 something links from any domain used to work. Today, if you are planning for long term, you need to choose a domain that explains how you stand out.

    • Jonathan says

      If you have the “root” domain ? The channels will serve (and persists) the common elements of a brand or aggregate platform without effecting the brand rank

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