It’s a neat idea that will never be adopted by large search engines.
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has granted patent #10,764,245 (pdf) to Verisign (NASDAQ: VRSN) for “Domain name determination”.
The idea behind the patent is that a website owner can maintain multiple domain names and, depending on what someone searches for at a search engine, that search engine can display a contextually-relevant domain name for the site.
For example, a dental practice called Winchester Orthodontics could use the primary domain WinOrtho.example. That practice could also maintain the domains Winchester-Dentistry.example, Metro-Dentistry.example, Metro-Teeth-Whitening.example, and Winchester-Braces.example.
The alternative domain names would be shown in search engine results pages (SERPs) for relevant searches. For example, if a user searches for “Winchester” and “braces,” the results provided by the search engine may include Winchester-Braces.example instead of WinOrth.example.
Site owners could maintain these alternative domains, and a system would report usage back to them so they could cull domain names that don’t often appear in search results.
Interestingly, the background for the patent suggests this could be a good use for new top level domains:
The Internet provides hundreds of different top level domains (“TLDs”), such as .com, .net, .org, .gov, .gift, .kitchen, etc. However, many website operators lack sufficient technical knowledge to consider using lesser-known TLDs when obtaining a domain name. For example, a small dental practice may only be aware of the most common TLDs. As such, the dental practice may not consider a potentially better domain name from another TLD (e.g., .biz, .doctor, or .expert).
Verisign’s idea is a clever one that won’t ever be put to use, at least with a major search engine. Google tries to downplay the importance of domain names. I don’t foresee it allowing site owners to improve their SERP click-through rates by showing keyword-juiced domain names.