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How To Get Top Search Ranking With Your Domain Name

Published: 25/05/2010
By: larry

In the process of building this blog over the last 5 years I've spent some time studying how to get top ranking for a the search terms "real estate photography" and "real estate photographer".

One thing I noticed early on was that real estate photographer Bill Bayless ( was very hard to beat in the Google ranking of the term "real estate photographer". It wasn't a problem beating him in ranking of the term "real estate photography". The obvious thing that stood out was Bill's domain name that had the search term in it that I was trying to beat him at. Bill and I talked a lot about our relative ranking. I found out that he'd had the domain and real estate photography site much longer than I'd had The thing that always amazed me was that for a couple of years he would always rank above me even though his content was almost static. I'd be doing 4 or 5 posts a week and still be below Bill.

This experience demonstrated to me that Google values sites very high for a search term if that search term is contained in the domain name. I finally got higher ranking for "real estate photographer" than Bill gets but it took me several years of continuously fresh content that had those key words in it.

Here are two other examples of the power of having your search term in your domain name;

  1. - My friend Carson Coots also noticed the importance of having your search term in your domain name. This lead him to get not long ago. His new site immediately pop up just below the PFRE blog in Google ranking for "real estate photography" even though I had over 4 years of content. Good show Carson!
  2. - This Orange County real estate photography site appeared quite recently and immediately had ranking of 3 or 4 for the search term "real estate photography" even though it has a relatively small amount of content

It's not hard to see the pattern here! The most powerful thing you can do to get top Google ranking for a given search term is get a domain name with the search term in it. Having the search term in the domain name is clearly more important than having fresh content, but it appears to be less important than the length of time a site is in google's index.

As a real estate photographer you can use this fact to focus your ranking for searches in your local area where you work. For example, or in general will instantly get you at the top of searches for real estate photographers in your local area. As more and more people learn how to use google to find what they want this will be more important.

7 comments on “How To Get Top Search Ranking With Your Domain Name”

  1. Actually, a keyword rich domain name has little to do with Google ranking, although it APPEARS that it should. I actually spoke with the Google Crawl Manager a couple of years ago at an SEO seminar and asked him that specific question, which many clients had asked me (I used to design websites).

    He said it definitely helps a little, but mostly for marketing purposes and not for SEO. And I've proven that many times over with sites that I have designed that consistently rank high on Google, but are (generally) Realtors personal names (hardly keyword rich). I have a personal website that also has consistently ranked in the top five on Google since before Google existed. It is my personal name, and has lousy, totally outdated content (basically it's a site I don't even use, haven't updated or changed or even looked at in years, but have never removed because it ranks so well!).

    What DOES matter?

    -Original, relevant content, also rich with keywords.

    -The correct titles on each page. Each title must be different and must reflect the content on that particular page - and of course, all should be keyword rich. This is huge and probably the number one mistake people make. You need to tell Google what the content is on each page. The first 1500 characters are weighted more heavily, so the best keywords should be at the beginning.

    -A vote of confidence from other sites - how many OTHER sites link to yours? How well do THOSE sites rank? The more HIGHER ranked websites that link back to your site (with descriptive links, not generic "click here" links), the higher you will rank. Quality links trump quantity of links.

    -The AGE of your domain name. Just like in the real world, those businesses who are well established online rank higher. Period. My personal domain is 16 years old I think. I ranked on page one before Google existed! (remember Yahoo?). This is why newer domains have a MUCH more difficult time ranking than well established domains. If you want to see an example, search on "Nashua New Hampshire real estate" or "Southern New Hampshire real estate". The site "", a personal name, ranks at or near the very top. It's not descriptive, the content hasn't changed much in years, and that site ranks in the top five for virtually every single search term or phrase, and has for a decade. It's an older domain, and I was optimizing my sites for search engines way before the term was even coined (1999, 2000, 2001).

    -The length of your domain registration. This isn't a HUGE factor, but it's a factor. If your domain is registered only for a year, there is a probability that your site may be a spam site, versus a domain that has been registered for 10 years up front.

    This is not magic at all and most of this information is publicly available all over the web, including on Google's own website.

    The bigger wrinkle? With the new Universal Search implemented a few years ago, blogs, video, news, etc. have all been folded into the main search results, which now usually comprise the first 2-4 entries.... leaving even fewer openings for static, basic websites. More frustrating, as of early this year, EVERYONE RECEIVES DIFFERENT RESULTS, based on your OWN personal history! So what YOU see for a search term will not necessarily be what I see. For example, if you regularly search on recipes for French cooking, and I regularly search on entertainment gossip, when I search on "Paris", most of my results will be on "Paris Hilton" while your results will mostly be for French food. It's all based on YOUR history.

    It's a moving target, and it's frustrating and challenging to figure it out.

  2. I have seen that having the keywords in the url helps with ranking. I doesn't always have to be the domain name, but in the url somewhere.

    Something that goes along with the domain name age is the amount of time the domain is registered for. It seems that (all other things being equal) a new domain registered for 5 years will rank better than a new domain registered for 1 year.

  3. Great information, I really appreciate it! I've been spending hours trying to come up with ways to boost my search ranking! There is so much to learn.

  4. Fred is right on this one, SEO doesn't come so easy as to get a domain name that has your keywords in it, anyone that tells you that you can rank quickly in a tough market such as real estate photography/er, is doing something bad in the background.

  5. Great article as usual Larry! I think this is dead on information from the research I have been doing. I recently dumped my 1 year old domain name and rebuilt the website around a new name containing my keywords. It does seem to really matter. Domain age matters, but I believe that keywords contained in your domain name matter more. One thing I would add towards the top of the list is inbound links to your site that contain your keywords. If people link to your aspirin site using the search term "pain relief," it will go a long way to move you towards the front page of goggle under that search term. Also, delicious and digg are being much more heavily weighed than people realize. We have added digg and delicious buttons towards the top of each of our website pages and blogs. Thanks again for great info. and confirming that we are on the right track at this point!

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