Do Long Domain Names Affect Your Rankings

If your registered a domain name in 1997 or later, you were probably aware that only 22 character were available for a .com, .net or .org domain. The use of long domains was not available and it made for some creative ways to come up with a memorable domain name. Fast forward to 2012 and the online world is a completely different place. You can now up to 63 characters in a domain name and hundreds of new extensions about to become available. So the question is do long domain names affect your rankings? As of today, the answer is yes and no. Things could change in the near future with all the Google updates.

Negatives of Long Domain Names

A long domain is usually hard for anyone to remember. People love short, punchy domains that can be written down fast or memorized. Google and other search engines do place a cap on the display of some domain names that exceed a threshold. Google prefers 60 characters or less for domains with the shorter being the better range. Google displays the complete domain, directory extensions and page titles in the search results. A complete name that is more than 63 characters will be chopped off and affect your SEO rankings.

If you are going after click-throughs or backlink generated traffic, a long domain is usually not a problem. If you expect someone to type a long domain, you could be in for an unwelcome surprise though. You must always consider the audience that will visit your domain. Do people have the extra time to type more than 10, 20 or 60 characters? Probably not. If your website is mobile, could someone feel uncomfortable typing in a mobile address more than 15 characters? The answer is probably yes.

Placing hyphens in between words in a domain has never been good for SEO. Even if you have a 15 character name, placing hyphens in the name can length it quickly. The Penguin updates have changed the ranking of some domains with hyphens, but for the most part these should be avoided unless it is for a niche site or landing page.

Positives of Long Domain Names 

It’s hard to believe it when you know the negatives, but there are actually some positives with a longer domain name. Studies have shown that the average domain is 11 characters in length. This is just an average and not a requirement. One of the positives is the amount of keywords you can put into a domain. If your niche site was about the best dog food for Terriers, names like (WhatDoTerriersEat.com) is over the average and still in the ‘good’ area for length.

With a longer name, you have the chance of picking up several keywords that are related to your website. Doing a Google keyword search using the free AdWords tool can arm you with the best keywords to use in your longer domain. You can use the exact match search and broad search to find phrases for your domain. You can target a lot of words with (HealthySchoolLunchesforChildren.com) even if it is longer than the national average domain length.

What’s the Verdict on Long Domain Names?¬†

There is no concrete evidence that a longer than average domain severely hurts your SEO rankings. What matters is the keywords that are included inside of it and the TLD that is selected. Google gives domain “weight” to .com, .org., .co and .net before extensions like .biz, .me or .mobi. It is safe to say that keywords placed in your domain combined with a top level domain extension will help to improve your SEO results. In the end, a long domain is always better than domains with numbers, hyphens, or too many periods.

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