NOTE: Articles about the impact of domain names and keywords in URLs on Search Engine Optimization FROM APRIL 2004 ONWARD are now located in the SEO: Domain Names & URLs section of Search Topics in Search Engine Watch.
Below are articles from BEFORE April 2004. Please be aware that article links often change, especially the older an article is. In case of a bad link, use the publication's search facility, which most have, and search for the headline.
Slam Dunk or Scam Junk?
Entrepreneur, Feb. 2004
Catherine Seda remains unimpressed with the various companies pitching keyword navigation systems.
eBay Enhances Stores for Search Engine Optimization
AuctionBytes, March 16, 2004
The debate on whether you should have hyphens in your URLs to help search engines recognize individual keywords is long, old and without resolution. I weigh in on the side that it doesn't make that much of a difference. If your human visitors might benefit from seeing the words, with or without hyphens, then do it. And while Google still says it doesn't hurt to have overly hyphenated names, I still think that a URL with tons of hyphens is a big red flag that might get a page a closer look.
With that stage set -- eBay, buying into the hyphen hype -- is making it so those using its eBay stores will have hyphens in their URL. "The result will be that buyers will more easily find your Store when they are searching the web for items you are selling," AuctionBytes reports eBay as saying.
That deserves a big, big qualification. Buyers MAY more easily find your store because of this, and perhaps they MAY not.
ABCs and URLs
The Search Engine Update, June 6, 2003
Brief refresher on why alphabetical title tags and keywords in the URL aren't a guarantee of search engine success.
Microsoft Denies MSN8 Keywords Being Sold
The Search Engine Update, April 2, 2003
Not a separate article but a quick warning at the top of the newsletter that companies claiming to sell "MSN 8" keywords have no relationship with Microsoft, the company says.
In Defense of Dashy Domains
Traffick, April 21, 2003
I wouldn't put the blame for hyphenated domains on Yahoo, as this article says. Instead, the wave of them emerged soon after longer domain names arrived, where the thought was that embedding keywords would be useful for crawlers. But Balzar's absolutely right in that they had the biggest impact on human-powered Yahoo. That benefit on Yahoo has now essentially disappeared, and the benefit for crawlers was never there to begin with. However, this article makes an interesting argument that hyphenated domains can give you a visual benefit in search engine results by making your URL stand out more. If you try the tactic, I would still recommend limiting the number of hyphens.
Navigational Keyword Space Heats Up; Watch Those Claims!
The Search Engine Update, Feb. 18, 2003
In October, I wrote about confusing claims being made by companies selling navigational keyword products. Sadly, readers continue to report to me that such claims continue, and the situation is likely to get worse, as the keyword navigation space heats up in 2003. In the article below, I take a close look at the relaunch of Netword, as well as reseller complaints relating to the growing service of iGetNet. My hope is the article will help you pick through the hype and confusion to make a correct choice about whether to buy a particular product.
RealNames Clones Causing Confusion
The Search Engine Update, Oct. 1, 2002
Since the closure of RealNames, I've received a steady stream of emails from people who are hearing from other companies that suggest they've taken over the role that RealNames used to have with Microsoft. No one has, and the article below explains how confusion is developing.
RealNames To Close After Losing Microsoft
The Search Engine Report, June 3, 2002
RealNames was a system that let people use ordinary words in place of URLs within Internet Explorer to reach web sites. The article above explains how the system no longer operates. Past articles about RealNames can be found on the now-archived How RealNames Works page.
Keyword-Rich Domain Names
High Rankings Advisor, June 26, 2002
Jill and I are on the same page about this -- domain names including keywords aren't going to be a magical solution to getting to the top of the page. Also, a reminder that some search engines at the Search Engine Strategies conferences have suggested that long "hyphenates" might be seen as more likely to be hosting spam. As with anything when it comes to search engines, do what makes sense for humans, rather than stuff you think is exclusively for search engines, to avoid problems.
Direct Navigation To Sites Rules, But Search Engines Remain Important
The Search Engine Update, Feb. 19, 2002
Explains how hyphenated domains with keywords might help with directory listings but may harm when it comes to crawlers, as well as brand recognition.
The 411 on Dot-Info Disputes
Wired, Dec. 14, 2001
When the .info domain was launched, only trademark owners were allowed to register names for a short period before all names were opened up to grabs. Nevertheless, people jumped in and claimed generic terms during the trademark-only period. Now the challenges are happening. This story explains briefly what a mess the system has created. And for those of you wondering, as long as the new domains (.info, .biz, etc.) resolve to a domain properly, the search engines will treat them just like .com and other more traditional domains.
Web Addresses Sprout New Suffixes, Needed or Not
New York Times, Nov. 1, 2001
Good overview of the new top level domains that are now live or about to go live, and how the domain "shortage" problem they were supposed to solve no longer exists.
.biz Domain Begins Preregistrations
The Search Engine Update, June 4, 2001
The first of the new top level domains is open for business, sort of. Trademark holders can now officially lay claim to a .biz domain. But just to be confusing, registering a claim doesn't guarantee that you will get the domain name of your choice. The article below takes you through what's happening, if you are interested in getting one of these new domains. Search engines should have no problems accessing them.
New Non-ICANN Domains Available, But Be Cautious
The Search Engine Update, March 15, 2001
New.net has rolled out 20 new top level domains, such as .xxx and .tech. However, these domains have not been approved by ICANN, so they will not work unless you've either configured your browser to work with them or your network connection has been configured for you. Consequently, they are also likely to pose problems for search engines spiders.
Longer Domain Names Arrive
The Search Engine Update, Jan. 4, 2000
An in-depth look at whether registering the new, longer domain names with keywords is valuable -- plus tips on managing multiple domains.