Should I forward relevant domain names for SEO purposes?
October 21, 2008 9:45 PM   Subscribe

SEO filter: What's this about getting descriptive domain names for forwarding?

I run my own website, which is basic for my business. Since I am interested in getting some traffic from Google, I have been wading my way into SEO work, and am learning. Someone suggested I get some descriptive domain names with search terms relevant to my industry in them.

To explain, my website is Under her suggestion I would get some websites like "" or "" (I am just throwing examples out there, doubt these are available), and then forward them to lawyerfoo. I have searched "descriptive domain name forwarding" and similar terms on Google but can't find my way to the right information.

My question is: what is she talking about, and will that help? (Even a heads up as to what I should be googling would be super appreciated).

Thanks, hivers.
posted by letahl to Computers & Internet (12 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: This will not help at all and may hurt your rankings. It's nothing but ballot stuffing and The Google, She frowns upon those shenanigans.
posted by unixrat at 10:01 PM on October 21, 2008

Mod note: Munged your domain name. Happy to extend total benefit of the doubt on this, but the site itself isn't germane to the question, and throwing in a gratuitous url in the same breath as 'SEO' makes us a bit jumpy. Carry on.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:11 PM on October 21, 2008

Response by poster: er. sorry. i got reamed on a previous question (unrelated to webiness) for not providing enough detail.
posted by letahl at 11:06 PM on October 21, 2008

The concept is, I believe, that Google gives greater weight to search terms that are contained in the URL itself, over and above the page's title, content, etc. So be creating a pool of domain names that contain relevant keywords, the thought is to drive traffic (e.g. google searches for those keywords) to lawyerfoo.

It sounds sketchy to me as well, and I would not recommend it. Per Google's "Webmaster Guidelines", I would say this practice would potentially violate "sneaky redirects", "domains with duplicate content", and sorta-kinda "doorway pages".

Best practice for playing nice with Google is to fill your site with quality content (and clean HTML), and to have other high-quality sites link to your content (in a non-SEO/link-farmy/sketchy kind of way).
posted by misterbrandt at 11:11 PM on October 21, 2008

I really don't think any sort of automatic redirect from a domain like that is going to help.

What might work is to put a few pages of relevant content up on the domains and then do your best to get people to click through to your main site.
posted by Good Brain at 11:33 PM on October 21, 2008

At least when it comes to Google, they are acutely sensitive to SEO tactics and constantly change how they do rankings in order to foil attempts to game the system.

Which is to say: any SEO tactic that works won't work for long because eventually Google will figure it out and foil it. Your business model may benefit from successful SEO, but Google's business model requires them to prevent anyone's SEO from working.
posted by Class Goat at 12:28 AM on October 22, 2008

Best answer: Those additional 'gateway' domains aren't going to bring in any traffic unless they're linked to and contain something. If people link to them instead of your main domain then you'll be diluting your rankings, and if you create inbound links by setting up a spammy network of domains then you'll be at risk of blacklisting (and look spammy to anyone web-savvy).
I'd only recommend doing what's been suggested if you take it to a point where you're setting up sites that actually have a purpose and are providing useful content (e.g. covering a niche topic, or legal info about a small geographical area).

There are lots of SEO tricks that can work, but most aren't worth the risk (to both your ranking and reputation) and effort, they're often more about trying to create work for SEO 'experts'. Instead, make sure the way your site is built is effective (good URLs, titles, content, accessibility) and focus on marketing it in a way that encourages relevant inbound links.
posted by malevolent at 12:41 AM on October 22, 2008

Quite apart from SEO issues, a descriptive domain name can be quite helpful for Human Memory Optimization. If you use, for example, that will stick in some heads. Even the fuzzy ones.
posted by yclipse at 4:22 AM on October 22, 2008

Best answer: A quick and easy way to explain advertising your site:

1). You can have people use word of mouth. Takes a very long time but is the best way to advertise. Think of it this way, people trust friends opinion on things and you don't have to spend any extra. All you need to do is offer quality service.
2). You can pay for advertisements. Google adwords is arguable the best. MSN is ok too once to figure it's system out. Yahoo, however, is very hit or miss for me. Some months I will have a great month and others I am throwing money out the window.
3). You can use keywords. Word of warning keep them consistent with what is on your site. Don't list cook books for a site about lawyers. This will come back and bite you in the ass and will actually have you listed lower than you previously were.
and lastly....
4). You can have many sites pointing to yours. This is where you should imagine that your site is a city and all the other sites that you create are cities that have signs pointing "Lawyerfoo 12 miles this way." It is a way to get higher in the ratings but you end up having to pay hosting fees and there are better ways to go about this. Besides many people do not like being directed to a different site. Also sometimes antivirus software will show that your site will re-direct you. (At least on mine it has a red flag and says it will redirect you. I tend to avoid those sites.) A way around this would be, you could search for legal forums and contact other people with similar sites and do a little link sharing. (They put a link to your site on a cool links page or something to that nature if you do the same for them.) Another way would be you could search for legal directories and have them list your site. This way there are no hosting fees and you don't run a risk of having any red flags raise up.

I hope this helps.
posted by Mastercheddaar at 6:27 AM on October 22, 2008

Best answer: I like Mastercheddaar's list there.

The one thing I would add to what other people have said is that an alternative (and potentially less dangerous, if done properly) approach would be to register another domain name like the ones you suggest but set up a real, separate web site from your own that contains valuable content in its own right; a site, perhaps something like a wiki or a forum community, related to your own industry, which could legitimately contain links to your own site and be "a project of" or "sponsored by" but would draw traffic in its own right.

An example: Microsoft, among many other things, makes computer programming software. To help sell Microsoft's programming tools, their marketing department has set up web sites like Channel9 or codezone or GotDotNet (now defunct), which freely provide articles and tutorials and references both on using Microsoft products and services and also on some general programming and software engineering topics. Although many people might visit these web sites for the content alone, that content is heavily interlinked with Microsoft's official web site and hence serves to advertise Microsoft products and services. (This is a simplification though, there are many other things that Microsoft gets out of having a group of quasi-independent sites like this.)

It's a bit like how many companies, from one-person consultant shops up to big national corporations, publish a newsletter or magazine related to their industry.

This is obviously a much heavier investment than a simple advertising expenditure and if done poorly could reflect badly on your firm or present any of the dangers that other people have mentioned than spammy site forwarding poses. (And without good planning it's easy to bite off more than you can chew, like the way Microsoft had to shut down GotDotNet.)
posted by XMLicious at 10:04 AM on October 22, 2008

And actually, come to think of it, a similar project on the part of Google itself is all of their webmaster tools and articles, like the guidelines misterbrandt mentioned, which also serve as a good place to learn about legit SEO strategies and tactics.
posted by XMLicious at 10:12 AM on October 22, 2008

Best answer: For what it's worth, I attended a BarCamp this weekend, and the final and most-attended talk was on SEO optimization with Google. I don't have time to break it all down and make it pretty, but I'll repost here the entirety of the notes I took at the talk. I think they're mostly self-explanatory. I can't personally vouch for any of the techniques he talked about, but the guy giving the talk works for a prominent SEO firm, so I assume it works.


Google loves keyword centric domains
Yahoo and Live love them even more

User experience trumps keyword madness

Keep branded domain, use it in ad campaigns, buy all keyword centric domains and do 301 redirect

Research your target keyword phrases (AdWords, etc.) (2-4 word phrase)

Buy domains (even with dashes --> easier for search engine to read and for person to read)

Create vertical micro-sites
focus on the keywords in the domain
reuse / rewrite content
contribute frequently (build on something like WordPress)
build links and test with PPC as a landing page
link liberally to main parent domain

Own competitors' traffic
Register a keyword centric domain that includes the words reviews
create a review website (WordPress and a good theme)
Only write about your competitors

Avoid nofollow
with rare exception, always try to build links that don't use nofollow
(it's a popularity contest)
use do follow directories
keep track of social networks that are do follow (Digg, social networks)
[removed an ad-like reference here]

External, Internal, and Inbound
write blog entries and articles frequently
link out to high quality, relevant websites often
internal linking will reinforce keywords and context to Google (added benefit of usability)
make anchor text keyword specific - don't use "click here" (also more usable)
nofollow unimportant pages (contact pages, terms of service, etc.)
keep an eye on nofollow inbound links
advertising won't help much other than to temporarily advertise
get keyword centric links inside content on relevant websites
[removed an ad-like reference here]

Reputation Repair
social network profiles
Wikipedia entry
create vertical micro-sites
create blogs that promote
research and promote lower-ranking sites by building links to them (get them to link back to you)
posted by joshrholloway at 6:23 PM on October 22, 2008 [3 favorites]

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