Google no longer bolding keywords in domain names

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Another blow to domain names in search.

Domain names and URLs that contain terms people search for on Google have long been thought to have some sort of advantage.

For a while, Google seemed to give preference to “exact match domains”. Then it tweaked the algorithm to downplay this, at least for low-quality sites that were created to take advantage of this benefit.

I believe that good domains with popular keywords still can get a boost thanks to the anchor text people use to link to them. But the other day I was doing some searches and noticed that domain names have been demoted again.

Google used to bold the words you searched for if they were present in the URL. This was something new top level domain marketers pointed to as a benefit; even if the keyword was part of the top level domain it was bolded.

But Google has apparently stripped the bolding from URLs. It still bolds words in the description, but not the URL. This is bad for domain names, as every bolded word has to give some sort of boost to click-through rates.

A search for “hockey” has bold terms in the description, but not the URL or title.

Things are even worse on mobile. Two years ago, Google stopped showing domain names at all in mobile search results.

It makes sense for Google to downplay domain names. They want people to start their navigation at Google instead of remembering domain names.



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