Good Morning Jill,

I am about to launch a new business that will involve giving very small groups of American tourists a personally guided tour of Southwest UK.

Whilst we have our company name and domain name already launched, I was thinking about buying another domain name to "attack" the search engines with! I.e., I am trying to get a second chance for the search engines finding and rating me with an additional, but slightly different domain name.

My question is this: If I choose a domain name with what I think will be the search words used to find us, will the search engines penalise me if I have it too long? What it the optimum length of words / characters I should be using for my domain name?

I look forward to hearing your thoughts.

Kind Regards,

Chris and Pete M.


~~~Jill's Response~~~

Hi Chris and Pete,

Long-time readers are probably chuckling right now, knowing what's going to come next. It's probably not what you want to hear, but unfortunately, it needs to be said.

I can't answer your question about the length of your new domain name, because your basic premise is flawed. You don't need to "attack" the search engines at all. What you're thinking about doing is essentially "spamming" the engines with an extra domain for the sole purpose of gaining multiple listings in their results pages. They don't like this.

This is an old technique that was never a good idea, because it cluttered the engines' databases with useless duplicate pages all leading to one main site. That's not to say that the technique didn't work! It worked very well for many years. In fact, it probably works very well for the short term, even today. However, it's an unnecessary extra step in promoting your business, and a shortsighted one at that.

There's no need for an additional domain. If you have additional products or services, simply add pages to your existing site. Every page is a gateway to the rest, and they can all rank highly if properly optimized. You might be thinking that only your main home page can rank highly, and that's why you need a whole new domain. Or you might be thinking that getting found in the search engines is all about finding the best ways to *trick* them into ranking your site. If it ever was that way, it's not anymore.

You may also be thinking that keyword-rich domain names are what get sites high rankings. The truth is that domain names have little if any effect on where your site shows up in the spidering search results pages. When you see sites ranking highly that happen to have keyword-rich domains, chances are they're also optimized in other ways. It's those other things, i.e., keyword-rich Title tags, body copy and links pointing to the page, that are more likely responsible for the high rankings.

As to the length of any domain name, it's not really a factor. Choose domain names based on your company's brand, and make it something your users will remember. Many people (like me) don't bookmark sites, so memorable domain names that make sense are much preferred over keyword-rich domain names that look like canned luncheon meat!
December 19, 2002

CEO and founder of High Rankings®, Jill Whalen has been performing search engine optimization since 1995 and is the host of the free High Rankings Advisor search engine marketing newsletter, author of "The Nitty-gritty of Writing for the Search Engines" and founder/administrator of the popular High Rankings Search Engine Optimization Forum. In 2006, Jill co-founded SEMNE, a local search engine marketing networking organization for people and companies in New England.

High Rankings is an internationally recognized search engine optimization firm located in Framingham, MA specializing in search engine optimization, SEO consultations, in-house training, site audit reports, search marketing seminars and workshops. High Rankings has a 100% success rate for substantially improving client rankings and targeted traffic.

Jill speaks at national and international conferences and has been writing about SEO and search marketing since 2000. She's been quoted in such publications as The Wall Street Journal, U.S. News & World Report and The Washington Post. Her articles have appeared in numerous print magazines and online websites including CIO Magazine, CMS Focus, The Internet Marketing Report, ClickZ, WorkZ,, Entrepreneur, Lycos Small Business, WebProNews, SiteProNews and others. Jill has also appeared on many online and offline radio programs such as Entrepreneur Magazine's E-Biz Radio Show, SearchEngineRadio and the eMarketing Talkshow.

Search Engine Guide > Jill Whalen > Attacking the Search Engines