How important is it to have keyword rich domain names to improve SEO?

How important is it to have keyword rich domain names to improve SEO?

I facilitated an SEO & Social media workshop last night for Bscene. Bscene is  a social creative entrepreneurs networking group for social enterprises in Brighton organised by the Life Project.

During the workshop a participant asked this question…

I’m getting a new website and i’m not sure which domain name to buy? Should i use my personal name or brand my site? Should i buy several domain names and redirect them to the same website to improve my search engine rankings?
I think it’s a common question for start-ups and small businesses. Here’s Matt Cutts of Google advice on this topic ….

The answer is it depends! If you are looking to raise awareness of your company a ‘branded’ domain name would be your best bet. It does however appear that exact-match domains and domains with keywords or locations in them  do tend perform better in Google over general, non-keyword domains.

I’m a bit on the fence, but my advice is if keyword rich domains are still available snap them up  but don’t bust a gut buying multiple domains with keywords in them.  Why?

Buying additional domains and redirecting them to one site wouldn’t benefit new domains. It feels spammy.To get any benefit from the keyword-based domains, you’d have to build content on them and that takes time.

If you buy several keyword-based domains you have several sites to host, maintain and SEO. My view is that it’s more productive to focus on one domain and build quality content and links on that. If you are a small business you can optimise for local search and on social media sites. With Google’s recent Panda update it’s far more important to put all your efforts into getting quality content on your main site.

What’s your take?