When you buy a house, you generally don’t get the car you saw in the garage with it.
Domain Name squatting is almost as old as the Internet itself. Recently, I generated no small backlash when I suggested that the sale of a domain name was probably not worth the $6000 price paid for it.
Keywords in a domain name are but one tiny factor in how Google ranks a website or webpage. Since the domain in question was related to real estate, that makes this topic all the more easy to illustrate. Let’s use the community, Fullerton California as an example. A typical real estate search that gets plenty of search volume and is targeted to buyers is, “Fullerton homes for sale.” results?
Both of these have the word Fullerton in the URL path, but the domain names have nothing inherently connected to real estate–only the business itself has been obviously optimized effectively through the aggregation of back-links, coupled with rich content related to real estate.
You can be sure that Google knows a lot about your domain.
If someone buys a domain and develops it using traditional white hat SEO methods and meaningful content on-site, and then sells it there is absolutely no harm- if you, the buyer get to keep the current content and back-links to the website. Usually that isn’t the case. You get the domain name, not the website itself- unless you’re buying out the website contents as well. Google, of course, will know that ownership has been transferred. If the new owner continues on topic and builds a following and aggregates back-links, that site may once again rank well in search engines- but it isn’t automatic or guaranteed. In fact, it probably isn’t any better than simply buying a fresh domain name and undertaking the same effort.
Paying a premium price for domain just because it has words that you think are important is a naïve approach and, in fact, if the domain has been parked for a long time, or worse yet–if it has a bad history, you are no better off than if you had purchased Fullerton–homes–by-Yourname.net.
Most of my clients new to SEO for real estate, however, become overly focused on the domain name, thinking that it makes a great difference in how well their site will rank. Some are willing to throw money after what looks like a perfect domain name. Domain squatters have a lot of them and there are always people who will pay for them- so the business of selling names continues- but it does the buyer little good.
Back to the Fullerton keyword- There are about 3100 websites with the words “Fullerton” and “homes” in the URL. There is even a domain, Fullerton–homes–for–sale.com. It ranks nowhere near the top pages of Google. website is fairly new, hosted on WordPress, has good content and may well position much better in the future. But for now, it’s a very small fish in a big lake. Higher ranking in search results will happen, not because of keywords in the URL, but because of rich content, plenty of back links with keyword anchor text and the growth of its domain authority over time.
Again, in most cases once ownership of the domain is transferred, page rank and domain authority will experience a reset by Google.
So, in summary, you are selling real estate in Gotham City, and the domain name GothamCityHomes.com is for sale for a premium price, be careful about spending much money on that idea. You can do just as well by purchasing Gothamcityhomes.us or even Gotham-city-RE.net. if you don’t think Google knows what RE means, try typing “Orange County RE” into Google and watch all the real estate results that appear.