Kalena Jordan over at SiteProNews has this on her list of myths. In fact, it’s myth No. 1.
I’d have to say that this is a myth, but she doesn’t exactly do a good job of explaining why. She gives an awkward example and borrows another from Matt Cutts to illustrate her point – something ridiculous like www.buy-cheap-viagra-online-while-consolidating-your-debt-so-you-can-play-texas-holdem
-while-watching-porn.com. OK, that’s funny … and just plain off the richter scale of moronic. But that’s the point.
Well, let’s come back down to earth a minute. No one in their right mind is going to buy a domain name that long. If you’d even think about it, you shouldn’t have a website. No one is going to visit a website with that many words in it, keywords or not. Your URL needs to be short. I’d say no more than three words, maybe four if you include a preposition or your key phrase is two words. But I would say that having an URL with your keyword in it is preferable than having an URL without your keyword in it.
URLs Without Keywords Can Rank Higher Than URLs With Them
Let’s be honest. URLs without keywords in them can rank higher than URLs with keywords in them. If the webmaster does a better job at on-page SEO and link building than the webmaster of the URL with the keyword-rich URL then he could, and likely will, rank higher than the non-keyworded URL. Why? Because keywords in the URL is just one criteria that search engines look at in their ranking factors. But, and here’s the rub, it is a factor.
All other things being equal, if two websites competing for the same keyword are competing for a ranking at Google, the domain name with the keyword in it will have a slight edge. Focusing on just one ranking factor, especially an obscure one like this, and hoping you take the top spot at Google, however, isn’t all that smart. Would you take the same approach to title attributes in your link? Or how about alt tags? What I mean is, if you put undue importance on just one ranking factor and forget about everything else then you likely will not get the rankings you expect. SEO is all about making all of the ranking factors work in your favor. While keywords in your domain name is not the most important ranking factor, it is a ranking factor and shouldn’t be ignored altogether.
Summary: Do it if you can, but if you can’t find a suitable domain name available that contains your keyword, don’t fret about it. It’s not a life or death decision.