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I work in the IT field, but I am far from being a seasoned website developer. My friend wants me to help them build their website using a WordPress theme they picked out. My friend is a photographer and had a former website developer create a DNS forwarding address on their GoDaddy account to a more general web address. This developer explained to them that it would be better for Google search results, but I do not understand why this would be the case.

For instance, my friend's site is something specific with their name in it like the following hypothetical address: http://stevensonphotocreation.com. The developer created a forwarding address like the following hypothetical address: http://weddingphotovermont.photography.

Is this really a best practice?

I would think that if they just followed proper SEO practices, then they really shouldn't have to configure DNS forwarding to a URL with more broad terms in it.

Does this make sense?

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Working with your hypothetical, stevensonphotocreation.com and weddingphotovermont.photography, much depends upon the site, however, I can tell you this.

1] The forwarding in of itself is not helping. It may not hurt, but it is not helping.

2] The specialty gTLD .photography is not helping. It appears that the developer thinks that the gTLD adds semantic value, it may or may not, however, what is true in search is what was true before a sea change. In otherwords, the TLD had no semantic value before all the new gTLDs, I would bet they have no real value today.

3] The domain name weddingphotovermont.photography is not helping to build a brand.

4] If you break down the semantic meaning of both domain names, the weddingphotovermont.photography does have more semantic value with wedding photo vermont, however, the notion of keyword loading domain names is a misnomer.

There is a greater weight given to search terms found in a domain name, however, this does not work in a vacuum and is not as great as people think. For a while, people thought that keyword loaded domain names performed better. And they were not completely wrong in thinking this. There was plenty of anecdotal evidence without context. Google for about a year and a half, did over-weigh semantic values within the domain giving the domain name a ridiculous amount of significance in some searches. But there was a catch.

Again, this did not work in a vacuum. For this to have worked, all other search query filters would have to have failed. And that is the key.

Google did properly correct the error.

For the record, Google does not make keyword matches, never has, never will. In fact, the original research paper written by Page and Brin stated that their research is based upon the notion that keyword matches were at least limited in potential and poor in results. Page and Brin argues that semantics and not direct keyword matches was what made Google better. And they were right.

So given the scenario today, yes there is semantic value in terms found in a domain name, however, that requires that the site and content match the semantic value found. Otherwise, any semantic value used within the domain name fails as an outlier. This means that the site has to be created to support the domain name. This is bass ackwards. It is like putting the cart before the horse.

Alsoconsider that any site needs to build a brand. Weddingphotovermont.photography is not brand worthy whereas stevensonphotocreation.com would be.

What I would advise is something more in between, stevensonweddingphotography.com. I give this as an example. It has both supportable semantic value and the opportunity to build a brand. However, the domain names have already been chosen. Of the two hypotheticals, only the first, stevensonphotocreation.com, makes sense. Dump the forwarding. Dump the extra domain name and focus on one properly developed site. Do not look for tricks and do honest work. Then be done with it.

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