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Exact Match Domains Are NOT a Problem
wwconnect




msg:4231599
 7:59 pm on Nov 17, 2010 (gmt 0)

I just got back from Pubcon(great convention) and I left with a feeling of frustration about exact match domains after hearing Matt Cutt's talk.

This all started about a month ago with a rumor that Google was going to "do something" about exact match domains ranking so well.

At Pubcon Matt Cutts made a statement to the effect that he "hears a lot of webmaster complaining about exact match domains doing so well" and now they are going to "take a look at fixing this". I'm paraphrasing.

I think it's a mistake to downgrade the value of exact match domains.

Here is my summary of the problem: Over the last 6 months since Mayday and the concurrent caffeine role out there have been many technical issues and unexplained changes in the SERPs. Also, Matt Cutt's has had his team working on non web spam projects(he said at Pubcon).

The result is that there is more spam combined with lots of frustrated, angry webmasters looking for patterns or some explanation of the changes in the Google SERPs. One clear pattern through has been that exact matches have ranked fairly well and so I think people were just complaining about it b/c that's all they could see.

Somehow Google seems to have interpreted this as webmasters think there is a problem with exact match's having inherent ranking value.

To me the real problem is not that exact matches have too much power but that there is more spam and in general the relevancy is a bit off(though it seems like its getting better again lately.)
(One example is that in several competitive verticals I watch I see SERP results that aren't domain exact match, no keyword in the title and the content is one page with little to no value.) Changing exact match power doesn't address this.

I think exact match domains should retain their power b/c:

1. The name says it all..If it's an exact match it's exactly what I typed in to search for.
2. An exact match domain is relevant to the topic 99% of the time in my experience.
3. There are a limited amount of good exact match domains so it can't be easily manipulated.
4. Since there are a limited amount of valuable exact matches over time these will be developed in to higher and higher quality relevant results.
5. Exact match domains only have an advantage ranking for their the exact match keyword search an not for anything else. The advantage they gain is for a search they are inherently relevant to.
6. Many people have invested large sums of money in exact match domains because of branding value and if users search for that keyword that's most likely what they are looking for.

I don't want Google to "fix" something that isn't broken.

What do people think about Google claiming they are going to "do something about" exact keyword match domains? Do you agree they should leave the inherent value in exact match domains to rank?

 

tedster




msg:4231603
 8:26 pm on Nov 17, 2010 (gmt 0)

I don't think anyone with a solid website has anything to worry about just because it's on an exact match domain. As an extreme example, hotels.com will continue to rank very well, although expedia.com may have a slightly easier time catching them.

wwconnect




msg:4231942
 2:04 pm on Nov 18, 2010 (gmt 0)

I don't think anyone with a solid website has anything to worry about
agreed absolutely.


I'm interested though to hear from the people who think exact match domains have too much inherent ranking power and why...

bwnbwn




msg:4231944
 2:19 pm on Nov 18, 2010 (gmt 0)

I feel exact match domains have a small amount of boost from just the kw's in the name. That said I am sure the algo looks at more than just an exact match to serve this in the results. I have several sites that are exact match and never ranked even though they were parked. I built a decent site around the domain terms got a few links and now rank for the exact match. My site is as good if not better than the rest so it should rank and having the exact match just makes it more better. I don't think exact match domains have much more than a tiny tiny edge in the rankings. If the site is well built as Ted said I am not worried one bit about any tweeks.

I do feel Google needs to fix the issues at hand before they go about and try to make more adjustments in the algo and cause more problems with their poor results being served. Like trying to repair the engine in the wrong order. Fix the problem then tweek the engine.

aakk9999




msg:4231948
 2:29 pm on Nov 18, 2010 (gmt 0)

I think the problem is more with less competitive niches. Take example for location based travel accommodation, e.g. hotels (or holiday apartments etc) followed by place name for a country. There could be a site that covers all hotels in that country, with relevant city/place sub-pages ranking. Could be a strong hotel accommodation site with hotel info on that country.

Then someone comes and buys lots of kw exact matches with phrase hotel followed by place and they almost immediately rank on 1st page. Often only limited linking is required for such sites to rank very well indeed, overtaking perhaps a quality site focusing on bit wider area.

I think this is where the complaints are coming. The problem is - the person really has to invest in LOTS of exact keyword match domains for this - but then I have seen the whole chains of websites with exact kw in domain, all with the same design template, most likely reading the same DB. Would their pages rank so well if they are exactly the same as now, but just exist as subpages on one website.. probably not for the exact keyword, but would perhaps rank better for not exact matches since the whole domain might be seen as stronger.

bwnbwn




msg:4231951
 2:36 pm on Nov 18, 2010 (gmt 0)

aakk9999 the real question is do the domains you speak about provide a good result? Makes on difference if they used the same template and db that should not be reason to complain. If the sites your speaking about are thin scraper sites then yes but if the sites in question provide the user with the information requested then what's the problem.

Maurice




msg:4231964
 3:11 pm on Nov 18, 2010 (gmt 0)

I disagree I have seen many new thin exact match domains do better than they deserve and hold positions that a reasonable person (the man on the clapham omnibus with an iphone) would say well why not one of the 4-5 major FTSE companies that service this market?

wwconnect




msg:4232038
 5:10 pm on Nov 18, 2010 (gmt 0)

most immediately rank on 1st page.


This seems to make sense since that's what was searched for

the real question is do the domains you speak about provide a good result?


That's the question. and I think that the exact match domains are almost always relevant. I can't remember the last time I saw an exact match keyword domain rank that had irrelevant content. I've seen under developed sites on an exact match but from what I've seen they tend to get developed into a quality site quickly.

I think part of it gets back to Google trying to predict what people mean or want... and maybe them getting ahead of themselves.

When I type in "large red widgets" I want exactly "large red widgets" and not the greatest show case of large red widgets or whatever else Google thinks.

... and if there is an exact match domain for my search, as long as its not a parked/blank domain, I want to see it in the results.

scottsonline




msg:4232050
 5:38 pm on Nov 18, 2010 (gmt 0)

Maurice me too. There are ample numbers of situations like this:

Main store dot com has a category of products roundwidgets. They rank on that term at 8 or 10. They now own roundwidgets.com which is ranking 1 thanks to google. Click on roundwidgets and I get basically the category page for main store dot com with the identifying logo saying "a division of blah"

Same content 99.9% as the main domain at spot 8, taking up spot 1. Another business is suffering somewhere because of it and it does nothing for the shopper.

bwnbwn




msg:4232069
 6:09 pm on Nov 18, 2010 (gmt 0)

I do quite a bit of searching and am asking Ted to allow those that are saying all these exact match domains are not good to allow them to post examples. I don't see them and question if they are as a problem as what is being posted.

How about it Ted can we have some examples of these bad exact domain matches posted here/

tedster




msg:4232072
 6:20 pm on Nov 18, 2010 (gmt 0)

Sure - send your proposals to me privately first, via sticky mail. I'll review as fast as possible and get back to you.

I don't think it's so much a case of really bad sites ranking well (except maybe right after launch) as it is a case of a relevant but "not so great" domain outranking much better domains. This effect has been noticed so often that there are entire business plans and domain portfolios built around the idea - and successful ones, too.

robdwoods




msg:4232081
 6:39 pm on Nov 18, 2010 (gmt 0)

bwnbwn - I have to disagree. Google gives a ton of value to exact match. Having a exact match is great for ranking quickly and easily, compared to non-exact match. I have all kinds of examples in my industry where thin affiliate or MFA sites rank well based on exact match. It's not a cure all, but create a site with 15-20 outsourced articles, throw some social links, a couple of good links, and a bunch of poor quality links at it and you can get it ranking on the first page fairly easily.

aakk9999




msg:4232090
 6:54 pm on Nov 18, 2010 (gmt 0)

aakk9999 the real question is do the domains you speak about provide a good result?


Well, my experience showed me that after 18 months of trying with non-exact match domain, we got exact match and put part of content that target that keywords on the exact match and now are ranking on #8 after only 6 months and no link building.

The main site got to the bottom of page 2 for that term and would just not move. The main site is 10 year old and has TBPR5 and some nice links.

The new site is 6 months old and has TBPR0 and almost no links. So go figure!

[edited by: aakk9999 at 6:55 pm (utc) on Nov 18, 2010]

bwnbwn




msg:4232091
 6:54 pm on Nov 18, 2010 (gmt 0)

rbdwoods that is why I asked Ted for permission to post examples. I would love to see some good examples from you and agree/disagree with you as well. This is why this fourm is such a valuable resource.

I agree can do the above with a good domain name or exact name match and get the same results for a brief period of time as Ted indicated. I disagree because it is short lived and a way to ruin a good domain/exact match domain.

Please send Ted some examples he will post them for all of us to look at and discuss.

I have built up a nice collection of exact match domains that are what a user wants or searched for around one of my main domains. It has proven to be a very good conversion and one that is good to the end user and search quality.

If you think about it some exact match domains are very specific to the search that was conducted. These domains don't generate much traffic but they do convert well and IMO are a great way to build more content around than trying to get a page 3 clicks deep to rank and have no content built up around the term.

robdwoods




msg:4232106
 7:07 pm on Nov 18, 2010 (gmt 0)

bwnbwn I've emailed Ted an example of a site that's been around since 2006 and ranking top 4 for a very competitive commercial term based on poor content, poor links, and an exact match domain...basically an MFA site

wwconnect




msg:4232114
 7:22 pm on Nov 18, 2010 (gmt 0)

Main store dot com has a category of products roundwidgets. They rank on that term at 8 or 10. They now own roundwidgets.com which is ranking 1 thanks to google. Click on roundwidgets and I get basically the category page for main store dot com with the identifying logo saying "a division of blah"

Same content 99.9% as the main domain at spot 8, taking up spot 1. Another business is suffering somewhere because of it and it does nothing for the shopper.

@scottsonline
What you point out is a problem of duplicate content but not exact match domains. Google has said they don't want the same company to have two websites ranking where the second website is duplicate or provides no added value.

In your example, I don't think the main category page should rank at 8-10 it adds no value but this not a problem with exact matches imo. I would bet that the exact match domain ranking at 1 is going to have more relevance and greater quality content than the category page at 8-10.
The exact match is the best result but the duplicate content that adds no value and ranks on the same SERP is the problem.

as it is a case of a relevant but "not so great" domain outranking much better domains


@ted from what I've seen in general is that even a single page website with exact match domain and the entire site or even just a page, specifically for the topic of that keyword, will be more relevant and "greater" than a 1000 page site that has a fancy design and a cms and lots of money invested.

It seems to me the "large built out domains" with many pages, even when really well done, generally aren't going to be better for a really specific topic compared to a site where someone took the time to register a domain with that keyword and develop some content just for that very specific topic and keyword.

It's like buying an apple (fruit) from a large store like costco versus buying from the guy that has 20 apple trees in his backyard and is selling them on the side of the road. No matter how much effort the chain puts into making their apples shiny and large it's never going to have the basic quality of the apple that came off someones tree in the backyard, even if some apples from the backyard may have a worm or bruise on them.

[edited by: wwconnect at 7:28 pm (utc) on Nov 18, 2010]

onepointone




msg:4232116
 7:25 pm on Nov 18, 2010 (gmt 0)

You could look at this from a reverse standpoint.

People are more likely than ever to use google as a substitute for the address bar. Or they may think ["I dont know the exact url address but the site is called widget-widget or something"]

So without a boost for keyword, maybe google would become a weaker SE in some regard.

artek




msg:4232172
 11:18 pm on Nov 18, 2010 (gmt 0)

Personally I think there are several direct and indirect reasons why Google stopped ignoring exact match domains (or keywords in domain name) and will not ignore them in the future;

It is helpful for G to avoid legal problems of the Trademark names not showing up on #1 position when you search for the exact trademark name website. In general, you cannot own Trademark domain name if you are not owner of the Trademark so exact match is automated solution in this case.

From their experience with AdWords and AdSence they know that exact match domains or domain names containing keywords get much better CTR and contribute to "straight to relevant ad" behavior.

It is helping them indirectly to deal with the direct navigation which is quintessence of the exact much domain and which is not going away and represents lost opportunity to serve ads.

Due to overall limited number of the real keyword and keyword phrases domain names and their high cost, spamming of the SE results with top-level domain names is marginal comparing to the linking schemes. They can also see that if you pay a lot of money for the top-level domain name sooner or later you will develop it.

If you want to run semantically enhanced search engine you need to consider every occurrence of the actually limited number of real keyword and keyword phrases used for search, as an element for your metadata.

tedster




msg:4232187
 11:43 pm on Nov 18, 2010 (gmt 0)

Here's the domain robdwoods suggested looking at - carpet.org which ranks well - even above wikipedia - for the word "carpet".

artek




msg:4232193
 12:30 am on Nov 19, 2010 (gmt 0)

It is functional website which most likely survived manual review where .NET did not.

robdwoods




msg:4232204
 1:28 am on Nov 19, 2010 (gmt 0)

artek, it's functional, just not very good...a few poorly written articles and apart from one dmoz link, a relatively small number of poor quality links. Without the exact match domain there's no reason that site should be ranking that highly for a competitive term.

bwnbwn




msg:4232207
 1:38 am on Nov 19, 2010 (gmt 0)

I admit the site is crap but this is one example I can find many many examples were an exact match is good.

I really don't think there is all that many out there that arn't good sites well worth poping were they do.

An intresting note the site doesn't even have a privacy policy and google ads all over it. I couldn't find it through the poor navigation and nasty css. I also see Amazon affilate ads in the keyword terms in the page content. Boy sure is trying hard to make a dime here.

Lapizuli




msg:4232208
 1:49 am on Nov 19, 2010 (gmt 0)

I don't think it's so much a case of really bad sites ranking well (except maybe right after launch) as it is a case of a relevant but "not so great" domain outranking much better domains. This effect has been noticed so often that there are entire business plans and domain portfolios built around the idea - and successful ones, too.


Tedster, that's what I think, too. In the last six months, I've seen several sites that are not utter and complete spam and that ARE relevant, but not the MOST relevant, soar to number one for long tail keywords. That's the kind of content I think Google wants filtered.

For example, sites with URLs displaying keywords like "Fix a Green Widget," with content that reads like:

"You really should fix your green widget if it's broken. Broken widgets are inconvenient, and green broken widgets are not just bothersome - they're also a health hazard. One hazard is the possibility of getting sick. Call for green widget repair before it's too late."

These are MFA sites, mostly, and don't provide a very good user experience - though not such a bad experience that the user recoils. Maybe that's the problem - the lure is very pretty, and by the time a visitor sees the lure is just that, Google's already seen 'em visit several pages.

As a visitor, I have even returned to such sites in later searches, thinking I must have missed the actual content promised by the website's title on my first visit - or, occasionally, because the site was so forgettable, I forgot I'd been there. Which now gives Google the impression the site was worth going back to.

tedster




msg:4232221
 3:25 am on Nov 19, 2010 (gmt 0)

There is another facet to the exact match domain - especially when it's a two or three word hyphenated domain name. Google may have that query phrase pegged as navigational intent, and that would naturally boost its search presence, too.

Here's another exact match domain a member sent me: optimum-nutrition-wholesale.com

This one might be a navigational intent thing, and it's certainly relevant to the query, no argument on that. But it is ranking very well with almost no backlinks compared to its competition. In fact, it has two positions with a [+] sign for even more expansion.

bwnbwn




msg:4232224
 3:46 am on Nov 19, 2010 (gmt 0)

whats the search ted?

tedster




msg:4232242
 4:45 am on Nov 19, 2010 (gmt 0)

Sorry for being obscure. It's exact match domain, right? So the search is [optimum nutrition wholesale]

bwnbwn




msg:4232368
 3:16 pm on Nov 19, 2010 (gmt 0)

My feelings here it the ones that are complaining have no merit. I just don't see the problem in Google. The exact match domains that added content revelant to the search should be there. The issue is the ones complaining are just pissed because they feel there mega site should be above the exact match for the term even though their site maybe stronger the exact match domain is more revelant to the search.

It is a case my site got 2k in links this site go 2 links yea but the the page the user is wanting is 2-3 clicks deep on your mega site, your content is not as good or much less information, and if you added content to help add value to the page it is another click away.

I just don't see it and feel it is a case of webmasters not able to accept the fact they didn't think of it first so they complain.

From the lack of anybody showing me a problem in this thread is kinda say hmm were is the problem. The ones that have a problem it is time to show me the money.

Matt Cutts maybe looking at it because of all the webmaster complaining but I can't see it and feel the algo does not need to adjusted.

alika




msg:4232374
 3:49 pm on Nov 19, 2010 (gmt 0)

I feel exact match domains have a small amount of boost from just the kw's in the name.


My experience shows otherwise.

I launched a new site on Sept 12 -- exact match domain of a competitive keyword (318 million pages).

Using only Twitter, Facebook and links from my 3 other sites, the site made its debut for the phrase a week after launch at around #8.

A month later, it was #4 for the homepage, with another of its page at #5.

Six weeks after launch, it was #1. And it's still holding the top spot, despite having links from only 2 other sites other than my own and social networks. It got a big boost in traffic last week when it was Stumbledupon

This is my 3rd exact match domains. And for all of these exact match domains, I experienced the same thing -- couple an exact match domain with excellent content and you can QUICKLY and easily get (and more importantly) hold on to the top spot.

I feel your pain though. My main site was #1 for several years for a highly competitive keyword (2.3 billion pages). But is now in the 2nd page and the top spot went to the industry magazine using the keyword in its domain name, and #3 went to the exact match domain (which I wish I got)

wwconnect




msg:4232394
 4:12 pm on Nov 19, 2010 (gmt 0)

a site that's been around since 2006 and ranking top 4 for a very competitive commercial term based on poor content, poor links, and an exact match domain...basically an MFA site


@robdwoods I have to disagree with your conclusion about carpet.org and I actually think carpet.org is possibly the best result for the query carpet.
The question is what is the highest quality/most relevant result for the user's search. It shouldn't matter if the site has poor links or is an exact match... what matters is that it is the highest quality and relevancy for the searcher.

The issue with rating the best quality result for a search like carpet is that it is so broad/vague that there could be multiple "best" results which depend on what the searcher is looking for.

3 of the 4 top SERP results for the search carpet are commercial results. Carpet.org is the only result that is primarily informational/educational in content and gives me some easy to find info on the background of carpets, fibers, types, etc.

Results #1 and #2:
www.carpetexpress.com/
www.empiretoday.com/products/carpet

are from broader sites that also focus on the general topic of flooring which I think makes them less relevant and less specific for the search "carpet" especially when compared to SERP #3 www.carpet.org and SERP #4 www.stainmaster.com/

As for the content on carpet.org it is actually useful and covers various different specific knowledge areas on the broad topic carpet. It doesn't tell me about flooring thankfully(if I wanted flooring I would have typed "flooring")

The menu on carpet.org clearly spells out "types of fiber" "types of carpet" "carpet pad" which are aspects that all seem very relevant to a broad search term like "carpet" . None of the other 3 commercial results make this type of information so easy to find. They are all geared toward selling. #4stainmsater.com does provide some useful info compared to 1 and 2 but not as much as carpet.org.

imo - carpet.org can't be classified as MFA or poor content. It's actually an example of why exact match domains are such relevant/good results. I can see why someone would be angry that carpet.org ranks well with few of the "sterotypical" seo factors like links. But, that doesn't matter it's the best result.

Another point is the url carpet.org is more relevant to the content of the site than the url carpetexpress.com is to the content on that site. Carpet.org = carpet but carpetexpress.com = flooring.

If carpet.org were removed I think the SERP quality for the query carpet would become entirely commercial, homogeneous and overall very poor.
The example of optimum nutrition wholesale I think is a good one to look at... but I need to get some work done...:) and what do you guys think/see about carpet.org and the serps for the term carpet?

btw - @bwnbwn I just read your last post and I agree 100% on the complaining webmasters.

Seoering




msg:4232445
 5:46 pm on Nov 19, 2010 (gmt 0)

Some really interesting discussion going on here.

I've spoken about this before and posted a similar chart:

[IMG]http://ploader.net/files/126dcd003e3ab9a2b57f02f1271a78e9.png[/IMG] [ploader.net]

I'm hopeful this can remain in the post considering there is absolutely no way posters can work out what URLs are included in the chart above. As you can see the majority rose in position post Mayday/Caffeine. Some similarities:

- domains consist of exact match or include one word of the keyword (highest ranked domains are an exact match)

- Some domains (not all) were registered between March 2010 and June 2010

- Majority of domains include keyword within internal navigation instead of 'home'

Look forward to further discussion on this as I think this is a massive problem to be honest. I can elaborate on the content of these websites if required.

This 57 message thread spans 2 pages: 57 ( [1] 2 > >
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