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Coincidence? Most probably. You can't look at one search and apply that as the cause and effect of everything Google. Do many different searches and see if your hypothesis holds up.
Florida's effects were enough to give everybody agita and more than account for the absence of a specific site in the current SERPs for specific search terms.
I don't think it is just those with dashes I think it is also those with one of the terms in the domain name.
So say your domain name is widgetology.com and someone searches for < widget study > then I'm not seeing any domains with the word widget anywhere in the word that forms the domain name even without dashes.
My case may be a special example because my domain name and other similar company ones in the UK includes a word for which the strongest link in the US is a model brand name or trademark. This may be being affected because a US English Ontology is being used.
An Ontology is a special kind of dictionary map that describes the links between words, synonyms of words etc.
At the moment I don't know how widespread this problem of forcing US definitions of English is but hopefully it will be wider than my small niche and a backlash will come in the New Year from users unhappy with results. I'm thinking of starting an email campaign asking everyone I know to email 10 people to tell them and asking them to tell 10 more people in a pyramid selling model at seven levels everyone in the UK with an email address knows about it.
what about a combination of
1)KW1-KW2... in Domain.
2)KW1-KW2... in anchor text of majorly all incoming Links.
3)KW1-KW2... in title and h1
4)KW1-KW2... having high density in content
Cant this be caught easily...
Sure, that's basic keyword density, which Florida and its whatever you want to call it, commercial filter or OOP, supposedly put increased emphasis on.
it would be a black hat SEO
Nope, not black hat, just white hats gone astray.
So, back on topic. As sblake pointed out, there are dashed domains showing up in the SERPs.
A LOT of them have been demoted
So did a whole big bunch of other sights without dashes in the domains. Dashed domains themselves were not filtered out of the SERPs.
I've been reading through some of the recent posts on using hyphens in domain names. I am about to get another domain to catch the traffic my site is not pulling in.
Now that the issue of hyphens has reared its ugly head once more, the question is this: is kw1kw2.com or kw1-kw2.com better in terms of staying in G?
A search for kw1 kw2 gives the same results as the search results for kw1-kw2, while the results for the search kw1kw2 and kw1_kw2 only return results containing the words in the url string. Logically I would choose kw1-kw2.com but if my site won't stick . . .
If the hyphen is in fact being penalised, it would be better to avoid it. My site has underscores in the urls and ranks very well (#1 - #5) for most of my kw1 kw2 phrases in an uncompetitive search despite low PR. Florida had no effect on any of my pages in the serps.
If the hyphen is in fact being penalised
There is absolutley no evidence that a domain name with a hyphen in it is being penalized, filtered or anything else in and of itself.
Do some more reading about the Florida update, maybe someplace else besides WW. Search Google for:
florida update -site:www.webmasterworld.com
Start at the top and work your way down (Of course, skip over the update of the florida civil war rosters, etc.). There are a few good articles in there, as well as a nifty chart that looks kind of authoritative (Keep in mind that you can make any authoritative when you put it on a chart).
As you read you'll see how the effects of the "commercial filter" can mimic a penalty on dashed domains or other domains with keywords as part of their names. But it isn't the keyowords or dashes in the domain alone that are mucking things up.
That's much, much too simple for Google or any SE. None would use a 1st grade algorithm to deliver supposedly relevant results.
Cynically, I think it's just because the corporate site doesn't say 'buy here', 'special offer' etc.
I can tell you with absolute certainty that the Florida filter did not only target sites like that. Informational pages got bumped from searches where the filter was set on high too.
I do have my own theories about how the Florida Filter worked, But I quite honestly don't really want to get into that discussion on WW, because as soon as a thread starts getting into that, the S/N ratio drops beyond the level where I am willing to participate.
They really have no need to worry about their position in the SERPs. If the were removed from Google completely, I doubt that their sales would drop by a single bike. They simply do not care if their site is googlebot friendly.
[edited by: BigDave at 11:00 pm (utc) on Dec. 23, 2003]
Well, did anyone look at the site? It's hardly keyword rich. I don't think that is evidence for anything.
Quite the contrary, I think it supports several earlier suggestions.
One of which is that if a site doesn't look too commercial, it has a better chance of ranking very highy.
Commercial sites are required to use repetition - even if they're not deliberately stuffing. If you sell 1000 varieties of widgets - it's blo*dy difficult not to mention widgets all over the place!
Based on their on-page factors, H-D doesn't "deserve" to be anywhere, hyphens or no hyphens. Truth be known, their site (unlike their bikes, no doubt) is, technically, pretty gruesome, especially the one that appears at #1.
Then I guess we have to give google credit for doing something right in this case. H-D is the most relevant site for that search, whether or not it meets the guidelines of the average SEO for a quality site.
A search for kw1 kw3 brings it back.
A search for kw2 kw3 brings it back.
A search for kw1 kw2 kw3 and 2 more common words brings it back.
kw1 kw2 k3 are in title, anchor text and are high density on index page.
To me this is proof of a filter once you pass a threshold.
I'm not a tech guy here but it would seem to me that the easiest way to implement this filter would be to assign *points* to certain areas of a page like title, h1, domain name etc.
Once your accumulated points exceeds the threshold level then you trigger the filter.
Most likely there is also a point system working in your favor at the same time, like PR.
Then again, PR might be both good and bad depending on whether the linking sites are seen as relevant and sharing a common theme.
Someone please correct me if I'm wrong but it seems safe to make these basic assumptions:
1. Hyphenated domains are not penalized. They can actually help, especially in backlinks.
2. Non-hyphenated brand names look better to humans. Appearances don't mean much, though, if the site is #999 in the SERPs.
I think Harley Davidson was smart to use a hyphenated domain, since it's unlikely that people would search for "hd". Besides, someone beat them to hd.com. :)
More often than not (though be NO MEANS always), sites with hyphens are also optimized...aggressively so, perhaps. As such, it's not surprising that they might fall in greater numbers since Florida.
Could the hyphenated keywords that appear in domains contribute to an overall score that counts against OOP? Doubtful, very doubtful.
Paranoia runs deep right now, but understandable, I suppose. Wait, what was that sound...? ;-)