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The results for blue widgets, red widgets, green widgets are dominated by a network of "satellites" named bluewidgets.ie, redwidgets.ie etc. and a site I'm very familiar with is ranking for a popular three letter acronym that happens to be in the domain name but is not targeted "per se".
Hopefully it won't last too long second time around :-)
I have in the past suffered bad rankings, but most (depending on time I put in) rank reasonably well now.
That is becuase I believe, you get a high rank factor by having a keyword url, to the point that if you mirror you competitors keyword density and anchor text, you will find yourself dopping in the ranking rather than rising, by going over Googles acceptable thresholds so filters are applied.
The trick in my opinion is balance. You gain from the URL, but take yourself over the acceptable threshold if you copy the same criteria of other sites, that do not have a keyword URL.
I.e as soon as I went over 2% word density on one of my sites, I dropped many search engine pages in rank, even though without exception all 20 sites around me on first and second page had densities over 4% to 8%. Reduce the density under 2%, I improved. I believe it is just a balancing act.
Too many links to my site with the same anchor text of my URL, I dropped again. Balance this out with with different terms to my URL, and i improve again.
My opinion and experince of my sites only.
I've just started seeing two-keyword parked domains showing up.
This is one of my Google Pet Peeves! How difficult is it for Google to figure out a site is 1) one page (landing); 2) a parked domain "site"?
Of all the sophisticated algo tweaks they fuss over, they still can't get the parked domains shot to 950 penalty oblivion or better yet, banned completely.
If example.com has only one page, with template code format of known parked domains, trip Parked Domain Penalty, remove from index.
Just because a person owns www.bluewidgets.com, doesn't mean they are required to have blue widgets on the site.
A domain name is nothing more than text, converted into numerical data for hosting purposes, etc.
Second, and MOST importantly, having the domain www.bluewidgets.com doesn't make you an authority on blue widgets.... it just means you registered the domain first, and any moron with an extra $10 in their pocket can do that.
If you have a brand name, you would normally have a url to match.
Id is feasable that people would search using the brand name.
It would be the URL, that would consider that brand name to be at number one, without the need for SEO.
Think of a famous soft drink maker. You would expect to find that brand name at numer one if you searched for it.
It should be there because it is the most relevant result and not because they have spent more money on SEO.
Sometimes, key words are within brand names also. Even those that have been around well before the internet.
If i search for that brand name, keyword or not, I would expect to find it.
An opinion only.
If they apply routine spam filtering techniques, all of a sudden companies don't rank for their company name. And there's no way to tell if the URL is a company name, or just someone with a keyword rich domain.
You do a search for 'webmaster world', you want this site to come up. Yet webmasterworld.com is both a business and a keyword rich domain name.
Think of it as an opportunity :).
As for the parked site issue, AFAIK Google actively participates in that business. Worse, last time I checked it was part of their 'search network' and not their content network so you can't really turn it off if you advertise on adwords. One of the seedier underbelly things that they do.
Example: Lets say your site sells soft drinks, a genaric version. Someone selling Coke, might appear to rank higher.
Problem: What if your all encompassing soft drink site, selling many versions of soda, is being outranked by a bunch of sites that only sell a few products. None of them are an authority, and they gain ranking just because of name recognition.
I wonder if this is whats happening to my site. I'm ranking on page 5 for a general term. I offer generic versions of the said products, and I even offer MORE products than 90% of those above me. Yet, the other sites are using brand names, and are nothing more than affiliate sites. And I happen to be the manufacturer.
It certainly is a tricky situation, as Google needs to develop a system thats entirely automated.
So how is someone with an entirely new product able to brand themselves on an algorithmic level? To the most traditional business man, it simply can't be done.
Yet, the other sites are using brand names, and are nothing more than affiliate sites. And I happen to be the manufacturer.
It's got nothing to do with the manufacturer. Or that a site is an 'authority'. Or that someone offers more products. It's an algorithm, and attributing wishful thinking or human assumptions won't get you anywhere. Human relevance is only worth something here if you can translate that into something that can be measured on the web, and it's meaningful to the majority of sites.
Simply put, get more and better links, you'll rank better. If the inbound anchor text matches your domain name, expect to rank for your domain name. That's as it should be for the overwhelming majority of situations. Any further idiosyncracies from this you should identify as opportunities not problems.
If I want to purchase a plasma TV, I'm going to go down to the local shop, where I know I can speak to someone who's knowledgeable about the product, and who's more likely to bend over backwards for my business. The alternative would be to go to Wal-Mart, where most the employees don't know anything about plasma tv technology, and the overall products offered are sub par.
But Wal-Mart will continue to sell more tv's because they have very deep marketing pockets, which for all purposes, translates to SEO...., aimed at gaming the system for customers.
Does Wal-Mart always offer the same quality based products as the little guy? NO... and it's a proven fact.
Can Wal-Mart answer all your questions? NO... but sure do know how to run a price scanner to take your money.
So what's googles game plan? - To serve relevant results, or 'quality' relevant results.
I don't understand why domain name keywords should even remotely be considered as part of the algo.
Google tests all kinds of relevance signals and tweaks the algo acording to which signals are strong and which are noisy. Such decisions come from a real world, practical analysis and not just an abstract idea. If a signal becomes too noisy, then its dial gets turned way down. One classic example was the value of the H1 signal a few years back - it became so noisy that it had about the same effect on ranking as simple text.
Quality is what matters for sure, but relevance has to be addressed. The only problem is when engines go overboard in this way.
bluewidgets.com is more likely to be about blue widgets than susuusisysf.com
I agree that it is a strong indicator, as it should be. The choice of a domain name is a big decision. If one cannot beat others in the SERPs simply because they don't have a certain keyword in their domain names, demanding that Google change their algorithm is ridiculous. One should work on their overall SEO, marketing and provide content good enough that it will be deemed link worthy by others if they want to beat competition. Just look at Wikipedia that dominate so many keywords without having them in the domain name. If Google really gives too much influence to that indicator and it is being abused, they will tone it down, and rely more on another "flavor of the month" indicator. But in the end, a site with good links, trust, history and the overall topic of their content is related to the domain name (ex: webmasterworld.com is all about webmasters), then the domain name should play a major part.
I've been seeing this since April 2007 and haven't seen it change since then.
Regarding martinibuster's observation in April, I didn't see such an effect then and posted to that effect, also saying...
I've always felt that the perceived ranking boost from a domain name comes in fact from the company name... or whatever ends up in anchor text of inbound links. I don't think I've seen anything to suggest that Google parses the individual words....
In the past few weeks, though, I've had a test site, which, like mb's, was never intended to be promoted, but has move up to the top on a fairly competitive phrase. Its content is more or less garbage, and, beyond its first seed link, I've assumed it's ranked purely because of scrapers.
I'm still not completely convinced that it's ranking just because of the domain name... as the company name is the same as the domain with spaces... but the thought that Google has turned up the domain name dial has definitely crossed my mind.
I've always felt that the perceived ranking boost from a domain name comes in fact from the company name... or whatever ends up in anchor text of inbound links.
I also believe the problem with KW domains has nothing to do with the google ranking the words in the domain name heavily but rather the induced behaviour of people who link to a KW domain.
I have a site that is ALL about X Y Z, and I happen to want to link to a site that is called X-Y-Z.com. This site certainly isn't an authority on X Y Z but what am I going to put in the anchor text to this site? There is no other unique name given across the entire site apart from X Y Z.
Most people I believe will just lazily put 'X Y Z' in the anchor text, because that is what the site is called. Or perhaps 'another X Y Z site'. Either way the keywords get (unnaturally) into inbound links.
If the site was called wibble.com people would probably put wibble in the anchor text and then describe the site in text following that.
If google doesn't already, they should certainly consider devaluing common phrases in anchor text if they also exist in the linked to domain name, (or perhaps too prominently in the site), because of this induced behaviour.