Mar 17, 2011 114 reads by Navneet Kaushal

Just when you thought the news of Google's algorithm updates, for improved search quality and spam cleansing, has taken a back seat – Matt Cutts has more. The leader of the anti-spam team of the company said that Google is “looking forward through the rest of the year at other changes we can make to try to improve search quality. There is definitely still room for improvement in the space of low-quality content – or in trying to reward higher-quality content.”

Now, what exactly could that mean? Are they unleashing an even more fierce Panda? Could you peep into the future and tell what's to come next? Well, if you've seen the recent YouTube uploaded video of Matt Cutts, titled 'How important is it to have keywords in a domain name?' you would've gotten a code or two.

In the video, Cutts said, “Now if you're still on the fence, let me just give you a bit of color, that we have looked at the rankings and the weights that we give to keyword domains, and some people have complained that we're giving a little too much weight for keywords in domains," Cutts said. "And so we have been thinking about adjusting that mix a little bit and sort of turning the knob down within the algorithm, so that given two different domains it wouldn't necessarily help you as much to have a domain with a bunch of keywords in it.” Does this suggest that Google is now focusing on the rankings of keyword domains?

Here are some opinions of various experts:

Simon Heseltine, says that “If you've been doing things the right way, building up good content, on a good architecture, that's pulling in good quality, relevant links, then you shouldn't have to worry about this change," and also that, "If your strategy is based around keywords in the domain name, then you may want to start working on a new strategy.” Heseltine thinks that Google might not be able to do so much about it (keywords in the domain) as they will surely want that brands rank for their company names.

Eric Enge of Stone Temple Consulting believes that too much importance has been given to anchor text, to which Ray "Catfish" Comstock of Business Online agrees. Enge said that “It makes sense for Google to figure out how to adjust this, but I think they will find it a hard problem to do so fairly.” Comstock commented saying, “Google would have to devaluate the strength of keyword focused anchor text across the board to make this change really work," in addition he added that "This would be good news for most companies and even the playing field a little bit.”

AudetteMedia's Adam Audette too agreed that doing this, which also means limiting the effectiveness of hyphenated and keyword-laden domains, would aid the overall SEO strategy. Audette also wants a fair weight to the terms included in the path. He also seem to say that Google is concerned about what their users want to see and how it affects their search experience.

According to Josh McCoy of Vizion Interactive, hyphenated domains would receive the first blow, then keyword+superlative adjective,or best or top etc., would be next. He said that “It would be a very unfair move for Google to look outside of this as many company's branded domains include keywords without intention," McCoy also added that "If Google does really drop the hammer on this in a big way, we will be accepting resumes from those who used to work as 'domainers.”

Hence, websites that have taken shortcuts better stay alert as Google seem to have already marched out towards them.

In the same YouTube video, Cutts also advocated the advantages of branding. He mentioned Twitter, Zynga, Facebook, and Yahoo, sites that have created great brands, even without keywords in their domains. Taking this and Google's past inclination for big brands into account, it is plausible that they are trying to move the trusted websites (big brands) up and less trusted websites(affiliate) down the ranking.

Vizion Interactive's Mark Jackson has an interesting point. He said, “Successful search engine optimization is not just about building for what's worked in the past, or what might work today, but focusing instead on 'if I were Google' and building towards that,” and also that “While a keyword rich domain may still be counted — it does show a degree of 'focus' on that topic/keyword, obviously — how much should it count, really?

Would you, as a searcher, want to find a 10 page website ranking highly for some research that you're conducting? To me, the intent of your search is to find a website of substance, authority, popularity and a quality user-experience. Focus on these things for long-term success.”

Navneet Kaushal

Navneet Kaushal

Navneet Kaushal is the founder and CEO of PageTraffic, an SEO Agency in India with offices in Chicago, Mumbai and London. A leading search strategist, Navneet helps clients maintain an edge in search engines and the online media. Navneet's expertise has established PageTraffic as one of the most awarded and successful search marketing agencies.
Navneet Kaushal
Navneet Kaushal
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