Google’s Exact Match Domain Name Update
Big week this for Google, they’ve been so busy. For a long time we’ve known that for some reason that makes absolutely no sense from a searcher point of view, if you built a site around an exact match to the keywords that you were trying to optimize for that it would give you some extra boost in the rankings.
We’ve been talking about this for at least a year, maybe a couple of years – I can’t remember the first time that we started to focusing on this. I guess it’s been two years that this has had a big effect. For a long time a lot of us have been saying that this makes absolutely no sense.
Usually only internet marketers are actually doing this, no one names their domain FreeDogTrainingTipsPeopleLove. They don’t name domains like that, they’re BobsTips or something totally unrelated. Most really authoritative domains mean absolutely nothing, like Google and Facebook. So the idea that Google would prioritize exact match domain names in the first place is kind of crazy.
I’ve always thought that one of the effects that was being observed was since the keywords were in the domain name that meant that they were often times in the anchor text. I don’t know if that is part of why exact match domain names were so heavily favored in the algorithm, but we know they were. Many times even I myself have registered domain names that just zoomed to the top of the rankings. Sometimes it doesn’t work, like in the case of the snoring site. But in the case of the corn sheller site it works. I’ve done affiliate product sniping in many cases, so this stuff has worked until Friday.
On Friday Matt Cutts reported on Twitter, he gave a “weather report”
Minor weather report: small upcoming Google algo change will reduce low-quality “exact-match” domains in search results.
— Matt Cutts (@mattcutts) September 28, 2012
It may be a small update to Matt Cutts, and by small update he means of the bazillion searches that are conducted, only a small percentage of those searches will be effected. The truth of the matter is for the internet marketing community, particularly for people like the Adsense Flippers guys who teach and have been building many exact match domain names for a long time, that is a huge impact because a disproportionate number of their searches are coming from exact match domain keywords.
Immediately on Friday and Saturday people started noticing that there was a big dip in the ranking for exact match domain names. The guys over at SEOmoz.org track exact match domain influence and they have a graph where they show a big drop in the percentage of influence that exact match domains have.
The way they calculate this, if you’ve ever wondered how these guys track this stuff, in general what they do is they’ll take keywords across many niches – let’s take an example of 100 niches – and within those niches they’ll take 10 or 15 keywords each. They’ll just week after week keep a record of what the top 100 results are for each keyword. They keep a record of that and they look for changes.
One of the things that they do each week is run statistics on those results. They might say, “When we searched for dog training tips, of the top 100 results that we get how many of those domains have the words dog training tips in the URL? How many of those are on page one?” By keeping track of all that they can get a measure of the exact domain name match influence and they can track that over time.
What they’ve been tracking for the last month was that exact match domain influence was 3.6%, which means that 36 out of 1,000 of the domains were exact matches in the SERPs that they looked at. They explained it in the blog post that you can read if you’re interested by going to the show notes. (EMD Influence data at SEOMoz)
So they tracked these statistics and they’re able to show this huge drop on that day of these things. But, a lot of other people we’re also reporting that in addition to the exact domain name matches a couple of other weird things were happening. They saw that exact match domains that should have been matching, that were really good high quality exact match domain names for things like brand names – the real things – that some of those rankings tanked. That’s an undesired result. They also saw cases where exact match domain names that you might have thought would tank didn’t tank. At the same time they were seeing that there was some domains that tanked that didn’t have an exact match domain name.
The Adsense Flippers guys were really hard hit, because they’ve been doing this a lot. They show their data over in an excellent post on the Adsense Flippers website where they talk about exactly how much they were affected financially and so forth. It’s a pretty big hit for them, I think. You can find a link to that in the show notes. (AdSense Flippers Article — they were hammered 68%)
They were seeing at one point a 69% drop in traffic. They got hit really hard. And a 68% drop in earnings. For the sites that they were reporting they went from $130 per day down to $43 per day. Ouch. This is a big hit.
Upon further investigation, it turns out that once you look at all of the changes it seems that in addition to the exact domain name change that Google pushed out they also pushed out an update to Panda.
You may not be aware of this, but I’ve explained this a couple of times and we even talked about it last week. Panda, the Google program that tries to help with ranking, it’s kind of a program that identifies poor websites, is a machine learning algorithm.
As I’ve described before, in general the way these machine learning algorithms work is you get thousands of humans to look at thousands or tens of thousands of websites and record stuff about the websites; the quality, the trustworthiness, stuff like that. You record all of that in a database. Then you get a program (a web crawler) to look at those websites and the web crawler tries to find things about the websites that correlate to things that the humans saw.
Maybe the humans picked bad websites and maybe the web crawlers notices that in most cases the content was 300 words or less. Maybe the crawler notices that the dates in the post aren’t recent. Maybe the crawler notices that the content is published elsewhere on the web. It looks at as many things as it can and it tries to learn how to get the same answer that the humans got – kind of like a bad sci-fi movie.
That algorithm has been updated 20 times since it was launched earlier this year. So in addition to exact match domain name update they also launched a Panda update, and that confused all of these results. In addition to that, I can absolutely guarantee you that there will be more exact domain name update tweaks, because I can tell that they have not gotten it exactly right because there are some exact domain names that are still ranking that shouldn’t be and some exact domain names that got knocked out of the SERPs that shouldn’t have gotten knocked out.
The question then becomes; what in the world should you be doing if you might get hit or you did get hit by the exact domain name update or the latest Panda update?
Here’s the real answer. The real answer is nobody knows. I don’t know, I really don’t so I’m not going to tell you that I do. But, I do have an opinion, which probably doesn’t surprise any of you. I think that most people who have exact domain names that were ranking prior to the exact domain name correction last week were benefiting from a boost that Google took away.
My opinion, based on what I’m reading in the press and what Matt Cutts has said, is that really this isn’t an exact domain name penalty. It’s really a leveling of the playing field.
So the kind of things that you want to do to recover from an exact domain name tank, if you had an exact domain name that was ranking well and now it’s not, it might be because you no longer are getting the extra benefit that you were getting. That means you have to work had like everybody else to build links, analyze the links that your competition has, and go ahead and get more and better links with a properly diversified anchor text that you should have had to get in the first place if it wasn’t for this weird exact domain name match problem.
My advice, at least at this point, is to do your normal SEO, just do more of it. That means don’t over-optimize your link anchor text, make sure that you’re focusing on quality links as much as possible, make sure that you have a social presence and you’re getting social signals to the site like we’ve talked about before, and make sure that you have a wide variety of different kinds of backlinks coming in to the site just like you normally would.
Another thing that people don’t do nearly enough of is analyze the backlinks of the first two to four results for that keyword. See where their backlinks are coming from, what kind of backlink profile they have, and do your best to duplicate that and improve on that. If they have .edu links, go find out where they’re getting them and get some of your own. That’s one of the more effective ways to defeat your search engine enemies is by looking at where their backlinks are coming from.
That’s my idea. Above all, as always, don’t panic and don’t build businesses (if you can help it) that completely depend on Google. One thing is for sure and that is that Google’s updates will continue to change. They will continue to make updates to the search engine algorithms and there will be many.
They posted on the Google Inside Search blog on October 4th, the number of changes for August and September. Would you believe that there were 65 released changes to the Google search engine algorithms for August and September – 65 total. I’ll put a link to the list in the show notes. (Google search change history for September and August 2012)
If you think that search engine results that you’re getting today are going to be the same as the ones you’ll get next month, you’re going to be sadly mistaken. It means that you have to keep working on SEO, keep building quality websites, keep putting your readers first, and keep building the kind of websites that make the internet better – because Google has more money than you do and smarter engineers, they’re eventually going to catch up with you.
Before we leave this topic, I wanted to give a shoutout to loyal fan Chuck Brown. Chuck has been around for a long time and he left an excellent rant on the Facebook fan page over at MasonWorld.com/facebook…
Thanks for the feedback, Chuck, I really appreciate that. Of course now we know that part of what Chuck is seeing is yet another Panda update. I agree with Chuck. I guess that’s what Panda is trying to do is to programmatically introduce a human factor, but no one can do this better than humans.
In fact, Bing has had this test recently like the Pepsi challenge for search engines where they challenge you to look at their results side-by-side with Google’s results and pick the ones that you like best. My understanding is that they’ve been kicking Google’s butt. I don’t know exactly how they’re doing it, but I’ll try to find a link to that and put it in the show notes as well. I think Jonathan Leger was pointing that out to me the other day that this is going on. (Bing versus Google test from Jonathan Leger)
It’s basically the Pepsi challenge. For those of you that aren’t in the U.S. or maybe don’t remember that, once upon a time when Pepsi was trying to gain market share versus Coca-Cola they would go on the streets and pour blind taste test of Coke versus Pepsi, and their claim was that most people preferred Pepsi over Coke. Now, I don’t prefer Pepsi over Coke, not anywhere close, but apparently a lot of people did.
That’s the kind of thing that’s happening to Google is that Bing is starting to gain some ground. They’re going to have to be careful and they’re going to have to get this figured out, because right now (as Chuck pointed out) a lot of the results just don’t really make any sense.
Those are my thoughts on the exact domain name algorithm. If you have other opinions, I want to hear about. Come talk to me at MasonWorld.com/feedback or give me a call on the feedback hotline at 214-444-8655. If you disagree with what I’ve had to say or maybe you have a different opinion or more information, I want to hear from you. I’ll play your feedback on the show and we’ll talk about it.
Micro Site Profits Course
I had lunch with Jason Van Orden from Internet Mastery the other day when was in Dallas for a wedding. My main objective in this lunch meeting was to get an opportunity to see his new baby Calliope. Oh my gosh, she is absolutely gorgeous. She is every bit of, I think, seven months old now. Totally adorable.
I also got to see Jason’s wife Mel again. Shout out to Mel, she has a new gig and that’s going well for her and I’m really excited for her. So things are good.
Jason and I talked a lot about the new Micro Niche Course that he is offering over at Internet Business Mastery. You can get to that course from MasonWorld.com/micro if you want to check it out. I was really impressed with why they’re offering the course and the response that they had. They offered the course in order to fill a gap that they saw in their marketplace.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with the Internet Business Mastery Academy, which you can also check out at MasonWorld.com/academy, what you can see is this is a course about how to build an authority website and become an expert in your niche and help people, build a platform, and eventually sell products that you create to those people. This is a proven method that has been used time and time again to make money on the internet and works really well. Those guys are probably one of the best at doing that and teaching how to do it.
What they found was that one size doesn’t fit all and while that may be the long range plan for some people, they really also need a short range plan. They want some proof to feel like this making money on the internet is real and so they need some quick success. One thing about building yourself up as an expert is that while it can go fast, it usually doesn’t, it usually takes a long time – months and sometimes years – to establish yourself as an expert in a field to the point where you’re making an income that you can provide for a household with. That’s just the reality of doing it, but you’re building something that can last a very long time and can grow to be very large, multiple six figure income kind of stuff.
They needed another product to address this gap in their marketplace where people were looking to make some money faster, so they created Micro Niche Profits. Basically they’re teaching the kind of stuff that I teach over here at MasonWorld.com. I’m in the process of going through the course; Jason and Jeremy gave me access to the course and I’m going through it. They teach a lot of the kind of things that I teach here with regard to keywords and so forth.
It’s a really cool thing to check out if you’re interested in that. And if you have questions about it, don’t hesitate to contact me directly and I’ll be happy to answer. I’ve already fielded quite a few questions from people who wanted to know whether they should join the Academy or join Micro Niche Profits.
The one thing about Micro Niche Profits right now is the more expensive option that includes coaching is sold out and closed. But they’ve just reopened the less expensive option that does not include coaching. You can see all of that at MasonWorld.com/micro. Just a warning to you; it’s not cheap. I’m not really trying to sell it to you other than to say if you’re interested in that kind of niche profits course, my belief is that that’s shaping up to be a pretty good one.
They finished the first three modules and they’re working on module number four and I think there are seven total modules in the course. One of the cool things is the seventh module of the course is a module that ends up teaching you how to convert your micro sites that perform into authority sites with a bigger potential for income.
That sounds like a really clean strategy to me. It makes me think you throw a lot of things up against the wall that you’re interested in and see what sticks. For the stuff that sticks you make something that’s really good. If you look at that in the context of the corn sheller site, for example, that thing stuck and now if I wanted to become the world’s expert in corn shellers then I could do that and be good.
Check it out and if you have questions about that, let me know. Just know that the link that I gave you (MasonWorld.com/micro) is an affiliate link. If you’re not cool with that, feel free to go direct to the Micro Niche Profits site and check it out yourself.
Corn Sheller Site Update
A question that has to be on your mind; is the corn sheller site affected by the exact domain name match problem? The answer is no, at least not at this point. Corn Sheller is alive and well, getting record amounts of traffic. I’ll include a traffic snapshot in the show notes.
We’re getting 300 visitors per day, which is just amazing to me. It’s still generating money every day, a dollar or two. I say every day – on average every day. I don’t know that it actually generates money every day. Last month it generated $40 and we’re on target to do something similar, perhaps slightly less, this month. It’s hard to say because this thing tends to peak up during the weekends and then trail off.
The other thing about eBay is the cookies last for a long time, so if you look at the report of what we’re actually selling on eBay it’s a lot of stuff besides corn shellers out of a lot of different markets because the cookies apply across all of eBay.
Once somebody gets into eBay looking for corn shellers, if they see something else that they want like some old truck parts or something, we get the commission for that. That’s kind of cool, I like that very much.
So that’s still good. Don’t worry about the corn sheller site, I’ll keep you updated on that as things progress.
Podcast Award Nominiations
Now the last thing I wanted to talk to you about were the Annual Podcast Awards. No, I’m not going to ask you to nominate Mason World Late Night Internet Marketing Podcast, unless you want to. Seriously, I think there are two podcasts that I definitely want you to nominate. I want to ask you to take the time and go nominate these podcasts because I think they are two of the most awesome podcasts on the web and they deserve nomination.
The first podcast that I want you to nominate in the Technology category is Cliff Ravenscraft’s Podcast Answer Man. You may have something else you like in the Technology category and if you do that’s fine. I love that podcast and it’s a big reason why this show exists. If you like this show and you want to do me a solid favor, nominate Cliff.
Then in the Business category I strongly recommend that you nominate my good friend Pat Flynn. I think he has a really good chance of winning this year. If you don’t listen to his Smart Passive Income Podcast, you should. It’s absolutely excellent.
So I strongly recommend those two podcasts. You only get one shot at the nomination, so you have to be ready with all of your podcast when you go over there. I will put a link in the show notes for the nomination. (http://www.podcastawards.com/) Be sure and nominate Pat’s Smart Passive Income and Cliff’s Podcast Answer Man, and hopefully they’ll win an award.