Exact name domains are exactly what they sound like – domain names that use precise keyphrases rather than brandable titles. So for instance if you have a company that sold flowers called ‘PowerFlower’, then rather than ‘PowerFlower.com’ or something similar, you would instead go for ‘buy-flowers-boston.com’ or something along those lines. This is a strategy that many people have used, feeling understandably that it will help them to rank highly for those terms.
But not everyone agrees that this is the best way to go ahead, and others believe that there is more benefit to using a brand or something with a little more character. Here we will look at why exact name domains might not be the best idea in the world any more.
As most people know, Google’s main aim is to provide its users with the best quality of search results and that means it needs to be as spam-proof as possible. Where the algorithms are ‘workable’ people will inevitably find ways to work the system and bring undeserving content to the top.
Exact name domains are one such method that people have been working the system until recently – as by buying exact search terms as domains it became possible for anyone to get a little extra pull in their rankings.
This is why Matt Cutts at Google recently pledged to do something about this and to stop favoring this strategy.
We have looked at the rankings and the weights that we give to keyword domains and some people have complained that we are giving a little too much weight for keywords in domains.
So we have been thinking about adjusting that mix a bit and sort of turning the knob down within the algorithm.
This is in keeping with other moves that Google has been making to bring more ‘quality’ content to the fore rather than keyword heavy quantity of content. Hope you haven’t bought any exact name domains recently…
So if exact keywords in domain names don’t do it for Google any more, what is going to fill that void? The answer is brands. Brands have now been given more weight if they are recognizable, so much so in fact that doorway pages are ranking well just for being hosted on a brand’s domain.
Google is more and more drawing on external sources for its search algorithms, this means they are looking at things like their business volume data, pricing information, maps and locations, ratings, social networking cues and more to find out which businesses people are looking for and which sites people are enjoying. The parring down of exact name domains is actually only symptomatic of a wider switch to more organic and real-world-based data to inform searches.
What This All Means
Is this a good thing? Or a bad thing? Well this depends. In some ways of course this means that the entrepreneur will suffer who can’t afford quiet the marketing clout that brands can in the real world, and in some ways this sadly might bring the status quo back to the point where individuals have little hope of competing on a grand scale with huge conglomerates.
However at the same time it could also be argued to be a good thing for the user because let’s face it – those sites that rely too much on exact name domains and keyword heavy content often aren’t very good. Often they are looking for a silver bullet rather than putting real work in to make a site that people want to visit.
There are other benefits to using branding too. For instance it can help you to bring back more repeat customers, and it can open up a lot more marketing opportunities. If you ever did want to get serious and take your business into the real world then it puts you in a much better position for that too.
So really the moral of the story is to focus on quality and to make people want to come to your website. That means eschewing cheap tricks in favor of acting like a real business and that means branding by extension. And of course when it comes to domain names at this juncture there is nothing to stop you from having both a brand site and an exact name domain.
What are your thoughts on this ?
Image Credit:Goo2o Technologies