Google update to lessen SEO value of domain names

Thu 17th of March 2011, filed under SEO

"Too much weight for keywords in domains"

The next Google update will lower the importance of having a keyword in the domain name, according to head of Google Webspam team Matt Cutts. Speaking in a Webmaster Help video, Cutts said:

"Some people have complained that we're giving a little too much weight for keywords in domains. 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."

Brand power

Up until now, having keywords in the domain name was thought to add significant SEO value to sites. This has been a particular frustration for brands, where the site is named after the brand rather than the service they provide; for example, broadband.co.uk ranks higher for the search term 'broadband' than any ISP.

Search Engine Watch commented: "Google increasingly has been accused of having a big brand bias, especially after it began highlighting brand names related to search queries, and with Google Instant results the first suggestion on 21 of the 26 letters in the alphabet were for brands."

Speculation over the next Google update comes hot on the heels of the Panda update, also known as Farmer, because it was intended to lower rankings for content farms. A poll by Barry Schwartz at Search Engine Roundtable revealed that 40 per cent of SEO professionals had noticed a drop in traffic from Google since the update, although 18 per cent had noticed an increase.

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