Published March 22, 2011
Google's recent rollout of the Panda update was geared to target low quality web sites - and the search giant hasn't finished fiddling yet.
Google is continually tweaking its algorithm to improve search results and to penalise those who attempt to game the ranking system. These changes are often subtle, but at times Google will make major changes that alter search results significantly.
The Panda update, which was rolled out in the USA in late February 2011 and is yet to hit Australian shores (UPDATE: On April 12, Google announced it had rolled out the Panda update globally to all English-language Google users), was designed to demote what Google perceives to be low quality sites and reward sites with high quality content. That's happened in some cases, in others there has been collateral damage - as happens in each major update.
But Google isn't done yet. Aside from looking at refining the Panda changes, in a recent video posted on Youtube; Matt Cutts talks about keyword rich domain names. Matt Cutts works for Google as a software engineer.
One of the advantages of having a domain name with keywords related to your industry is in the actual name itself and how other sites link to you. Often when one site references another, the anchor text (visible text in a link) is the domain name. With anchor text also playing a role in search engine ranking, this may seem an unfair advantage if your site name has nothing to do with your sector.
Mr. Cutts mentions the company has been looking at the "weight" given to keyword domains in ranking and considered feedback that suggests Google gives too much ranking power to these names. Subsequently, the team is considering "turning the knob down within the algorithm" in this respect.
It's important to note the "turning down the knob" statement. This does not mean that owners of domain names with keywords should be overly concerned, nor should it necessarily discourage registering keyword domain names. If just means that perhaps those relying on any current keyword domain boost should take a closer look at their sites to ensure high quality content is provided and everything is generally ship-shape in terms of Google's webmaster quality guidelines - as low quality content and other issues may weigh more heavily on a site when and if the keyword domain "knob" is turned down.
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