Tag Archive | "Names"

Google search update aims to show more diverse results from different domain names

Another Google search update has rolled out this week, this one deals with domain diversity in the search results.



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Why You Can’t Afford To Miss Out On The New Wave Of Domain Names

In episode #16 of the Everything Entrepreneurship podcast Walter explains what happened to his body after spending three days of straight coding. [ Download MP3 | iTunes | Soundcloud | Raw RSS ] I talk about the domain name land grab that is just about to kick off when over 1,000 new domain name extensions are released in…

The post Why You Can’t Afford To Miss Out On The New Wave Of Domain Names appeared first on Entrepreneurs-Journey.com.

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How Google is Connecting Keyword Relevance to Websites through More than Just Domain Names – Whiteboard Friday

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We’re seeing Google continue to move beyond just reading pages, instead attempting to truly understand what they’re about. The engine is drawing connections between concepts and brand names, and it’s affecting SERPs. In today’s Whiteboard Friday, Rand explains just what Google is doing, and how we can help create such associations with our own brands.

For reference, here’s a still of this week’s whiteboard!

Video transcription

Howdy, Moz fans, and welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. This week we’re talking about how Google connects keyword relevance to websites, particularly how they do this beyond just the domain name.

Obviously, for a long time Google looked at the name of a particular website and the queries that were entered and might rank that site higher if the domain name had some match with the query. We called this the exact match domains or the partial match domains.

For a long time, they did have quite a bit of power. They’ve gone down dramatically in power. These days MozCast is reporting 2.5% to 3% of domains that appear in the top 10 over many thousands of search results are exact match domains. It used to be above 7% when we started MozCast. I think before that it was in the 12%, 13%, or 14%. So it’s gone way, way down over the last few years.

Google has gotten tremendously more sophisticated about the signals that it does consider when it comes to applying relevance of keywords to a particular domain name or to a particular website.

I’ll give you some examples. One is RealSimple.com. If you’re someone who does searches around home organization or gadgets for the home, or especially quick recipes, not like the long, drawn out recipes, but like 10, 15 minute recipes, cleaning products, physical fitness and workouts, makeup and beauty, all of these topics Real Simple always seems to rank on the first page, at least somewhere. I’m not talking about these specific terms, but anything related to them.

It’s almost like Google has said, “You know what, when people are searching for cleaning products, we feel like Real Simple is where they always want to end up, so let’s try and find a page that’s relevant on there.” Sometimes the pages that they find are not particularly excellent. In fact, some of the time you will find that you’re like, “That doesn’t even seem all that relevant. Why are they showing me that page for this query? I get that Real Simple is a good site for that usually, but this doesn’t seem like the kind of match I’m looking for.”

You’ll see very similar things if you look at Metacritic.com. Metacritic, of course, started with games. It’s gone into movies and now television. They essentially aggregate and assemble, sort of like Rotten Tomatoes does and some other sites like that, they’ll assemble critic reviews and user reviews from all over the place, put them together and come up with what they call a METASCORE.

METASCORES are something that they rank very well for. But around all of these pop culture mediums, PC game reviews, critics opinions on games, PlayStation games, TV show ratings, movie ratings, they always seem to be in the top 10 for a lot of these things. It doesn’t have to be the broad PC game or TV show. You can put in the name of a television show or the name of a movie or the name of a game, and it will often show up. That seems to be, again, Google connecting up like, “Oh, Metacritic. We think that’s what someone’s looking for.”

You can see this with all sorts of sites. CNET.com does this all the time with every kind of gadget review, electronics review. Genius.com seems to come up whenever there’s anything related to lyrics or musical annotations around songs.

There’s just a lot of that connection. These connections can come from a number of places. It’s obviously not just the domain name anymore. Google is building up these connections between terms, phrases and indeed concepts, and then the domain or the brand name probably through a bunch of different inputs.

Those inputs could be things like brand and non-brand search volume combined together. They might see that, gosh, a lot people when they search for song lyrics, they add “genius”‘ or “rap genius.” A lot of people who search for quick recipes or cleaning products, they add “Real Simple” or “Martha Stewart.” Or if they’re searching for PC games they look for the Metacritic score around it. Gosh, that suggests to us maybe that those domains, those websites should be connected with those search terms and phrases.

Probably there’s some aspect of co-occurrence between the brand name and/or links to the site from lots of sites and pages on credible sources that Google finds that are discussing these topics. It’s like, “Oh, gosh, a lot of people who are talking about cleaning products seem to link over to Real Simple. A lot of people who talk about cell phone reviews seem to mention or link over to CNET. Well, maybe that’s forming that connection.”

Then where searchers on these topics eventually end up on the web. Google has access to all this incredible data about where people go on the Internet through Chrome and through Android. They can say, “Hmm, you know, this person searched for cleaning products. We didn’t send them to Real Simple, but then eventually they ended up there anyway. They went to these other websites, they found it, maybe they typed it in, maybe they did brand search, whatever. It seems like there’s an affinity between these kinds of searchers and these websites. Maybe we need to build that connection.”

As this is happening, as a result of this, we feel as marketers, as SEOs, we feel this brand bias, this domain bias. I think some of the things that we might put into brand biasing and domain authority are actually signals that are connections between the domain or the brand and the topical relevance that Google sees through all sorts of data like this.

As that’s happening, this has some requirements for SEO. As SEOs, we’ve got to be asking ourselves, “Okay, how do we build up an association between our brand or our domain and the broad keywords, terms, topics, phrases, so that we can rank for all of the long tail and chunky middle terms around those topics?” This is now part of our job. We need to build up that brand association.

This is potentially going to change some of our best practices. One of the best practices I think that it immediately and obviously affects is a lot of the time Metacritic might say, “Hey, we want to target PC game reviews. We’ve got this page to do it. That’s our page on PC game reviews. All these other pages, let’s make sure they don’t directly overlap with that, because if we do, we might end up cannibalizing, doing keyword cannibalization.”

For those broad topics, Metacritic might actually say, “You know, because of this functionality of Google, we actually want a lot of pages on this. We want everyone, we want to be able to serve all the needs around this, not just that one page for that one keyword. Even if it is the best converting keyword and our content resources are limited, we might want to target that on a bunch of different pages. We might want to be producing new content regularly about PC game reviews and then linking back to this original one because we want that association to build up.”

Other best practices that we have in SEO are things where we will take a keyword and will essentially just make our keyword research very limited to the ones that have produced returns in our paid search account or in our advertising. That also might be unwise. We might need to think outside of those areas and think, “How can we serve all of the needs around a topic? How can we become a site that is associated with all of the keyword topics, rather than just cherry picking the ones that convert for us?”

That might get a little frustrating because we are not all content factories. We are not all big media brand builders. But these are the sites that are dominating the search results consistently, over and over again. I think as Google is seeing this searcher happiness from connections with the brands and domains that they expect to find, that they want to find, they’re going to be biasing this way even more, forcing us to emulate a lot of what these big brands are doing.

All right, everyone. Look forward to some great commentary, and we will see you again next week for another edition of Whiteboard Friday. Take care.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

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Why You Can’t Afford To Miss Out On The New Wave Of Domain Names

Download MP3 | Subscribe In iTunes | Subscribe In Soundcloud ]

In episode #16 of the Everything Entrepreneurship podcast Walter explains what happened to his body after spending three days of straight coding.

I talk about the domain name land grab that is just about to kick off when over 1,000 new domain name extensions are released in February. … Read the rest of this entry »

The post Why You Can’t Afford To Miss Out On The New Wave Of Domain Names appeared first on Entrepreneurs-Journey.com.

Entrepreneurs-Journey.com by Yaro Starak

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Why Doesn’t Facebook Share Names of Everyone Who Likes Your Page?

To seriously understand the business value of building and engaging with your Facebook audience, knowing who likes your Page is a critical first step in connecting your audience and your customer list to gain incredibly powerful insights.
Search Engine Watch – Latest

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Domain Names With Geo Specific Keywords Offer Local Ranking Opportunities [Study]

The goal of this study on the weight of domain names in rankings was to evaluate the performance of a related series of keywords in 10 different geographic locations and put them head to head against a term directly associated with the domain name.
Search Engine Watch – Latest

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Naming and Branding: How marketing pros chose names for their own companies

A good company name can make be a huge ally to all of your future marketing endeavors. If you’re engaged in your own product launches, you need a good name. We asked a few marketing pros for the origin stories behind their own names, and what lessons they learned in the process to help you the next time you have to name that product or company.
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The Name Game: Display Names and the Law Of Unintended Consequences

“The law of unintended consequences is an adage or idiomatic warning that an intervention in a complex system always creates unanticipated and often undesirable outcomes.”

One topic that almost certainly won’t be discussed at SLCC (whi…
Search Engine Watch – Latest

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Category Killer Domain Names?

Dr. Pete shared examples of the marketing funnel, highlighting how we must overcome hurdles (or break through barriers to conversion) in order to make a sale.

Why People Buy Premium Domain Names

The idea of an exact match domain (EMD) is that you are buying a piece of land right next to the highway. You sink in a lot of money upfront, but hope that it backs out over time by lowering your traffic acquisition costs. For many years this model was both logical and profitable.

At the peak of the domain name bubble recently, the domain name Poker.org sold for a million Dollars.

A domain name is an asset just like a stack of cash, a piece of gold, or a CDO is. But rather than having a fixed universal value, it is only a *relative* store of value that can go up or down based on market conditions.

Search Engines Influence the Value of Domain Names

Search is the primary mode of online navigation. For years search has been replacing almost all other forms of online navigation as the new default. There are about 7 billion people in the world with about half of them online. Google likely gets about a search per person every day!

Search engines can decide what variables they want to count & how much. In a world where subjective marketing aspects (like branding) are replacing signals of relevancy the value of keyword domain names is greatly diminished.

If your model works out to where it takes 3 or 4 years to break even & recoup the initial investment, then that model may look quite different if Google manages to redirect 50% or 60% of that traffic stream at some point in time … at some point the price of the domain has to adjust to the new market conditions.

An Example of the New Normal in Search

With the above in mind, I thought it would be worth highlighting how the domain bubble grew & ultimately popped.

First, lets start with a current search result. The below example is for “pool tables.”

Note that brands get a number of options to play here: AdWords ads, AdWords product ads, Google Product Search, branded navigation, big brands in the organic search results, niche vertical brands, and any local results for nationwide chain brands with a local outlet. Go back a couple years and this search result would have mostly been dominated by smaller online retailers & niche hobbyist websites.

Now the exact match domain is forced to buy AdWords to compete for it’s own name. Without the AdWords ad, the exact match domain would require a searcher to skip over 45 other links before finding it somewhere below the fold.

Other keywords (like engagement rings) which once left room for review & comparison sites have been completely dominated by brands. Outside of end consumer reviews (and who but an expert publicly reviews more than 1 engagement ring? and who is not biased in their review of said rings with emotional attachments?) there is no way to get a comparative view of quality. There is no room for such an idea in Google’s brand-only search results.

Let’s pick apart how we got here…

Google Boosting Rankings of Authoritative Brands

In 2008 Eric Schmidt made the famous quote about how consumers are hardwired for branding. I mentioned how he was signaling the future of the algorithm, but was largely ignored at the time. Since then Google has launched:

The algorithm is only going to keep adding more signals that boost brands. PoolTables.com might have better editorial content than a mega-retailer like Amazon.com, but it is hard for them to collect as many reviews as Amazon can.

Social Search Brand Boost

Matt Cutts also stated that they like the potential of +1:

Cutts confirmed what Google said when the +1 button launched: Google will use +1 activity to influence its search results.

“It’s definitely a signal we’re paying a lot of attention to,” Cutts said. “It has tons of potential. It looks very promising.”

Big brands can do giveaways to their core customer base to expand into new markets, allowing customers to pay for the discounts with a vote, stuffing the ballot box on these new “relevancy” signals.

Bigger AdWords Ads

Google shifted the top AdWords ads to having a longer headline, which provides roughly a 13% lift in CTR.

In addition, AdWords ads have grown larger due to other ad extensions, like:

  • sitelinks
  • product extensions
  • phone numbers
  • maps
  • other nascent extensions, like videos

For commercially viable keywords these have the net effect of pushing the organic search results further down the page. A recent study by Optify highlighted that while low CPC & tail keywords send most clicks (~89%) to the organic search results, for high CPC & head keywords AdWords ads consume most search clicks (~ 60%).

Google Comparison Ads

In certain high money verticals Google offers Google Comparison / Google Advisor ads, which allow them to place a 4th ad slot above the organic search results.

Notice how much larger some of these ads are than typical ad units. When Google targets your keyword with one of these ads they significantly change the dynamics of the market.

Product Ads

Google has offered graphical product ads automatically matched to the search results. Generally for bigger brands Google offers these on a risk-free cost per acquisition pricing, whereas smaller advertisers need to pay by the click to use this ad format.

Googler announced that searchers clicked on this ad format nearly twice as often as regular search ads & in some cases Google has even started testing including these ads in their ad space that appears above the organic search results.

Search clicks are a zero sum game, so the more risk-free clicks the big box brands get from this ad format the lest clicks there is to go around for everyone else.

Product Search Listings

These serve as more eye candy to distract searchers from the organic search results. Once again these typically feature listings from larger brands & Google doesn’t mind if these are a bit off because they still push the eye away from the organic results and toward the AdWords ads.

Look how off those “necklaces” are. Evidently if you are not a sport’s fan you have no business wearing necklaces ;)

Localization

Localization is a boon for small local businesses which can now gain a slice of the local traffic stream that they were priced out of the market on. However, as a domain buyer, the value of AutoInsurance.com drops significantly after the large metro areas have localized results which do not allow the cost of an expensive domain to be amortized by the potential to rank everywhere. What is worse, is that the largest cities are the ones with the most vibrant economic activities (more businesses, more residents, larger loan sizes, and so on). Through localization any generic unbranded nationwide player simply misses out on the most valuable traffic.

Verticalization & Double Dipping Ads

Much like how localization locks generic players out of local markets, Google’s increased verticalization (and allowing certain brands to double or triple dip on ad serving) now means that some results have over 80% of the screen’s real estate dominated by a single key player.

Search Box > Address Bar

When Google Chrome launched it replaced the address bar with a search box.


That allows Google to…

  • intercept & redirect type-in traffic demand
  • re-highlight content you have already seen in the past (likely to be from some larger brands, as they have larger ad budgets & more ways to be found)
  • recommend popular searched-for keywords (which are often brands, since awareness-based advertising creates search demand

When Internet Explorer 9 was launched Microsoft also adopted these features

Taking control of the address bar one step further, Google has a beta version of Chrome out where the address bar is not even visible unless you scroll over that part of the page. Firefox also offers a similar beta extension! If this feature goes mainstream it wouldn’t be surprising to see Microsoft follow suit.

Google Suggest / Instant

Google Instant‘s search auto-completion directs users away from some keywords and toward others. At first that statement seems like it could be saying that it consolidates search volume to a smaller set of keywords & thus could make domain names more valuable. However, if you have ever looked at a list of the most popular keywords you would know that they are largely filled with branded keywords. The media was aware of this obvious shift & Amit Singhal had to do an interview stating that there was no brand bias to Google Instant.

Awareness-based advertising biases keyword recommendations, which is why Pontiac ran a TV commercial telling you to search Google for their brand. Of course when SEO consultants did similar things they got whacked. ;)

Extra White Space

In the most recent beta Google has tamed this down a bit from the absurdity they were first testing, but Google has shown an interest in using whitespace trickery to drive the organic search results further down the page.

The rise of mobile applications & mobile search devices further pull leverage away from publishers & toward ad networks.

Google Acting as a Publisher & Affiliate

Not only Google, but all the major search engines are beginning to act as publishers & affiliates.

What’s worse, is through personalization they have an asymmetrical information advantage over publishers in their ad network. They can tell you that you are getting 68% of the value of an ad click, but how do you know if they don’t undervalue the contribution of that click while overvaluing the contribution for clicks where they keep 100% of the income on?

Google Small Business Taxes

Some sites get the benefit of the doubt, whereas other sites just get doubt. I highlighted how Google’s approach to link buying, AdWords penalties & other issues vary based on who is getting whacked in our recent post about Google small business taxes.

Too Small to Matter

Smaller sites are more likely to come under attack from “the algorithm” as they are easier to knock over & are generally less stable. That gives them a higher risk factor & makes it even harder to build reliable business processes around it. How do you scale employment (or even inventory) when one month you are up 50% and the next month you are arbitrarily off 60%?

Further, Google has consistently screwed up original source attribution, which makes it even harder to justify for a small business to go the extra mile & spend extra money creating premium content, if the result will be Google paying someone to steal that content & wrap it in AdSense ads.

Where Does this Lead Us?

If you buy a “category killer” it is critical that you rank #1, but in many niches the exact match domains that ranked #1 for nearly a decade are now #3 or #4 in the organic results. Add in 3 AdWords ads above the organic results & things like product ads and it isn’t hard to end up below the fold. If your relationship to that 1 keyword is your core competitive strategy but you can’t even promote the keyword (because you are below the fold) then the strategy is a failed one.

Further, as Google keeps adding more usage signals into the relevancy mix that will keep favoring brands.

This is not to say domain names are dead across the board. there is still plenty of opportunity in some areas, but equally some names require large investment & as an SEO strategy may get thrown under the bus by any of the above (or similar future moves in other market niches).

I Stopped Buying Domain Names

I believe I was one of the first SEOs to publicly highlight the benefits of exact match domain names. Back when Google engineers were dismissive of it some of the smart money was dismissive of what the engineers stated and made plenty of money from it. But I have prettymuch stopped buying domains at this point…as in most cases the valuations generally don’t make sense on a risk adjusted basis in the current market (let alone what the market will look like after the introduction of +1 & other brand signals).

Deep Pocketed SEOs Are Selling Their Domain Names

The person who was likely the single SEO most responsible for running up the price of exact match domain names (he over-paid for some of them based on the presumption that the numbers would back out similarly to some of his earlier investments in a market that was dominated by a government-sponsored bubble) has now become a domain seller.

You don’t get much more amoral capitalist opportunistic than this person is (see the following before and after for his payday loans effort)

Now even he is now dumping many of his exact match domains, which I discovered in the most recent Media Options newsletter:

In March Matt Cutts talked down exact match domain names, but the truth is that Google never really needed to discount them, simply by adding more criteria to the relevancy algorithm which boosts brands they already had the same impact.

Search has moved away from relevancy toward promoting brands. As SEOs we don’t control Google. We can only focus on promoting that which they reward.

The smart money is now saying that domain names are generally significantly overpriced, especially as an asset class valued based on SEO potential.

Where do you place your wager?

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