Don’t Chase Google’s Algorithm

November 26, 2012

In September 2012, Google stopped up-ranking Exact Match Domains (EMDs). EMDs are domain names that include keyword phrases such as commercial insurance in the domain name People would snatch these up by the hundreds in the hope of capturing the traffic. This worked for a while, but then Google caught on. Overnight, they downplayed the importance in their algorithm of EMDs. Webmasters that relied heavily on this tactic instantly lost rankings. In fact, it affected 0.6% of all U.S English search queries to a 'noticeable degree.'

In the previous years, I had recommended that you not use EMDs and instead focus all of your SEO time and energy on a single domain. You could (and sometimes should) use an EMD if you are pointing a specific marketing campaign from television, radio or print to a landing page geared for capturing and keeping that exact traffic.

We talk a lot about how to perform well on Google and other search engines here on the ITC Marketing blog. However, I want to caution against chasing the algorithm. The scenario above is a perfect example of how people will chase the algorithm. Google used to heavily weigh domains that had the search keywords in the domain name, so people tried to game it.

Others may feel that they need to constantly change their websites to match what the search engines are looking for in the here and now. The problem with this is that no one knows exactly what Google is looking for. Most of the things you see are educated guesses.

What to do instead.

The first thing is make sure your website follows the guidelines set forth by Google. These guidelines can be found here. Once you have verified you are following the rules of search, start analyzing the structure of your website. This includes finding duplicate content, title tags, description tags and missing header tags. Google and Bing Webmaster Tools can assist you in finding and correcting these errors on your website.

Next, make sure that your website content is updated regularly. I continually push fresh, updated content as a key component of a great Internet marketing strategy. The more often you update your content, the more often Google comes back thinking your site is important... because it is important to you.

What about backlinks?

Another gaming technique that Google has cracked down on over the past year is bulk link building. They see it as an unnatural linking pattern. This includes blog commenting, keyword stuffing, cloaking, participating in link schemes, and deliberate creation of duplicate content. Earlier this year Google released the Penguin update to its search engine that attempted to (and succeeded for the most part) detect these black hat SEO techniques. All of the combined Penguin updates significantly affected 3.6% of all U.S English search queries over the span of six months.

This was a key moment where it was clear Google wanted you to stop focusing on building bulk backlinks and instead turn your focus onto earning high quality backlinks. This takes work and effort on your part. However, it will build a more natural linking pattern that the search engines like to see.

The search engines don't like to be gamed. They want your website to be an organic entity that naturally changes throughout time. ITC's search engine optimization services uses techniques that naturally build your website within the organic search engine listings. To schedule your agency marketing consultation, get started here. Have a question about techniques that you might feel violate Google's wishes, post below, and get the answers you need.

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