Could Google Changes to Rankings of Keyword-Rich Domains Negatively Affect DeclareMedia?

You may never have heard of Matt Cutts, a Google employee, unless you’re in the SEO industry, and then Matt needs no introduction. For those not in the SEO space, Matt Cutts is the guy at Google who gets rid of spam in Google’s search results, that is, website in the search results that have manipulated their way to the top of the rankings but have little real value. Matt recently spoke about keyword-rich domain names:

The relevant part is when Matt says:

Now if you are still on the fence, let me just give you a bit of color. that we have looked at the rankings and the weights that we give to keyword domains, & some people have complained that we are giving a little too much weight for keywords in domains. So we have been thinking about at adjusting that mix a bit and sort of turning the knob down within the algorithm, so that given 2 different domains it wouldn’t necessarily help you as much to have a domain name with a bunch of keywords in it.

What does this mean for DeclareMedia? Obviously we use keyword-rich domains as a key part of our strategy, and perhaps the value of those domains will be less in the future than they are currently. This might hurt us a bit. However, it’s not the only part of our strategy, and there are reasons to believe it will have little to no effect on the rankings of our directories and the value they provide.

Put simply, our strategy for rankings is:

1. Niche focus (geography + industry/service/product)
2. Unique and valuable content
3. SEO-friendly website
4. High-quality incoming links
5. Keyword-rich domain

Yes, that is the order of prioritization. In other words, while having keyword-rich domains is part of our strategy, it is the least important part. If the value of the domain itself is completely nullified, as far as rankings are concerned (there is still value in the keyword-rich domain outside of the rankings that may or may not produce, such as creating an incentive for searchers to click on what appears to be a relevant website), there is still the value of the other three strategies, and that is what we really depend on in the long run.

One of the most important points is #1. Because we are not targeting highly competitive keywords, it is not much of a stretch for us to gain an advantage in items 2-4.

In fact, this change may actually help us, because in those cases where we have a directory competing against another keyword-rich domain, if we can gain an advantage in areas 2-4, then our ranking will be higher, even if their domain is better than ours.

In other words, while this potential change might have an effect and hurt in some cases, especially in the case of those directories that are weak on content, incoming links, etc., I don’t expect that it will affect those directories where we have already mastered items 2-4.

  • Timothy

    Not trying to be funny but your strategy is moronic. You offer zero value in what you’re doing. You should attempt to focus, rather than launching a million useless websites.

  • Joshua

    I’m certainly interested in any specific ideas you may have to improve the strategy, or individual directories, although I’m not sure how you see there being zero value in them as they’re currently set up. For example, is one of our directories that ranks #1 for “utah web design firms”, #2 for “utah web design”, and has high rankings for a number of other related terms. It gets over 700 visitors per month. For Utah web design firms who want to get more clients but don’t know how to get good rankings for themselves or simply can’t, our directory gives them a way to get a chunk of that traffic. And since we’ve sold out all 10 featured listings on that directory, it would appear that at least those 10 companies feel they’re getting some value from what we’re doing.

  • Steve C.

    Matt Cutts is a stud! Thanks for the tips.

  • Art Gardner

    As someone that picked a url that was descriptive of what I do in my business ( I can tell you for certain that keywords alone will not get you the top rating. All of the other factors have to be there also, unfortunately that part is a work in progress so I do not have the top position on Google, Yahoo or Bing.

  • Dan Pocklington

    This is interesting, when I was going to buy my domain I was considering if I could go for a “keyword rich” domain name, but decided to focus on my brand instead. It’s interesting to hear that Google changes its mind on these things.

  • Bob

    I believe keyword rich url’s still have some impact. I run a small heat and air repair business and picked my url based on having keywords in it. Although we don’t have #1 rankings everywhere you look I don’t think it’s because of that. I try to use my url in all areas that I do business and believe that the repeated use is what helps rankings.