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Archive for the domains/URLs Category

Even More Unfortunate Domain Names

Does your domain name get you ridiculed?

We’ve written before about webmasters who chose domain names without fully thinking it through. Our first article on the subject was back in 2006. It was pretty amusing, but only a year later there was a new compendium of unfortunate domain name choices.

I thought the rather widespread exposure would result in those domains getting fixed. No such luck. Many of them are back in a new compendium from BoredPanda. Some of the new ones, though are equally striking:

  1. Effective IT Management from RegencyTechnologies
  2. A French arborist
  3. Scrap metal recycling
  4. All about North Lake Tahoe
  5. A Bait & Tackle Shop
    masterbaitonline.comPay attention to your domain name selection
  6. An emotional healing therapist
  7. Educational astronomy website
  8. All about Winters, California
  9. High tech hardware from Dickson
  10. Directory of therapists
  11. Top MP3 songs
    [Update: it looks like someone discovered the error of their ways and changed this domain.]
  12. A toy consignment service
  13. Travel website
  14. TV personal advice celebrity
  15. A cafe in Serbia
  16. Language teachers
  17. A bedspread company
    [Update: Looks like this one has bitten the dust, too.]
  18. Formal wear for kids

If you’re about to register a new domain …

I wrote a helpful article awhile back listing 5 rules to keep in mind. Perhaps it’s time to add a 6th rule: eliminate alternate unfortunate interpretations.

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Are You At Risk For an Exact Match Domain Slapdown?

For a long time, SEOs and some website owners have known the value of selecting a domain name that exactly matches a keyword that a site is optimizing for. If you want great search rankings for the keyword “NJ real estate lawyer” you might attempt to register the domain or It used to work very well and the owners of those websites enjoyed a quick and easy path to the top of the search engine rankings.

Are the good times over?

Has your exact match domain gotten you a Google slapdown?

Last fall, Google released its EMD algorithm update. EMD stands for Exact Match Domain, and this update is designed to reduce or eliminate the preference given for domains with an exact keyword match like those above. It’s not designed to penalize them, but just to reduce the tendency to give preferential rankings to low quality or mediocre websites just because their domains were an exact match for a popular keyword.

In our experience, the EMD update has begun to do what’s intended. It doesn’t seem to be 100% effective yet, but the trend is clear: exact match domains no longer own the top rankings. According to an article in Search Engine Journal, these are some notable EMD websites that have seen significantly reduced rankings


Has this affected you?

If you’re not sure whether this has affected you, you need to do some monitoring of your keyword rankings. If you know you’ve suffered as a result of this update, the solution is to improve the quality of your website with appropriate SEO techniques. A high quality website should not feel any pain from the EMD update.

How to recover

The article linked above at Search Engine Journal has a good list of steps to take to recover from any EMD slapdown you may have suffered. Rather than duplicate them here, I refer you to that article.

Of course, if you need help with any of that, Rank Magic is here for you.

Google’s Crackdown on Low Quality “Exact Match Domains”


We’ve blogged in the past about comments from Google’s Matt Cutts that Google recognizes websites with an exact match to a popular query get ranked higher than they really deserve and that Google planned to address that. Well, Google’s EMD algorithm update hit a couple of weeks ago.

EMD algorithm change may cause Google rankings to drop for some websites.EMD stands for “Exact Match Domains”. If you search for brown widgets, is likely to show up very highly, even if it’s a crappy website with no link popularity.(At this writing there’s no such website, but you get the idea.)  In recognition of the fact that low quality websites shouldn’t rank highly just because of their domain name, Google’s EMD algorithm update was written.

It’s no longer necessary to pay a domain squatter lots of money for a domain just because a lot of people search for the domain’s phrase. Recently a company asked us about an offer to sell them the domain, citing the large number of searches for NJ IT consulting. We suggested they decline. The domain would start out with no link popularity and would not be likely to be ranked nearly as highly as it once would have simply due to the domain name. They would have to work as hard on the SEO for this domain as they did for their current domain.

How big a deal is this?

This is a new algorithm change, and it will take awhile to gauge just how severe it is, but Google anticipates it will significantly impact about 0.6% of US queries. If you have an exact match domain and see a significant dropoff in Google rankings and traffic, the antidote is effective SEO.

We can help with that.


Pick the Best Domain Name

We’ve written about our own 5 rules for picking a domain name in the past. The Search Engine Institute has come out with its own list of rules for choosing a domain name for your website. They overlap ours quite a bit, but also include some rules designed to help with your SEO.

  1. Make it easy to remember – that’s our #1 rule, too.
  2. Make it a .com domain. That’s our third rule, but for different reasons. We emphasize .com because most people will assume your domain is a .com and will type that into the address bar of their browser. The Search Engine Institute says .com names actually get better placement in the search engines. If the .com name you want isn’t available, the next best choice for SEO is .org, and then .net.
  3. Make it a keyword-rich domain name. Having your most important keyword in the domain gives you a boost in search engine rankings. (Google is working on minimizing that effect, though.)
  4. Make it easily understood. You want someone to be able to tell what you’re about just by seeing your domain name.
  5. Avoid Hyphens. First, people get confused about whether to use a hyphen or not, or where to place it. Second, the Search Engine Institute claims hyphenated domains don’t do as well in search engine rankings as domains without them.
  6. Avoid a .info domain. They have a reputation for being, on average, spammy websites.

Here’s more on the Search Engine Institute’s rationale for these rules.

Dashes versus Underscores in Your URL

Use dashes instead of underscores in your URLsBack in 2008 in a post about best practices for URL structure, we alluded to our preference to separate words in URLs with dashes or hyphens instead of the very common;l used underscore. We wrote that underscores (www.domain.tld/red_widgets.htm) cause search engines to see the words in the page name as redwidgets, but if you use dashes (www.domain.tld/red-widgets.htm) the search engines recognize and index the two separate words, red and widgets.

Google has just released a video explaining the historical rationale for that, why it’s still true, and why it’s unlikely to change in the foreseeable future. Watch the explanation by Google’s Matt Cutts.