It’s too early to tell exactly what Google has done, but early indications show a major shift in how Google ranks websites was launched this week. Depending on which side of the fence you’re on you may be happy or very sad about this latest change. The change seems to be related to one of the major complaints in our industry over the years: people with “exact match” and “partial match” domains (web addresses that contain the primary keywords a company is trying to target) have had an unfair advantage in Google results.
For example, let’s assume your company is named Triple Diamond and you’re a widget manufacturing company located in Sarasota Florida. Since Sarasota is your primary market you want your website to be ranked for the phrase “Sarasota widgets”. Instead of having your website located at TripleDiamond.com (the name of your company), you put your website at SarasotaWidgets.com (the exact phrase you want to target.) In the good old days, even with a terrible, horrible, abhorrent website you would have a huge advantage over much higher quality websites for the exact match search of “Sarasota widgets”. This phenomenon led to awesome domain names like Sarasota-widgets.com, Sarasota-widget-company.com, etc.
The trouble with our Triple Diamond example above is that the company is ignoring the importance of building their brand by using TripleDiamond.com and instead focuses on parlor tricks to get their website to rank artificially high. Google has been tackling this issue slowly but surely over the past year or so. Now companies like Triple Diamond are falling like rocks in the rankings because they bought a domain years ago and never did a lick of SEO thinking they had beat the Google monster. Well guess what, fake company I made up called Triple Diamond? All those years you’ve rested on your laurels and didn’t spend any energy on SEO is now valuable time you wasted. Get ready to open your wallet, because building trust on the search engines is much more difficult today than it was back when you bought that domain. Hopefully you were at least smart enough to buy TripleDiamond.com back then!