Today when I was at a meeting in the city and on the way back from the meeting I noticed an interesting piece of Experiential marketing for the Need for Speed game. A $400,000 Lamborghini had been converted to be a taxi, now the sad part of the story is that you can no hail the taxi down you can only enter the car if you are a “competition winner”, we were actually trying to get a taxi when the Lamborghini drove past.
The interesting part of the campaign is that EA who runs the computer game is promoting this campaign and has pushed users online to use to the hash tag on Twitter: #mostwantedtaxi as we can see from the analysis below the tag is slowly starting to gain traction and when you monitor Twitter many tweets about the campaign do not contain the hash tag.
Overall I feel this is a smart way to use experiential marketing to promote a product.
Recently I was browsing online forums in the domain world, as I am personally really interested in domain names as I have been buying and selling domain names for over 8 years. For as long as I can remember domain names and SEO have pretty much gone hand in hand with SEO, as does web development with SEO. I found and interesting discussion a Sydney based web developer and Domain name seller by the name of Scott Nugent had engaged in. Basically Nugent had been calling up numerous end users who were Digital Marketing Managers to say that he has some domains for sale related to their business. A quote from Nugent below about his calls:
Out of the 8 I called, 3 of them all said the same thing: “I’ve been told exact match domains have zero value these days because Google penalizes you so I wouldn’t be interested”.
Now to further this quote from the end users, I also saw a very well known SEO company in the australian market put out this statement on Linkedin yesterday
Now that Google no longer gives you an SEO boost for exact match domains, what are the best ways to choose your new domain name?
Now these two quotes from various groups of individuals in the online marketing world has kind of baffled me, from some one who has been working in digital market I highly disagree that Exact Match Domains weight in search engines has been totally wiped out, I think a better statement to make is: Exact Match domains are still worth while if you create a quality site from them with good quality content and a decent link profile to match.
I will show below with some live examples of exact match domains still ranking well, whilst these domains are examples of quality exact match domains it is still evident their is a slight boost in these ranks for the EDM, I mean if you have a branded exact match domain people will naturally link to the website using the match link anchor text for the given keyword!
A quick search in the Australian market I can find several examples of EMD (Exact Match Domains Ranking)
1. Do a search for “Car Sales” and see carsales.com.au (current rank 1st position.)
Note from keyword: Whilst Car Sales is a very well known brand running on an EDM, it can be said that Drive has a stronger link profile yet it ranks in second position.
2. Do a search for “Credit Cards” and see creditcards.com.au (Current Rank 3rd position)
Note from keyword: Competitors such as Credit Card Finder rank lower but the important point is that Credit Cards the exact match domain still ranks strongly.
3. Do a search for “Lawyers” and see Lawyers.com.au (Current Rank 2nd position)
Note from keyword: Competitor which is branded and has a strong link profile such as Slater & Gordan is out ranked by the EDM.
4. Do a search for “personal loans” see personalloans.com.au (Current Rank – 1st position)
Note from keyword: Outranks strong competitors, domain authority is lower, competing banks not currently out ranking for the term.
5. Do a search for “loans” and see loans.com.au (Current Rank – 5th position)
Note from keyword: competitors such as yes loans have a stronger link profile yet loans.com.au still ranks higher.
6. Do a search for “Leather Jackets” and see the partial exact match domain leatherjacketshop.com.au (currently in 1st position)
Note from keyword: Competitors such as Viparo have a stronger link profile yet leatherjacketshop.com.au still ranks higher with the partial exact match domain, even looking at Viparo’s link profile you can see they have been targeting leather jackets heavily.
7. Do a search for “Jobs” and see the exact match domain Jobs.com.au (currently in 2nd position)
Note from keyword: From looking at the serps, it is evident that some of the government websites are very strong yet the EDM domain jobs.com.au is still ranking in 2nd position.
Another point to back up Exact Match Domains:
Now from my recent interview with Andre Weyher the Google search employee he provided the following insight into Exact Match Domains:
Choose your domain name wisely, having a good URL can give you a head start in the race. Good domains are still expensive and for a good reason.
Now you can take an educated guess from the statement about and the facts on hand and see that “Good Domains” usually means Exact Match Domains in high competition markets.
Now what can we say about the above research?
– Looking at keywords such as “Loans” and “Personal Loans” and “Jobs” in the Australia market it is evident that the EDM (Exact Match Domains) has some authority still in the ranks, the point is low quality EDM domains have been targeted after the last update. If you have a exact match domain I feel it is still worth investing in it but make sure that you have quality content related to the domain and build a quality link profile behind the domain.
Can Online Marketers please not make silly comments that Exact Match Domains now have no authority or benefit what so ever, it is clearly not true.
A very interesting social media story out of the UK today, where we saw a man by the name of “Thomas Cook” leave a comment on “Thomas Cook” (the travel brands) Facebook page, saying that he had received years of ridicule for sharing the same name as the holiday company. He said as payment for his years of ridicule he asked Thomas Cook for a free holiday to Paris. (Read the full comment below)
Now what also happened is a company called “LowCostHolidays” saw this as an opportunity for a fantastic PR by giving “Thomas Cook” the free holiday to Paris. the brand experienced a great increase in Facebook likes and positive comments, every one is now asking for a free holiday too.
The tables have turned on Thomas Cook and customers are now leaving angry comments one in particular was “lowcostholidays, because no one wants to be Thomas Crooked” (refer to image below)
Now the funny thing is lowcost holidays ran a promotion on Reddit in the past where they were actually sued for asking people if they had been “Thomas Crooked” refer to article here.
This provides an interesting insight into brand management on social media, brands can look at it the following Options:
Option 1. You give the free holiday to the customer then every one wants a free holiday. Option 2. You can see the chance to give a free holiday to a customer, lets say the holiday costs $800~ how much does media cost in today’s market? Option 3. Even giving free flights to Paris to the customer as part of a PR stunt, lets say the cost is $200~.
If the brand has a huge media budget and PR, which I am sure Thomas Cook does, then these costs can some times be very small to the bottom line and can potentially provide a huge amount of positive buzz for the brand.
Overall I would possible advise the brand with option 2 depending on their PR budget, yet this is also an unfair case for thomas Cook I must admit their page managers are handing it quite well in terms of response to customers, but I also notice the original comment has now disappeared from the page.
Today we have something special for the readers of JamesNorquay.com, I have an exclusive interview with Andre Weyher. I first met Andre at a Search Industry event in Sydney and was intrigued too see why some one who use to work with Matt Cutts had moved to Sydney, if he could possibly share any “secret information” and also to talk about his new project which we will also talk over.
Question 1: Tell us about yourself Andre, how long did you work in the Google Search Quality team?
I’ve been in Google for close to 5 years, after spending 2 years in the AdSense and AdWords teams (and some shameless self promotion) I got the chance to join Matt Cutts’s Search Quality team. A great experience as there are much less people in his department and the experience and knowledge I got are quite unique. Matt is a great guy and the atmosphere in the team is fantastic, you get to investigate the deep and dark corners of the internet, keeping the search index clean from spam and blackhat SEO. It’s also great to see the exact other side of the coin now!
Question 2: What were your daily roles in the search quality team?
The teams main focus is fighting spam and keeping Google’s search results clean so that the user gets the best possible experience. This is a very important thing for Google if you think about it. Google’s entire earning model relies on the good quality of the organic results, if people didn’t trust organic, they would stop using search and not click on ads anymore. Everyone in the team gets a market or a specialisation. I was mostly busy with content quality and back link profile, making decisions on the quality of pages and the links pointing to them and if needed, applying a penalty based on the severity and nature of the violating behaviour. The job also entailed creating reports about the current spam “situation” on a particular market.
Question 3. What are your thoughts on the recent algo updates penguin and panda are more on the way?
Absolutely, from what I have heard, there are still plenty of tweaks to come in the future. I think the message that Google is sending is very clear, they are fed up with people breaking the guidelines on an industrial scale and are coming down very hard on webmasters who do. Everyone knew that Penguin would be pointed at links, but I don’t think many people expected the impact to be as large as it turned out to be. At this stage a webmaster is out of his mind to still rely on techniques that were common practice 8 months ago. Purchasing links was always risky but resembled a game of roulette, you could get caught but many people also got away with it. Today it’s not a question IF you get caught, it’s merely a question of WHEN you’ll get caught. Not only this but take PR for example, getting a link from a high PR page used to always be valuable, today it’s more the relevance of the site’s theme in regards to yours, relevance is the new PR.
Question 4. What are common trends you looked for to determine a spammy site?
These can be divided into a few categories; On page signals like keyword stuffing, hiding things under the CSS or silly techniques like making a keyword rich text in the same colour as the background of the site. The second category would be content quality, it’s important to remember here that Google does not judge the nature of your content, only it’s authenticity. So any type of scraped, synonymised or obviously poorly written text would be a clear spam signal. The third would be backlink profile.
Question 5. What are common trends you looked for to determine a spammy link profile?
There are a good few elements taken into account here, like how many links are there in total? A very important one; what is the quality of the pages they come in from? Do the pages look “real” or are they just there to host the links? What anchors are used? The commercial vs. non commercial ratio of the anchors. In reality it’s very easy to recognise a blackhat profile, all you have to do is imagine what anchors would have been used if the linking happened completely naturally and compare it with what is going on in reality. Anyone can do it, just think logically and keep in mind which keywords convert to money.
Question 6. From your time in Google what are 3 on page tactics that you recommend?
Very good question, on page tactics are often overlooked, while in reality they should be a key element in your SEO strategy. First of all, choose your domain name wisely, having a good URL can give you a head start in the race. Good domains are still expensive and for a good reason. Second, be very thorough about your basic elements like titles, descriptions and H1/H2 headers. People are so focussed on putting the most expensive fuel in their car (backlinks) that they totally forget about the basics like putting wheels on it (on page elements). Of course you can’t over-do it as Google now also penalises for over optimisation, so don’t putt more than 2 commercial keywords in your titles or Google will frown upon it. Third, and most important, focus on content quality. Try to work on your website as if SEO was not part of your plan, create content out of a sincere interest and enthusiasm for the topic of your page. This is what Google and your users want form you, I know it’s tempting to think about financial gain but remember that Googles primary concern is valuable information!
Question 7. What are 3 off site (link building) tactics that you recommend?
Off site link building has dramatically changed since the recent updates. Anything that you can do automatically or at scale putts your website at risk. So keep the following in mind; Link building has changed from an almost purely technical process into something that resembles a relationship management campaign. Building a network with owners of sites that are related to yours for example. If your website is about cheese production, reach out to people in the milk industry, like I mentioned before, relevance is the new PR. Second, don’t dismiss directories completely. I have heard people talking about directories being altogether bad and advise people to avoid them. This is not the case, good quality, moderated directories, or niche directories are still worth looking in to. Third, to stay focussed on quality of pages linking in to you, Google judges your link profile by the quality of pages linking to your site, getting 3 links from authentic pages will do much more than 1000 links from splogs, so invest your time into getting quality, not quantity.
Question 8. Are there any other secrets or tips you can give to SEO’s from a search quality member?
This is a hard one… There are many secrets in Google’s sauce. I am aware that this might disappoint you but what I tend to tell people is the following; if you want to please Google with your SEO, then forget about SEO. Google wants you to create a site as if you don’t intend to manipulate their algo, but as if you are doing it because your passionate about the topic of your site. If you really are, your content will be great and your target audience will love you, this will do the best possible SEO you can imagine. Apart from this, follow Matt Cutts on Google+ 😉
Question 9. What are your thoughts on the trend towards social in search is more social integration on the way?
The change is definitely in the air, I think we have all seen signs of this happening already. It also looks like Google is moving towards more localised versions of search instead of a country wide version. Social will surely play a huge part in this. Integrating Google places into Google+ was a clear sign of the direction in which they are heading. I can only guess how it will look in the future but you can bet on Google+ being a very important part of it. I don’t think Google will let go of their social network any time soon so if you don’t have a profile for your site yet… don’t wait.
Question 10. Tell us about your new project Netcomber.com, how can it help SEO’s?
Netcomber is a brand new project that I have been working on, together with my business partner. We are planning to make it into the world best fingerprinting website. Our system uses over 3000 factors to calculate which websites are owned by the same person who’s website you submit. We use signs like account IDs, hosting information and even coding style to determine ownership clusters, so it will also show hidden relationships that normally would not be shown because of anonymization of data. Search engines always used this data in their fight against spam, checking the quality of a network, or even taking down an entire (spammy) owner cluster. The data was always internal only, we have made it external! SEOs can use it in many ways e.g. checking if a directory is of good quality (if the same owner has 500 of them in the same template, you might want to watch out), getting new ideas for potential linking partners, or simply keeping an eye on the competition and much more… Currently the tool is based on 20 million sites, in a few short weeks we will finish a crawl of over 200 million sites, so we are in BETA and the tool is free to use for now.
Thank you to Andre for taking his time to answer these 10 search related questions.
And be sure to check out his new project Net Comber here: netcomber.com
About the Author: James Norquay is a well known Australian digital marketer and founder of Prosperity Media a High Performance SEO Agency in Sydney, with over 8+ years experience. James deals with Enterprise level projects from some of Australia & Asia Pacific’s largest corporations. You can find him online via: Twitter, Google+ and Linkedin.
So over the last few days there have been some changes from the Australian market and global markets targeting Exact Match Domains,
I have sourced together a few quotes from Australian website owners who have been directly hit by this update, please note these are not clients of mine just members from the general publish who have expressed their opinion on the update.
“Looking at my own EMD sites, a few with thinner content seems to have been hit…But those which are built out with pages are holding strong… therefore will be interesting to monitor over the coming weeks”
Website Owner – Sydney
“Haven’t actually seen any ranking drops today with my EMDs so far although overall adsense views do seem to be down over the weekend. However it was a public holiday in NSW at least which generally hurts traffic.”
Website Investor and Site Owner – Sydney
“A few of my low quality EMD sites got hit hard in this update as well.”
Website Owner – Brisbane
Tips on how to avoid been hit by further updates:
– Make sure you invest in high quality content, so not use duplicate content or spun content.
– Make sure you have high quality links pointing to your site.
– Make sure that you push social signals to your site.
– Make sure that you invest time into sites which are long term and have been established for a while, I have seen many story’s from
This update where people who have been hit are people who own very new domains.
Please post here if you have been targeted by this update:
Google last Friday released an update to target exact match domain names, Google has said they will target Exact Match Domains which are low quality (see Matt Cutt’s post below from Twitter)
This is an interesting change for Google from any one who owns domain names and has a large number of domains in your portfolio. The reason this change is interesting is because it could have a negative impact on the way in which your sites are indexed and the rankings you hold.
Now the thing is what do you do to make sure that your exact match domain and website is not deemed low quality,
I have a few important points for you:
* Make sure you do not use ad heavy adsense pages on your EMD.
* Make sure that you do not use large amounts of duplicate content on your EMD.
* Make sure that you push quality social signals to the page level of your EMD, example: Facebook Likes, Tweets and G+ mentions.
* Make sure that you target higher quality link building to the page on your EMD.
* Make sure that you build the EMD into a site with numerous pages, rather then just an EMD with 5 pages for example.