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Matt Cutts Announces Google Panda 4.0 Update

Over the weekend, there was some discussion about a possible algorithm change or update at Google, and there was some speculation about whether it could be Panda or Penguin related. Yesterday afternoon, Matt Cutts, Engineer and head of Google’s Web Spam team, announced via Twitter that “Google is rolling out our Panda 4.0 update starting today.

Any time Google makes an algorithm update where an announcement is warranted, you can bet that there are changes that will impact many websites. A while back there was an exact match domain update, and I believe that had an impact on the domain name aftermarket. Over the last year or so, I’ve heard from several prospects who mentioned that keyword domain names aren’t as important for SEO. Perhaps that was simply a negotiation tactic, but regardless, if people think they aren’t as valuable, they won’t pay as much.

I don’t know whether the Panda 4.0 algorithm update will impact

Google Treats New TLDs as gTLDs

There is a thread in Google Product Forums’ Webmaster Central forum asking about TLDs being treated as generic. Although the question doesn’t specifically appear to be about ICANN’s new gTLD program, it garnered a response from a Google employee who mentioned the new domain extensions.

According to John Mueller, Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google, “we currently treat the new TLDs as gTLDs, even if they sound like they may be region-specific (eg .berlin).” This is interesting to note, although I don’t believe it is unexpected. Mueller continued, “If, over time, our analysis shows that they’re clearly limited to only websites from those regions, that might be worth reconsidering. In the meantime, you should be able to set geotargeting manually for these TLDs.”

As you may already know, Google has a

Gifts.com Ranks Well This Christmas

Logo for Gifts.comI’ve heard a number of people cite that keyword domain names aren’t nearly as helpful as they once were. This may or may not be entirely true (I’ll let SEOs debate that), but I want to share one keyword .com domain name brand that seems to have done well this Christmas: Gifts.com.

I’ve neither bought anything from Gifts.com nor do I have any type of relationship with Gifts.com. In fact, I don’t recall ever visiting the website until I was researching how some of the big brands ranked for Christmas gift related keywords (Overall, I think Walmart fared the best in terms of big brands ranking for broad keywords).

According to its website, “Gifts.com is the #1 online gift recommendation service, offering over 7 million monthly shoppers during peak holiday periods with personalized gift ideas and interactive tools to help them become better, more organized gift-givers.

Here’s how Gifts.com currently ranks for some Christmas gift keyword searches:

Duck Duck Go Seems to Love Exact Match Domain Names

During the last week, I’ve read a few articles that mentioned Duck Duck Go, a “private” search engine, and I spent a bit of time check out its search results. It’s called “private,” because as Fred Wilson of Union Square Ventures said on his blog, “if a National Security Letter shows up at DuckDuckGo, there won’t be anything to hand over to the Feds because DuckDuckGo does not save search behavior on its users.”

One thing I noticed right away is that Duck Duck Go seems to love exact match domain names (EMD) in its results, much more so than Google and even Bing. I want to share the results of my informal keyword searching, where I know the .com EMD is a developed website. Some of the websites on EMDs are owned by my company.

EMD results – Duck Duck Go vs. Google vs. Bing (NR = not in top 10):

Domain Industry Keyword Google Rankings

Several months ago, I posted an article listing popular  domain industry keyword Google rankings. I chose some of the most common domain name related searches (using the Google Adwords Keyword Tool) and entered them in Google to see what companies ranked #1 for those specific keywords.

I thought I would follow it up monthly to see how those Google rankings changed, but I didn’t get around to a follow up until now. Based on the lack of changes, it’s probably not a worthwhile exercise to post this monthly, but it’s still interesting to see changes at the top because  a higher ranking will almost certainly bring additional traffic and/or business to the company with the top spot.

Here are some of the most popular domain industry related keyword searches and the website that ranks number one. In parenthesis, I included the company that previously ranked number one if it is different than the current result. I searched using a proxy site so previous search habits wouldn’t influence current results.

Using BingItOn.com to Compare EMDs

For the last few months, Bing has been asking people to use  BingItOn.com to see a side by side comparison of Bing and Google search results. The idea behind the marketing campaign is to get people to see that Bing’s results are more helpful than Google’s.

It’s a neat campaign, and although I don’t plan to switch from Google to Bing, I wanted to see how .com exact match domains (EMD) rank on Bing vs. Googles. For this comparison, I somewhat randomly chose 20 keyword terms (where the .com is developed) and shared the rank of that EMD on Google and Bing for the keyword if it is in the top 10. If not, in the top 10, I listed it is “NR” for no ranking. I did not count news, image, or local results. I always chose the left result so I could tell which is Bing and which is Google.

One reason I think this is interesting is that the search is done for the keyword at the exact same time from the same search location. Presumably, it doesn’t take my past searches into consideration as a normal search would, so theoretically, my search results shouldn’t be skewed by that. It’s also from the same location so local results should theoretically be similar.

Keep a couple important factors in mind when looking through the results of my test. When I checked to see if the EMD is developed, I did not review the content. If the EMD contains mostly copied content (ie doesn’t have unique content or isn’t a full on website), it will likely not rank well in either Google or Bing. The other thing to keep in mind is that this is a snapshot in time from whatever IP address their site uses. It might not be entirely replicable because of constant  algorithm  tweaks.

Below are my results:

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