Search Engines and EMDs Rank #1


There has been quite a bit of talk lately about exact matching domain names (EMD) not performing as well in Google’s search results after the recent Google update, an event covered thoroughly by Barry Schwartz at Search Engine Roundtable.

My opinion has been that Google specifically targeted people and companies who used EMDs for content-poor websites that thought exact match domain names would boost their rankings despite the lacking content. I am not a SEO nor do I profess to have much SEO expertise, but I didn’t think the update would impact content-rich websites that used a EMD as its primary brand.

With the holiday season upon us, I want to share two important exact match domain names that appear to rank #1 for their exact match search terms., a domain name built into a website by Kevin Ham’s Reinvent, Inc. currently ranks #1 in Google for the exact match “Black Friday” term, that most likely drove millions of timely visitors to the website. is a domain name owned by the  National  Retail  Federation that advertises featured Cyber Monday deals, and it currently ranks #1 in Google for the exact match “Cyber Monday” term.

Keep a couple of important things in mind when analyzing this. First, both domain names are fully operational businesses that utilize the exact match domain names as brands. Second, both the Black Friday and Cyber Monday terms are highly competitive and there are thousands of large websites and brands (like Walmart and Target) that would love to rank #1 for these terms.

The next time you see an article about the dropping value of EMDs remember that Google IS targeting companies that have low quality websites on EMDs, but they don’t seem to be intentionally targeting high quality websites that use their EMDs as brands.

Guest Post: Matt Bentley on the Recent Google Algorithm Change and Its Impact on Domain Investors

Google Unleashes “Revenge of the Niche Publishers

Though it’s gone largely unnoticed in the domain industry, a Google algorithm update announced today may just be the best news the domain industry has heard in years. A first step towards ending the long reign of the “MegaSite”, content factories churning out endless supplies of content and ranking solely by the size and authority of their domain.

Or, it may just be another PR move from a search behemoth increasingly under fire for the declining quality of their results. Only time and detailed analysis of the results will tell.

So why should domain investors care about Google changes?

Since ~2007 Big G’s never-ending quest to fight spam has increasingly emphasized Site Authority ie, how big and well-linked a website is. Eric Schmidt famously stated that “[big] brands are how you sort out the cesspool” of the internet.

The unsurprising result of an emphasis on Site Authority was the rise of MegaSites like eHow, AssociatedContent, and, where non-expert writers could make it to the top of the search results not because of their knowledge or the quality of their content, but because of the power of the host domain.

For those with multiple domains, 1+1+1 = 2. Three articles posted on 3 niche sites are worth far less than 3 articles posted on one mega site. The more domains you have, the bleaker the picture.

Now, with the Farmer Update, the pendulum may finally be swinging back in the other direction.

The domain industry needs this change. We need expert bloggers, mom-and-pop businesses, and niche publishers to be able to compete successfully in the search results, on their own domains. If they can’t, they’ll shift resources to social media platforms and hosted content solutions like article marketing rather than spending a lot on a domain for a site that nobody visits.

And finally, domainers increasingly are niche publishers. For those learning scalable domain development, targeted search traffic is an increasingly necessary replacement for declining parking revenues.

As of today, that goal may have just become a little bit easier.

Matt Bentley is a niche publisher, domain investor, former CEO of, and founder of, a stealth-phase content analytics startup.

Why a Generic Domain Name is Important

Most companies and their brand managers prefer their brand name over a generic domain name, after all, they are called BRAND MANAGERS!   The brand helps them stand out from their competitors, and they know (well, hope) their customers will remember the brand name when walking the aisles at Walmart or searching the shelves at Best Buy, or some other retail shop.

Many of the world’s large brands can afford to spend billions or millions on marketing to ensure everyone remembers their company name. They buy television commercials, sponsor the biggest sporting and other televised events, pay for stadium and building naming rights, send billions of direct mail pieces, rent billboards along the highway, have extensive Internet marketing campaigns, and do a whole host of other things to make sure customers and potential customers know who they are – maybe even more than what they actually do.

When a company chooses a unique brand name over a generic domain name, they are missing a big piece of the puzzle – Google/Bing/Yahoo/Ask searches. Sure, a company can pay for search engine marketing campaigns, but organic search results are much less expensive, and they don’t require the same amount of money for constant upkeep, although a great website is costly. SEM costs a lot of money, and if you stop, the traffic will stop coming as well.

Keyword domain names generally perform better than non-keyword domain names when it comes to search engine results for the searched keyword, especially with Bing. When people search for a specific product, and they either don’t know the brand they want or simply want a comparison of brands, they would probably type the product name in Google or search engine of choice.

In fact, have a look at some Google search comparisons of brands names vs the generic name (Global Monthly Search Volume, exact match). You’ll see that although the brands sometimes to get more search volume, there is still a significant number of people that don’t look for brands – they look for products.

Candy: 1,220,000
Hershey: 90,500

Cell Phones: 1,500,000
Verizon Wireless: 3,350,000

Mountain Bikes: 301,000
Trek: 368,000

Vodka: 368,000
Grey Goose: 74,000

This isn’t scientific at all, but it shows that many people either aren’t satisfied with a particular brand or they would like to see some sort of comparison, to get an idea of their options (ie Bing is “the decision engine”). If a generic domain name is well-developed, it will rank right up there organically, allowing the company to capture a significant amount of that search traffic (at no incremental cost). They can compete with the big brands at much less ongoing cost, aside from website upkeep.

With, about 20% of my traffic is type-in traffic. I am sure this percentage is much higher on an established brand like Verizon or Apple. However, there will always be a significant percentage of people who find the website via Google, and many of them are searching for generic search terms, as witnessed above. If a company owns top rankings for a well-searched generic term, they might not need to spend millions on brand marketing, since the consumer might find what they want simply by seeing the meta tags and trusting the generic brand.

If a company owns the generic term, they can build a site on that domain name ala, and either brand the generic domain name or make sure there is easy access to get to the main brand. Doing this can help both websites rank for the generic term, rather than just taking one out of commission by forwarding the type in traffic, since a forward rather than a stand alone website will probably remove it from Google and other search engines.

In my opinion, when it comes to Internet marketing, a generic domain name can handily beat a known brand at a fraction of the cost.

Why Needs Search Help Sign

I heard about’s sign at SES San Jose, which was a humorous attempt to poach Yahoo Search staff, now that Microsoft’s Bing search engine will be handling the search technology for Yahoo. Of course, I did search, using the advertised query My company just gave up on search. Where do I work now?

Smartly, the first result is for However, for some reason, the people at didn’t think they needed to plant the top result for the exact same query, only with quotes around it, as I initially entered into the search engine. When I typed in My company just gave up on search. Where do I work now?” the career center was nowhere to be found.

Although many people probably didn’t copy and paste the quote into with the quotation marks as I did, I am sure there were people like myself who did. Shouldn’t have considered adding their Career Center link to all variations of the above search query?

Sometimes it’s not always about what is Asked, it’s about how it’s asked, and fails on this.

Top Photo Source: top result without quotes: Results top result with quotes: Results

I Love Bing & Bing Loves Me

I love Bing. Not only do my developed generic domain names rank well in Bing, as I mentioned in a post last week, but today Bing has an image of my apartment building on its homepage, directly under the magnifying glass. The love must be mutual – thanks Bing!

Upper West Side skyline

SEO Advice Requested

I don’t generally ask for much from my blog readers other than feedback and commentary on blog posts I write about domain names, but I would like to ask a favor of readers who are SEO experts/professionals. Regarding, are there any things that I can and should be doing to improve my current search ranking that I am not doing right now? Are there obvious mistakes that I am making that should be corrected ASAP? I know that nobody is ever satisfied with their SERP rankings, and I am in the same boat, but I would like to fix it if possible.

Traffic is about as high as it’s ever been, and it seems that my daily traffic continues to produce higher highs every month. My blog’s page rank continues to be strong, and I have quite a bit of inlinks that reference popular articles. My blog’s Alexa ranking seems to be increasing every month as well. Much of my traffic comes from blog readers, domain news aggregators (, and

So what do I do to enhance my SEO right now? First thing is that I use the All in One SEO plugin to quickly use good SEO for my blog posts. I   limited the number of links in my blogroll, which had dozens and dozens of links last year. I also moved many outbound links to the Resources page with “no follow” commands. I sent notices to sites that had been copying my content, and almost all dupe content from scrapers has been removed. Finally, I write unique content on my blog daily.

There are two primary things that leave me a bit unsatisfied with my SEO:

1) Only 19% of my traffic is from search engines. This is compared to my developed websites which see anywhere from 50-90% of the traffic from search engines. These stats are for sites that get anywhere from 250 – 600 visits per day on average, so it’s not really an anomoly. I would like that number to be closer to 40%, which I think is reasonable considering that I have over 1,000 unique posts in 2+ years.

2) I had site links a few months ago when you searched Google for “Elliot Silver” and “Elliot’s Blog”, but I don’t have them any longer. One thing which may have impacted is that I changed the user name from Admin to “Elliot Silver” and when I did that, I saw that Google searches for “Elliot Silver” showed my blog #1 but the meta description ended up changing to my latest post rather than the standard meta description I now have. As a result, I changed the user name to “Elliot,” although I don’t know if that impacted the site links.

One other issue to note is that several months ago – maybe over a year ago in fact – I changed the url structure to eliminate the date. Many of my previous posts lost ranking and page rank in Google, but they should be forwarding to the correct page. In fact, I use Dean’s Permalinks Migration to help with that.

Because traffic is much higher this year over last year, and it is steady or growing, I haven’t worried too much about my SEO issues. However, I know there are a number of SEO professionals who read my blog for domaining tips, so I would like to ask for some feedback about how I can take advantage of additional search engine traffic.


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