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September 2012 Internet Marketing Update

Top 4 Google Rankings - aidanbooth.comWelcome to my end-of-September Internet Marketing Update!

On the 1st of every month I add a new post to AidanBooth.com – sometimes about changes to Google and the internet marketing landscape in general, and other times just to share useful information and ideas.

The one thing these posts all have in common, is that they’re not selling ANYTHING.

UPDATE (October 1st, 9:17am): Google has JUST rolled out a new algorithm change which may impact the effectiveness of what I’m discussing in this post. I’m looking into this and will keep you updated. HOLD FIRE on purchasing domains based purely on this strategy… Right now I recommend you read this post and give me feedback in the comments section. If you’ve lost rankings in the last 48 hours or so, let me know. THANKS!!

My monthly updates are 100% pure content – no strings attached.

A Surprising SEO Discovery

Today I’m revealing a surprising SEO discovery I made a couple of weeks ago, specifically, how I was able to get a top 4 ranking in Google for a highly competitive keyword without building a single link.

First watch this short video, then read on for more discussion below:

As shown in the video, after installing WordPress on “BlueprintProReview.com”, my website rocketed into the top 4 of Google for the keyword “blueprint pro review” in under 48 hours.

I didn’t build a single link to the site, I didn’t even add content to the site.

The thing that shot that website into the top 4 of Google was the exact match “.com” domain name.

Now, leveraging exact match domain names is nothing new. People have been doing this for years.

The thing that really surprised me was the fact that it still works so well.

There’s been a lot of talk in the last 6-12 months about aged domains being the new “Holy Grail” of domain names.

Many well known internet marketers have publicly said that exact match domain names have lost their power…this discovery today however, proves beyond any doubt at all that exact match “.com’s” STILL pack some punch.

Are Exact Match .org’s And .net’s Still Effective?

In my opinion, exact match .org’s and exact match .net’s probably have lost a lot (at least some) of their power….com’s definitely haven’t though.

Another theory that’s been hotly debated over the past year is whether or not to include your target keyword in your domain name.

Some people say it helps, others say it makes no difference at all.

Does It Help To Have Your Keyword In Your Domain Name?

I’ve got an opinion about that and again, it’s based on my personal experience, NOT theory.

Lets assume you want to get rankings for the keyword “garden furniture”. Will a domain like “GardenFurnitureOnline.com” help you move up the Google rankings faster?

In my experience, YES!

Over the past 12 months I’ve launched a number of high quality authority sites. A few of them have had the following format:

MyKeywordOnline.com
MyKeywordHub.com
MyKeywordAdvice.com
MyKeywordSupport.com
MyKeywordExperts.com

“My Keyword” could be anything…”Outdoor Furniture”, “Fishing Tips”, “Blue Widgets” etc.

NOTE: Authority Hybrid members – you’ve seen this strategy in action with my demonstration website!!!

Whenever I include my keyword at the start of my domain name, it almost ALWAYS makes a noticeable difference in the time it takes me to get top rankings in Google…I get rankings FASTER!

When NOT To Use This Tactic…

For me as a marketer, the most important thing when choosing a domain name, is that it’s brandable.

It NEEDS to look professional.

As such, I wouldn’t buy a domain name like any of the following:

  • GardenFurnitureX.com – Adding “X” (or any other letter) to the end of a domain name makes it look LOW QUALITY. It results in a lower CTR from Google and won’t help you in the long term.
  • HowToWriteABestSeller.com – This kind of domain name is simply TOO long. Not only is it 21 characters in length, but it’s also 6 words…I avoid long domain names.
  • GardenFurnitures.com – Here’s another example of adding a letter to the end of a domain name. In this case, adding an “S”. Try saying “Garden Furnitures” aloud…it doesn’t make any sense. Don’t buy a domain name that doesn’t make sense JUST to leverage this tactic – it’ll have short term results at best.

Here’s How You SHOULD Use This Tactic:

  • GardenFurnitureShop.com
  • GardenFurnitureStore.com
  • GardenFurnitureOnline.com

The above three domain names sound professional and they’re all relatively short in length.

These will all result in a higher than average CTR (click through rate) from Google and they all leverage the fact that the target keyword is included in the domain name.

But What About Aged Domain Names?

Aged domain names can be extremely powerful when you get the right one…but not all aged domains are created equal.

I’ll never buy an aged domain name simply because it’s 10 years old. It needs to fulfill a couple of basic criteria:

1. It needs to be professional (brandable)

As I emphasized above, if a domain name doesn’t look professional, I won’t buy it.

2. It’ll ideally have existing backlinks

While this isn’t essential, it’s the one thing that gives aged domain names a rapid rise up the rankings.

Aged domain names don’t rise rapidly because of their age, they rise rapidly because of their existing links.

If you buy a domain name that already has 100 existing high quality links, then you’ll get credit for all those existing links and you’ll rise in the rankings.

NOTE: Google does factor in the age of a domain name but it’s nowhere near as powerful as the number of links.

Tools such as the OpenSiteExplorer.org and MajesticSEO.com can give you all the information you need to analyze the value of a websites existing links.

Combine these tools with the Wayback Machine and you’ve got yourself a pretty powerful “Aged Domain Analysis Suite”…But that’s discussion for another day.

The 4 Big Take-Aways…

Here are the big take-aways from this blog post:

  1. Exact match “.com” domain names still have huge power and accelerate top Google rankings.
  2. Having your keyword at the beginning of your domain name helps speed up rankings.
  3. NEVER buy a domain name that looks unprofessional or un-brandable.
  4. It’s the pre-existing links that give aged domain names their power, NOT their age.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this post, I’ve enjoyed sharing this information with you.

UPDATE (October 1st, 9:17am): Google has JUST released an algorithm change targeted at MINIMIZING the power of exact match (and most likely “partial match”) domain names…hold fire before you go out and purchase these kinds of domain names based on the content of this post! I’ll have an update about this soon…(Murphy’s Law that this Google algo change happens right when I write on this topic!!!)

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Please leave a comment below, I read them all and will reply! Oh, and click the Like button on this post to give it MORE Google love!

Thanks – until next time!

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51 Comments so far:

  1. Graham Mills says:

    Thanks Aidan for sharing your research in this post.
    It helped to answer some questions I had about domain name ranking factors in 2012.
    Especially how exact match domains can still work if they’re done properly.
    Also appreciated your view on aged domains and the importance of existing backlinks.

    • Aidan says:

      Hi Graham, thanks for commenting! I’ve JUST updated this post as Google has just rolled out a new algorithm change targeted at DECREASING the power of exact match domain names (Murphy’s law!)…I’ll be updating everyone about this via email ASAP…

  2. Joe Wilson says:

    Aidan,
    Great video.. I have seen the same results as you in regards to exact match domains… that is until this past weekend.. looks like Google made some more algo changes.

    I know most all of my exact match domains took a hit this weekend.

    It’s too early at this point to know how things will shake out and hopefully it will turn around.

    Great video thanks for sharing!

    Joe

    • Aidan says:

      Hi Joe, thanks for the comment and the feedback. A lot of people have seen their websites lose rankings in the past couple of days…I’m looking into this more and will send an email with more info soon…

  3. Jack Agnew says:

    That was a GREAT article! More value than a lot of $7 WSO’s! I just like you on Facebook.

    • Aidan says:

      Thanks Jack! I’m not a big fan of $7 WSO’s :)

      Not sure if you saw it, but I’ve just updated this post recommending people hold fire on using the methods I’ve mentioned…Google looks like it’s JUST made some important algorithm changes…

  4. Jack Agnew says:

    I forgot to ask for the free Google report

  5. Leigh says:

    Hi Aiden and thanks for the post. I don’t think that the EMD will be appplicable to stuff like this because they effectively take out the brand name as well. From what I have seen it has targeted more long tail searches with four or more words in the domain such as howtogetridofsmalllumpsonmybum lol sorry for example. They cannot take out all EMD as things such as shoeshop, credit card, tattoos etc are fitting. I think they just wanted to give some additional authority to the bigger names out there again.

    I think most sites have gone to the back of the SERPS but not deindexed. Their value has just dropped more in line with the backlinking profiles of the major brands. Might just be that you have to backlink them more to brind back. Or 301 to a better domain name if it is a big authority site that you people don;t want to lose.

    Most others are okay. But if it also means that EMD is not a big ranking factor now then maybe it opens more doors to possible domain name possibilities rather than going for exact all the time.

    That is my two pennies worth anyway on what I have noticed with my own sites. Hope it helps 😉

    • Aidan says:

      Hi Leigh, great comment and insights :) Thanks!

      It’s still too early for me to report on how people have been affected by this, but one thing I’ve noticed is that it’s a drop in rankings, NOT a deindexing (I’m 100% certain of that)…

      It’ll be interesting to see how this unfolds in the coming days…I’ll send an email with an update about the fallout as soon as I have more info. I think what you’ve experienced is probably pretty typical – again – thanks for sharing!!

  6. David says:

    Hi Aidan,
    For the last few days of so, I was checking my pages ranking on Google. I went from page 16 or so to not being found at all on Google. I just checked on Google this morning, I’m #1 on page 5 for my search term.

    • Aidan says:

      Hi David, thanks for sharing your results – it’s helpful as I try to work out what this new Google update is all about. Looks like your website has benefitted (or it could just be a coincidence)…

  7. Hello Aidan,

    Hope you had a great Summer…I went to Western Canada for 3 weeks and had a great visit..

    Geeeeeez! And here I was so happy to hear that backlinking might be losing SOME of its hold
    on every marketer! I’ll be very curious to find out what Google new algorith change will be and how it will affect rankings. Just to confirm I’m not alone in my rejection of SEO, I’ve found other
    people online who succeed extremely well without it! For me,
    it’s a matter of learning and gaining experience in new methods….It will come.

    Talking SEO, I still have my Authority Hybrid site and I wonder if you think it would be worthwhile to use someone cheaper than Linking Made Easy to try and get it to produce SOME income since I’m not quite ready to apply new methods.

    Thank you so much Aidan for your continuing participation, Lise

    • Aidan says:

      Hi Lise, sounds like you had a great summer!

      For your AH site, any kind of link building you do will help…I’d recommend focusing on the high quality types of links as opposed to lots of low quality ones…

  8. Russ Turner says:

    Hi Aidan,

    I have just purchased a new domain and was after an exact match but the only 2 available were on “auction” with a $,$$$ guide price. I tried all combinations and finally settled for one with an “-” separating the keywords.

    I am with you all the way on the exact match tactic and would love to find one at a price I could afford, meanwhile lets see how my use of “-” come along.

    Thanks for another great article.

    Regards

    Russ

    • Aidan says:

      Hi Russ,

      I’m not sure if you saw the update I added to this post, but I’d advise taking extra precaution with exact match domain names right now…I’ll know more about the latest Google update in the next few days and will then send you more information.

  9. Ken says:

    Hey Aidan,

    I was wondering…do you reckon blueprintproreview.com would outrank say, a Facebook fan page, or a page from another authority site that has very poor page authority? ‘Cause I’m assuming blueprintproreview.com doesn’t have great stas either, but it still outranked so many others…any chance a FB fan page might be amongst the bunch you surpassed?:)

    Cheers,
    Ken

    • Aidan says:

      Hi Ken,

      BlueprintProReview.com has absolutely NO link building done to it at all so I don’t consider it to be a “strong” website…Since Google has just released an update targeting exact match domain names, I’m not sure how that strategy is going to fear now unfortunately (will be looking into it in the next few days).

      Facebook Pages can certainly rank well in Google…I personally don’t use them to promote product launches as they are a little limiting in what they allow you to do…

  10. Oscar says:

    Aidan,

    Thanks for the information on this post. I’m so mad, sad, and everything that can be bad. I just checked my rankings and for one of my websites that was getting between 100- 110 visitors a day yesterday I got 3 visitors. I lost my top 3 ranking as well. I don’t know what Google wants sometimes I just feel like leaving IM and work on something else. But I don’t want to quit, I have never quit anything when I joined the military people said I was to skinny and weak to make it through boot-camp and I made it. Brian says some people just quit to early and don’t stay long enough for the magic to happen.

    Any updates on what we are going to have to do specially if it was the whole domain? I looked for it and can’t even find it on the 5 or 6th page didn’t want to keep looking for it.

    • Aidan says:

      Hi Oscar, I know the feeling only too well… :(

      I’d be very surprised if there’s nothing that can be done to recover your rankings…I’ll be looking into this more in the coming week and I’ll let you know what I find…

  11. J.J says:

    Hi Aidan,

    I have 3 site drop from the serps.

    2 were bounceing between page 2-4
    and the third was on the bottom of page 1.

    The url for the page one listing is on page 44.

    As for the domain, they all contained the main keyword plus 2 extra letter at the beginning:

    myxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx.co.uk
    myxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx.co.uk
    myxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx.co.uk

    My main question is does it matter if the keyword is at the end of the url as above with two or three letters words at the beginning?

    • Aidan says:

      Hi J.J,

      I’ve always preferred to have the keyword at the start of the domain when using this method (thats what’s been most powerful in the past). The domain name can affect rankings, but what makes the big difference is links…

      Not sure I’ve answered your question, let me know if you still have doubts…

      • J.J says:

        Just watched the video 😉

        And have discover , that another site, which I have been building for a friend that isnt even finished yet

        bestxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx.co.uk jumped to NO1 from page No 10.

        Only did about 2-3 links: raw facebook page and twitter links

        • Aidan says:

          Hi JJ,

          Thats great :) As with any Google algorithm change, there are winners and losers…looks like your friends site is one of the winners!

  12. Trev says:

    Aidan,

    All of my websites have took a massive hit with one particular that was pulling in good adsense money has disappeared for the main keyword. Some listings have gone from No2/3 on google to page 3. I’ve built pretty good links over a period of time but for the sites to fall away pretty much disgusts me, this is yet another sign from Google that they don’t want the small guys in there who don’t generate the income they want. I have not used any auto generating back linking strategy.

    To say I am pissed off is an understatement. I think LME is redundant now as the links they were building were of very little value and one of my sites went backwards on the back of this. They are way too expensive for what they deliver as with most of the IM SEO providers out there.

    I could go on a rant here but what’s the point?

    • Aidan says:

      Hi Trev, thanks for your comment/feedback,

      If your websites have dropped from page 1 to page 3, then I think you’re going to be able to climb back to page 1 very quickly. I’m not sure I agree 100% that Google don’t like the small guys…Google make algorithm changes to try to put the best websites at the top, sometimes they mess it up though and people get caught in the cross-fire.

      My websites (thankfully) are still ranking well. If you’re a member of Authority Hybrid, you can check my example website and you’ll see it’s still on page 1 of Google (and that leverages a partial match domain name).

      What I’d recommend you do is build a few more quality links to your sites and see if that makes them bounce back…

      • Trev says:

        Hi Aidan,

        Funnily enough the worst one to be hit is my AH site which has been performing well up until now. I’ve built good links to this and it’s frustrating when you get hit even though you have a site full of up to date, informative and unique content.

        • Aidan says:

          That is very annoying…I’d recommend you continue to build links, include lots of URL links (“abcsite.com” and “www.abcsite.com”) and also branding links (“abc site”). I’m confident with more linking your site will bounce back as my demo site is doing fine…

  13. CS says:

    Hey Aidan,

    I just ran my ranking again today after I read this because I wanted to check my sites that I made a couple years ago, I was going to change some stuff around on all of them because they needed it to be updated but every single site (11 of these particular ones) all got deindexed.

    They are all EMD’s & were ranking -some on page 1 of google- just a week ago when I last checked. (they still rank on yahoo & bing)

    Now, these did need to be updated a little with new information & some different information but I would say that yes, if you have EMD’s & they are about that keyword (even linking out to other sites & such) they will be impacted. The authority site model that you & Brian teach now I believe is a way better way to go.

    So I believe I will have to totally revamp my sites or move the info to a main site & go from there. I actually make a little money on these sites every year & it was fun to do, so I hope I can figure out a way to make it all work.

    google is relentless, although I know they are trying to provide a great user experience, I hope I can become successful before I have to quit the game. I’m with Oscar, I don’t like to quit but google sure makes it hard for the little guy to get going to the point that we can leave a J.O.B. Just when you think you’ve got something going, it changes lol – bigtime.

    I do believe that my sites definitely needed improvement but I also agree that google doesn’t like the little guys that don’t generate a lot of $ for them (like most businesses these days). I do feel that they should have just dropped in rankings though & not fallen off the bandwagon totally.

    This will prove as a learning experience though & just proves my new way of thinking with building any future sites so I will build anything new based on my new knowledge. I know most IM’ers have had set backs & had to try something new, but it’s hard when you don’t have extra $ in the bank to keep it afloat until you can get the income coming in again.

    Thanks for the post Aidan as this is completely up-to-date info :)

    • Aidan says:

      Hi CS, thanks for your comment!

      I’ve been doing some more research and taking a closer look at my exact match domain names in the past few hours and most are absolutely fine. For example, BlueprintProBonus.com STILL ranks #1 in Google for the keyword “blueprint pro bonus”…and thats a new domain with just a few links.

      I agree with you that Authority sites definitely are the best way forward…My example site that I made for Authority Hybrid has been through Panda AND Penguin and now this and it’s come through completely unscathed (and it leverages a partial match domain name)!

      Will be interesting to see how this plays out over the coming days, as I mentioned in other comments, I’ll make another update once I have more info.

  14. Mel says:

    Aidan,
    Not sure I understand what Google are doing in the latest change you mention but I notice that one page of my photography site which has the url http://www.thedigitalphotowizard.com/norway-landscape-photos which has a page title that starts ‘Norway Landscape Photos’ shows an identical position (page 1 number 3) today as recently even though this page doesn’t have external back links and the website is relatively new (no PR). Since I’m ‘a small guy’ (in the context of previous comments) it seems like it’s a ‘content quality / relevance-to-search’ issue – at least for low competition subject matter – that is driving the google positioning. I don’t know whether my url http://www.thedigitalphotowizard.com/norway-landscape-photos is helping even though it’s not http://www.norwaylandscapephotos.com. Thoughts ?

    • Aidan says:

      Hi Mel,

      Yes, sites like yours should come through this new exact match domain algorithm change unchanged :)

      It will definitely help to have your keywords in the url as you have, nice job.

  15. Hi Aidan –

    I just checked a AH site that so far hadn’t make it into the top 100
    (was in top 200) and it’s nowhere in the top 900 now.

    That site had a domain such as: keywordCentral.com.

    My other was a domain as in: helpformykeyword.com.

    They both disappeared but not de-indexed.

    My other site, as in: keyword phraseAdvice.com dropped a
    couple slots in the first page ranking, and is otherwise unscathed.

    I’ll attempt to inject a reason to be cheerful.

    As in any business, in order to avoid unhealthy emotional drag,
    it is prudent to go forward on the basis of expecting
    the worst, hoping for the best and being prepared to handle
    whatever happens.

    Not always easy and no business is exempt from set-backs.

    As for Our Google Master,
    “There is no good in arguing with the inevitable. The only
    argument available with an east wind is to put on your overcoat.”
    –JR Lowell

    Dave C.

    • Aidan says:

      Hi Dave, as always, thanks for your input and words of wisdom, always appreciated! These kind of Google algorithm changes are a pain but we need to overcome them and keep moving forward (which I know you’re doing).

  16. Steven says:

    You guys worry about this “domain exact match” too much. Yes, it is important, but thats the easy part. anybody that has ever been a power house on Google, including myself knows that you better do everything you can to get the #1 spot. Meta/SEO, back links, blogging, and now video. If you were not born with that silver spoon in your mouth, then buckle down and get ready to work. Your going to have to work twice as hard and twice as smart as the big guys to dominate your niche. If you do it right, your ranking will never really vary. I know, I did it. Started a little business in 2004 and dominated Google’s #1 Rank until 2010. Load your pages with relevant content. written for SEO purpose, but easily read by readers. Relevancy makes all the difference and include links to other pages of your site as much as you can. Update your content regularly, change little things here and there. You need to keep those Google spiders interested and busy, they dont like stagnant content. Video is now hot for helping ranking too. Make short videos, brand them and publish them to youtube. To build a dominant force in your niche, you have to multi-task. Be innovative. Work on it all. You can do it without buying it, but it is a hard job getting there. It was more than worth it, but it didn’t come easy. Hope that helps.I wish you all success. We will update you on our progress in the coming months. We have multiple websites going live in October. Hope to take #1 or at least first page ranking within 30 to 90 days. Thats me, one guy doing it all. I build them, write the content, write meta/SEO, get backlinks and build the product videos for youtube. Cheers fellow entrepreneur’s. Lets see where the Web takes us as we try to recover from this massive economic recession.

    • Aidan says:

      Hi Steve, thanks for the comment! Lots of great advice! I personally am not worried whether I get an EMD when starting a new project or not. I’ve had website such as “im-blackbook.com” ranking in the top 5 for competitive keywords such as “internet marketing strategies” – keywords that have nothing to do with the domain name.

      The number 1 factor when it comes to getting rankings is still LINKS. On page factors are important, but the thing that continues to hold the most power and influence, are quality links on relevant websites. All the best with your new projects Steven!

  17. phil says:

    Hi Aidan,

    We’ll it looks like your site is gone from the first page of Google…I would have to say that exact match domains are now worthless !

    • Aidan says:

      Hi Phil,

      My ranking has stayed exactly the same…I’ve been ranking about #6-#8 for a few months now but the earnings have stayed the same as I’m also ranking for lots of long tail keywords. I don’t think EMDs are worthless, they’ve just lost some of the SEO advantage they used to have. If I was targeting the word “international travel advice” and “InternationalTravelAdvice.com” was available, I’d buy it in a heartbeat because it’s still a great domain. I just wouldn’t build a huge network of mini-sites based on EMDs. Thanks for the comment and for sharing your thoughts Phil!

  18. Bryan says:

    So you recommend moving forward to stop building mini-niche sites based around EMDs or is it still too early to tell if these types of sites are doomed?

    • Aidan says:

      Hi Bryan,

      I’ve been recommending people NOT to build small mini-sites based on EMDs for a while now. The best kind of site to build is one that delivers value, and authority sites do this better than small EMDs. EMDs are definitely not doomed, their SEO advantage has most likely just been diminished. Thanks for the comment Bryan.

      • Bryan says:

        I thought that the sites created to hijack a product launch in the IM niche were mini-affiliate sites based on EMDs? Like your Blueprint Pro Review site. Aren’t those considered mini-affiliate sites since I always notice those sites only have like 1 to 3 content pieces.

        • Aidan says:

          Hi Bryan, yes, you’re absolutely right :) Thats the only time I create mini-sites. In the past I used to create many mini-sites to target physical products, but it’s better doing that or any other form of affiliate marketing with an authority site these days.

  19. Graham Mills says:

    Hey Aidan, thanks for keeping us updated with the latest google algorithm change.
    I first read your post before you made the update, and then came back to see that things have changed within just one day.
    I will be interested to here your views on exact match domains over the coming days when more research has come to light.

    • Aidan says:

      Hi Graham, no problem, you’re welcome :) I’ll be sending an email in the next week with more info about this update and the best way to move forward :)

  20. Reed Robbins says:

    Hi Aidan,

    Thanks for the info. I have the most trouble getting relevant links and can’t seem to get those with outsourced SEO (LME), either. I’ll have to go back to the AH study materials, but each time I’ve made an effort I’ve come up empty-handed. Any additional advice?

    Thanks,
    Reed

    • Aidan says:

      Hi Reed,

      Have you had a go at Reverse Engineering links? This has been working really well for some other AH members…

  21. Reed Robbins says:

    Yeah, Aidan. So far no luck with Reverse Engineering links, either. Thanks for the tip, though.

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