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Google recently announced changes to their search algorithm and included in those changes were efforts to lower the visibility of spammy websites. One of the secondary conversions was will Google lower the weighting of keyword rich domains like "www.buyviagra.com".
Matt Cutts addressed this specific question in a video below:
I want to thank Anirban Das for bringing this video to my attention.
All car dealers have their primary domains set and locked for most cases so buying extra domains would be used for marketing microsites for lead collection, brand awareness, or to capitalize on popular search phrases.
Matt Cutt's video and his examples are really misleading because car dealers would not be investing the millions of dollars needed to create large technology or marketing portals like Twitter, Tech Crunch, Zappos, etc. Branded websites do not become popular for non-match keyword searches magically, which is a large omission from Matt's video message.
Regardless if Google turns down the dial slightly for exact matching domain names, they are still the fastest way for a dealer to gain page one visibility in their local market for long tail keywords.
Buying non-exact matching domains still works, like Matt said, but what he didn't disclose is that non-exact matching domains needs significantly more external links with anchor text on the targeted keywords.
Example, search Google for "Automotive Microsites" and you will see www.dealerbytes.com on Page One. It does not have either phrase in the domain name but it ranks on page one. Why? Because Paul Rushing, domain owner, has content on his website and links on the phrase "automotive microsites" directed to that domain.
For dealers, exact matching domains are the better match because dealers have smaller budgets for SEO projects. There are hundreds of automotive microsites that I have build that demonstrate that exact matching domains with great unique content are still the fastest way to hit Page One.
Need some examples, post Google update:
So, as many writers have said in the past, content is King and great content on a keyword rich domain can deliver an annuity of page one placements. Then the focus has to be switched to testing designs that increase calls, leads, and floor traffic. In the end, a poorly converting microsites is a waste of time.
Microsites are a great tool for car dealers and regardless of what Google may signal, the proof is that SEO marketing strategies on a small budget can benefit from exact matching, keyword rich domains.
If you are looking for advice and strategies to build effective microsites, PCG is offering two classes at the upcoming Automotive Marketing Boot Camp that will show you everything you need to succeed. You can register for the April 16-18th event by visiting http://www.automotivemarketingbootcamp.com.
I will be conducting a workshop on Automotive SEO Strategies and two members of the PCG team will be conducting a workshop on WordPress microsites and optimization strategies. The combination of these two workshops will empower you to launch, test, and improve your microsite marketing campaigns.
Bring your laptop to these workshops since you will be jumping in and doing hands-on work for these sessions. If you have microsites that have not been doing well, bring your logins and passwords so you can optimize them during the boot camp with help from the experts.