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How have you been optimizing your site for Google? If you’re still ranking well after this year’s barrage of updates, you must be doing something right, because Google is notoriously tough on cheaters. For Google there is a fine line between cheating and good small business SEO. The only trouble is that their definition of “cheating” is the only one that matters, and they’re making another algorithm update to crack down on certain sites.
Google employee Matt Cutts announced last week that the company is going to start lessening the value of exact match domains. Until the update, websites would get a boost in rankings if their site name matched the keywords being searched. This led to large groups of people using keyword spam for domain names instead of something more directly related to their company name.
If you’re current domain takes advantage of an exact match rankings boost, you don’t need to hit the panic button. They aren’t going to penalize anyone; they are just going to stop rewarding the behavior (which might amount to a penalty if it’s boost that’s keeping you on page one.)
It will be difficult for even Google to deduce which sites have keywords organically, and which are shoehorning them in for SEO purposes, but they have isolated at least one factor. One of the main factors that will be analyzed appears to be hyphens. One, maybe two, hyphens is normal in a site name, but when Google sees Keyword- Keyword-AdjectiveKeyword-keyword.com, they’ll likely assume it’s an exact match domain and not an organic name.
Again, if your domain falls into the exact match category, you likely have nothing to worry about. The update is specifically supposed to target exact match domains of low quality, but again, quality is entirely defined by Google, so it’s worth keeping an eye on until the dust settles.