10 May 2017
Common Search Marketing Myths – Part 1: Exact Match Domains, Backlinks and Google
1 – Exact match domains rank higher than others
An EMD or Exact Match Domain is a domain which exactly matches a search query / string of keywords which are relevant to your business. For example, if you were targeting people looking for AdWords management in Bath, an EMD might be AdWordsManagementBath.co.uk. Most individuals or companies employ the use of these domains as they assume it’s an easy way to rank higher for their target keywords. However, whilst this may have helped with SERPs several years ago, Google’s algorithm (as well as those of other search engines) has been developed to assign much more weight to the content of a site rather than the domain, however lucrative the keywords included within the domain may be.
Nowadays, using an EMD as a ‘quick-win’ attempt to rank well runs the risk of having your website deemed as spam by search engines – which in turn can mean that your rankings are penalised or that your website is completely removed from Google. If your website is well optimised and contains relevant, high quality content then an Exact Match Domain may not be a bad thing – as long as Google can tell you’re running a legitimate operation. However, if your website is of a low quality and you’re using similar spammy tactics, an EMD could result in you being permanently removed from search engine results.
2 – The more backlinks to your website, the better!
Another ‘black hat SEO’ method still commonly used in the world of SEO surrounds the use of backlinks (external online websites / resources linking back to your site). Back in the early days of SEO, having a large backlink profile and collection of these links was thought to have a positive impact on SEO and your overall organic ranking. However, having a large number of these links can be incredibly detrimental.
As the saying goes, “it’s about quality, not quantity”! Backlinks are typically broken down into two categories, the number of actual backlinks (individual links pointing to your website) and the number of referring domains (the number of separate domains providing these backlinks). For example, if another site is linking to your webpage from a footer area, every page containing that footer will be pushing another link through to your site. If this website contains 100 pages then you’re getting 100 backlinks from just one referring domain. So, whilst you may have thousands of backlinks, you might only have a handful of referring domains. What’s important is the ratio of backlinks to referring domains, rather than the number of actual backlinks. And of course, the quality (in Google’s eyes) of those domains pointing back to your site. Poor quality backlinks won’t just be ineffective, they can also be very detrimental when it comes to off-site SEO and search rankings. See Moz’s guide to good link building for further information.
3 – Google is the only search engine worth thinking about
Whenever you hear someone mention an online search, you’ll probably think of Google. After all, it is the most popular search engine within the UK – by a mile. However, not everyone uses Google when carrying out an online search. Many of us have opened a web browser in the past and typed a query into the main address bar, only to later realise that the default search engine has been set to Bing. Whilst many of us may update the settings or even change our homepage to Google, there are plenty of people who don’t – keeping Bing as their primary search engine. And contrary to popular belief, the algorithm used by Bing is completely different to that of Google.
Have you tried carrying out searches related to your website / business lately within Bing? Your organic rankings are likely to be quite different. Did you also know that YouTube is the second largest search engine throughout the globe? Have you taken time to see how your videos are ranking lately? The key thing to take away here is that whilst Google is undoubtedly a leader in the world of SEO, it’s not the be-all and end-all of search. Take some time to look into how your rankings are doing in Bing, YouTube, Yahoo and other search engines. You might find something you didn’t expect – or pick up some tips on optimising rankings outside of Google.
These are just a few from a very long list of common search marketing myths and misconceptions, which we will be exploring further as part of this blog series. If you’re looking for more advice on best practices within digital marketing, the team at Varn are happy to help. Contact us today for more information on the services and advice available. Or check back regularly for future instalments in this series. Until next time…