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Domains and Searches

Labeled as discuss in SEO and Search Engines started by Bob Hawkes, Apr 9, 2019.

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Do you think that Google search will maintain the dominant position it currently has?

  1. Yes definitely

  2. Possibly, but I think we will see other players have some significant role

  3. No - I see major new players using new AI techniques gaining traction

  4. Ultimately new modes of results delivery will totally replace search as we know it

Results are only viewable after voting.
Total: 24 vote(s)
  1. Bob Hawkes

    Bob Hawkes formerly MetBob NameTalent VIP

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    While over the years NPs has had many threads on SEO and related topics, and aspects of search have been discussed frequently in other threads, I think this might be an opportune time to reconsider the topic. My hope is that we will share information from multiple viewpoints. Wherever possible I would ask those contributing to the thread to provide links (to other posts on NPs or elsewhere) to provide evidence and further information.

    Here are some of the questions I see as important (this is definitely not an exclusive list so additions welcome!)
    1. Google says that gTLD does not matter for search. Do we really believe them?
    2. Some have claimed mechanisms by which a match in TLD can enhance search placement. Is that really so?
    3. Using a country code (not generic ones) helps search in that country but harms it outside the region. Is this a reason some should move from country code to global TLDs, or in fact an argument the other way? Implications for domain investors in country codes?
    4. What is the current list of which country code extensions are considered general as opposed to country specific?
    5. Do we think Google may in future give advantage to their own secure space TLDs?
    6. If there are lots of Google search results for a term, does that matter much?
    7. What about specifics of search - e.g. order in multiple word, use of quotation marks, etc.? What can they teach us about how desired a domain name might be?
    8. What are the best tools for evaluating search aspects of a domain worth?
    9. If one was considering new extensions, is there an advantage to using an extension that corresponds to a commonly searched term? Or does (1) mean it doesn't matter much?
    10. We all accept that voice searches, already important, will become more so (Alexa, Siri, etc.). What are the implications for domains?
    11. We have seen how even a single change in Google search can have a huge impact on search (and monetization). What possible changes to do we see on the horizon?
    12. Most of us talk about search as if it was only Google. Of course there is Bing and also other options. Do we see Google becoming even more dominant, or will new players take a bit of the market.
    13. Are there changes in AI which drive search that may also influence domain names.
    14. A few have developed formulae to justify the value of a domain name to a business based on search, CPC, CTR, etc. Are there new items we should know about in this area.
    While the topics obviously have implications for SEO, my hope is that the thread will mainly deal with ithe topics from the viewpoint of domain investment, and not primarily around issues of how those of us who also develop sites can optimize them for search.

    I look forward to learning from you!

    Bob
     
    The views expressed on this page by users and staff are their own, not those of NamePros.
  2. Bob Hawkes

    Bob Hawkes formerly MetBob NameTalent VIP

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    Maybe to start this off it would be good to give a reference to the Google statement about TLD not having an impact. Here is a link and it says:

    "Overall, our systems treat new gTLDs like other gTLDs (like .com & .org). Keywords in a TLD do not give any advantage or disadvantage in search."

    https://webmasters.googleblog.com/2015/07/googles-handling-of-new-top-level.html

    By the way the same document also talks about brand TLDs. I had wondered, since you have full trust they are company websites, if they would be given preference, but it seems not. This is what they say:

    Q: Will a .BRAND TLD be given any more or less weight than a .com?
    A: No. Those TLDs will be treated the same as a other gTLDs. They will require the same geotargeting settings and configuration, and they won’t have more weight or influence in the way we crawl, index, or rank URLs.
     
  3. Bob Hawkes

    Bob Hawkes formerly MetBob NameTalent VIP

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    I found the following article on how to do different searches with Google - like how to exclude a term, insist that both terms are in document, search only for mention in titles, search for exact phrases, etc.

    https://cleverclicks.com.au/blog/15-awesome-google-search-tricks/

    I think that some of these can be useful to us as we evaluate a domain name. For example using quotes can be helpful if trying to see how frequently a specific expression is used.

    What other ideas do people have?

    Bob
     
  4. Bob Hawkes

    Bob Hawkes formerly MetBob NameTalent VIP

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    I found the following list of country code TLDs that Google treat as generic (not country specific) for search purposes. Does anyone know if there is a more updated list anywhere? I was surprised that some TLDs commonly used in domain hacks, like .ly, were not in the list, for example.

    https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/182192#generic-domains
     
  5. Bob Hawkes

    Bob Hawkes formerly MetBob NameTalent VIP

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    There is an interesting post by @namemarket in another thread that relates to the topic of this topic. He tried searching (with Google) with multi-word searches but with the words in different order.

    For example when he searched without quotes for <best small loans> he got 226 million results. However, if he searched for the same words in a different order <small loans best> he got more results (677 million). At first glance this seems surprising, as an English speaker would be much more likely to say "best small loans" than "small loans best". So what is happening?

    I don't know, but I have two theories (they may be wrong!)
    1. Perhaps Google just treats them as an amalgamation of search results separately for 3 words independently. If that is so, why not the same results? I think they probably prioritize the word that is placed first. I don't think this is it, though, because when I try putting loans first, which I think would be most common, perhaps, it only gives 277 million results.
    2. Another possibility would be that the AI at Google is sort of parsing this with overall search, and with Small Loans Best it is first seeing that there are lots of results for the two word "small loans" some of which have best in the descriptor (like best rates, best deals, etc.). When I look individually they have fewer each than with simply best, but maybe collectively (when overlap is considered) they account for the 677 million (in fact Google results vary with region - for me here in Canada today I get even more for <small loans best> - about 740 million.
    I also tried as a test of 2 looking at <small best loans> and it is much less, as expected.

    The obvious question is whether there is an ending other than best that is even higher in search results. I tried a fiew; <small loans great> <small loans top> <small loans good> <small loans deals> without finding one that is higher in search results.

    I think this has implications for what word combinations you use in multi-word domain names. It may, or may not, have relevance re the extension that you use (see the question re whether TLD matters).

    Thanks to @namemarket for bringing up the topic in another thread.

    Bob
     
  6. Bob Hawkes

    Bob Hawkes formerly MetBob NameTalent VIP

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    Even though written a bit ago, this from the Moz blog post by Rand Fishkin has insights on how to optimize the order of multiple word keywords, and then how to implement that in your website.

    https://moz.com/blog/optimizing-for-multiple-word-order-search-phrases

    Here are a few quotes:
    "You'll want to not only do great on-page optimization (which I'll get to in step 3), but also get a lot of good anchor text links pointing in with the right phrase."
    "you should go after the highest traffic phrase ordering first... also get a lot of good anchor text links pointing in with the right phrase. "
    "I would, however, link to it from places like the blog or other articles with the more optimized anchor text"
    -Bob
     
  7. namemarket

    namemarket Top Member VIP ★★★★★★★★★★

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    Thanks Bob for the very interesting and time consuming research you have done on this confusing subject.

    Yes, it is quite odd and at first glance the reason 'small loans best' does so much better in search vs the much more common sounding 'best small loans' makes no sense at all. It seems impossible but it is not and also happens with other search phrases too.

    You are right, a strong possibility is that people are searching for 'small loans best rates' so G is giving the high results to 'small loans best' and the 3 consecutive words in that 4 word phrase may be the cause.

    I have also done some research which reveals the word 'best' being found anywhere in the search phrase helps search ranking, however imo it's better if the words are next to each other. I have also seen some indications even in long-tail 4 5 and 6 word search phrases the word 'best' being there improves results. However, I am far from positive about that aspect.
     
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2019
  8. ultradog

    ultradog Established Member

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    The discussion here is rather confusing. More results is not necessarily "better."

    I’m not the seo person in my team, but even I can see a few things.

    Google doesn’t treat 3-word search phrases as something that has to be found precisely as is on a website. The words can be separated by quite a distance, and in different order. This has been true for a while.

    And it’s getting weirder: I’ve found that maybe Google feels free to substitute what it considers equivalent words in my search — at least in one instance. When I search for football bet (I did not put quotes around it), Google considers “bet” the same as “betting” and highlights both in the results. Yes, the word betting contains the word bet, but never before have I seen it highlighted when I only searched for “bet.”

    If you use Semrush, there’s something weird there too. If I search for the word “betting,” it shows me phrase matches for “bet” instead. As if they were the same word.
     
  9. Internet.Domains

    Internet.Domains Top Member VIP

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    The characteristics of a good domain being authoratative and easy to remember is greater than any SEO benefits. Search will change, algorithms will change, but an authoratative domain will remain just that, authoratative. (IMO)
     
  10. Bob Hawkes

    Bob Hawkes formerly MetBob NameTalent VIP

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    Thanks for your contribution @ultradog - that is rather strange, particularly if they take the idea very far. Like to use your example finding pages with the plural is indeed similar, betting is getting I would say possibly into other areas. To take another example, if I was searching for esports, they supposedly would treat e-sports and esport as similar (since different ways to refer to the same thing) but if they extended it to sport dropping the e that would be very wrong!
    Well said @Internet.Domains! I think for the primary "name" domain of a company I agree entirely. I may well be wrong, but I foresee the possibility of in a few years many companies using a variety of ancillary domains that promote specific products and services, and for those SEO is critical. But it has only happened slightly so far, so may well not happen.

    Thanks again to you both for your contributions.

    Bob
     
  11. Bob Hawkes

    Bob Hawkes formerly MetBob NameTalent VIP

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    It is a little ugly presentation wise, but I found a post that talks about synonyms being used in Google search results. I found this quote enlightening (from a Google high up):
    “However, our measurements show that synonyms affect 70 percent of user searches [note from Matt: of course, it could be a subtle change] across the more than 100 languages Google supports. We took a set of these queries and analyzed how precise the synonyms were, and were happy with the results: For every 50 queries where synonyms significantly improved the search results, we had only one truly bad synonym.”
    Here is link to full article.
    -Bob
     
  12. Ostrados

    Ostrados Entrepreneur Gold Account

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    Google are already implementing AI and they are a step ahead from anyone else in that (in the web industry), so I don't think we will see any competitor in near future that can compete with Google using AI technology.

    Personalization, Penguin Updates & Panda Updates to some degree killed SEO as we know it, many things that were relevant in the past have no effect today on search results, including exact match domain name and domain extensions. Even backlinks, although are still very important, but are less effective than in the past due to personalized search results.

    Where things are going? I think Google will continue to dominate and will keep improving their AI algorithm, we may see some giants merge with Google in the future especially to collaborate in the AI field.
     
  13. enlytend

    enlytend Moderator, NamePros Moderator Gold Account VIP Trusted Blogger ★★★★★★★★★★

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    You're thinking of queries as a collection of words and letters. Google is viewing them as concepts and entities and trying to return the most relevant results accordingly..

    EMD's still work in some contexts, they were dialed down big time because of how heavily they were spammed. Domain extensions - Google probably does, as they claim, treat all gtlds equally, however users do not (if they are aware of them.) All other things being equal, "traditional" gtlds still carry more trust -> higher ctr.

    Penguin and Panda are now rolled into the main algo and penguin in particular is much "fluffier" than it used to be. These days, if Google doesn't trust your backlinks, they will for the most part just ignore them (unless you are blatantly spamming)

    Backlinks are still key. Personalized results are only a part of the puzzle. Link equity is still a huge factor.

    It's no longer 10 blue links, but SEO is far from dead. Just a lot more complex.
     
  14. Bob Hawkes

    Bob Hawkes formerly MetBob NameTalent VIP

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    The CEO of Names.of.London some time ago published a blog post on the topic 'How Keyword Domain Names Can Boost Your Search Ranking." Essentially the article tries to reconcile the statement by Google that TLD does not matter (see above for link) with apparent rapidly strong search placement by close match domain names in certain cases.

    I will try to outline the key ideas from the post.
    • He starts with a discussion of the structure of a domain link. Normally the anchor text which you see and the html of the hyperlink are different. He argues that when they are exactly the same (except for the https and puncturation there is a boost to search. That is if the website is https://coffee.club and the anchor text you see is coffee.club, then there is an advantage. I am not in a position to evaluate if this is correct.
    • The second point made is that in some social media, such as Twitter, simply writing a domain name with the dot makes it a live hyperlink. That is if I type Apple.com or coffee.club that is a live link. While this works exactly the same for legacy, country code or new extensions, it is more naturally a part of a written phrase when it is a match with everyday language. Like we might write coffee club but would not write normally CoffeeClub.com in a sentence (unless talking domain names). How important is the natural speech angle? The argument is if it is so easy to make an exact match link as part of social media, there will be more clicks, which promotes higher search and a positive feedback loop happens.
    • A third point is that research apparently shows that attractive links are clicked more often. That is if I see CoffeeC21.biz and Coffee.club I am more likely to click on the latter. There of course are also trust issues which come into this, and which favour the well known extensions like some country code, .org and .com.
    • Finally they mention that accidental links and clicks may help. As we all know a member of the US administration by mistake made a live Twitter link showing how easy it is to do with just adding the period (like hop.in would be a live hyperlink with the .in TLD). So let's say a word appears very often in text, and I have a domain that is a common two word phrase, just one inadvertent period makes it Twitter clickable.
    I hope that I have accurately represented the key points made in the article.

    Here is the link to the full article:
    https://names.of.london/press/our-keyword-domain-names-can-boost-your-search-ranking/

    So what do people think?

    Bob
     
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2019
  15. Internet.Domains

    Internet.Domains Top Member VIP

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    Well we know this much, Google changed their algorithm for Exact Match Domains to be focused more on content. We also know they are constantly tweaking their algorithms. There is no exact science behind the algorithm because there is a variable that remains different for every domain. That variable is content.

    If search is a priority, than content should be the priority.
     
  16. namemarket

    namemarket Top Member VIP ★★★★★★★★★★

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    That's exactly my experience Bob, for example, someone here is a big fan of .top but most of the research I did showed it and many other newer tld's far behind .best in the vast majority of G search results.

    After thinking more about this it's very well possible (as you mentioned) that ;best; being a noun, adjective, verb or adverb may be an important factor, with the stunning success of .best in search.

    A powerful example of this issue is how much greater <small loans best> is in search vs <best small loans> (not using any quotes), even thought the losing search string is of course the correct way to say it.
     
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2019
  17. Mister Funsky

    Mister Funsky Top Member VIP

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    "Do you think that Google search will maintain the dominant position it currently has?:

    No.

    No person, country, business, etc. ever stays on top forever. There were engines before giggle and there will be engines after. Several are being worked on now and a couple are promising. It may take another 2-5 years before a top competitor emerges, but in time it will happen.
     
  18. namemarket

    namemarket Top Member VIP ★★★★★★★★★★

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    Of course content is the #1 factor for a website by far but it is nice to get a boost from a search string if possible when compared to similar domains with about the same high content or small content, or even no content such as a landing page, or parked domains.
     
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2019
  19. Bob Hawkes

    Bob Hawkes formerly MetBob NameTalent VIP

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    I would like to hear some views on #5. Google through it's Chrome browser that dominates the market currently gives warnings for sites that do not use https security certificates. They also have pushed strongly the secure space that their last 3 domain extensions (.app, .page and .dev) offer, since all require a certificate for an operating website. They particularly pushed the idea with .dev and its secure preload space (e.g. see Andrew's interview with Ben McIlwain from Google on DNWire here).

    I have not seen anyone other than me speculate on this, but is it possible that Google would (or even do already?) take the step of giving benefit in search to sites with https or particularly to sites in the secure space preload, which would benefit their own TLDs. I suspect if they did the latter regulators would look at whether it represented unfair competition.

    Google already give benefit to sites that are better in certain technical ways, like speed of loading.

    What do people think?

    Bob
     
  20. enlytend

    enlytend Moderator, NamePros Moderator Gold Account VIP Trusted Blogger ★★★★★★★★★★

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    They do give preference to https. Originally (and for the most part currently) as more of a "tie breaker", but they've come out and said they will be giving it more weight eventually.
    It would have been self defeating of them to give it a lot of weight before a majority of sites came on board with using it, but the number is growing. Their chrome warning has been an incentive.
    As for the secure space domain extensions - I haven't tested it (it's not something that's come across my radar as an issue), but I doubt they have any advantage other than SSL since it's required. There are only about 9 million .app pages, 1 million .dev and a few hundred thousand .page pages indexed - it wouldn't make sense for them to make it a ranking factor in itself when there's so much other content available that could be as relevant or more so for a given query.
     
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2019
  21. Bob Hawkes

    Bob Hawkes formerly MetBob NameTalent VIP

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    Thanks for the really illuminating answer, @enlytend!. I agree that right now they could not give too much preference since in most areas not enough sites up as you say. I am somewhat surprised that other extensions have not yet entered the secure space. Of course a https while offering security about transmission of information, to some degree, does not guarantee the site is valid. i seem to recall seeing that well over half of the phishing sites are now using security certificates.

    Do you, or anyone else, know if they take into account the reliability of the TLD as a whole in their priority?That is if an extension has a poor rating on Spamhaus, do they consider that at all? I thought I saw somewhere that they did something about the 'free' country code extensions that had poor abuse ratings as a whole, but I can't seem to find a reference to that.

    Thanks again for your insights!

    Bob
     
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2019
  22. enlytend

    enlytend Moderator, NamePros Moderator Gold Account VIP Trusted Blogger ★★★★★★★★★★

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    I'm sure! People are trained to look for the green lock - if I was running a phishing site it would be at the top of my to do list.

    Last I heard they said they are not treating "spam prone" tlds differently, and their algo doesn't interface with Spamhaus or other 3rd party APIs. BUT they could affect searcher perceptions, lowering click-through. Again, I can't say first hand since 99.9 percent of the sites I work with are .com or .org.

    If they do, I'm sure its in conjunction with various other signals. They don't look at anything in a vacuum.
     
  23. namemarket

    namemarket Top Member VIP ★★★★★★★★★★

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    Yes, people are looking for padlocks. In addition, I have read Google saying they give preference to https.

    Making your site https compliant and secure is not an easy thing. It takes a lot of time, knowledge and funds too in buying the SSL certificates. There's also a low limit on the number of sites which can use a common SSL cert, last time I checked it was 10 from what I remember.

    IMO, one of the many reasons for the big decline in PPC revenue has been due to the major parking firms not using https, which can make page visitors nervous when they see "Not Secure" in the address bar and thus quickly exit the page and not clicking ads.
     
  24. enlytend

    enlytend Moderator, NamePros Moderator Gold Account VIP Trusted Blogger ★★★★★★★★★★

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    If cost is an issue and you don’t need EV or OV, there’s Let’s Encrypt. It’s free, easy to install, has good browser support, and a lot of hosts offer it.

    Maybe..l think it’s more likely that audiences are more sophisticated than they were in the heyday of parking and a greater number of people will take one look at a parking page and quickly hit the “back” button.
     
  25. JayT

    JayT Top Member VIP

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    Short answer: google is MOSTLY government AI, something you wouldn't expect to be around for another 10 years from now. It has learned what most people like, which is why people use it. It likes 3% keyword density IMO.
     

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