Google’s senior engineer Matt Cutts has confirmed via Tweet that Google will go after exact match domain websites that offer low quality content. The latest in a series of algorithm changes which have been geared specifically towards the removal of low quality websites may cause some short term ranking changes in a number of websites. It will affect just 0.6% of English-US queries to any significant degree according to Cutts.
The Panda and Penguin algorithm updates caused a stir in webmaster circles with many people bemoaning a drop in rankings and reduction in traffic levels. High profile sites, as well as lesser known online real estate, were hit hard if those sites were deemed to have low quality content.
The changes have specifically been made in a bid to go after websites with scraped content, duplicate content, and content with a low quality score as Google attempts to further improve the quality of results that they display to their users. Such changes have become commonplace and, in what senior spam engineer Matt Cutts described as being a “Minor weather report” via Twitter he said that this would further reduce low quality exact match domain results.
Exact match domains are those that use specific search queries or keywords as the domain name. The practice of using keywords in domain names is not an inherently bad practice and can generate decent traffic while also assisting in branding and marketing. However, such domains have gone largely unpunished during the aforementioned algorithm changes. This most recent round of updates, described as being minor by Google, will redress the balance.
Webmasters have been warned about the upcoming changes in the past. Back in 2011 Cutts said that Google were looking to turn “the knob down within the algorithm, so that given two different domains it wouldn’t necessarily help you as much to have a domain with a bunch of keywords in it.”
Cutts stated that this most recent change is not considered a part of the Panda and Penguin updates but that it will help to further the experience enjoyed by users of the search engine.
Some users of forums and discussion groups have already noted changes that could have come as a potential result of this. If you have experienced a drop in traffic then it may be worth waiting a few days for results to normalise because changes to the algorithms do have a tendency to fluctuate over the first few weeks and you may see traffic levels rise once again in the near future.