At the end of February, Google announced changes to its algorithm which aimed to improve the quality of its search results and reduce the rankings of low-quality content farms in favour of original, high-quality websites

In a recent YouTube video, Matt Cutts shares his views on domains and the brand vs. keyword debate.

In the video Cutts strongly emphasises his preference for “brand-able” domains and how the majority of the best performing / most popular websites ie. Facebook, Twitter and Google are not keyword rich. Instead they are a brand that is memorable and sticks in peoples mind.

He states that keyword rich domains are advantageous because when a website links to another using the URL of the keyword rich domain then that link is then keyword-rich and to date it has been easy to see that Google has favoured some keyword rich domains, ie:

Cheap car insurance britain
“Free ebooks”
Wedding venues

However, in the video Cutts shares that Google is now altering the weight that it gives to keywords in domains, due to complaints from users, and is therefore going to change the algorithm to turn down the weight it gives to keywords in domains.

So what is the impact on SEO?

Google will not be able to punish websites with keywords in their domain, as some good quality websites will naturally include keywords within their URL. Also how will they manage people searching for brand names?

As Matt Cutts states in the video, one of the main advantages of having keywords in a domain is the fact that you get keyword rich anchor text when a site links to you using your URL. However if Google starts to devalue keyword rich links then this is going to affect all other websites that have been doing their link building correctly, and is therefore going to be very difficult for Google to implement fairly.

These latest algorithm changes are only likely to affect those ‘spammy’ websites that do not offer anything original and have chosen their domain solely for search. Other websites that contain helpful, current and original content and have good quality inbound links shouldn’t be affected.

We hope so anyway!