When Matt Cutts speaks, people listen. So when Google’s software engineer and webspam guru recently posted (on his Google+ page, of course) that ICANN's looming dotbrands — the generic (vanity, customized, branded) top level domains or TLDs that are fast approaching — won't boost search engine results, the SEO and domain name worlds sat upright.
Cutts was responding to ARI Registry Services CEO Adrian Kinderis, who penned an op-ed column that argued: “Will a new TLD web address automatically be favoured by Google over a .com equivalent? Quite simply, yes it will,” wrote Kinderis, basing his argument on Google’s ranking algorithms that search for domain name keywords thus enabling business and brands to create commanding "clean name spaces."
“Google will attempt to rank new TLDs appropriately, but I don’t expect a new TLD to get any kind of initial preference over .com, and I wouldn’t bet on that happening in the long term either," Cutts wrote on his G+ page. "If you want to register an entirely new TLD for other reasons, that’s your choice, but you shouldn’t register a TLD in the mistaken belief that you’ll get some sort of boost in search engine rankings.”
Cutts also announced during a panel at SXSW titled “Dear Google & Bing: Help Me Rank Better!” that while Google doesn’t usually pre-announce algorithmic changes, they are planning an update to "level the playing field" between webmasters building quality content versus those aggressively pursing SEOs.
“What about the people optimizing really hard and doing a lot of SEO," he's quoted. "We don't normally pre-announce changes but there is something we are working in the last few months and hope to release it in the next months or few weeks. We are trying to level the playing field a bit. All those people doing, for lack of a better word, over optimization or overly SEO - versus those making great content and great site. We are trying to make GoogleBot smarter, make our relevance better, and we are also looking for those who abuse it, like too many keywords on a page, or exchange way too many links or go well beyond what you normally expect. We have several engineers on my team working on this right now.”
Barry Schwartz at SE Roundtable commented, “I am amazed I didn't hear this earlier but I guess people missed it? We did see a lot of complaints of ranking changes this week. But Google denied any updates of any sort. I doubt this is directly related or maybe Google is testing it? Brace yourself SEOs — here comes something big!”
Simon Dalley offers ideas to ‘over optimisation penalty’ such as:
• Have a blog on the site and create lots of unique, newsworthy content
• Double your efforts on social media, linking back to the site with lots of (non-spammy) posts – concentrate on Google+, Google will thank you for it in the long run.
• Reach out to as many relevant websites to get links now!
• Change your anchor text strategy to be partial match and brand
• Re-write on-site content that appears spammy, keyword stuffed — or just redirect it if it’s the same as something else on your site.