Bing announced last week that a new part of their algorithm would include measures to tackle URL keyword stuffing, penalising sites which attempt to rank by chucking multiple keywords within their site URLs.
The value of keywords within a URL are often cited in SEO as being a key factor in providing context for search engines. It is much more advisable, for example, to provide logical names for subdirectories and content within a site rather than product codes. However, exact match keywords packed within domain names are not advisable, and are most commonly used by churning and burning blackhat SEOs.
Two years ago, Matt Cutts made a quick announcement on Twitter that the next update would be a small algorithm change intended to push exact match domains down in the search engine results.
Minor weather report: small upcoming Google algo change will reduce low-quality "exact-match" domains in search results.
— Matt Cutts (@mattcutts) September 28, 2012
On 29th September 2012, Moz noted significant changes in the ranking of a number of EMD sites, citing it as “the lowest measurement of EMD influence on record since we started collecting data in early April.”
While this may have set anybody with a business name which happens to be an exact match, in reality this update would mainly affect poor quality sites which rely solely on the exact match to climb up the search engine results. This seems to be the case for Bing too.
What is an Exact Match URL?
If I was selling knock-off Valentino bags, my domain might be ‘fakevalentinobags.com’. That would be an attempt to rank highly for ‘fake Valentino bags’ without needing to provide much in the way of decent content on the site itself.
The kinds of URLs which Bing has confirmed it will be tackling will be:
- Any multiple host URLs with keyword-heavy hostnames (http://[keyword].[keyword].[keyword].keywordkeyword.com)
- Domain names and hosts which have repeated keywords (http://[keyword1].[keyword2].[keyword1keyword2keyword3].com)
- ‘URL clusters’ across the same domain, using different subdomain hostnames which are keyword-stuffed (http://[keyword1keyword2].example.com, http://[keyword3keyword4].example.com etc.)
- ‘URL squatting’, which is when a site domain name has been purchased on the assumption that it can rank according to human error – namely the misspelling of more popular legitimate domains (http://touyube.com etc)
Much like the small update of Google’s, Bing’s update isn’t expected to harm legitimate sites which just so happen to have an exact match URL.
“It’s important to note,” Bing wrote in its update post, “that certainly not all URLs containing multiple keywords are URL KWS spams. In fact, [the] majority are perfectly legitimate non-spam URLs.”
The signals included for Bing to make a judgement are likely to include:
- Content quality
- Site popularity
- The amount of hosts within the URL
- Size of the site (smaller sites using exact match URLs tend to be spam).
With Bing catching up with Google in terms of tackling web spam, does this mark the demise of black hat SEO?
…probably not quite yet, given how inventive black hat SEO is in finding ways around algorithms. It might be making things much harder, though.