Google and Bing don't obviously want to make it easy on search engine optimization (SEO) professionals, but they don't also have to make things hard on themselves. Bing's Duanne Forrester last week wrote on a topic that has long been discussed in SEO circles - the role of domain names in ranking.
Forrester wrote that...
"Ranking today is a result of so many signals fed into the system the words used in a domain send less and less information into the stack as a percentage of overall decision making signals. This is great from our view (the engine) as it results in better results showing at the top since no one signal can be manipulated. From the searchers POV, it’s better simply because those sites trying to abuse their way to the top with a keyword rich domain and irrelevant or poor content cease to rank well."
Most search marketing professionals will understand - it was just too easy to manipulate the search results when both Google and Bing placed at least some emphasis on exact match domain names. Unfortunately, with the new generic top level domains coming out, the same "rule" will hold true to domains which are descriptive by their very nature.
Forrester addressed this issue, saying that these domains "won’t rank “just because” they have certain words in them, and thinking that keyword stuffing a domain (think: cars.cars) will give you an edge is dangerous. You’ll fall off that cliff in a hurry if abused. If it appears that it’s just all going to bring forward spam, well, you know we aren’t interested in that approach."
Again, search marketing professionals will understand that keyword stuffing is frowned upon but is Bing (as well as Google) making a big mistake here? Isn't there some value for them in being able to group sites from a specific vertical? Wouldn't they be even more powerful if they could apply their already sophisticated algorithms on a smaller subset of information - say that of restaurants, doctors, travel or any of the 700 extensions that will arrive in January?
I certainly won't pretend to know what's best for Bing or Google when it comes to how they handle exact match domains, but it seems to be that it's a genuine missed opportunity. So, what do you think? Did Bing get it wrong on its recent domain name declaration?