Well I wasn’t expecting something useful to come of the infamous v7n contest (aside from an annoying WSJ article), but I decided to do a quick n dirty analysis of the SERPs. Repeat: Quick. N. Dirty. No pretty spreadsheets or proprietary scripts like Todd or Greg could do. You know, just a glance from an "art not science" guy.
My cursory glance of the SERPs told me a couple things:
1. Links still matter in Google. (I know, I should win SEO-researcher-of-the-year)
2. The "keyword in domain, exact match" factor counts for way more than you would expect.
Yeah. In the top 30 results, I found six exact keyword match* (exact = hyphens OK, but not other added characters) domains (and three were in the top ten):
- http://www.v7ndotcom-elursrebmem.cc/ (sweet site btw)
(note that if you do the search now, you may get different results, blame everflux)
Now, I’m no statistician, but I’m gonna go ahead and propose that 6 out of 30 is disproportionately high (and certainly statistically significant). There’s a lot of monkeys participating in this thing (Google shows 2,780,000 results), and there aren’t very many TLDs (comparatively). If the exact match domain aspect were removed here, I am guessing maybe 2 or 3 of these would be ranking in the top 30.
I think the exact-match-keyword-in-domain-ranking-boost thing may be one of the things Google is doing to counteract the irrevelancy which is sometimes caused by the Sandbox (sorry, Mike).
For instance, NewSiteWithABrandName.com may be two months old, and only have 3 inbound links, one of which is somewhat trusted, the other two are junk. Is NewSiteWithABrandName.com going to rank for it’s mildly competitive money phrase, "money phrase"? Not for a year or two or three. But it should still rank on a search for "NewSiteWithABrandName" (users are going to be p.o.’d if a press release announcing the site shows up #1 instead). So, Google gives NewSiteWithABrandName.com (and NewSiteWithABrandName.net, etc.) a healthy boost on a search for "NewSiteWithABrandName". As far as I know, this wasn’t happening (at least, this strongly) four or five months ago.
Alright readers, the "comments" widget below is where you pick apart my theory.