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On Monday, Mindy wrote a post asking "Is This The Worst SERP in Google?". It was the first time I'd seen her research, and although I was aware of some anomolies across a range of SERPs involving low quality content on exact match domains, it wasn't until I read through her post that I realised just how bad things have become in certain SERPs.
Well, I had my own experience of this issue this morning, when I noticed another particular result in Google UK that quite simply should not be there. Those who follow I-COM will know that, over the last year, we have redeveloped the site. This development has been an ongoing process, with new content being introduced all the time, and older content being redevoloped to target new terms or appeal to new potential clients. Amongst these is the local term "Internet Marketing Manchester", which we're targetting on our homepage, and are now ranked 2nd for in Google UK. But, at the risk of sounding bitter... we should be number 1.
However, the honour of first place ranking for this term has been given to www.internetmarketingmanchester.org.uk, and we think that this is just another example of how Google has gone wrong over the last few months.
Now, I'm not here to attack "Internet Marketing Manchester" (although the gratuitous use of comic sans throughout their content would totally justify it). They seem like a fairly small, family run outfit, and Dave from Internet Marketing Manchester seems like a polite enough chap with some happy customers, as shown in this short business promo;
To be fair, we all wish we had more time to work on our company websites, to show our clients and potential clients how great we are and what, given the chance, we can add to their websites and online presence in general. But client work takes priority every time and this can often result in under-developed sites of our own. I assume this explains the current state of the Internet Marketing Manchester website.
However, when it comes to the the SERPs for "internet marketing manchester", I have to ask... really, Google? I mean, REALLY?!
Ignoring issues that may or may not be obvious to you by simply looking at the site, a quick review of "Internet Marketing Manchester"'s content and links shows that they have done absolutely nothing to cheat their way to the top of that SERP, and in many respects we can see that they are lacking in comparison to the competition for this keyterm (see the chart below - click to enlarge);
Their only advantage is an exact match domain, which *should* really only be on any benefit if the site's content is robust enough to attract anchor text links using the same words as in the URL / site name. Matt Cutts himself told us over a year ago that Google was turning down the ability of exact-match domains to rank because this is not a good ranking signal.
It should not be sufficient to simply buy an exact match domain, host some related content and expect to rank, but that's exactly what we at I-COM have been seeing, along with other SEOs in a range of niches. The various Panda / Pengiun algorithm updates that have been rolled out over the last 12 months or so have done a lot to change the quality of Google's results. But when tactics as utterly basic and simple as this are winning out, is it any wonder a lot of SEOs are still turning their noses up at the idea of successful SEO through good content and technical competence?
If Google want us to deliver quality content on well designed sites so they can serve up them up in their SERPs, they need to stop rewarding sites that don't measure up. Until then, they'll continue to make a rod for their own back.