The Post-Penguin State of Domain Names

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July 10, 2012

The past 15 months have been tumultuous for all of us in the internet world,enduring the unexpected aftermath of Google’s Panda and Penguin updates. Post-panda, parked domains stopped ranking in the search engines. No doubt, if you venture out into digital world, you accept the roller coaster ride offered up by the ever-changing landscape of the search results.  We unknowingly face hundreds of algorithm changes each year without much ado, but the latest Penguin update represents a new era in Google bombs for most website owners.

So how do you cope in a post-penguin world?

The good news is premium domain names are immune to Penguin or any other update for that matter. Premium domain owners will always receive direct type-in traffic (, which may represent approximately 1/2% of the search volume for the exact match term.  Investors monetizing their parked pages with AdSense and the like have weathered this storm via type-in traffic and premium domain names still remain one of the best investments in these economic times.

What if you want to build out your newly acquired domain?

We’ve certainly learned some vital lessons from the Penguin update and been enlightened with a vision of where search is going in the future. It’s safe to assume that the search engines will only get better with time. Whatever gripes we have now about the search results (and there are some pretty low quality results out there post-penguin), the cue we should take forth is that fooling the search engines with various techniques, whether they be black, white or grey-hat, is coming to a close.

If you own a premium domain name, you’ve got a great leg up on the competition out of the gate, but what you do moving forward in development and link building will either ensure your ongoing growth or set your website up for a future algorithm disaster.

Before you push “go”, read the Google webmaster guidelines.  Frequently, site owners make mistakes purely out of ignorance. Ultimately, Google doesn’t care if you didn’t know better. If you’re playing Google’s game, you’re expected to know the rules.


  1. Let the natural links start flowing in before you worry about manually building them.
  2. Keep users on your site longer by incorporating video. If you don’t have your own videos, you can find a great selection through sites like shutterstock.
  3. Format your pages for users: use sub-headings, numbers, bullets, photos, graphs, etc. to make users (and search engines) love your pages.
  4. Start brainstorming link bait right away. If your site is conducive to running contests, they make for terrific link bait. You can post them on several sweepstakes websites to get the ball rolling. If the contest involves users contributing to your content, your site will only grow faster.


  1. Don’t wait to start building your social presence. Even if you have a niche that doesn’t lend itself well to social, you can find related/non-competing pages to do cross-promotions with you. Videos and photos posted on Facebook get the most click-throughs to your website.
  2. Don’t keyword stuff. I have always stuck with 1 keyword phrase per 100 words (including the title).
  3. Don’t repeat your keywords in the meta title. Google is parsing them in search results and repetition only identifies your page as spam.
  4. Don’t obsess about ranking for your main keyword phrase. Worry about the long tail. As your long tail phrases rank, they will elevate the shorter, more difficult-to-win keywords. I’ve seen people obsess over difficult keywords when, in reality, the search volume for the thousands of long tail keywords will surpass the search volume of the exact match phrase.
  5. Don’t bother with tricks. If it’s a trick now, it’s a pitfall later when the search engines catch up with it.

With a premium domain name, your website starts out with a great advantage. These are times to be vigilant of every move you make when building out a website. If you stick to what keeps users on your website, ultimately the search engines will reward you. Tweak pages to make the time on site longer and the bounce rate drop. Most of all, be prepared for more escape zoo animals in the near future of search.

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