Q and A: Is one version of a domain going to rank better than a slightly different version?

QuestionHi Kalena

Is thefreerelaxationcd.com going to come up as often in the search rankings as freerelaxationcd.com?


Hi Kvaud

Why would the addition of the word “the” into your domain make any difference to rankings? What makes the difference for one site ranking against another in the SERPs is the content on the site, how well it’s optimized for the search query, the number of incoming links it has, the age of the domain and many, many other factors.

The addition or subtraction of a keyword from the domain has very little, if any, impact on the site’s ultimate ranking. You might want to review my other posts about domains and SEO to clarify things.

Google Upsizes Their Search Box

So they say size doesn’t matter. Well tell that to Google. They’ve just practically doubled the size of the search field on their home page. They’ve also increased the size of the “Google Search” and “I’m Feeling Lucky” buttons. If you conducted more than one search at Google.com on Wednesday, you might have noticed the change take effect live as the tweak was rolled out across the various datacenters.

The search box is now thicker and much longer than before. The character limit appears to be unchanged at around 96 characters but the text you type in is much larger. The two buttons beneath the search box are about 30% larger than before and have square rather than round, corners.

Compare the original search box with the new search box below:

The change went mostly unnoticed until a blog post on Mashable went viral on Twitter, closely followed by a TechCrunch post on the subject.

The motivation for the change was initially unclear, but I assumed it to be a design usability issue, possibly in response to Bing’s clean search interface.

Google Vice President of User E Melissa Mayer finally confirmed the usability aspect later in the day with her post about the tweak :

“Starting today, you’ll notice on our homepage and on our search results pages, our search box is growing in size. Although this is a very simple idea and an even simpler change, we’re excited about it – because it symbolizes our focus on search and because it makes our clean, minimalist homepage even easier and more fun to use. The new, larger Google search box features larger text when you type so you can see your query more clearly. It also uses a larger text size for the suggestions below the search box, making it easier to select one of the possible refinements.”

The tweak is now live on most of Google’s datacenters and regional sites.

Search Engine College Enrolls Students in 43 Countries

Search Engine College has reached a global milestone this month with the enrollment of students from 42 43 countries.

We had our first student from the Dominican Republic enroll last week. No sooner had we launched a Press Release to celebrate reaching 42 countries, when we welcomed our first student from Montenegro, bringing the number of countries up to 43.

Those countries include:

  • Argentina
  • Australia
  • Austria
  • Barbados
  • Belgium
  • Brazil
  • Canada
  • China
  • Croatia
  • Czech Republic
  • Dominican Republic
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Hong Kong (China)
  • Iceland
  • India
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Jordan
  • Kuwait
  • Latvia
  • Malta
  • Mauritius
  • Montenegro
  • Netherlands
  • New Zealand
  • Norway
  • Philippines
  • Portugal
  • Russia
  • Singapore
  • South Africa
  • Sri Lanka
  • Sweden
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • Turkey
  • UK

Thank you to all our students and here’s to the next 43 countries!

Q and A: Do keywords in the META keywords tag need to be separated by commas?

QuestionHi Kalena

Happy New Year! Your pesky student has a question. Do keywords in the Meta Keyword header need to be separated by commas or is it ok if they aren’t? I would believe that if they are not, and well structured, it can leverage both long and short tail terms whilst still having the most relevant keyword in place… I hope my question makes sense.


Hi Fabrizzio

Some people like to use commas in their META Keywords tag. I don’t. You can either separate the phrases with commas, or just include all your keywords and phrases without commas separating them. Commas are a personal choice and I prefer not to use them in a META Keywords tag because I feel they can act like a stop word to some search engines.

Danny Sullivan wrote a great piece about the META Keywords Tag and the Great Comma Dilemma so you can decide for yourself.

When preparing your Keywords tag, remember that multiple keywords can be integrated into the KW tag as phrases and both the individual keywords and the grouped phrases should be picked up by those few search engines that support the META Keywords tag.

Also keep in mind that Google doesn’t index the META Keywords tag and hasn’t for quite some time.

SEO Friendly Content Management Systems

Over the years I’ve received a few questions on this blog or at conferences about search engine friendly Content Management Systems (CMS). Is there such a thing? What are the best ones?

Before the days of WordPress, there were really only a couple of CMS options that provided the flexibility for search engine optimization. But now there are SEO friendly CMS systems popping up everywhere.

But before you decide on a CMS for your site, there are still some crucial aspects you need to consider.

Stephan Spencer has written a helpful article to this effect called How to Choose Content Management Systems for SEO. He breaks down CMS features into the following categories:

  • critical
  • important
  • desirable
  • optional

Then he explains why the various CMS features meet those categories and how they impact SEO.

Great stuff!