Updates to Marketplace Algorithm

Over the next few days we will be making several updates to the Marketplace search algorithm. These updates are designed to improve the accuracy of ranking order of Marketplace listings as well as to provide additional exposure to names that have not received enough exposure in the recent past.

These updates will begin from today, and you may notice frequent changes in Marketplace rankings for your domains during the next few weeks as we test these updates.

We will also be adding additional checks to detect intentional misuse by certain sellers to manipulate their search rankings in the Marketplace. If our algorithm detects a pattern of misuse by certain sellers, it may automatically downgrade the positions of those listings in the Marketplace. Examples of misuse include:

  • Sending artificial visits to your landing page to show a higher buyer interest
  • Submitting fake Shortlists to boost the stats of your domains

We are also looking into examples of excessive “keyword stuffing” inside the descriptions and may make additional updates to our Marketplace algorithm as well as classification guidelines to discourage any intentional misuse.

Our Marketplace leverages an extremely dynamic search technology and our goal is to ensure that the most relevant names are shown to the prospective buyers that match their interest. Any misuse can not only create a negative experience for all buyers, it is also unfair to other sellers who rely on the accuracy of search results to achieve sales. Therefore we take these issues extremely seriously and will continue to update our algorithm accordingly.

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Oh boy! I am so glad you said this now because I have recently been adding keywords because it seemed like everyone else was doing it! I didn’t know that was against the rules! Should I delete them? I haven’t gotten too far down this road with my names yet.

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@Commulinks We do encourage including some relevant keywords in the description to improve discovery. However this section should not be misused. If you are adding more than 5-10 keywords in the description section, it will likely get flagged by our new algorithm, and may lead to a reduced discovery.

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Thanks so much for the clarification! I will fix whatever I need to fix!

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Grant,
Can we, please, get an example – or several – of what these classifications and ‘keywords’ may be. Because the way that I have written my descriptions is to say, for instance “This name would be great for businesses individuals in ~these (listing) sectors or business types~” and now I worry this would be considered ‘keyword stuffing’ yet the descriptions have been like this for years, was not intentional and seemed the best way to do it at the time, and most of my names don’t get too much attention as it is anymore – meaning they’ve probably been a bit buried as it is.

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What do you mean by 5-10 keywords? What are the words that are considered keywords?

Because if I write a description saying that this name can be used for: tech startup, marketing, finance… etc then I can easily go beyond 10 keywords if possible uses are treated as keywords.

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Maybe SH could post an example of an acceptable classification and a problematic one, so we are all on the same page.

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“Keyword stuffing” seems a hard thing to define and therefore enforce. Perhaps having a character limit would be an equitable boundary while allowing people to describe in their own styles.

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The Classification Best Practices article includes examples of some descriptions that we recommend. We have now also added an example that incorporates Keyword stuffing which is discouraged.

While we encourage adding some relevant industry keywords (5-10) inside your description, we highly discourage an overuse by inserting a large list of keywords inside the description. This type of practice can negatively impact the quality of our search results, and we will continue to enhance our Marketplace algorithm to ensure that the most relevant names are shown to the customers based upon their intent.

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@grant is the following description style considered as keywords stuffing?

A memorable flexible name that can be used for any business related to: finance, payment solution, investment, marketing, advertising, e-commerce, shopping, retail, online marketplace, social media,… and more.

In short are possible uses in description considered as keywords?

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@grant I don’t really like the SH attitude of ‘you will be punished’ if…

Making us all paranoid doesn’t help at all. If you are going to ‘punish’ names in the rankings, then they should be marked as such in our back office so we can do something about it, not leaving it for us to guess.

When the marketplace began, I specifically wrote some descriptions and sent them to the BB to request ‘approval of my style’, which I got. If I now find that I am punished in any way I will leave for three reasons: 1. I’m annoyed with this attitude. 2. Rewriting 5000 descriptions is not practical, it’s quicker and easier to move them elsewhere. 3. With the addition of bonus payments to submitting creatives, selling a name on SH now provides the poorest percentage payout when a name sells of ALL of the marketplaces.

I understand your reasoning behind this but I think SH have gone about this all wrong. If you want uniform descriptions, then you should be writing them all yourselves, not putting us all on edge, now thinking that every low ranking name has been punished, when in reality some names will naturally rank lower anyway.

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How to find which descriptions are good, and which descriptions we have to rewrite? There is no way to figure it out if our portfolio is 500-5000 domains.

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I would like to offer few clarifications:

As stated in the initial post, the changes to our marketplace algorithm will initially be focused around those situations where attempts are being made to send false signals about buyer interest with a goal to manipulate search rankings. The examples of these include:

  • Sending artificial visits to your landing page to show a higher buyer interest
  • Submitting fake Shortlists to boost the stats of your domains

Also as stated in the original post, we are currently looking into examples of intentional misuse of description although we haven’t made specific changes to the algorithm at this point regarding this aspect.

After this post, we have received feedback from several creatives about notifying them in case their descriptions are flagged by our algorithm. We agree that this is valid feedback, and we will evaluate the best way to notify the sellers before making changes to the marketplace algorithm related to descriptions.

Having said that, the integrity of the Marketplace search experience is extremely important, and we have already taken action against certain sellers who were found to be using automated tools to send traffic to their landing pages in order to boost visibility.

Please keep in mind that the steps being taken are specifically for those situations where someone is engaging in a pattern of intentional misuse, which can ultimately affect the visibility of relevant names.

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@grant I appreciate this response, thanks.

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I am curious the response to Deepblue’s example above.

1.Similarly here is an example of a good description listed in the SH link “Domain Classification Best Practices” above:
“Based off of the word ‘evolution,’ this modern take is unique and definitely disruptive. The idea behind evolution is progression, change and adaptation - three strong qualities and values for a business to showcase. It’s catchy, short and memorable. This unexpected name is an ideal fit for any business within Marketing and Advertising and Agency and Consulting industry.”

2.Someone without that level of descriptive writing skills in English might similarly put:
“Based off the word 'evolution.” Keywords: modern, unique, disruptive, progression, change, adaptation, strong, qualities, values, business, showcase, catchy, short, memorable, unexpected, marketing, advertising, agency, consulting.

So under the new rules the #2 example is considered “keyword stuffing?”

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@wordLabyrinth At this point, we will manually audit the domains and reach out to the sellers whose descriptions are significantly outside our recommended guidelines. As per our guidelines, we recommend 5-10 keywords or possible uses inside the description. If you have included few additional relevant keywords or possible uses inside the description, that is generally fine.

What we are trying to discourage is an overuse of this section by adding a very large list of keywords with a goal to rank the domain in all possible searches even if they were not relevant to the name. We understand that it can be too much work to redo the descriptions - so at this point we are not building any penalties inside the algorithm specific to the description. However we will continue to communicate directly with sellers based upon our random audit of domains.

We will also be adding additional visual cues/ help in the description section to make it easier for sellers to ensure they follow our guidelines for any new names being added to the marketplace.

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@grant Good decision about the keywords put in the description field. I only saw what other creatives have been doing with descriptions now, when I started submitting other people’s names to contests. As the description automatically loads when submitting the domain, I can see descriptions where the only text in the field is “Keywords: (followed by a long list of irrelevant single words, that have nothing to do with the specific name)”. I found it extremely aggressive approach to be fair. The only keywords I include in descriptions are the ones I am using in the text, so they’re always highly relevant to the name. The way it is now is making the search bar for clients and us USELESS, as too many results load and lots of them are completely unrelated to what someone is searching.

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@grant

I’ve been thinking of a way to resolve the issues mentioned in descriptions and I’d like to put forward a couple of suggestions.

  1. SH write (and rewrite existing) and be in control of this (I know it’s not practical but is the best way to avoid abuse by members).

  2. Cut down the characters allowed in the description and suggest that it is one short snappy sales pitch. eg: “An uplifting name that packs a punch and rolls off of the tongue with ease”. And increase the number of keywords to be input to 10.

The description is where it is being abused. Cut that down and you cut down the abuse. If you were even to remove the description from the ranking algorithm, that would further reduce abuse.

If you search the word Rise in the dictionary, the similar words are: increase, up, hike, advance, growth, leap, upsurge, upswing, ascent, climb, jump, escalate, elavate, upturn, raise. If the submitted name was something like StackRise, you can see how even 10 keywords isn’t really enough, so 10 should be the minimum. Keywords (labeled root words on the landing pages) should be clickable, increasing your website links and improving SHs SEO.

This suggestion has been made after looking at the names listed in the marketplace and figuring out how to inconvenience as few people as possible but get a good result.

There are existing names on site. You could offer a tickbox option suggesting that SH redo their existing names or people do it themselves. I would hope that many would want to do it themselves. I don’t think you could charge people to do it for them, as you’ve allowed it this way for years already. It’s a one off project, I suspect there are many creatives here that could be employed for a few months to get the job done or you can offer a different incentive as a one off project much like the description writers do right now.

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Very practical thoughts. To avoid abuse, it would be possible to eliminate the superfluity of words in domain descriptions and create a constructor of 5-10 descriptions, similar to the one you proposed “An uplifting name that packs a punch and rolls off of the tongue with ease”. And really need to allow up to 10 keywords to be included to these description models.

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