Google EMD Update: Good Or Bad For Search?

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Google EMD Update: Good Or Bad For Search?
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On Friday, Google’s Matt Cutts revealed that Google was rolling out a new algorithm update geared at reducing “low-quality” exact match domains in search results. He indicated that “the EMD algo” affects 0.6% of English-US queries “to a noticeable degree”.

As a webmaster or site owner, have you noticed an impact from this update? Have you noticed a dramatic change in search results as a user? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Just to clear up any confusion from the start, Cutts also said the EMD update is unrelated to the Panda and Penguin updates. Here are his exact tweets:

While 0.6% of English-US queries may not sound like an incredible amount of results impacted, there are already tons of people claiming to have been hit by the update. Here is a small sampling of the comments we’ve received from readers:

90% of my sites got hit. Yes they had part of a keyword in the domain name but other than one site, I wouldn’t consider the rest of them low-quality sites. Each one had high quality unique content, numerous pages.

This is utter nonsense. I have a site which was hit that the domain name contained one keyword that I was ranking for. But, I was also ranking for 15 other keywords that weren’t related to the domain name, but they are also nowhere to be seen in google. This is a site with 100′s of pages of unique, quality content, all hand written by me, with a high quality well followed facebook fan page. Just gone. I’m just glad I can rely on facebook for quality traffic, as it doesn’t seem that google can provide that anymore.

Okay, at least I know what happened. Two of my websites are gone. Good sites, with unique content and a lot of backlinks and work behind.

Some readers appear to welcome the update. Here are a few of the more positive comments we’ve received:

I’ve been waiting for an update like this for a long time. I’ve speculated that something like this has been in the works because a brand is almost always going to be more valuable than a spammy exact match domain.

Good Authoritative content is all that has ever mattered & has been the Google mantra from the start, The EMD with “Good Authoritative” root domain content will always have the edge…

I was waiting for this update it may brings my blogs up in the google search. I have blogs which don’t have keywords in urls. This updates helps a lot.

Here’s some additional reaction from Twitter:

Dr. Peter J. Meyers at SEOmoz put together some research on the update using MozCast “Top-View” metrics, indicating that despite Cutts’ wording of “upcoming,” the change appears to had already begun:

EMD data from SEOmoz

“We measured a 24-hour drop in EMD influence from 3.58% to 3.21%,” writes Meyers. “This represents a day-over-day change of 10.3%. While the graph only shows the 30-day view, this also marks the lowest measurement of EMD influence on record since we started collecting data in early April.”

The following sites are some examples of those who got hit, according to Meyers (though he acknowledges he can’t prove they were definitely because of this specific update – it does seem highly likely): bmicalculatormale.com, charterschools.org, playscrabble.net, purses.org, and teethwhitening.com. None of these had actually ranked number one for their respective keywords, according to Meyers, but they went from postions like 3, 4 and 7, to dropping significantly.

It will be interesting to see if more domain-related changes are announced. This is the second one Cutts has tweeted about in recent weeks. He recently talked about a domain diversity update.

When Google releases its monthly (sometimes) lists of algorithm changes, there is often a visible theme from month to month. In June, for example, there were quite a few updates related to how Google handles natural language. I wonder if we might see more domain-related tweaks when Google finally releases the September (and August) lists. Perhaps there will be more heading into October.

What do you think of the EMD update? Good move on Google’s part? Let us know in the comments.

Google EMD Update: Good Or Bad For Search?
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  • Hakob

    This update is even worse then penguin or panda and absolutely makes no sense , many legitimate websites on which never had been done any seo was hardly hit , even personal blog for which I’ve never spent a single dime

  • Mr Not Happy

    Well looks like a few of my sites have been hit with a 50% loss in traffic, This started a few days ago. The thing is I am also losing traffic on keywords that don’t match my domains, even though obviously they are keywords related to those that do. So OK I have lost traffic but what I would like to know is. Am I being punished for being lucky enough to get hold of an EMD for my niche or is it that before this algo change I was actually getting an unfair advantage because I had an EMD… I’d like to think the latter.

    • http://www.sr22-insurance-cost.com SR22


      same conditions happening here, my site’s 3 keywords were on top 30th position, but now, these are not in top 100 positions.

      Please suggest me if you have more information………
      Will these keywords come back……

  • http://www.manilacomputerservices.com Canada Website

    Hmm…seems more coming with change in algo. right getting worse even you have a legitimate website for services.

  • Albert

    This Is bad. Google is playing wrongly. We should retire this search engine

  • http://chrisdutoit.com Chris

    My site with hundreds of pages of good content, several years old, etc. was also affected, but now other domains also including a keyword in their domain (registered a year or so ago) and with merely 50 pages are outranking me. Let’s see if they can improve their EMD algo update to provide better results that what they have now.

  • http://www.usedmac.co.uk Matt

    My domain has not only been hit, but has been smashed down to last place (around 900) for it’s name. It’s an exact match but fairly short and fitting for the type of site it is.

    It’s coincidence that I moved to the .co.uk from the .org.uk last week. The process of this included 301 redirecting the old domain to the new. I think there may have been some errors in this, causing lots of dupe content where posts ended up in 3 formats. Also, if I look in webmaster tools the backlinks are a mess with lots of similar ones coming from the old .org.uk.

    I think one of the factors of this update is a narrow link profile (where before the emd was protected) and mine now looks dodgy. Annoying as it’s just an error, but hopefully fixing it should mean the domain returns. It will be an interesting couple of weeks while I get this sorted.

    If it doesn’t return then I am at a loss to how it can suddenly only be the 900th most relevant site to a user just because it’s an emd…

  • Celia

    My site’s ranking has dropped off the scale overnight. Visitors have plummetted this weekend (since Sept 29th) As someone else said, why should I be punished for having owned a relevant domain name for years and using it for exactly what it implies the subject matter is?!

  • http://OffLicenceForSale.com Michael

    OK guys, see if you can match this.
    I have THE ONLY site in the UK dedicated to buying and selling off-licences. I have been on page one of Google across numerous keywords all year. I have gone from page one to the second to last page, 63, next to totally unrelated pages from an ancient historian, Ugandan websites, literally random results. Mine is the most relevant in the country and I have been put on almost the back page. It contains news, articles, many unique pages. They have just thrown 18 month’s work, my sales person’s job and my job in one go. We sold ad space on this, the UK’s only site for the sector. I have worked in digital, written about it for magazines in the UK, worked for Google and as of today I will probably have to leave the industry all together if this is what Google are capable of. I have lost my job over night.

  • http://OffLicenceForSale.com Michael

    I have THE ONLY site in the UK dedicated to buying and selling off-licences. I have been on page one of Google across numerous keywords all year. I have gone from page one to the second to last page, 63, next to totally unrelated pages from an ancient historian, Ugandan websites, literally random results. Mine is the most relevant in the country and I have been put on almost the back page. It contains news, articles, many unique pages. They have just thrown away 18 month’s work, my sales person’s job and my job in one go. We sold ad space on this, the UK’s only site for the sector. I have worked in digital, written about it for magazines in the UK, worked for Google and as of today I will probably have to leave the industry all together if this devastation can arise from leaving your business in the trust of another comapany. I have lost my job over night.

  • http://www.thefussybabysite.com Holly

    This update has been catastrophic for me and has potentially cut my monthly income by 75% (corresponding decline in traffic). I’ve had this site (my one and only site) for 5.5 YEARS, and have spent that time connecting with my visitors, providing awesome unique content, and getting national media attention. All that is gone in one weekend. I understand the desire to get rid of spammy sites, but what about the rest of us that have been unfairly penalized?

  • http://www.autotick.com Steve

    Same story from me. About 10 sites affected. Big G is indirectly asking us to spend money on adword if you want your sites to be noticeable.

  • http://www.iphonerelease.net Matt @ iPhone Release

    SEO is pretty much dead. If you’re not a big company making google a load of money they don’t care about you these days. Google has kill the small business that has been the backbone of American. Death to google

  • Lost for words

    This was the worst update that I can remember. I went from 15,000 impressions to 3,000 impressions in 24hrs. and the funny thing about it is that I dont have an EMD. Plus, I have noticed that the sites that pay for adwords ads have not been effected by this update.

    This is an attack on small businesses trying to carve out an honest living.

  • http://www.brettb.com Brett

    I got hit hard this time, although my EMD (cheapredwidgets.com) has seen a traffic surge!

    Worst hit has been my legitimate business – I’m no longer in the top 10 for my own software product name!

    I hope FB roll out their search engine soon :)

  • http://www.engage-2012.com/ Engage 2012 Conference

    This is an awful update for smaller business that don’t drive revenue to Google (not paying AdWords, etc.) This could really destroy many business, or at least have detrimental consequences.

    • nick walker

      The update hit 15 of my websites. Im on page 4 while all of my other competion who have exact match domains has had nothing happened to they’re websites. I got a son, wife and home and now no revenue coming in anymore… Thanks google!

  • JonnyRed

    My e-commerce site started in 2009 – the site features 2,500+ pages with all informative unique content written by an in-house editor. In May 2012 I received a notice for an unnatural link warning – no effects on traffic and even increased as the year progressed…until 9/28/12. Site traffic is now down 75%.

    After receiving the unnatural link warning, I did not add any text links to my site and let the remaining text links expire w/o renewing (6 months). The text links were placed on quality blogs/sites with PR of 3+ and Alexa Ranks all above 300,000. Anchor text was varied and well diversified.

    My theory is the that this EMD update targeted ‘exact match’ anchor text links.

    10/2/12 – Today I submitted my site for reconsideration. I spent the last 2 days removing every text link possible. Somehow this minor weather report turned into a hurricane for me.

  • Alex

    This update is not even an update ,is a screw up.How you can ban and punish a potato information site for example because has potato word in site url.I should get tomato site and write about potatos?
    This Matt guy is not very smart for a large company like Google.

  • Stacy K

    This update is outrageous! Almost all of my categories in my ecommerce site have been deranked into the hundreds. Yes, most were EMD, but I run a NICHE MARKET site. How else will my customers find exactly what they were looking for if not for the exact match? I believe Google is just trying to get more money out of small businesses like mine through sponsored search. It’s a shame that good sites that provide a service are being punished!!

  • http://www.marketsharewebdesign.com Kathy

    Maybe I can skate thru this one. So far the few exact match domains I have have improved. I feel for the ones this effected though. I have had several sites hit by P/P.
    Sad to say Googles one goal is to make money. They care about nothing else.

  • nicksey

    When will people learn that Googleno longer delivers relavent results? Google algorithms are designed to keep the big boys at the top and the little boys at the bottom. Google have no interest in allowing new specialist niches anywhere near the top of the results, this is why Google constantly list Amazon and Ebay high in the results pages even though they are general metrchants with no specialist knowledge. Bing and Yahoo have provider, better more accurate and fresher results for some time now. Just because a site has a keyword in the url, does not make it spam.
    Google lost the plot with search results some time ago and really do deserve to lose their top search engine position but unfortunately people still Google things and until they are educated and informed about the facts will continue to do so

  • http://www.fibreoptic-christmastrees.uk phil

    So everything i was told about getting a EMD has now gone out of the window, might as well give up

  • Robert Blueford

    I can’t wait to see that option used in AdWords…!! :-)

  • http://www.suchmaschinenoptimierung-mv.de SEO Mecklenburg

    Also in Germany we waiting the Update and results. We are very excited;)

  • http://www.ctcdesign.com Charles

    Worst update ever – we have a forum in a very specific niche with the domain name nichekeywordforums dot com with 75k posts and 2k members that was obliterated from the SERPS.

    Never built a single link to it, 1300 natural links mainly from member blogs and industry businesses. I was dumbfounded.

    In my (eh-hemm) not-so-legitimate EMD sites, they all dropped and were replaced by really old MFA sites. Xfactor must be cashing in about now…

  • http://socialnetworkingbusinessplan.com Social Biz Writer Barry

    What bothers me most is the abominable quality of Google product remaining in high rankings for search results. I mean the youtube videos and Google plus authorship sites that survived this “low quality” ranking update are among the worst search results I have EVER seen.

  • Kris

    For a long time now google has been more about internet enforcement and less about search results. Enforcement of google’s own perception of how the internet should be.

    Had some sites absolutely slammed – one is down to 2 visits only yesterday :O) On the other hand, have had some emd’s gain traffic.

    Trapped in the google maze and looking for the way out – somebody show me the door!

  • http://ds3-t1.com Les

    Yes my site does have parts of keywords,but it says what is says on the tin. My site provides what potential customers with what they are looking for. It took a lot of work to rank well in Google over a number of years. No spammy links or dubious methods to manipulate keyword ramkings.
    To say the least I am extremely angry about what is going on. What does Google want? What do we name our sites now!! May be we all should do what Google wants and give up. Maybe we now have to buy Google ads to sell our businesses or maybe that is what Google wants.

  • http://www.the-web-design-hosting-co.com/ Peter

    Well google must be taking the pee now, customers name is the website url as you would expect.. it was rightly top for the search term and a load of others.. related to the business. now just wiped from the board ?? Why because his company name is a good one ? he is in Workshops so do we now make a website that says garden sheds instead ?

    Google you are stupid.. i know your scam get people to go pay per click right ?? well over my dead body …

  • Robert Blueford

    I guess that shows how blind algos go, when used by blind intelligence, sometimes called artificial. Who’s the machine? Scrap G

  • Kris

    I’ve just looked at a number of search results for a variety of keywords and see that sub-domains are noticably absent. In fact, the whole time I only saw two sub-domains and neither were on page one. And they were for big domains: answers.yahoo.com and news.discovery.com. So my question is “Did the EMD update take down sub domains or was that some other update”?

  • http://theakurians.com Colonel Robert F. Cunningham

    Since when as ANY Google ‘update’ improved anything for net users?

    If they aren’t KAK-this they are KAK-that … with so much KAK-jackassing they ought to be Donkey Farming instead of cramming SOCIALISM and denigrating AMERICANISM!

    YES! You may quote me!

    Colonel Robert F. Cunningham,

  • http://www.hawaiicarhire.com Frank Fiorentino

    With the EMD decision Google has once again decided it is the judge and jury. Had enough of being bullied by Google? For a long time Google has dictated the terms of a websites value. I’m tired of Google and it’s domainance. For me it’s time for a change.

    • http://bayrvpark.com Frank

      It is getting harder and harder to do SEO. I have been managing my sites for about 6 years and I do not feel I know how to be effective anymore. I do not see any big improvements in search results so I do not understand where Google is going with this. I still get search results that have high ranking sites that are not relevant to the search.

  • https://canadaseopro.ca Todd Herman

    Yes got nailed by this update and lost 5 spots on our front page listing. Now sitting at spot 8. Not sure how they think this will improve their results, in the automotive industry the professional websites are few and few in between. The number one spot is now occupied by a very poorly designed and full of errors website. Wow G, you got to get your stuff together, very POOR update!

    Regard, T

  • http://ReturnOnNow.com/blog/ Tommy Landry, SEO Austin

    I’m seeing some oddities as well. My main domain is branded with no keywords in it, and it has actually held very well. My “fun” domain is an EMD, and it has now been hit twice.

    Penguin put the first lick on it. When that rolled out, I lost >60% of my traffic, which was mostly derived from SEO. Now this hits and I’m down to less than 10 visits / day on that site.

    I truly hope Google gets better at separating reputable sites on keyword rich domains from spammers. This was a growing site and is not even up for making money, just for connecting to likeminded people. Where’s the Spam in that?

  • http://www.mortgagerefinance.com Phil

    My EMD is Mortgage Refinance .com, how is this a low quality website? We’ve been on top for years, can they explain by which criteria is considered low quality? No ads, just our services for which we are registered.
    Look at bankrate.com, is that considered a high quality? Looks like junk spam site to me!

  • Andre

    In principle this update makes sense, but it sure seems like it’s been poorly executed. Just because a site has a keyword in it doesn’t make it bad, and the keyword is sometimes part of the brand name so now we’re being penalized for that too?

  • http://www.abx2.com Mike Daw

    Unclear about this – is Google simply ignoring the domain name (EMD or otherwise) or proactively demoting a site with an EMD?

    • Kris

      They’re actively demoting the sites with emd.
      But not all… I’ve seen emd sites at spot number one now and they’re just affiliate whitelabel sites.

  • http://www.hawaiicarhire.com Frank Fiorentino

    One more thought… Note: Google didn’t eliminate the EMD competition that is using AdWords!

  • http://motorhomehirenz.wordpress.com/ Jane Whitfield

    Yeah not impressed, I lost my #11 ranking for “best keyword” – I would have understood it if my domain was bestkeyword.com but it wasn’t, it was bestrandomword.com – If you follow what I mean :)

  • http://www.tibetanbuddhas.com Dan Mitroi

    Sure not all keywords in domain root are bad. I really think that good content is more then enough for google’s top 10

  • http://www.mnhtac.com Jeff

    Is this Google’s idea of a control issue? I believe not too many years ago, society made note that too much control by any one (1) group is not beneficial for the masses. Our company name, “Minnesota Heating and Air Conditioning” will apparently sink. We are in Minnesota – We sell and service heating and air conditioning. So much for relevance huh!

  • http://www.liquidairfuel.com LiquidAirFuel

    I expect that the EMD update will not effect any EMD’s which don’t have a high ppc.

    • Kris

      A conspiracy if you are right.
      I just chose the spammiest topic I could think of – Viagra Online. A search shows the top 4 are not emd, but thereafter it’s all emd. A quick look in adwords tool shows the phrase cpc at under a dollar with low competition – low by adwords standards.

  • Jan

    I do not have EMD domain and my traffic falled for about 50% in last three days.

  • http://www.bigoakinc.com Shell Harris

    Google went after more than just EMD sites. There was collateral damage to other sites they deemed low quality that were not EMD.

  • http://www.deepjunglehome.com Bala

    We have 2 resorts close to each other at a wildlife destination in India. We had 2 different websites (with brand names and no keywords), 4 other websites with EMDs which discussed about the wildlife location. All six websites have been removed from index for all keywords including the domains with my brand name which dont have keywords in it. Not sure why they removed the brand name domains
    Best regards

  • http://www.motorcycleinsurance.com Todd Halterman

    I lost my job over this crappy update. Good, authoritative content meant nothing. But no Adwords, so see you later site. Not real happy and now I’m dedicating my future to gaming the stinking Google Monopoly system…

  • John

    Matt can kiss my }%#}%^

    10 years of hard work with great sites took us from 10k per month to less than 1k. I guess if eBay or Amazon you don’t have a issue. You have to wonder what kind of back door money they are giving Mr. Cutts. I hate you Matt. I really hate you.


  • Brill

    Does it really make any difference if I put in my 2 cents? Probably not, since I’m apparently a bad person that makes a living by providing advertising and marketing services to companies. It pays for my mortgage and puts food on the table. What does that mean to Google though? It doesn’t mean much apparently. They are treating people like they are disposable pigs. The ones that were first to adapt to the way of Google are the first to be cut. Not a sign of remorse or concern of what you do or what your online business provides. We stand in the way of their plan. The fact that I’m providing advertising services takes away money from Google. I don’t see a 10-15% conversion rate as a bad thing for SEO traffic. It is a bad thing when it comes to PPC though. It seems like bid prices have gone up and conversions have gone way down with PPC, thus making margins a thing of the past. I use to say that you have to spend money to make money. I don’t say that anymore. I now say you have to have money to make money. Thus, this is finally showing again in the search engine results. The playing field was dug up and a new golden skyscraper of a middle finger replaces it with a Google logo stands on it. Oh wait, how exciting, another new Google product. Google for Dummies, Dummy. I could rap for hours about what I think they are up to or I can make a change to the way I allow them to touch my life.

    Here is a list of things anyone can do to touch them back.

    Use different search engine
    Use a different email provider
    Do not use Droid driven cell phones/tablets
    Use different map provider

    I think you get the idea about abandoning the Google ‘whatever’ services. Some other ones that some people may not find as obvious are:

    Google Analytics

    There are nested in our business life and private lives, resting in our pockets throughout the day. Tracking our business success, what we are searching for, and using GPS to see where we are… we live in their “surveillance society”.

    I’m not concerned about my future, just concerned about the future of Google, because what they’re doing should be a concern of everyone that is touched by this. It’s been the most amazing magic trick ever; I’m still amazed how they’ve pulled it off to this point. I laugh when I see other governments lay down the law on Google, because that is what governments are suppose to do. Protect their people’s rights, no matter if the taxes paid by any business fund their war efforts and impending bankruptcy.

    I’m tired of watching my lively hood being destroyed. I’m going to go watch “Enemy of the State” again…

    • http://www.greyolltwit.com/ Grey Olltwit

      Hear, hear. I am already doing the things you suggest plus dropping Google Webmaster Tools. We have given Google far too much information in the naive hope that as they seemed to be the good guys back in 2004, they might help us small concerns. We were all badly tricked, one might say conned.

  • http://PackerBackers.net Bryan

    So much for relevant and original content. My site was wiped from EMD results, and I don’t even have advertising or aff links of any kind on it. Google continues to screw people over with their misguided ‘good intentions’.

  • http://legalaidadvisor.com Dave

    Google is an a$$. They demote sites because they have a relevant site name. We are told that only low quality emd’s are affected, so why are these low quality sites ranking well in the 1st place?
    Come on Google, you’ve only been in the search business for 14 years right enough!

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