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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  • Jeremy H

    I did the branded domain thing after wisely getting “Constant Content The Google Gift” from my mentor James Paul (AMAZINGLY smart guy, phenomenal book, grab it).
    We’d get some clicks to an EMD and we didn’t make much and put in as much of an effort on our other site in the same niche. The practices in CCTGG had me rnaking on the first page for 500 queries (including 344 in the number one spot) and 3752 total queries. The traffic was ridiculous and the poll on our site for return visitors was “What Brought You Here Again?” seeing there are millions of similar sites to mine and the answer was “Name Stayed In My Head” Followed by “Content Is Relevant To Me”… honestly, Google can do whatever they want. A business mind will always win over a computer geek… Google should employ more business people and less geeks.

  • http://www.mywebpixie.com Lydie B

    I think it’s à good to see Google weeding out low quality EMD. As a user it is aggravating to find high rated pages of this kind with useless content. However I find the idea that keywords in a domain name to be reprehensible absurd. Isn’t the title or Domain name supposed to say something about what the website is about? This needs some fine tuning to say the least. Meanwhile. It would be good to see Google excluding search entries that use wildcards to pick up whatever search word or phrase is entered to give back a matching result in he top 3.

  • http://www.captaincyberzone.com Cap’n Cyberzone

    Would not “algor” be a more appropriate abbr. for Google’s scary algorithm tweaks?
    After all, Al Gore does claim that he’s the ‘life force’ behind the internet and the man is surely scary (like Google’s “algo” tweaks).

  • http://tech-sharing.com/ Krishna

    If you are not hit now, and if you gain from this algo, be prepared for being hit by the future changes. Ever since I started watching Google algo changes and how they affect sites, I have noticed that most sites were affected at some point of time. Maybe, most people may not complain about it, or admit it because the next change may reset it. I have few old and new domains, some EMDs, some unrelated. All have been hit. It happened before, recovered (without my doing anything) and again got hit. I stopped worrying about Google algo changes.

  • Nikolas

    The problem is Google update hit really good sites also with this EMD update.

    I think Google really turned the button on EMD to much this time.

    Google really has to think about all the people that have online business that they are living of, and many business have without no good reason now been negative effected by this update.

  • http://www.palmtreeservices.com.au Eric Frei

    It is nothing knew to people in SEO that Google had since inception placed too much weighting upon the TLD. Many businesses etc do have websites which do not have their business name as the domain name but the keywords of the market they are competing in, this is a totally unnatural presentation of business compared to traditional brick and mortar models.

    The practice then evolved to the point that even individual pages were being stripped out to be replaced by a TLD domain. Many businesses are running multiple EMD websites to cater for specific keyword searches.

    What is the challenge here for both Google and SEO people is to know what is a low quality site. What is the criteria? Will an EMD site always be disadvantaged now?

    For some of us we have had websites long before the evolution of Google’s algorithm, bought domain names which reflect the business name and have to jump through 1000’s of hoops to rank. We have now got competitors with many EMD sites, some even copying the TLD and business name of others. The internet has become a sesspool of deception and Google thinks it can sort it out with algorithm changes. I doubt it. In a traditional bricks and mortar business the customer can witness authenticity but on the internet they witness an illusion. There is now so many online stores competing for market share with no stock, no premises and just a % cut for the real business. Anyone with a keyboard and website is now in business as an agent, look at the Amazon associates type of deals.

    Sadly for some of us genuine quality businesses the net has done more damage than can be imagined, and we now have an new occupation called SEO to live under the new world order, GOOGLE!

  • http://www.domainimaging.com Robert Mann

    My site got clobbered, but an exact EMD (sounds redundant, but the domain is the keyword with “.com” at the end) is ranked at #2. The site has 3 pages and about 100 words total (for all pages). The content is worthless. Not very consistent.

  • http://www.domainimaging.com Robert Mann

    Forgot to mention in my previous post – the first 3 pages of results for the keyword are filled with local results for other areas. I am seeing results specific to cities that are thousands of miles away. They should call this the “juvenile” update.

  • http://www.seomarketing.com.br Felipe Bazon

    One of the most straight forward algo updates in years, about time lowq EMDs got penalised.

  • http://www.manilacomputerservices.com US Website Designer

    Got hit also, end of on another seo tricked.

  • http://www.autotick.com Steve

    With this update, I’m sure there is a surge in adword advertisement which is what Big G is aiming for. The question is, do you want to quit or contribute in their game play.

  • http://theunknownEMD.com anonymous

    Google’s Algorithm Latest Changes Score More Casualties

    If it hadn’t become apparent to most non-website savvy entrepreneurs by now, the search engine giant has once again cast down its power and pillage on the unsuspecting, the unknowing, and the undefended website owners for having committed would-be cardinal sins of inappropriately naming their website using the main keywords of their website’s content or subject matter in their website domain name.

    You see, the self ordained mega powers that be have taken on a whole new life within the hallowed walls of their own domain to become a gate keeper of what they deem irrelevant or unacceptable to the world.

    Some would call this a monopoly or a truly bias owner of the world’s largest search engine, but to them it is a policing of the internet world through their own one-sided viewpoint.

    This is my house and I will decide who lurks in the interim of my domain. Seek not the ability to position your website in a main corridor within my house or I will seek you out and punish you for what I once made welcome your presence. For I am the all powerful Oz and only I can say whom I choose to allow reside on my foyer.

    Let’s get real with all this power tripping and biased censorship of an internet giant. If they could actually do what they claimed and only weed out the truly bad content or lame, thinly displayed websites, that would be far more understandable, but to literally crush and annihilate legitimate businesses with absolutely no remorse or clear unbiased recourse is unacceptable even if there is nothing anyone can do about it.

    As the world continues to evolve and progress there is only hope that at some point all things bad will be righted in some way or another. Until then, we must seek to avoid evil when it is presented and seek more accommodating and user-friendly means of sharing individual thoughts and rights to all.

    We are all equal and we are all different, yet our voices have but one tone, and that is to be heard and not to be suppressed just because we failed a new guideline that was adopted, long after our content was printed and posted.

    The explanations that are given by the giant are for better quality for the viewers’ experience. And this is determined by the all powerful giant, who is the main gate keeper to the informational world?

    So, does this not reek of bias and domination without free and independent expression? Oh, sure this is their house and you can vacate the domain, but was this house built on these same guidelines that led to their power and position?

    The sentiment of this article will be so widespread and agreed upon that it will be secretly praised and applauded but only in fear that those who acknowledge their agreement will also find their domains demolished with yet another new algorithm change that will punish the innocent and cause further damnation from the two-faced powers that be.

    Ironically, the top keyword when searched for “best search engine” reveals an appropriate ‘coined name’ and truth far beyond the control of the giant itself.

  • http://www.realitist.com Robert

    Clearly this is an attack on targeted niche marketing and it would be great if it only removed sites with iframe content from online big box stores. The problem is it also makes it harder to find what you are looking for. So now we have sites like xsfzit.com ranking PR-6 who’s going to search for that, while a google search for funny pets videos can’t even find funnypetsvideos.com how stupid is that?

    • shweta nahata

      I completely agree…….its utterly ridiculous…….till date we have been saying tht google enlists the most niche website…but with this new alogrithm updat, google has wiped out the top quality websites from the search results just because it has a matching domain name….how silly is that…..the people working behind the policy must consider this in mind that its gonna affect google search results the most in terms of featuring quality content.

  • http://ephedrinewheretobuy.com Mike Budd

    I must say that your post scared me a bit, as I have an exact match domain also. After a quick verification I saw that fortunately nothing changed in terms of search results.
    Quick comments about that:
    – our site is in all modesty full of quality content, as we spend a lot of time with friends doctors to review medical studies and to publish helpful articles.
    – we are in touch with many journalists who are currently covering news around our main topic of interest, due to new bills/laws in several counties or states. When they see the name of our website I guess that they are suspicious, but when they discover our content they have no problem exchanging with us and even linking to us, which is a great sign for us.
    – why did we pick such EMD then? Well it is in the beginning, we thought it might attract people… I think we wouldn(t make the decision today.

  • http://turismo-in.it/ Turismo

    I’m worried about what might happen in the results of research in Italy but for now nothing is changing

  • Bins

    It’s simple.. if you now want to make a site about “technology news”, you should not name it “TechnologyNews.com”. Instead, you should name it something like “sjksldfakh.com” or if you really wanna make it fancy and yet unrelated to your “technology news” content, you can choose something like “GayWife.com”

    Funny but true!!!!

  • http://buy-facebook-likes.net/ Adam

    It’s certainly not an unexpected and affiliate niche marketers are going to fall victim to this one. I’ve noticed some sites disappear that had page 1-3 rankings. but they were .net extensions with hyphenation between the keywords for example: http://buy-facebook-likes.net/. A .com EMD that I have is still number one.

  • http://www.ignivasolutions.com Igniva

    In my views Google has just fixed some bugs and shortcomings in its algo. And on the way to that it has got struck into new bugs/issues. I hope some of them will get fixed when they will add new algo tweak.

  • http://tartanwebdesign.co.uk Alison

    We’ve noticed huge drops across the board on authority sites we’ve been following (and a couple of my own personal sites have vanished without trace).

    These sites are not EMDs but they do contain single words that could broadly refer to general search terms – even if these words themselves are not targeted.

    It seems that as well as EMDs, they’re killing all synonyms too.

    This is most probably a fishing trip, bringing the real junk to the surface for closer examination.

    Either that or as Bins says above it’s the era of the CUMD or Completely Unrelated Match Domain…

  • shweta nahata

    This update by google has seriously affected my business. It was initially google algorithm itself which gave preference to the domains with the keywords. Did this not initiate webmasters and ownerso ft he portals to opt for a domain name with the “matching keyword”. All of a sudden such a move marks a complete drop down of the traffic on my website. My website is not low in quality and content. it was on number one with the targetted keyword.

  • shweta nahata

    How can the top ranking websites be simply wiped out of the search results. We had a huge traffic on our website. Does this mean that people who were using our website are fools.they did nt know what they wanted………were they using our site just because it ws on number one……NO a big NO………….google should re-consider this algorithm

  • shweta nahata

    If i have a website for makeovergames….it quite apparent that i will opt for a domain name wich includes “makeovergames”. This however does nt mean that my website should nt be geting preference in the listing just because it has the keyword in its domain. This is utterly ridiculous

  • Arbaz

    well, this update has hurt two of my small and 2 months old sites, but a good increase of traffic to a old site like 5k increased on daily basis. don’t know whats happening actually!!

  • John

    Another attack on small business owners. “Low quality”? and what the hell is so wrong about having an exact match domain name anyways for god’s sake? Matt Cutts is schizophrenic.

  • Johyn

    The key question is “what is low quality content”? Until Google provides realistic measures/answers then how can you plan? We were just about to launch a very focussed program – providing good quality content (professionally written at some expense) but using all the “known” white hat processes eg a www.EDM ,EM titles. EM in Meta descriptions, EM in H1, EM in content etc specifically to get to the top and provide visitors with good and valuable content versus our rivals. How can Google suggest a community chat about “what to do in florence” is better than a site totally focued on that topic?

  • http://www.ker-pow.co.uk jon

    1 of my clients has lost 50% of his sites. He hires skips for a living in London!!!! Not exactly spamming samsung32inchlcdtv.com is it???

  • http://www.randombyte.com George

    I ran a quick test using several of my own EMDs (you can see the results in the last blog post on my website) and it looks like Google has targeted a specific list of words, because not all the EMDs were hit. Actually, none of my EMDs that were ranking #1 were hit by this update.

    • Kris

      I was coming to that conclusion too.

  • http://music-zen.com Joseph Salamone

    Google is making sure that no new websites gain an edge. It is becoming a search engine for the top businesses only if you are new or start up you need not apply. I love Google but their search has become a joke. Might as well just make it a high end business directory and charge a fee to submit your business there.

    • http://www.makemoneyteam.com Raymond

      Best way to sum it up I’ve ever heard. Top results are old forum posts now because they kicked everyone out of the pool.

  • Naresh Kumar

    This update has hit me hard, all my 10 websites are no where even i couldn’t find them. It really affected many webmasters, those people who have Amazon review sites, i really bad for them!!

  • http://21stcenturybusinessentrepreneur.com Patrick Clarke

    It appears hard to avoid concluding that Google is waging war on small business owners, presumably to curry favour with big investors in “high places”. It seems intent on becoming the internet version of Yellow Pages, those who splash the most cash for space swamp everyone else regardless of real quality.

  • http://www.dotcommembership.com Adrian Lee

    In SE Asia, Google results just don’t make sense. Can’t do any research cos the results shows crappy or unrelated websites or an article written in 2008. Guess the best minds in the world managed to get it wrong.

  • http://www.webmaster.cm Rob

    Yep – I run a webmaster site (supposed to LOOK like I know what i’m doing) and got hit.. Here’s some info about how far we dropped: http://www.webmaster.cm/threads/new-exact-match-domain-emd-algo-affects-english-us-queries.761/

  • http://www.airportlimousineonline.com/hamilton_burlington_airport_limousine.aspx Hamilton airport limo

    yes it typical task for the search engine optimization people who are doing good job and after getting the update keywords go down.

  • Mike

    I just don’t get it. I have a PR4 finance BLOG (not some boring niche site) with over 1,000 high quality articles since 2005. I get thousands of natural backlinks. I lost 75% of my SE traffic over the weekend and I’m still trying to figure out why.

    Is Google going to run some corrections? I’m obviously not a low-quality EMD….

  • http://australianbizdirectory.com.au George

    I am utterly disappointed in the new EMD Google make the rules but unfortunately, they don’t play by the rules. My site have been on page 2 of google for almost 4yrs and with the new updates, it is now in page 8. However, there are a couple of hacked site with no related keywords laughing on page 1 go figure. I personally think Google don’t care about what the public think or perceived. But my site google see as low quality, is ranking on first page on Bing and 2nd on yahoo with the same keyword. And in the same token, Google will encourage you to use adword and bid for position. Google have taking their eyes off the ball and until another player comes around and take the number one search position before they realise their mistake, then hopefully it might be too late when the horse has bolted.

  • http://searchenginemind.com Gole

    Google is smart enough to roll out it on a weekend evening. What happen in case Apple market its iPhone 5 with a new site like iphone5[dot]com. iPhone 5 is a huge keyword and so google will penalize this if not then what will be in case if Apple does not have that domain and some one else running a site on that domain

  • Ravi

    Hi Friends,

    Google launched new update on Friday 28th September called “EMD” exact match domain. They have taken this step without giving any prior information, notice or guidelines in his blog or webmaster.

    But those websites has registered EMD a year before (5year or 10year) they must not be panelized. They must start panelizing those EMD who start booking from 28th September onwards because we do not know what Matt or Google will do in future!

    Before making big changes in Google Algorithm, they must release Algorithm update news a year before to acknowledge webmaster and website owners.

    They did whatever they want!

    Even they have released new webmaster guideline (2nd October 2012) after EMD updates! I want to ask from Matt. Why he produce webmaster guideline after EMD update? Does he want to hide something from webmasters or website owners? It is a big question!

    Okey..! Now I would not be in ranking if I have taken EMD website, am I right Matt? But I can run Ad-word campaign for my EMD website; will you please explain me Mr. Matt why I can run Ad-word for EMD website? Or why I can run Exact Match Keywords in Ad-word?

    Huhhh…it’s all about Google mentality to reduce Organic search and force for Ad-word campaign. Why I would get ranking on top if I paid high Bid in Ad-word for my EMD website? Mr. Matt you must reject campaigning for EMD based websites!

    Well, my dear webmaster now Google is getting cheaper day by day! I think we have to move on Yahoo, Bing searches to popularize that.

    After this happening I will focus more over Yahoo and Bing, will submit my sitemap in Bing and will promote accordingly to Bing even I will run my campaign in Bing and Yahoo only.

    Google is not authentic and ethical anymore..!! 2012 is the end of the Google!!!!

  • ms mc alpin

    Google is no longer a Search Engine it is now an Ad Engine for all those companies we already know about and would not need to search for. What a mess! I had started to use Bing about 6 months ago for 50% of my searches now I use them 90% of the time.

    • Backrubber

      I agree – I think the sooner we all stop using Google and move to Bing, the better!

  • http://www.coordinateseo.com Darren L.

    I have 7 niche aged EMD. Good, unique content. I may be some link problems from directories over the years, but there have been no warnings from google about this. I have no adwords on the pages. My sites have gone up or stayed the same. Virtually no change.

  • http://www.exabytes.sg/ Jerrick

    Love this update while it fair to everyone .
    Using exact match domain with no quality content should not have priority to stay on high SERP.
    Content is a king , exact domain in domain might just over optimize and cause lot of company taking exact match keyword domain rather than own brandname to appear in online world.

  • sam

    To fuck with the google algo….google guys them self don’t know what they want…they are a bunch of fuckers why most of the EMD has been removed irrespective of there site qualities…i lost my three emd sites with a good and unique content on it…we can use ADWORD to advertise our EMD’s but we cannot get organic rankings…this is just one more way to screw the small guys and squeeze more out of them..Google became a money machine..its not a search engine any more its became a tool for its Fucking owners to make more money…bastards

  • http://www.searchen.com John Colascione

    Also agree with Tweeter Alana Burton, EMD’s make sense and shouldn’t be weakened. One of the only moves Google has made that I don’t agree with. I’ve seen no change thus far anyway.

  • Victor

    Still, the lack of Google interactively refine search client (well, at least for Chrome) Today looks primitive anachronism, bordering on kleptomania.

  • http://educationplusjobs.com Shan

    As far i remember, previously it was good to have keyword in domain. And people use to do that specially..

  • Christian

    2 of my sites have obviously been hit by the latest EMD update. Funny thing is only 1 might even be considered an EMD. By the way, since when is it bad to have a keyword in the domain name? Last time I checked this was utmost importance over the last 10 years. We created a business and brand around it. Now our brand is considered and EMD!?! Give me a freaking break. Matt Cuts and his fool friends at Google are responsible for more small business unemployment than anyone else. I promote Bing every chance I get. At least their search results make some sense! Finally the one site I have that is clearly an EMD wasn’t even touched. Great job idiots!!

  • Blue

    My website went from top 3 straight to nowhere (it doesn’t show up in the first 500 results). What bugs me the most is that big sites, that pay thousands of dollars for ADWORDS, seem to have ABSOLUTELY NO PROBLEM!!! Killing the small guys, keeping big ones on top. Great job, Google, keep up the “good work”!!!

  • http://twitter.com/weboptmization Rajesh

    One my site got hurt in EMD Update. I’m looking for recovering tips from Google EMD Update.

  • http://www.londonphotographer.co.uk Dan Burman

    I’ve been massively demoted that has already had a noticeable effect on my enquiries. It wouldn’t seem so incredibly unjust if google had not favoured keyword domain sites for so many years, which lead to people like me spending a not inconsiderable amount buying such a domain to keep up with competitors. Just crazy that they can do this with no warning and apparently no ability to discern whether a site is a genuine business or a spam site.

  • http://www.londonphotographer.co.uk Dan B

    This apparently minor update has obviously already hurt plenty of genuine, non-spammy sites like mine.

    I’ve been massively demoted that has already had a noticeable effect on my enquiries. It wouldn’t seem so incredibly unjust if google had not favoured keyword domain sites for so many years, which lead to people like me spending a not inconsiderable amount buying such a domain to keep up with competitors. Just crazy that they can do this with no warning and apparently no ability to discern whether a site is a genuine business or a spam site.

  • Bill

    Regarding Igniva’s comment above of: “In my views Google has just fixed some bugs and shortcomings in its algo. And on the way to that it has got struck into new bugs/issues.”

    Perhaps it has. Perhaps it has also morphed into becoming EXACTLY what it started out not wishing to be anything like: Microsoft. :-)

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