Google EMD Update: Good Or Bad For Search?

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 &...
Google EMD Update: Good Or Bad For Search?
Written by Chris Crum
  • 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):,,,, and 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.

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