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Google’s Algo Change and the Exact Match Domain Penalty

Does your Web site use an Exact Match Domain name? Beware. Google’s latest algorithm alteration is out to track and penalize the technique. Expect “EMD penalty” to be a much-used buzzword for a while. Why another algo change, you ask? Google wants to curb the use of what it considers unnatural or unfairly easy routes to good rankings. Concerning the newest update, on September 28th, Matt Cutts posted the following messages on his Twitter account:

“Minor weather report: small upcoming Google algo change will reduce low-quality "exact-match" domains in search results.”

“New exact-match domain (EMD) algo affects 0.6% of English-US queries to a noticeable degree. Unrelated to Panda/Penguin.”

Brace yourself for the same kind of opprobrium that greeted Google’s Penguin and Panda updates. While you’re grunting your way through this inclement online “weather,” remember that it’s no Sandy, 2012’s all too real Frankenstorm, and that not every exact match domain will be affected. All indications point to Google using multiple factors when determining whether to dole out an EMD penalty.

Wading through available data, it appears to me that Web sites are especially at risk to lose rankings if they’ve not been updated in a while, or if they have not been active in link building. Likewise, sites boasting a great many blog updates, but poor-quality backlinks, are susceptible to rank losses on account of EMD.

In my research I’ve found that Web sites using EMD, not undergoing a regular process of betterment, and lacking quality backlinks receive the EMD penalty. If an EMD site’s rankings were attributable solely to its domain name, then it lost rankings with Google’s EMD update.

I cannot say this enough: don’t venture outside of white hat SEO. If you’re experiencing rankings problems because of the EMD penalty, get rid of your low-quality backlinks. And if your content is stale, or if the quality of your written content is subpar -- get started with an overhaul. Remember to keep your content fresh, nicely written, and to keep tabs on the quality of your backlinks.


Oct 31, 2012