Google Exact-Match Domain (EMD) Update

With the following couple of tweets Matt Cutts Google’s head of web spam announced the latest update to their Algorithm.

This update which follows on from the recent Panda and Penguin updates seems to be targeting micro-niche sites which use the bonus that an exact match domain name (EMD)  containing the keyword(s) gives to a site.  Following the update there have been many threads on the different internet marketing forums such as the popular warrior forum  with people reporting all sorts of different results for their sites.  Many have reported that their sites have completly disappeared from the first 10 – 15 pages of the SERPS after previously holding steady positions on the first pages of Google.

Well known bloggers the Adsense Flippers reported a 69% loss in traffic and a 68% drop in their adsense revenue but from reading their blog post not all of their sites have been affected, others such as Spencer Hawes at have reported a much smaller drop in their adsense income 13% in his case.  He has also reported that his top ten performing sites have actually increased their rankings and that some of these sites are EMD while some are partial EMD, but except for 1 they are sites that have more content on them than normal niche sites he builds which have been harder hit.

My first site which was ranking at number 2 in Google has also gone from the top 30 (at least) pages while other people who are following the same course as me have also reported that their sites have been hit, some have speculated that it’s adsense related as when they have removed adsense from there site it has moved back up the rankings.  However i don’t think this is the case, google makes money from adsense too, so for them to penalize sites for having adsense is like shooting themselves in the foot.

Personally i believe that this update removes the bonus that having an EMD gives your site, and when you think about it, it makes sense, the most important area of a site should be the content, Google have stated before that they want to bring back the best possible information to match the users search.  I do not believe that for having an EMD you are being punished as that is illogical, think about it you would not choose the domain name if your site was about stamp collecting as that would make no sense  at all.  Your domain name is most likely going to be related to or include your keyword(s) to a certain extent unless its a brand name.

I’m also of the belief that this update is not specific to EMDs as i’m reading posts on forums from marketer’s whose site does not have an EMD and their sites have taken a hit as well, also we have to realise that Google has a number of data centers throughout the world and these will need to adjust to the new algorithm over a period of a few days or more, so you should expect sites to move arround until they are all alighned and the dust has settled.

The Future

So does this update mean that made for adsense micro-niche sites are dead?  Personally I don’t think so unless Google start to penalize sites based on their size, however due to this latest update i’m sure many webmasters will start to question the return on investment (ROI) in time and / or money needed to create an empire of these sites.  I believe that sites built using poor quality scrapped or spun content and employing dubious backlinking stratagies will struggle to make any impact on the SERPS.  Going forward however I plan for the moment to continue my strategy of building good quality sites with unique copyscaped checked content and continue to employ the linking strategy that i currently do.  I am also working on a larger authority type site which has the potential to grow to as large a number of pages and posts as i want as its in a Niche which could support this.  I will also look at the future potential of any new sites i build as the micro-niche sites i currently have are pretty limited in their scope and to expand with new content would be pretty hard to do.

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