Matt Cutts, head of Google’s webspam team announced a new algorithm update that targets Exact Match Domains (EMDs). According to Cutts, this change will affect .06% of US based English search results.
Here are the two Tweets he sent out warning about it:
Minor weather report: small upcoming Google algo change will reduce low-quality exact-match domains in search results. — Matt Cutts (@mattcutts) September 28, 2012
New exact-match domain (EMD) algo affects 0.6% of English-US queries to a noticeable degree. Unrelated to Panda/Penguin.
— Matt Cutts (@mattcutts) September 28, 2012
In his tweet, Cutts used the words low-quality exact-match domains so this means if your EMD has good quality Panda-friendly content and Penguin-friendly links then don’t worry but if your EMD relies on the keywords being in the domain as a substitute for quality content, then you will more than likely be affected.
It’s not like Google is punishing EMDs instead, they are just enhancing the algorithms to remove the special privileges that EMDs have enjoyed. You used to be able to register an EMD and rank for that keyword even if the site is low quality but these days are now over.
Does This Mean EMDs Suck Now?
Not at all, it just means that having an EMD doesn’t guarantee rankings. You will now need to optimize your EMDs more and provide high-quality content just like any other domain.
Will This Affect The Value of EMDs?
Yes, they are now worth less money because they will require the same amount of optimization and effort as any other domain. The easy days of buying an EMD and ranking based on that alone are over.
Are EMDs Still Better?
Maybe even Matt Cutts himself couldn’t answer that question in absolutes but here’s my take on it. I say that they are still slightly better than a non-exact-match domain in this sense. Let’s say you have two exactly identical websites except that one is an EMD and the other is not. If all other factors were equal, then the EMD would surely outrank the non-EMD because they have just one more small factor. So EMDs are still good, they are not being punished, instead, they just aren’t being treated with the special privileges that they used to be treated with.
EMD Algorithm Update Recovery and Survival
All of my EMDs survived this update because I always posted Panda-friendly, only got Penguin-Friendly links and in addition, I think the social media integration helped to legitimize the sites as well. Things like a Youtube channel, Twitter account, and FB page helped to prevent the sites from being affected. One example is InvestinGreenEnergy.com still ranks where it did last month.
Hope this helps to clear up some of the confusion surrounding the new algo updates and please let me know if I left anything out or if you have any questions or comments.