It could be seen as somewhat of a ‘Black Friday’ for SEO’s and webmasters that deal with exact match domains for years to come. Friday 28th September was the date and Matt Cutts dropped the bombshell via his twitter account regarding the EMD update that has caused low quality sites that rely heavily on their exact match URLs for their rankings to dive-bomb or disappear from the SERPs completely.
The update impacted 0.6% of English-US queries and has been designed to go after “low quality exact match domains (EMD) to ensure they do not rank well in the Google search results”.
Cutts’ two tweets on the matter read as follows (both posted on 28th September):
“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.”
The important thing to note here is that the algorithmic update is totally unrelated to Penguin or Panda. Many webmasters will have seen their rankings plummet or totally disappear and feared for an update or refresh of these now infamous algorithms, but the EMD update was a separate move altogether.
Whilst owners of sites such as www.teethwhitening.com will be licking their wounds, they can hardly be surprised as Matt Cutts and the Google Webspam team have been discussing looking into exact match domains for a few years now.
And the bad news for low quality sites doesn’t end there…
As if this wasn’t enough, Matt Cutts then went on to announce this week that whilst the EMD update was being rolled out, so was the latest Panda update.
This was Panda 20 and is the largest update (not refresh) for some time, affecting 2.4% of search queries. This explains why many webmasters that didn’t run exact match domains were also seeing drops in the SERPs and meant that any low quality exact match domains now do not stand a chance.
The official line from Matt Cutts regarding Panda 20 is:
“Google began rolling out a new update of Panda on Thursday, 9/27. This is actually a Panda algorithm update, not just a data update. A lot of the most-visible differences went live Thursday 9/27, but the full rollout is baking into our index and that process will continue for another 3-4 days or so. This update affects about 2.4% of English queries to a degree that a regular user might notice, with a smaller impact in other languages (0.5% in French and Spanish, for example).”
So, anyone working with exact match domains and/or low quality sites will be experiencing severe difficulties and the next 3-4 days could herald yet more SERP fluctuations, the challenge may well be working out which update you have been effected by.