Google announced a new algorithm change last week that took effect over the weekend… this update is not associated to Panda or Penguin and it’s aimed at Exact Match Domain names (EMD)… but I assert that it IS related to Panda and Penguin in that it’s punishing a lot of valid web sites and still rewarding sites that should not rank as high as they do… so like Panda and Penguin, it misses the mark… unless, Google’s aim is to get more people BUYING ads vs. relying on good SEO to get found.
So what exactly is an Exact Match Domain name? Let’s say your company name is BigBoyTrucks and you register a domain name called BigBoyTrucks… that’s an EMD, or, if you sell off road tires for trucks, you register a domain such as OffRoadTires… that’s an EMD… Google used to say that including your major keyword target in your domain name was a good thing… but no longer… well, that is if they consider your site to be “low quality“… and there’s where the problem is: Google can’t seem to accurately determine what low quality is and what it is not.
Long Tail Damage
My initial analysis of the EMD Update is that it slightly punishes the exact match searches by one or two notches in ranking, but SEVERELY punishes the long-tail keyword searches, even if they contain the exact match phrase. I have sites that have gone from first page ranking for several long-tail keyword phrases and are now ranking 200 to 400 deep (in other words they will never, never, never be found).
Matt Cutts of Google tweeted this on September 28, 2012:
“Minor weather report: small upcoming Google algo change will reduce low-quality “exact-match” domains in search results.”
He later tweeted this on the same day: “New exact-match domain (EMD) algo affects 0.6% of English-US queries to a noticeable degree. Unrelated to Panda/Penguin.“
Here again, the term “low-quality” is key to this update – Google still can’t figure out what is low quality… sites with unique content are being killed.. sites with products people want to purchase are being killed… while sites with neither are now ranking in the first few pages.
History of EMD Exploits and Google’s Conflict of Interest.
One of the “secrets” that some Internet Marketing gurus have used to make Adsense revenue is to register sites that are exact match domain names to popular search terms, put some content on it, and load it up with Adsense ads… then build some links to it and after a while you would start making money from people finding the site and clicking on the ads… I think this type of site is what Google wants to kill… but the problem is, they’re using a canon to kill a gnat… while the gnat is still flying around in a lot of cases. In fact, this is, in my opinion, what they’ve been trying to kill with Panda and Penguin all along…
But this creates a conflict of Interest for Google since they themselves profit from those Google Adsense ads… if this is in fact the type of sites Google wants to kill then why are they punishing sites without any ads? Why not start with their databases of sites using Adsense ads and examine them for quality?
But what Denotes Quality?
I know it’s frustrating to search for something and find sites that are junk, not readable, or, just plain wrong… but if the content is unique and not gibberish then it should not be punished. Quality is not easily determined: if the site is useful to someone then it has quality… if even to help someone figure out that they need to change their search terms slightly then it’s useful… which infers quality. And that it seems, is beyond Google’s ability to determine with algorithms and quite possibly with real, live people.
It’s getting harder and harder to keep Google happy… unfortunately, a lot of people never think to use Bing or Yahoo to perform searches, so in effect Google IS the Internet. Since Penguin was released, I’ve started making it a habit when searching for something to use both Google and Bing… in a lot of cases I’ve found better results on Bing.
How to Recover from Penguin, Panda, and the EMD Update?
In my previous post about Google Penguin I said that I would post more info when I had it on how to recover. I was just about ready to do that when this EMD update came out… I do have some recommendations for recovering from all these Google updates, but nothing will get you back to where you were before they hit… especially with this latest update. I will post my thoughts after we’ve had a few weeks to digest this EMD update.
Until next time,