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New Google Algorithm Exact Match Domains

Updated on October 17, 2012

Search Engine Optimisation

New Google Algorithm Pushes Articles Up The Charts (and flushes Exact Match Domains)

Google have just released their latest algorithmic update which has heavily targeted a small proportion of Exact Match Domains (EMDs) and pushed them down the search results in favour of "higher quality" sites.

An Exact Match Domain is a website where the url is an exact match for the key phrase its customers would type into google to find them. So for example, if you were promoting hotels near the channel tunnel (Eurotunnel), then this would be the EMD to cater for it:

Matt Cutts (Head of the Web Spam Team at Google) tweeted earlier this week:

Matt Cutts‏@mattcutts "Minor weather report: small upcoming Google algo change will reduce low-quality "exact-match" domains in search results."

and then later that day a little further clarification:

Matt Cutts @mattcutts "New exact-match domain (EMD) algo affects 0.6% of English-US queries to a noticeable degree. Unrelated to Panda/Penguin."

Some Exact Match Domains are still ranking pretty well with google where all other white-hat SEO practices had been properly implemented, however some (especially affiliate based websites) seem to have slid down the charts dramatically - even if they do contain quality content.

Unexpected Benefit to Article Websites Like Hub pages
As the full impact of Panda 20 didn't hit until later in the week (my worst-hit EMD actually recovered a little bit) we can assume that other shifts in the sand on the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) at that time were connected. The most interesting of these shifts seems to have been a dramatic increase in the ranking of articles on sites like HubPages.

It is possible that there was a combined update of the index, however it's much more likely that the algorithm favours websites with a high degree of variation in the overall content of the website. Looking at it objectively, the two types of site couldn't be more different - Most exact match domains tend to be highly targeted onto one subject area, whereas article websites favour content over a wide range of subjects. It's not surprising that an algorithm which negatively effects one type of site should positively affect its polar opposite.

I don't expect all article websites to benefit equally. Sites where quality guidelines are not enforced rigorously, and others which use software to highlight keywords without your permission creating links to other sites aren't likely to survive the "Cutt" in the long run. Hupages, however are still rigorously enforcing their quality guidelines and aren't piling on the advertising to a degree which attracts the wrath of google. Their business model of rewarding writers for quality content with a proportion of click-through advertising revenue is definitely reaping rewards for us all. Long may this continue.

What Should I Do If I've been Affected By This Algorithm?
As with any sudden shift in rankings, it's not advisable to make any drastic changes immediately after an update. Google have a "shoot it if it moves" approach to detecting web spam. It sounds far-fetched, but they actually do have an algorithm which detects reactive changes in your site immediately after a change in search engine rankings - trust me, I read their patent application for it. Whatever you decide to do, I'd recommend you do it slowly and submit your changes to the google index using Webmaster Tools in small progressive chunks.

At this early stage I'm theorising that it would be a good idea to increase the amount of content, and the range of the subject matter on your site, whilst reducing the number of affiliate links. But do it slowly!

Alternative Strategies
If you're not already a HubPages writer, I'd recommend joining HubPages and writing articles on your specialist subject with titles which are targeted at your most important key phrases for google. I'd also recommend following me as I'm going to be writing a lot on the subject in the near future. Not only will this improve the referral traffic to your site (especially in this lean time), but will also give you the opportunity to appear higher up in the google search results and receive links from a site that google considers "White Hat". But do remember to keep your average hub score over 75 in order to prevent your links becoming "no-follow". (Which reminds me, please give me a thumbs up and the bottom of this article if you found it interesting or useful - this keeps my average hub score nice and healthy!)

In the long run it's best to keep your SEO strategies clean and stick to the guidelines google provide for webmasters on how to stay "in favour" with google. They have, after all, been talking about EMDs for some time and it's not a great surprise to me that this change has arrived.

When given lemons, make lemonade and take advantage of the great rankings that articles have the potential to achieve.

Do post comments if you have questions and follow me if this article applies to you... I also have another article on how you can maximise the impact of your articles in google's search engine results pages using Google Authorship.

Click here to sign up to HubPages and start writing great articles.

by Rachel Roodhardt


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    • profile image

      Marie 4 years ago

      Thank you for your quick response. Yes I have seen it - should have wrote this on there...I have been implementing it and look forward to hopefully seeing an improvement! I rank really well in bing/yahoo but google I am really far down now (and haven't done anything into it so far) so want to prove my brother wrong in that I can get this thing ranked again!

    • profile image

      Marie 4 years ago

      Hi Rachel,

      I was just wondering how long it took after implementing changes to your site to get back to page 1? Thanks


    • jacharless profile image

      Charles James 5 years ago from Between New York and London

      Hi Rachel, certainly do no mind elaborating. The xml {sitemap} of all your hubs exists. Its purpose is to collectively update and submit your hubs to search engines. This contains several elements, but in particular the link-title for matching Exact Domain to your hub. So, as recommended, match exact Title to the exact Link when first creating the hub, regardless of the internal title editor. It does not change the original link.

      Also -and this is HUGE- place the hub in the closest matching topic and sub topic. It may take some time to find the best matching topics on HP, but well worth it. The more precise the Title, Link, Topic the more effective//efficient SEO measures can be. As said, the xml is a form of SEO measure. Another is your rss feed. Hope that made sense. :) James

    • jacharless profile image

      Charles James 5 years ago from Between New York and London

      It is vital to match Link & Title to the Sub.Domain. Also be advised, your actual xml sitemap here on HubPages includes the original links, so be sure to use the link-title regardless of the Title Tuner. Great Hub. +Vote. James.

    • chillingbreeze profile image

      chillingbreeze 5 years ago from India

      Not all EMDs affected in our case here. Though I noticed the drop with keyword rich URLs (ecommerce sites). Just testing some changes and would be happy to hub about it...

    • MyWebs profile image

      Anthony Goodley 5 years ago from Sheridan, WY

      Thanks Rachel for this great hub. I wasn't aware there had been a new Google algo update. Thanks for your comment on my hub. I'm sorry but as a rule I don't allow any links in my comments to discourage spammers, so your comment was denied. But since this hub is related to my hub's topic I did update my hub with a bit of your info and a link back to this hub which is better anyways in my opinon than a comment link. :-)

      Liked, Tweeted, thumbs up and usefull for this very useful hub.

    • NateB11 profile image

      Nathan Bernardo 5 years ago from California, United States of America

      That clears a lot of it up, thanks Rachel.. so, exact match domain means the name of the domain itself is a match. It's good to have that clear and now I understand. I'm still learning, and yes I will need to do more research on backlinking. Good information, thanks. Longevity, you mention in your other comment, that is interesting too, in terms of page rank; I notice how some of this just takes time and exposure of some kind.

    • truebluewriter profile image

      Malds Menzon 5 years ago from Manila, Philippines

      It's been debated over at the warrior forum what it is that the algo looks at. But nobody really knows for sure what criteria is being used to judge your site as EMD or as LQ.

      Also it's not internal linking, EMD means exactly that "exact match domains" where you use your keyword as your domain name and ride the high relevancy factor that brings to jump to page one without much work. I doubt google would penalize us for internal linking since it's something that people do naturally.

    • NateB11 profile image

      Nathan Bernardo 5 years ago from California, United States of America

      I'm not sure I'm understanding what is an Exact Match Domain: Is it that there is one website with links to different pages on that website? Also, does this new algorithm have an effect on backlinks? It has been suggested that Hubbers place backlinks on their blogs and at social bookmarking sites, etc. Maybe not a good idea, I don't really know. Also, there is some linking up internally on Hubpages, as in putting links to your other Hubs in a particular Hub. Sounds like to me the new algorithm mainly affects purely promotional websites of some sort, which lead to constant advertising. But it's not entirely clear to me. Sounds like it will have a good effect on Hubpages though, considering the diversity of the site.

    • truebluewriter profile image

      Malds Menzon 5 years ago from Manila, Philippines

      I also read a solution that worked for one of the warriors (warrior forum) for the penguin hit was to buy a relatively good PR domain name and transfer all posts from his blog that was hit to the new domain. He obviously did some heavy editing and made all his posts much better quality wise. I think something like that will prolly work for an EMD hit for the niche site owners.