Whatever You Do, DON'T PANIC: Google's New Exact Match Domain (EMD) Algorithm Update Creates Shockwaves
Staying clam may not be so easy if your website was hit – and hit hard – by Google’s new exact match domain (EMD) algorithm update, which was launched this past Friday, September 28.
But, wait – there’s more.
Google has also confirmed that another Panda update (the 20th) was released on September 27. While Panda 20 continues to roll out, it is said to affect 2.4% of English search queries. The release of these two algorithms has had many business owners and SEOs in a whirlwind as far as which algorithm is the culprit.
EMD is intended to remove low-quality exact match domains from high search results in Google. So, if your website rankings have plummeted and you don’t have an EMD, then you were most likely hit by Panda 20.
A Tweet from Matt Cutts late last week stated, “New exact-match domain (EMD) algo affects 0.6% of English-US queries to a noticeable degree. Unrelated to Panda/Penguin.”
His statement provided a heads-up but it didn’t quite tell the whole story, which Google is known to do from time to time.
Even if a site that’s experienced a drop in search engine results does have an EMD, this decline may have been caused by different factors such as spam-like link building, keyword overuse, lack of authority, and others which Google likes to collectively refer to as ‘low quality’ signals.
Matt Cutts has personally emphasized that Google makes changes to their algorithm every single day (more than 500 in a given year). However, this doesn’t make algorithm updates any less stressful or confusing. On the bright side, there are ways to rebuild your site if you’ve been hit and the most important thing is to stay positive and be proactive in making the necessary changes. While most people are far from happy with Google updates, it pays off to keep your head in the game and access as much information as possible so that you can make proper changes to your site…until the next time that Google turns your world upside down!
Ultimately, it helps knowing that Google’s main goal is to give its users the most relevant and accurate search results. Google’s vision of what is the ideal web page or website has not changed in years, only its enforcement of those ideals (i.e. unique and useful/valuable content, natural links, etc.). So, it’s often about going back to basics and identifying areas where you’re crossing the line and probably have been for a long time without consequence. The balance of SEO is at work in the EMD update in the sense that you can’t solely rely on your URL for your rankings. However, even sites with an EMD that have solid SEO may still be penalized.
Instead of panicking, evaluate your site and try to see it from the Google lens.