Exact Match Domain Update: Cracking Down On Low-Quality EMDs
Acquiring exact-match domains or EMDs used to be a surefire way to get to the top of the SERPs especially for high-volume search terms. However, Google spotted this black hat tactic and rolled out this update to address the issue. If you run a Mexican restaurant in Philadelphia, examples of an EMD is mexicanrestaurantphiladelphia.com or mexicanrestaurantphilly.com.
The algorithmic change was implemented in September 2012 and improved how the search engine handled EMDs especially low-quality ones. The update evaluated URLs and determined whether exact domain matches deserved to rank high in the results pages or didn’t. A website may be tagged as an EMD if the URL matches a generic search term and doesn’t offer unique content or anything of value to visitors.
The EMD update had a significant impact and resulted in massive devaluation. There were noticeable changes in the SERPs. In a report by Moz, 41 pages were removed from the Top 10 or first displayed results pages with five new ones added at the time, from the 1000 SERPs they monitored. This led to a net change of 36 websites. Examples of EMDs that lost their high positions were playscrabble.net and purses.org. According to Google, though, the change affected 0.6 percent of searches based on volume.
Additionally, it’s crucial to note that the Panda #20 overlapped the rollout of the EMD update. This fact raised questions in the webmaster community as to which one led to some sites’ loss in ranking. The Panda algorithmic change reportedly influenced 2.4 percent of queries.
Today, while it’s still essential to put thought into the domain name you’ll use for your brand, it only contributes a very slight advantage for your rankings. Google has over 200 ranking factors that work together to determine if your website deserves to be displayed on the first page of the search results.
Of course, you can still obtain an EMD as long as you make sure that you don’t use it for spam. An excellent example is Hotels.com which ranks high because the URL is easy to remember and it provides a valuable service to users. More than being a booking website, it also offers travel guides which can help visitors create their itinerary at the destination of their choice.
These are the primary factors you should focus on to improve your rankings in the SERPs: