Google Algorithm Update: Exact Match Domain (EMD) Filter

Google's EMD Filter

Has your website been hit by Google’s EMD hammer?

Google unleashed a new algorithm update on September 28 that was designed to impact exact match domains by reducing low quality EMD domains in English-US search results. This update appears to be affecting a number of sites across the board as many webmasters have reported being hurt by this update.

What is an EMD?

An EMD is a domain name with keywords included in it. For example, if a business is selling blue widgets, the Exact Match Domain would be:

Barry Schwartz, Search Engine Roundtable, described the latest algorithm update as “Matt Cutts dropped a bomb on some webmasters and SEOs.” Barry reported Mr. Cutts tweets that were posted on September 28, 2012.

Minor weather report: small upcoming Google algo change will reduce low-quality “exact-match” domains in search results.” Matt Cutts @mattcutts – 28 Sep 12.

New exact-match domain (EMD) algo affect 0.6% of English-US queries to a noticeable degree. Unrelated to Panda/Penguin. Matt Cutts @mattcutts – 28 Sep 12

Danny Sullivan, Search Engine Land, wrote about the EMD update stating that like Panda and Penguin, we should expect future refreshes to come:

Google announced the EMD Update, a new filter that tries to ensure that low-quality sites don’t rise high in Google’s search results simply because they have search terms in their domain names. Similar to other filters like Panda, Google says EMD will be updated on a periodic basis. Those hit by it may escape the next EMD update, while others not hit this time could get caught up in the future.

Why would Google devalue EMDs?

The head of Google web spam fighting team and esteemed Google engineer, Matt Cutts, made this comment approximately 2 years ago:

We have looked at the rankings and weights that we give to keyword domains and some people have complained that we’re giving a little too much weight for keywords in domains. And so we have been thinking about adjusting that mix a little bit and sort of turning the knob down within the algorithm so that given two different domains, it wouldn’t necessarily help you as much to have a domain with a bunch of keywords in it.

Matt Cutts’ video on “How important is it to have keywords in a domain name?” on March 11, 2011


How to recover from the EMD filter hammer

The Google EMD filter is a periodic filter. According to Danny Sullivan, it isn’t a constantly running filter that goes around looking for bad EMD domains to filter. He states:

It’s designed to be used from time-to-time to ensure that what was filtered out before should continue to be filtered. It also works to catch new things that may have been missed before.

Sullivan’s advice to those suspecting that they were hit by EMD and want to recover is similar to the advice for those hit and trying to recover from Google’s Panda:

Get rid of the poor quality content.

Have you seen any changes in your EMD website traffic? If so, do you feel that your site has been unfairly targeted?

Fascinated with the growing potential and power of the Internet, Robin founded R & R Web Design LLC in the Chicago area in 2000. As creative director, she is passionate about helping others reach their Internet objectives through a strategic online presence with results driven custom web design, ethical SEO, and social media marketing.

4 comments on “Google Algorithm Update: Exact Match Domain (EMD) Filter
  1. Jamie Salcedo says:

    Thank for the post. I used to work for a company in San Fran that had their websites constantly smacked by web content filtering like Panda, even after we explained that we had quality EMD and content. Kinda annoying.

  2. AHHHHH! All of these algorithm changes are SO annoying. I suppose I understand from a business viewpoint, but it sure keeps us marketers scrambling! Thanks for the update …