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Google’s Exact Match Domain Smackdown

Posted by Michael Bloch in web marketing (Tuesday October 2, 2012 )

Google has decided to try and weed out low quality web sites ranking highly on the basis of being an exact match domain (EMD).

Exact Match Domains take the form of a search query string; for example:


While using an exact match domain isn’t an issue if the site has quality content, the problem for some years is that some high ranking sites offered far less than an optimal user experience.

Given how cheap domain names are these days, someone with a bit of cash can register a bunch of exact match domains consisting of semi-popular keywords; whack up some sort of template site with a bit of text and a heap of ads and perhaps do quite well.

On September 28, Google’s Matt Cutts gave a heads-up on Twitter:

“..small upcoming Google algo change will reduce low-quality “exact-match” domains in search results.”

A follow up tweet stated:

“New exact-match domain (EMD) algo affects 0.6% of English-US queries to a noticeable degree. Unrelated to Panda/Penguin”.

From what I’ve read around the traps, the tweak is now in effect.

0.6% of US queries may not sound like much, but when you take into account Google would process many millions of these requests a day, it’s quite an impact.

By the way, the Panda/Penguin he’s referring to are two different algorithm treatments that Google has been implementing for some time; one focusing on web spam, the other on low quality content.

So if you’ve been bedeviled by low quality, spammy exact match domains that are preventing you from rising up in Google’s rankings, hopefully this tweak has brought you some joy – and that you haven’t been a victim of collateral damage; which is always a bit of a risk when Google starts tinkering.

Don’t let this put you off registering exact match domains – you just need to put effort in to ensure the site you build under them consists of quality and useful material.


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