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Exact Match Domains (EMDs) are now Less Significant in Google

Matt Cutts, the leader of Google’s web spam team, recently announced on Twitter that Google is going to reduce “low quality” exact match domains from showing up in its search results.

Earlier the term “upcoming” seemed ambiguous and it was also uncertain whether the change in the algorithm was already in progress or would it be done in the following weekend. Cutts also indicated that the change would be significantly affecting about 0.6% of the US-English search strings which are, however, unrelated to the updates of Panda and Penguin.

According to a research, a drop from 3.58% to 3.21% in EMD has been observed in 24 hours. This shows a per day change of 10.3%. The research has also indicated that about 41 EMDs got excluded from the top 10 search results and 5 new EMDs got a place in the top 10 position which means the total change was of 36 domains. It, however, cannot be claimed that the domains lost its ranking because of changes in algorithm; other reasons can also be responsible for the fall in ranking.

Exact Match Domain or EMD has always been a topic of argument and controversy in an SEO company. Earlier, when algorithms were not so developed, webmasters often manipulated the search engines by using “double hyphenated” domains as they were cheap and could easily be ranked. For a three word phase, it required $6. However, when appeared in the search result, one probably questioned the relevance of factors. In short, this is how EMD earned a bad name for itself.

However, what brushes aside all the debates and abuses is that EMD is an opportunity that a professional SEO company knows best to utilize. Optimizers made the best use of the benefits that the inbound keyword anchor text offered. One fact that cannot be overlooked is EMDs are, after all, capable of being brands. Since the very birth of the internet, high value keyword domains have always been an asset as far as commercial concerns are concerned.

There are certain factors that help in the identification of domains:
  • Hyphenated or unhyphenated
  • Number of keywords
  • TLD extension
  • Domains that include “stop words” only qualify as “partial match domains”

The basic problem was not with EMD and its relevance but the influence that keyword anchor text had over the algorithms of various search engines. EMDs just took advantage of the targeted anchor text. It is, after all, much easier to get a link which says “Puppies” when you have instead of

It was thus much more necessary to solve the problem of relevancy than deal with the issue of EMD directly. And that is the reason why the issues regarding anchor texts were being solved by Panda and Penguin which solved most of it by compelling EMD sites to improve their rankings through acceptable engagement metrics.

Some of the things that need to be considered while solving the EMD issues are de-linking, de-optimizing, focusing on quality than on quantity, widening anchor texts and back link profiles etc.

The change in Google’s algorithm does not really mean that all websites with keywords are now doomed; it is only that, as the change mentions, “low quality” sites that ranked only because of exact matching are going to be reduced.


  1. That is very interesting; you’re a very skilled blogger. I have shared your website in my social networks! Thanks for distribution knowledge regarding some vital steps for white hat SEO.

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