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Google Update Targets Exact Match Domains

Matt Cutts has announced a new Google algorithm update targeting exact match domains (EMD). Though Google says the update is targeted at “low-quality” EDMs and should be impacting less than 0.6% of queries, but SEOs are saying otherwise.

Word of the EDM update came on Friday through Cutts’ Tweet reading:

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

He quickly followed up another Tweet clarifying the range of the new EMD update saying:

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

Chart courtesy of

Major Impact
Not long after the changes rolled out, SEOs were lighting up Twitter and message boards complaining of significant ranking drops. Many were dropped off entirely.

SEOMoz ran a study over the weekend that seemed to confirm the updates’ helter skelter impact. According to their research, the impact of EMD on overall pagerankings dropped significantly over the weekend.

The report was backed up with a number of examples from sites, like and that seemed to qualify as high quality but were bumped off nonetheless. According to SEOMoz, the algorithm update impacted both .com and .org sites. (Interestingly, none of the sites cited in this study were occupying the #1 spot.)

SEOs React

Not surprisingly, SEOs lit up social media with complaints, and praise, for Google’s latest big move. Many posters complained that Google is unfairly punishing them for providing exactly what customers want; domain names that are easily searchable.

On the side of the debate, Google supporters are saying that EMD’s are black hat and should have been targeted long ago.

Where It’s Heading

Google regularly adjusts algorithms to address the kinds of complaints we’re hearing about the EMD update. Don’t be surprised if another, more targeted, rollout in the very near future.

Until then, that’s just one more hit from Google to worry about.

Have you felt the impact of the new EMD update? Share your experiences in the comments section below.