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Is Google Now Penalizing Exact Match Domains?

Is Google Now Penalizing Exact Match Domains?

Hi guys, how's it going?

A question we at Affilorama have been receiving a lot lately is "Is Google now penalizing Exact Match Domains (EMDs)?"

The answer is yes, in fact, I've noticed this myself; one of my favorite "pet project" websites has completely disappeared from the first hundred or so pages on Google for all its search terms. This site had been ranking in the top five for just about any keyword I fancied in my niche. Frustrating huh? 

So if you're hurting from Google's recent updates, I feel your pain! If the Panda and Penguin updates weren't enough, us poor affiliate marketers now have further woes to deal with. In this blog post we're going to examine the evidence to see what's happened, who the EMD update has affected, and what you can do in order to recover your business.

What happened?

A picture paints a thousands words, so to begin let us get the news straight from the horse's mouth:

 

Check out the Tweet date - September 28th. Now, let's take a look at the Google Analytics stats for my "pet project" site at howtoinvestingold.org:


What date did my site's traffic take a dive? On September 30! Coincidence, I think not. How To Invest In Gold has an exact-match domain, and was therefore penalized by Google.

Basically, what appears to have happened is that Google has come along and taken the hatchet to websites that use long-tail keywords. This has been designed to weed out "low quality" sites that use EMDs to artificially inflate the rankings of the site for a particular keyword.

EMDs have always been a popular method of ranking for long-tail keyword phrases: You research a profitable keyword phrase, register a domain name that matches this phrase, and then build content until you hit the first page of Google (maybe throw some backlinks in there for good measure).

According to some early data over at Seomoz, the importance of exact matching in a domain name for high Google rankings has dropped a sizable amount:

 

It seems clear - Google has taken a real dislike to the use of EMDs as a method of "gaming" the search engines. Some experts have postulated that this isn't really a "penalty" per se, but instead the value of exact matching domains has decreased. So basically, if an EMD was the only thing keeping your site high up in the search engines, then it stands to reason that your site's rankings may have fallen quite badly.

However, if your site also has a lot of links keeping it in traction, or a big social presence, then you might well have seen steady rankings and traffic, or even an increase in site performance.

Who has been affected?

Well, apart from yours truly, there appear to be many people who have been heavily penalized in terms of search ranking and natural search engine traffic because of this update. A quick search in the PPC/SEO Warrior Forum will yield dozens of results for EMD questions, complaints, and observations.

As with the Google Panda and Penguin updates, it seems as if honest affiliate marketers are being hit with the sharp part of the hammer once again. Because of the very nature of affiliate marketing (i.e. we are trying to drive traffic to our own sites for our own profit using free Google traffic, and we use SEO to achieve this in many cases)  we are always going to be on the defensive when it comes to Google algorithm changes and updates.

Unfortunately, there always tends to be a lot of "collateral damage" when Google algorithm changes and updates are rolled out. For example, my own How To Invest In Gold site has disappeared from the search rankings, even though it features hundreds of posts of quality, unique content and almost no affiliate links. In the comments section of this WebProNews blog post, you will see dozens of similar complaints about quality sites being penalized for using EMD domains.

Of course this is all very frustrating for these main reasons:

  1. There is no sense of consistency with Google algorithm changes. To use my own sites as an example, How To Invest In Gold was really hammered. Fair cop, it's an EMD - however, it is also the only domain name that was available at the time that also made sense for the site. Conversely, my Internet Marketing Training For Newbies website (check it out to see AffiloTheme kicking ass) has not lost its rankings, even though it is an EMD. Strange how an aged site with massive content disappears, whereas a newer site in a niche much more prone to spamming survives. As with Panda and Penguin, there appears to be little consistency with how algorithm updates are actually applied. 
  2. It is difficult to plan for the future/future-proof your sites. After all, I could have purchased the domain name "qwertyuiop12345.org" and then built the site there, but that crazy domain name doesn't make sense. Imagine if bricks and mortar businesses were unable to name their stores in an appropriate manner ("Steve's Motorbike Spares" has to call itself "Random Collection of Stuff Not Related to Motorcycling" in order to continue in business). Should we stop purchasing domain names with strong keyword-correlation in the future? Who knows?! As any high school economics student will tell you, being able to plan for the future is essential for business confidence and success. 
  3. There is too much collateral damage. Google appears to have taken the "carpet bombing" approach to EMDs; very effective, but guaranteed to injure innocent bystanders. I can understand that Google wants to deliver what it sees as the best possible search results, but it is unfortunate to see that so many people are being caught up in the crossfire for no apparent reason (other than following what was SEO best practice at the time they built their site). This brings me on to my next point:
  4. Search engine result quality is not improving. As far as I can tell, the quality of search engine results is not improving markedly. Before the Penguin update, search terms were dominated by entries from article directories and Web 2.0 sites; these were wiped, and then we saw "cheap and cheerful" EMDs with just as thin content dominating the show. Skip forward to October 2012, and many search terms (epecially niche long-tail terms) are dominated by endless pages of low quality YouTube videos, shopping websites, and large commercial sites; diversity seems at a premium. I'm sure you will agree that it is difficult to argue that search results are improving in quality, especially when pages are being dominated by the same sites. Check out this blog post for evidence that Google search results are becoming less diverse. When searching for an honest review of an affiliate product, the last thing you want to see is 20 pages of 30 second YouTube videos crammed full of affiliate links! You might also like this post about Penguin reducing the quality of search results.
  5. Livelihoods are being destroyed. I love seeing people succeed online and generate the lifestyle they have always wanted; that's one of the biggest reasons I enjoy working at Affilorama so much! It's disheartening to see people work so hard and put in real effort, only to have their income source wiped out overnight for something that is beyond their control. Fair enough, you deserve to be penalized if you are spamming or engaging in dubious practices - but if you're just building a helpful site that does a little bit of promotion, then you shouldn't have to worry that your livelihood might disappear overnight. Turns on a sixpence, as they say.

What can you do?

If your site(s) have been hit by this most recent of changes to Google's search algorithm, then what can you do?

My first recommendation is to continue adding quality content to your website, even if it might seem like this is in vain. Remember that Google is unlikely to ever punish you for having too much content, as long as it is unique, well-written, and offers lots of value to your readers. So keep writing those articles and adding them to your sites.

Next, you should look to build your social presence. If you haven't got Twitter, Facebook, and Google + set up already, then it is time to get cracking! Building up a strong social presence will show Google that you are serious about community, and serious about getting REAL people involved in your website experience. I would advise spending as much time as possible building up your social presence!

Finally, you should start looking to move your business away from Google as much as possible. Now I don't want to come across as a prophet of doom (believe it or not, I'm actually a nice enough guy :P ) but I truly think that attaining high search engine rankings and relying on them as your main source of traffic and income is a risky strategy. Unless you are truly dedicated to building a massive authority site with a BRANDED domain name, then you might want to start incorporating some alternative traffic strategies:

  1. Build your list, now. I cannot stress enough the importance of list-building. Once you've built up a big list, you can stop worrying about your business disappearing overnight. In fact, if you want to stop worrying about Google and SEO altogether then focus on building up your list with a simple squeeze page, kickass opt-in content and a profitable newsletter sequence - just send direct traffic from solo ads, ad swaps, article marketing, forum marketing, and guest posting and watch yourself build a REAL business. At the very least, sign up to MailPush and start building your list today. Remember to build up that relationship with awesome content and interactivity, and you can't go far wrong.
  2. Experiment with PPC. Although the word PPC conjures up nightmares of expensive campaigns, failed profit models, and big credit card bills, PPC can be a real traffic goldmine that is independent of organic Google SEO traffic. The more cynical among us (myself included) might even be inclined to argue that Google's constant algorithm updates and penalization of those trying to profit from free search traffic are designed to herd us towards Google Adwords. After all, sites that drop big coin on PPC never seem to be punished when algorithm updates occur. Check out AffiloBlueprint for some cutting edge PPC training.
  3. Look for external traffic sources. Find relevant forums in your niche, set up a signature that redirects to your squeeze page, and then post like crazy (if you find this tedious you could even hire an outsourcer to do the work for you). Comment on relevant blogs and add value, then watch the traffic roll in. Create high-quality YouTube videos and link these to your site. Guest blog on sites with big readerships. Own up with Web 2.0 sites like Squidoo; the possibilities for generating traffic that doesn't rely on Google (or any search engine for that matter) are virtually limitless. 

Conclusion

So it seems pretty clear that Google has been jabbing at sites which rely on EMDs to boost their rankings. Unfortunately, this means that many affiliates, like the community here at Affilorama, wind up taking a pounding as well.

There's not a lot you can do about the updates and algorithm changes themselves - Google have built a successful business model, and nobody should be suggesting that they be forced to act in an altruistic manner that might not be in the best interests of their business. If Google decides it doesn't like EMDs, then they are perfectly at liberty to penalize them. If Google decides it doesn't like sites about cats, then it should be free to act as it sees fit!

However, affiliate marketers need to wake up to the harsh reality that relying on one source of traffic (organic search traffic) simply isn't a safe business model. The wise man built his house upon the rocks, and the wise affiliate should build his (or her) income stream on as many different rocks as possible!

Seeing as this is quite a contentious issue I've discussed today, I would love to hear your opinion. Were your sites punished by the latest Google update? Maybe you've come out on top; just leave a comment below and get the ball rolling!

Update - 10/19/2012

Matt Cutts from Google suggested that the EMD update was only going to affect about 0.6% of global searches. The data from the following graph confirms this, as we can see that around 3% (down from approximately 3.6%) of search results are EMDs:


Now Google's goal isn't to remove all exact match domains! Instead, they are just trying to cull those "lower quality" EMDs that were deemed to add little value to the webspace. Unfortunately, some innocent sites got caught up in the crossfire too. However, if you have good content that gives value to your readers, you should see a recovery.

You'll also see that the presence of authority sites in the search engine rankings has gone up:

 

The meaning of all this? Google wants you to start building a branded authority site. They are continually showing a preference towards authority websites.

Looks like it could be time to start writing more content!

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  • Reply Zarah Pimentel697 days ago

    Very informative, as always.. Thanks for this.

    I am really learning how to get non-Google traffic. I do not want to wake up one morning and 'boom'... no traffic at all.

    Some of my sites were hit and some were not (thankfully). I will be keeping in mind your suggestions on how to recover.

    Cheers!

  • Reply Jim Rush697 days ago

    I was just thinking what I would do if this happened. Wouldn't moving the sites content to a new domain, restore the old traffic? I guess PR would take some time to restore as well, would redirecting the old website to the new one work?

    Thanks for the info!

  • Reply David Withington697 days ago

    Thanks Sam for the in-depth report! Much appreciated.

    About a week ago, I bought an EMD for DentistWigan and created a web site. Within the week it was on page 1 of Google for the search term "Dentist Wigan".

    I'm trying to understand why. Maybe it's because...

    1. It's not considered to be a long tail keyword.
    2. It's a local search and therefore very specific.
    3. Google Adwords ads and YouTube videos are on it.
    4. The content is good enough to satisfy Google.
    5. It will appear and disappear with the infamous "Google Dance".

    It will be interesting to see how long it remains there.

  • Reply Rex Smith • 697 days ago

    Google is acting like a big brother bullying the mere mortals. There should be an alternate to Google to give it a run for its money. The time is now.

  • Reply Diego Menezes697 days ago

    That´s not the first time I have problems with Google.
    We need to create a list and maybe this is really the most important information or tip in this article!

  • Reply Francesco • 697 days ago

    That's exactly what I think it's happening. All my EMDs have completely disappeared!
    I think this is happening plain an simple: As Google acquires more and more online properties it will tweak its ranking rules in their favor.
    This is the reason why you see tons of youtube videos all of a suddn dominating search results.

    What to do? stop buying domaing and use google properties!
    Blogger is SOO cool BTW. Youtube SOO easy to use and rank with! Added bonus they are to9tally FREE!

    Also, time to profit from adsense big time! How? Using blogger.com and youtube of course!

    Thank you for the excellent post!!!

  • Reply Jessica • 697 days ago

    My website has been around for 7 years and has over 1200 posts. It is not an exact match domain and doesn't in any way manipulate google. But this month I went from being on the first page of google, where I have been for years, to "nowhere to be found." I have no idea why this happened. Truthfully, I'm tired of jumping through hoops. Google is a total gamble, and I think business built online are also a gamble.

  • Reply escobar ys anchez697 days ago

    Really excellent post. Thanks.

  • Reply Russ Turner697 days ago

    Hi Sam, my graph almost matches yours except mine was a bit more severe but like yours fell off it's perch 30 Sept, and you can multiply that by 3, all EMD's

    I have been slowly building and AM has just begun to pay some decent returns but now back to the drawing board.

    As many of the posts have said, the answer is to work without Google but that is far from easy with one man bands like mine with very limited resources.

    Ok lets get back on the bike and start rebuilding.

    Best of luck to us all.

    Thanks for another great article.

    Russ

  • Reply Jusitn Eckrich • 697 days ago

    Great article, very well written.

    My thought is this, with so many new digital platforms and so many new ways to gather information, combined with my own evolution in online activity, particularly as it relates to settling down in my niche, I don't use Google search nearly as much as I did two or three years ago.

    In fact, I spend very little time using Google search these days.

    Most of my activity, simply because I'm not new to this world anymore, comes by way of already established relationships, emails, and social media.

    Could that be hurting Google's overall traffic flow and volume of business?

    Could that mean they're wanting to push more people to PPC?

    Could these new updates (penalties) have anything to do with that?

    Maybe.

    Seems very likely.

    But the point is, don't put all your eggs in one basket and don't build the infrastructure of your business to rely completely on one avenue of traffic.

    Like in the Great Recession, in order to survive, businesses had to get leaner, and grow stronger.

    Same with the online world.

    Only the strong survive.

    Instead of complaining and adopting a victim mentality, step up, continue evolving and let these challenges push you to new heights.

    Google can be your best friend if you let them.

    Being forced to grow and evolve and expand is painful, but necessary.



  • Reply Mark Bell697 days ago

    My site was not hit by Google, however know many solid webmasters which have. Good quality sites which were okay with panda then got spanked by penguin.

    I know this would be a challenge but would love to see 10 Million Google users band together and send Google a message by A:) stop using Google, B:) contacting them about their results and advising them you are moving to another search engine. All this coinciding on a specific day...Trade Sanctions do send a message. I know this is la la land thinking but Google is going to peeve off the wrong guy one day and something will go viral.

    Love to see their revenue and traffic graph take a big dip just because WE can. Best advice you have offered above is move away from Google dependency.

  • Reply rahul • 697 days ago

    thanks man!! lol

  • Reply Jarvis Edwards697 days ago

    I think Google is overshooting in an attempt to clean up their terrible search results. I realized that Bing and Yahoo seem to be my engines of choice nowadays to actually find what I'm looking for search-wise, when in the past it was only Google 99% of the time.

    Yes, diversity is critical, especially now. If marketers stop looking to please Google and work on providing good content, these algorithm updates wont affect our livelihoods. Of course that's the catch 22.

    Matt Cuts could careless how our SEO results improve or worsen and following many of their guidelines, being "Google-friendly" can be actually COSTING you traffic.

    For instance, thousands of backlinks might seem "unnatural"
    to Google, however, those same links can bring tons of visitors/conversions/sales....

    If we continue to build our strategies around Big G, we will eventually be left with NO traffic at all!

    I agree....Diversify!

  • Reply XXL • 697 days ago

    I'm here for the first time thanks to your very useful article. One of my EMD sites disappeared but I'm planning to improve the ranking of my several G accounts pages (youtube videos, Blogger posts, Google maps, G+ pages etc.) in order to bring traffic to my EMD site and try to resuscitate it.

  • Reply John Kelly697 days ago

    Thanks for the 'insider' view Sam.

  • Reply jasa web amazon697 days ago

    EMD's always my choice to make money online. i hope good article written and put some quality backlink in high PR website will reduce this.

  • Reply Scott Branden697 days ago

    Clearly Google needs to come clean on just what is in their algorithm so we will know just what is good and what is not.

    Then we can all make the corrections ahead of time as well as know how to correctly build sites, instead of spending ages trying to reverse engineer a solution after the fact.

    If they don't, then the big G may quickly become the small g as everyone goes elsewhere in disgust, because quite frankly I'm totally over the roller coaster ride and I want to get off before I get sick and throw-up all over my EMDs. S

  • Reply Masetti Sideswararao696 days ago

    You are right Sam, We have some exact match domains with unique content, which is updated by us on daily basis.

    Google Algorithm update effected my two sites, but we are working on it without stopping and I notice one of my domain is coming back on google top results.

    Where as other domain is nowhere to see on google's first 100 results.

    You made a good point that, if our EMD have unique content and doing regular updates with unique content helps to back on search engine rankings.

    Million thanks for the EMD update & tips to improve alternative traffic.

  • Reply Joe King696 days ago

    I don't think Google are penalizing EMDs. They just aren't giving them the extra boost in the SERPs they once had. Now it doesn't mater what your domain is: all domains are equal.

    I don't agree with this: "Google wants you to start building a branded authority site."

    Google don't want you to start building such a site. They are giving branded authority sites like the ones on your list a boost in the SERPS but that doesn't mean they want you to try and build one or that they will give you any special treatment for doing so.

    The SERPs are getting closed off to the major players and trying to build your own site to rival wikipedia probably won't work.

  • Reply mary castro696 days ago

    This is a fantastic Post! Very detailed, well thought out and VERY helpful.
    I am a newbie and haven't been effected but the time is coming soon.

    I love the idea of putting Google in the caboose! Success to us all!

  • Reply Firdaus • 696 days ago

    Hi Sam, I guess in the future We should trying to convert our habit to use Bing and Yahoo instead of Google.
    Google is not better than bing not to say that Bing is better than google in term of search result quality. So I guess We have to encourage people to use bing/yahoo as They're more reliable compare to google that just return bad search result from Videos and the site they think They can trust.

  • Reply Suresh Bist696 days ago

    Nice post and I agree that a big branded site is the way to go. But it also means that one can only work on limited number of sites, the small guys especially.

    In fact, at times I think I should be working only on one site and make it as big as possible, rather than trying to handle multiple sites. The fact is that for each of those top 10 domains listed, there are hundreds to thousands of people working for them.

    But we guys do it the other way round, working on so many sites at a time.

    Maybe that model worked for the small guys for some time, but it is going to be difficult from here on. One of the comments was to use more of Blogger and Youtube, but I am sure even it will meet with the same fate somewhere down the line.

    The challenge I’m facing is to convince myself to work on as few sites as possible, and probably discard the rest (most of them), I guess it takes time to get rid of some habits.

    Obviously I am not going to wait forever to decide, and as someone said, this could also be an opportunity if you take a long term view and also build other traffic sources.

  • Reply James • 696 days ago

    It's a good thing I never bother with SEO and have less than zero page ranking and that I chose my domain based on intuition and not market research because, when you get absolutely no hits through Google, changes to the algorithm do not effect your web traffic in the least. SEO strategies favor entrepreneurial-minded people who write boring "useful" content, not the artist who entertains. I wouldn't artificially embed a fusty keyword phrase into my writing if you paid me. The new age is an age of deadened mechanical prose.

  • Reply Delwar Jahan Rony • 696 days ago

    The better thing to omit all these kind of crap is never go for Google changes. Google will always be changing. All you need to is write up your blog for the people who loves. Eventually Google will notice that you are not running for the short term popularity in the search engines.

    I like to write for the people who loves my posts. These need a little time spent on analyzing the market, but will pay you off. Too much keyword and extra ranking gaining technique will make you sufferer.

    Does domain really matters? I say yes. People who you write for will understand the subject matter from the domain easily and if you have created some good quality content- then who the hell cares for the 2% traffic from Google?

    Make social connection and people will share your posts and tweets on their own will. There are lot of more sites I discover everyday through my facebook channel and friends than from Google. So chill brothers make an authority site.

  • Reply Mathaios Vardoulakis696 days ago

    Hey,
    After the latest gogle`s updates ,i i have start wondering if all those new results that are now in the result pages,are the results that are supposed to be as closer to what google says that is trying to serve.
    I mean ,are those results what the google`s users are trying to find and closer to what they search,and provide the best user experience,better than the results who were appearing previously?
    I think i have my doubts.
    What do you about this?

    Thanks

  • Reply Steven Bishop • 696 days ago

    This is what happens is you rely completly on another business for your success. You need to innovate!

  • Reply Kevin Aquilina696 days ago

    Hi to all Affilo readers.
    While I truly feel the honest pain from anyone honest being hit unjustly by the big "Hand-Slapper," -- one MUST remember that we are still playing in Google's territory -- by ranking in their SERPs (for free).

    One might argue that Google (and other SEs; for that matter) need quality content and quality pages to index accordingly, thus giving their "loyal" searchers the best experience without any dramas or frustrations in order to continue using their search engine (of choice) and maybe even click on some relevant PPC ads or their own product review ads.
    In the footer you will see "Google is compensated by some of these merchants. Tax and shipping costs are estimates."
    Now before jumping on me and telling me I am saying nothing new -- which by the way is true - you are right. But think again!
    They have been working as affiliates themselves for quite some time, and loo and behold - as a successful business they are exploiting every possibility of maximizing their own revenue!

    They also have the real threatening problem of thin affiliate / and or Adsense sites which are always finding new ways; read as "loopholes" in gaming the genuine system, thus reducing the users' positive experience.
    To prevent further damage they must act fast... and like everything in life; from national or international politics, to anything else you can think of in real life. New rules are placed to prevent any further abuse and the innocent sometimes also get caught up as a victim to bad circumstances (being in a bad place at a bad time).
    Rule #1: Do NOT Panic and continue doing what you were doing (ASSUMING it was right in the first place)
    This shows Google that you are an authoritative name in your subject (niche) and are not fussed out like most small affiliate/opportunists are!
    No pun-intended to anyone serious reading this - but unfortunately it is a fact.
    Usually their algorithms are not final, which means they're being constantly tweaked until they try and find the best balance for their user's (and their own) interest.

    Usually what happens in these circumstances, when the dust settles is that the Good will Rise back to where they were before in the SERPs or even move at a better (favorable) position -- which leads us back to Rule #1: Do NOT Panic and continue your routine of submissions, backlinks additional articles etc. If you haven't been touching the site for some time and were ranking well in the top ten do NOT rush to your articles and start tweaking (optimizing them), as any additional SEO will probably signal an alert beacon warning to them! Just try and be patient.

    We must also remember that unfortunately we do not own the search engines; therefore we are always at their mercy.... and can only play safely by their rules -- hoping we stay in the game!
    By leveraging Google's (and other major SEs) territory from ranking freely in their SERPs we can only do much.... which means DIVERSIFY as much as possible.

    And I'm not just speaking online here. Add a portfolio of Web 2.0 social sites and other free and paid online sources and expand progressively to offline advertising too! You have to start thinking outside the box.

    I personally took this good but "Hard-to-Swallow" advise from Dan Kennedy and Rich Shefren after being hit from:- wait for it - not Google this time, but from 'Facebook Likes' on my website!

    Also every "Online Business-Intended Activity" from your own website, webpage article on your website, article submissions to other authority sources should be worked out in a way to funnel the reader to a capture-form for additional free value. e-Book, videos, newsletter series etc. - you get the idea.
    This way you are generating your own army of leads, which will become your future asset, as long as you continue to offer great value and advice with non-pushy (read as begging to buy my stuff) content.

    This is not the first and will probably not be the last "Google Slap and Google Dance" we will encounter. As I mentioned through my own experience I also got hit badly from FB and I did nothing shady or illegal - just got too much likes for their likings.
    So be prepared that as time goes by, things will always get tougher online, not just Google (even though they seem to lead by example right now..... YES pun-intended to them).

    Another great idea (you should pay me for this info!.... heh, what do you think?) is to start doing you market research with a slightly different twist.
    Let me explain in more detail....

    Apart from the normal marketing keyword research list we all do, and maybe even check out our direct competitors, why not try and find the time to pile up a list of your natural online small competitors who you'll be up against - (affiliates like you with limited budget) and try and merge up together with a business plan of attack on dominating more of the same business together.
    I have seen this type of "business pooling" being utilized in the offline world too.
    Most seem to be running successfully and stronger when compared to individual performance from my own observations.
    Any thoughts??

    Hope this was an eye-opener and good luck in obtaining back your SEO rankings.

    Oooh... before I forget.
    I have been trying to de-optimize slightly any highly SEO optimized pages for safety-measures. I have been doing this for some time before anything seemed to happen to my rankings (but after the Panda update).
    What I do is simple:
    If my sites are still ranking approximately as they were, after any G-o-o-g-l-e wave I will try and reduce the optimization of that page/article slightly by a few small (nearly irrelevant tweaks) to reduce the risk of over-optimization rules.... because my philosophy is:
    "If it is 98% SEOd today it can only become seen as 105%, or more in a few months time in the eyes of the monsters...."
    Note: Perform this AT Your Own Risk... I Should Not be held liable on my poor philosophy.

    Once again thanks to Sam for this post and any helpful contributors for sharing your thoughts with like-minded individuals.

    Kevin Aquilina.

  • Reply Albert Fontaine696 days ago

    As I am a newbie in this venture, I find it disgusting that Google would suppress the little guy and let's face it, it's just because the big guys are paying big $ for that top rating. It was difficult enough to try and drive the business with keywords and all their rules but this is very disheartening.
    How does a site with no money to invest get rolling ? (Bert)

  • Reply Mike Smith696 days ago

    Hi Sam excellent article, but you got to wonder what are we doing in this business when a seach engine like google can control our future.
    Sure I agree lets get rid of the rubbish, but is it to stop there, will google push out the small man leaving the search engine to focus on the big guys, makes less work for google in the long run.
    Perhaps it's time to move away from Google, advertisers certainly have dropped off.

  • Reply Peter Karpouzas • 696 days ago

    My sites were absolutely SMAAAAASHED by Google. My old URL paintcorrections.com has basically disappeared from Google. I have a massive site on car detailing loaded with content about maintaining cars and is no longer around. I'm only trying to get my new URL http://www.car-detailing-sydney.com on the ranks now and I hear this news about EMD's. I can't say they are permanently penalizing all sites with EMD's but I do agree with what your saying. I don't think the user experience is better either with you tube videos slowly starting to take over the top of the Google pages. They are definitely shitty 30 second videos and it is destroying the quality of content available to searchers. And yes I am diversifying links. I no longer rely alone on Google for my searches but Google is a big key part of anyone's business surviving. It is a dead giveaway with what Google is now looking for for related search terms with You tube videos slowly dominating the top of the pages. It also would be too hard to tap into this new algorithm and exploit it as what always happens. I had links in blogs, squidoo, forums, articles and it all got discounted with the new Penguin updates and my old URL disappeared

  • Reply Nzeribe Azukwu695 days ago

    Thanks guys for your informative suggestions regarding this matter. I am half way building a site based on EMD. Now I am hands down with this googles action. However, I will still complete the site then change traffic directions ei diversify.
    Much gratitude to you all.

  • Reply Dennis Tomlin695 days ago

    I have a website that was ranking number 1 in google for "natural health care supplements" and now I don't even know where it stands. I searched the first couple of pages of google and could not find it. I guess you could say I got hit with the google update. I now have to work twice as hard to get it back in the listings.

  • Reply Melanie Zann694 days ago

    Thank you very much for your helpful and informative post!!

  • Reply Arlene Larsen694 days ago

    Thank you for the great info and advice. It comes at a perfect time for me. My goal for today was to create several subdomains at my main website with EMD and squeeze pages related to creating residual income in Telecommunications (VoIP) and The Deregulation of Energy and Merchant Services (some of the top industries according to Fortune magazine).

    Whew!!

    I had spent a couple of days last week doing a Google keyword search and had my list of names I was going to use. LOL! I do have 1 www.ResidualIncome.LarsenEnterprisesOnline.com and may still create 1 or 2 like www.DeregulationOfEnergy.VibrantWomen.net (www.VibrantWomen.com is my main site) just in case...but not spend tons of time doing it.

    I totally agree that we should not put all our eggs in one basket. Especially when that basket is FREE!

    I'm still building it, but my main site www.VibrantWomen.com contains a lot of great content and I'm not relying on SEO to drive traffic. Looks like I will continue to focus my efforts there.

    Thanks for saving me hours and hours :)

  • Reply Stephanie Tu694 days ago

    I hate Google for this. I spent over 18 months writing my own content, researching case studies, building page rank and backlinks and for what? I get dropped out of the rankings because I chose a good domain name that is relevant to my content? Makes no sense to me.

    What's worse is that with every Penguin/Panda update, my site rose in rankings. Then this update happened and I lost 300 targeted daily visitors which I worked hard for.

    Thanks for your post Sam, you seem to really care about those of us in this position, and I will definitely try your suggestions!

  • Reply Lourens Pelser693 days ago

    So much effort, time and money goes into creating a quality well researched affiliate site only to be wiped out over night by the big G.

    It really is heartbreaking to see your hard work going down the drain. Thanks for the post and good luck to you all.

  • Reply Ricky Quinlan693 days ago

    OK, I read through this entire thread and it's time for a wake up call..

    Google want quality content - WRONG

    Is it coincidence that crummy 20 second you tube videos are all over the search results - Google own You tube and recently monetized You Tube videos (profiteering).. All marketers giving it the panic and attack story of give Google what they want, content is king, spammers never succeed... Buy my product!!

    B.S - Google dont care.. They are only interested in raising their own revenue :(

    Note the only reason Firefox make Yahoo the default search engine is because Google borderline commit an offence by accessing your history and browsing data to supposedly deliver "more accurate results"...

    Again they dont care about delivering the best results, they are searching for trends the same as us marketers do only a commercial scale!

    So what was the EMD update about really?

    Firstly understand that Google penguin is rolled out at the press of a button (manually).. Whereas the Panda update runs consecutively every 30 days in a never ending cycle and these are just 2 of hundreds of algorythms Google use to determine search engine placement of content.

    Google had broken down the web into 30 segments a long time ago to better manage crawling and indexing of content and Panda is a never ending motion of filtering a segment on a daily basis.

    Anyway at the time of rolling out the EMD update, Panda was also in full motion in one of the 30 segments filtered daily.

    So what makes you so sure you were affected by the EMD update???

    I hadf a 60 page site go down overnight, at the same time roughly as the EMD update on the 28th, immediately thinking the EMD was to blame.

    I no not for sure either way, but i'm almost certain it has nothing to do with the EMD update despite the coincidence of timing.

    It was an exact match domian but for what exactly??, There was over 60 pages on my site ranking across the board for many different terms unrelated to my domain name, so what exactly was I issued a site wide penalty for??

    (Yes all pages.. gone and buried in the never realms, I feel your pain :(

    My point here is you can speculate and threat over what Google done and where their heading and bend over backwards to please them, but they don't care.

    They will keep filtering the search results in THEIR FAVOUR to generate more revenue.. It's obvious when you stand back and look at it in that light.

    My realization come from having the authority site mentioned slammed to the point of having to start from scratch, yet I poured my heart and soul into this site. All good qulaity unique content, strong SEO and generally ticking all the boxes.

    Another site I had which was a test project as such to see how far I could push blackhat techniques flourished in the update, unscathed, probably gained rankings instead of dropped..

    hhhmmmmmmmm.......

    They say Google aren't perfect, I say there not trying to be, they're trying to get richer!

    Make of it what you will, but don't beat yourself up if you were affected, it is through no doing of your own and certainly not because your site didn't make the grade.

    It's because your site doesn't make Google money!

  • Reply Gary • 692 days ago

    We have to all band together and boycot Google, as was said in an above quote... they need us to survive.

    I now use Bing to do all my generic searches and everyone should do the same. We need to tell everyone we know to stop using Google and try "any" alternative. If we boost the number 2, 3, 4 and others, maybe we can kill "the google" and end it's strangle hold on the world.

    Join the fight in any way you can....

  • Reply Martin Tweed • 690 days ago

    I have over 200 websites all of which were exact match domains. 95% of them have been canned by Google's EMD update. The ones that survived have surprised me. They are no different to to the ones that were canned. Google has been very ruthless. Thousand of man hours have gone into these sites to be wiped out over night. I have workers in the Philippines who I now do not know what to do with. Their livelihood is being affected as well as mine. Yes I need to have more social media content attached to my websites but how do you do that for 200 websites all on completely different topics. I would love to be able to get in the ear of "Mr.Google" but that seems impossible. They are a great big ugly Gorilla.
    I watched Mark Long and Gary Morrisson's webinar the other day and it was certainly informative. But it seems to me that even they are walking on trecherous ground and I would be cautious in adopting their model holus bolus. Nevertheless I'm sure there is good content there. An interesting statement was made by Mark however and that was that he DOES buy domain names with hyphens. I have a few as well and they didnt seem to be affected. I have I stumbled upon something?? May be they were not seen as EMD's in the latest attack by Google on Affillitates ...but they WERE seen as EMD's by Google's search engine....Interesting!!! ??? Regards Martin

  • Reply MetaTrader Programmers688 days ago

    The people that say to move away from getting their main traffic from Google, and get more from Bing seem to forget that Google already has the largest percentage of all web traffic. So most sites have no choice.

    So to make money they *have* to get a much traffic from all sources, not move from google to Bing (or any other search engine for that matter). The difficulty is that methods to rank well on say Google, may not translate to Bing for the same ranking results.

  • Reply davis kathy663 days ago

    ya i too heard about this recent change, i don't have my website keyword exactly matching my domine but it you see still it you check with few keywords i don't see much change i still see sites standing in first position with exact domine name..which makes me hard to decide....

  • Reply sachin agarwal661 days ago

    google is actually struggling with EMD, becuase there is a keyword in every domain, if we leave some ebay, kind of keywords. i saw that there was a domain with 3 keyword in domain name and it is ranking on almost 40 places in 50 google SERP. so if EMD is there, how come that domain has got that much boost in ranking. on the other part, there were a different domain with the same 3 keywords, and it has been dropped by 95% traffic in october rmonth.

  • Reply Jon Remington655 days ago

    Your article is so very true Samuel. I have noticed this exact
    same change on a couple of domains that I own that used to
    be ranked 1st or 2nd page via google index based on my
    domains matching the common exact search keyword.

    I love Google, but the new search engine changes have
    really had a serious negative effect on my overall traffic
    and have hurt me financially, which hurts even more right
    now because of the upcoming holiday season.

    For instance, I have one domain a car sales auto domain
    (zr71.com) that used to be listed as the top search result
    on the first page of google, under the exact search term
    ZR71 and now it is on like the 4th or 5th page as a result
    of the new changes. This has cut my traffic in nearly half.
    and what is really odd, is people's facebook accounts and
    ebay page's and other silly stuff, with the very exact same
    name seem to be indexed higher than my actual .com
    site now.

    Between Google and ICANN's recent TLD moves, it seems
    like alot of .com domain and websites owners are being put
    literally out of business. I guess the only real solution is to
    just pay for more promotion if you own a site but for everyone
    unfortunately this is not an option.

    Thanks for the great Article! glad other people are atleast
    taking notice. I enjoy the news and information from your
    site, it is always spot on.

    Jon

  • Reply Bob • 625 days ago

    I believe there is much more to this problem, if you ask me google is trying to reward their corporate customers who pay them heavily through ads.

    I have watched for years as google has more and more made sure their corporate buddies received a higher level of generic traffic.

    Just the other day I searched for the exact term "Automotive Websites For Sale" and the results were all the top vehicle manufacturers websites.

    Three months ago I did an exact search for "Classic Cars For Sale" the results were again all of the largest corporate car manufacturers that spend hundreds of thousands of dollars a year on adsense ads.

    The Feds are suing google as we speak for manipulating the search results to show websites they have purchased for use in the retail industry.

  • Reply First tender594 days ago

    A year ago I wanted to buy an Exact match but now I'm glad I didn't. After I searched the serps the site has been demoted. I guess they implimented black hat seo. I almost spent good money for what would have been a bad history

  • Reply First tender594 days ago

    My business partner and I were also slammed by the EMD Algo Update. However there was one website that was not… and this is why…(we think). It had a diverse set of LSI keywords, None of them were repeated in the H tags. The domain was generic, but related to the niche, and the content was unique. Hope this helps any one else out!

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  • Reply James Lee Jones575 days ago

    Great Article Very Informative

    There are many great points here and also a lot of pain from Google's carpet bombing. Google is also trying to survive the search engine wars, and give it's in users the best quality. Google is trying to weed out on the bad websites/black sheep.

    But how much damage will Google do to itself and other innocent bystanders. Carpet bombing has no mercy.

    Just as in all businesses off-line and online. When hard times hit it's time to stand strong and be smart. Seek out other alternatives and put in your mind. Google is not the only answer. There are other resources.

    It could be very true that Google is losing a lot of money from people Not participating in PPC/Adwards marketing.

    These times could very well be the make it our break it for a lot of Internet marketers the advice that was given in this article we should all take to heart and use it wisely.

    Good luck to you all and the future is still to come for online marketing. Just Find a Good Teacher like Affilorama and start learning.

  • Reply Mazhar Shah572 days ago

    Well! But please have a look again at Matt Cutts tweets where is says that only low quality EMD site get penalize by Google. :)

  • Reply Inanc Gumus327 days ago

    Does not work in Turkish sites. Everybody here in turkish buying exact match domains and successfully climbs to the top results in no time...

    Google spam team should pay attention to Turkey!

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