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This shouldn’t come as a surprise to most marketers and website creators; in fact I am surprised it took Google so long to finally crack down on exact match domain names (EMD).
If you are new to the internet marketing/search engine optimization game – EMD is a technique a lot of people used to get high rankings in Google search when they didn’t necessarily deserve it. For years Google would rank domain names that match your main keyword phrase higher than most other sites, even if your content was of low quality. Example; a website with a domain name “PinkBicyleBaskets.com” would probably rank #1 in Google search for a keyword phrase “Pink Bicycle Baskets” – simply because the domain name perfectly matches the keyword phrase, hence the Exact Match Domain or EMD.
Well, this strategy is no longer valid. Last week Google’s Matt Cutts tweeted about a small algorithm update that would affect low quality EMDs:
Later on Matt also tweeted “New exact-match domain (EMD) algo affects 0.6% of English-US queries to a noticeable degree. Unrelated to Panda/Penguin.”
This doesn’t automatically mean “bad news”. I see just as many web sites that will benefit from this new algo as those that would lose their rankings. Last week I blogged about the ethics of SEO and the same ideas apply to this search update; if you create a quality content, don’t do anything shady or black hat – you have nothing to about. In fact, if you have a quality website with an exact match domain – I would expect your site to gain some rankings in the near future.
However, if you’re running a low quality website that’s only aimed to make a few bucks instead of aiming to make the internet a better place – an EMD wouldn’t help you. SEOMoz did their own research and already noticed the results of this new algorithm; some websites with EMD started losing their rankings really fast.
In 2011 I wrote a blog post called “How to Rank on Google’s First Page for Free” and getting an Exact Match Domain was one of my suggestions. I am still sticking by this suggestion and I will still look for a domain as close to my main keyword as possible (when registering a new site). EMD is just a part of the puzzle and as already mentioned – it will only improve your ranking if you are running a quality site with fresh, good quality original content.
Every single time there is an update in Google search algorithm – it makes me think that Less is actually More. Google is making their search a lot more complex and a lot simpler at the same time; no need to break your head over the new SEO software, new link building strategy, new tricks, new techniques… go back to basics, create good content, update your site often, enjoy the benefits of higher rankings and larger income 😉
What do You think about this newest Google update?