How The EMD Update Works
How does this apply to the EMD Update? First, EMD gets its name because it targets “exact match domains,” which are domains that exactly match the search terms that they hope to be found for.
One common misconception is that EMD means that sites with search terms in their domain names no longer will rank as well as in the past. I’ve not seen evidence of this so far, and it’s certainly not what Google said.
Google specifically said EMD was designed to go after poor quality sites that also have exact match domain names. If you do a search for “google,” you still find plenty of Google web sites that all have “google” in the domain name. EMD didn’t wipe them out because those sites are deemed to have quality content.
Is that Google just favoring itself? I wouldn’t say so. After all, it didn’t wipe out:
- Cars.com for “cars”
- Usedcars.com for “used cars”
- Cheaptickets.com for “cheap tickets”
- Movies.com for “movies”
- Skylightbooks.com for “books”
Instead, EMD is more likely hitting domains like online-computer-training-schools.com, which is a made-up example but hopefully gets the point across. It’s a fairly generic name with lots of keywords in it but no real brand recognition.
Domains like this are often purchased by someone hoping that just having all the words they want to be found for (“online computer training schools”) will help them rank well. It’s true that there’s a small degree of boost to sites for having search terms in their domains with Google, in general. A very small degree.
But such sites also often lacked any really quality content. They were purchased or created in hopes of an easy win, and there’s often no real investment in building them up with decent information or into an actual destination, a site that people would go to directly, not a site they’d just happen upon through a search result.
Some of them lack content at all (are “parked”) or have content that’s taken from other sites (“scraped”). Google already went after parked domains last December (and made a mistake in classifying some sites as parked in April). It’s already been going after scrapers with Panda and other efforts.
EMD seems targeted after low-quality sites that are “in between” these two things, perhaps sites that have content that doesn’t appear scraped because it has been “spun” using software to rewrite the material automatically.
It’s really important to understand that plenty of people have purchased exact match domains in hopes of a ranking boost and have also put in the time and effort to populate these sites with quality content. I’ve already listed some examples of this above, and there are smart “domainers” beyond this who do not park, scrape or spin but instead build a domain with a nice name into a destination, making it more valuable for a future sale.
In short, EMD domains aren’t being targeted; EMD domains with bad content are.
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