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Google EMD update; what it could mean for you and your website

Published on November 14, 2012
Tags: SEO

Google’s EMD update was rolled out a few weeks ago, and the search engine optimisation community is still trying to get to grips with what it could mean for their clients and their businesses. Like any update, the EMD filter has caused a certain amount of panic within the industry as SEOs and webmasters fight to ensure their sites are fully compliant with the new algorithm.

The EMD update has been revealed to be a periodic update, much like Panda was. In other words, search engine optimisers and webmasters can expect to see the specific effects of EMD changing over time as Google refines the filter in order to ensure the highest possible quality search results coming from its index when users enter a search string.
The Panda update largely focused on poor quality content on websites; something which punished a lot of SEOs and webmasters who chose to outsource content writing abroad. Most high-quality websites either saw no effect or rose to fill the spots vacated by lower quality websites which had been penalised when the Panda filter was applied. It was virtually impossible to know which perfectly legitimate sites would be affected by Panda, so the filter was continually improved approximately once a month.
What, then, does the EMD update filter out? The clue is in the name: EMD stands for Exact Match Domains. If, for example, your main target keyword is ‘blue baseball shoes’, in the past simply registering bluebaseballshoes.com would have given you a big SEO boost. Now, that boost is said to have disappeared. That’s not to say that all sites using exact matched domains will be punished: just that the domain itself will no longer have as much, if any, bearing on your search engine rankings as it once did.
Domains with good brand recognition are largely unaffected, but the examples of bluebaseballshoes.com or cheap-online-movie-tickets.com (both entirely made-up) would both be affected as they are clearly keyword stuffed and offer no real value to the end user. As with most things in SEO, if it looks a bit shaky to a human being, it’ll probably be punished by Google. With many EMD sites having poor quality content on them or, even worse, scraping content from other websites, the double-whammy of hits from both Panda and EMD will have largely eradicated such sites from the index. It’s not just EMD sites which are being punished, but those with poor content.
It’s important to note that EMD is constantly evolving and being improved, so if your site has been unfairly punished it should be rectified before long. However, you should take it as a warning that your site is sailing a little close to the wind and ensure that it is filled with high-quality content which offers real value to potential visitors. In general, it’s not rocket science: build for humans and the search engines will follow.

By Chelsey Evans

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