The Exact Match Domain Penalty – The EMD Penalty

On Septemper 28th, 2012, Google rolled out a new penalty. The stated target of the penalty was exact match domains, particularly lower quality websites created for the purpose of targeting specific keywords. Google’s contention is that these sites represent unnatural search results, and that they are not truly “organic” results.

According to Google, the update only affected 0.6% of rankings. However, by empirical evidence rocketing through the forums and the SEO community at large, it is affecting a far greater sampling. This is a great example of the partial truthfulness of Google. While the exact match domain portion of the algorithmic update may have only affected .6, the update seems to have targeted low quality sites on non-EMD domains as well.

What Does This Mean For the Future Of SEO?

Search engine optimization through My Favorite Web Designs has evolved over the years. Many of the tactics which worked only a year ago are now an invitation to being penalized or deindexed. This makes many in the field wonder “what does the future of SEO look like now?” and “Is SEO Dead?”.

The answer is that the future actually looks very bright for the SEO community who has proper strategies in place. In fact, this will ultimately result in more American SEO dollars being spent on the creation of useful content instead of the running of spam machines of yesteryear.

Who Will Be The Winners Post EMD, Penguin And Panda?

exact match domainTo start, the greatest winners will be the american copywriter. Virtually gone are the days of article spinning, where instead of paying for the writing of additional content Phoenix SEO companies used a synonym process to produce duplicate versions of their articles and landing pages. The grammar rules in the algorithm also prevent outsourcing writing to anyone with less than perfect grammar.

Another of the winners is the My Favorite Web Designs search engine optimization consumer. The new methods of SEO promote investment into social media properties, which is a much more enduring form of SEO, and valuable in its own right.

The last winner we’ll look at is the operators of start up web ventures. In the past, SEO companies would have spent big bucks automating spam for each web 2.0 or social media enterprise, reducing the sites effectiveness by diluting it with useless comments and posts linking back to their site. These updates heavily favor sites that promote better content.

How Do I Recover From The Google EMD Update?

In examining my own clients, and looking through countless posts on the internet, I have formed my own conclusions on the causes of the EMD Penalty, and the best routes forward now that the SEO penalty has been incurred.

The Penalty Factors, In My Opinion

  • Lack Of Social Media Connections
  • Overuse of exact match anchor text
  • Under use of the brand name in anchor text
  • Link Velocity Relative To Social Media Connections
  • Links to your site from low quality EMD domains
  • Low quality pics, or keyword stuffing pics
  • Too Many Landing Pages, or duplicate landing pages

The Google Penalties Recovery Methods

1. Build social media. Make sure you have a NAP(Name, Address, Phone Number) exact match on your social media. Use OGP, Twitter Cards And Microdata to hook your site to your social properties. Link to your social properties from your site. Get connections from users in your local area (No purchasing on fiverr, foreign and irrelevant IPs do not help).
google penalties2. Build your author rank. Author rank is part of trust rank for sites, and if it is not it will be very soon. It is also another piece of property that is penalty proof. Engage in personal social media, such as Linkedin, personal Facebook, Google plus, and other sites such as Quora.
3. Vary your anchor text – this applies to links on and offsite.
4. If you have any links from really low quality domains, disavow them with Google Webmaster Tools.
5. Use Google Analytics to cull your content. This is easier than you think, do not be intimidated. Go to the content section in analytics, and look for the average time on page, and the bounce rate. For pages that can be improved, improve them. For pages that cannot, redirect them. For pages that have duplicate by useful content, work on combining them, or set up an experiment using analytics to determine the best content for conversions. For pages that get no visits, rework your keywords or redirect them if there is a page they can be part of.
6. Part of improving pages is looking at page length, how stale the content is, adding rich media, embedded media, and other interesting items, such as links to useful resources and infographics.

The last word I will leave you with is the doomed domain effect. This is a scenario where you have worked diligently to increase the quality, and yet your penalty seems to barely go off. Perhaps you manage to achieve some small amount of traffic, but not what you wanted. This may be time to jump ship on your domain. Another instance where this is useful is when it is a brand new site and you are not yet heavily invested in the domain.

If you are asking yourself whether you should change the domain, consider the following: to prevent penalties, we are establishing brand. Brand is the reason people give you trust, and a big part of the reason search engines give you trust. To build brand, your domain should likely match your company name pretty closely, without being long or too many words. So if your domain is just random keywords, then perhaps switching to a branded domain would be a good move, and you can always 301 the old site.

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My Favorite Web Designs
1006 N. 92nd Circle
Mesa, Arizona 85207
Office: 480-335-1330
Email: Josh@myfavoritewebdesigns.com