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Google’s EMD Update: Relevance, Impact and SEO Best Practices

Google's EMD update, which stands for Exact Match Domain, was a 2012 algorithm update that targeted low-quality websites that used exact match domain names to rank well in search results. In this blog post, we will explain what the EMD update was, why Google rolled it out, what were its impacts on sites and SEOs at that time, and what is its relevance in 2023 for SEOs.

What Is the EMD Update?

The EMD update was a new filter that Google added to its ranking system in September 2012. The purpose of this filter was to prevent websites that had poor quality content and thin value from ranking high in search results just because they had the relevant search term in their domain name. For example, a website like cheapflights.com would be an exact match domain for the search query "cheap flights".

Google's Matt Cutts clarified that this update was not meant to target all exact match domains, but only those that were also spammy or low-quality.

How Did Google Justify the EMD Update?

Google rolled out the EMD update to improve the quality of its search results and to provide a better user experience for its users. Google wanted to ensure that websites that ranked high in search results were not only relevant, but also helpful and useful to users.

Before the EMD update, many SEOs and webmasters used exact match domains as a shortcut to rank well in search results, without investing much effort or resources into creating high-quality content and providing value to users. This resulted in many low-quality websites dominating the search results for certain queries, which frustrated users and reduced their trust in Google.

Google's EMD update was one of the many algorithm updates that Google launched in 2012 to combat web spam and improve the quality of its search results. Some of the other notable updates that year were Panda, Penguin, and DMCA.

How Did the EMD Update Impact Websites and SEOs Back Then?

The EMD update had a significant impact on many websites and SEOs at that time. According to Google, the EMD update affected 0.6% of English-US queries to a noticeable degree. However, some industry experts estimated that the impact was much higher, especially for certain niches and keywords.

Many websites that relied heavily on exact match domains for their rankings saw a drastic drop in their traffic and visibility after the EMD update. Some examples of such websites were:

  • www.carinsurancequotes.com
  • www.paydayloans.com
  • www.dogtraining.com
  • www.howtoloseweightfast.com

Some websites even disappeared completely from Google's index after the EMD update. For example, www.howtoloseweightfast.com was deindexed by Google on October 1, 2012.

On the other hand, some websites that had exact match domains but also had high-quality content and value for users saw little or no impact from the EMD update. Some examples of such websites were:

  • www.hotels.com
  • www.cars.com
  • www.amazon.com
  • www.wikipedia.org

The EMD update also had a major impact on SEOs and webmasters who used exact match domains as part of their SEO strategy. Many SEOs had to rethink their approach and focus more on creating high-quality content and providing value to users, rather than relying on exact match domains alone. Some SEOs also had to rebrand or change their domain names to avoid being penalized by the EMD update.

How to Manage EMD Update and Rise in Local Search and SEO in 2023?

Google's EMD update is still relevant in 2023 for SEOs who want to rank well in search results and provide a good user experience for their visitors. While exact match domains are not as powerful as they used to be before the EMD update, they are not completely useless either.

Exact match domains can still have some benefits for SEOs, such as:

  • They can contribute to enhancing brand recognition and improving recall.
  • They can signal relevance and authority to users and search engines.
  • They can help with click-through rates and conversions.

However, exact match domains are not enough to guarantee high rankings and traffic in 2023. SEOs who use exact match domains also need to ensure that they have high-quality content and value for users on their websites. They also need to follow Google's best practices and guidelines for SEO, such as:

  • Creating original, useful, and engaging content for users.
  • Optimizing their websites for speed, security, and mobile-friendliness.
  • Building natural and relevant links from other authoritative websites.
  • Avoiding any spammy or manipulative tactics that could harm their reputation or trustworthiness.

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