Is Your Business Using An Exact Match Domain?

Google has mixed things up again, this time turning its attention to exact match domains (EMDs). For those of you not clear on what an EMD is here’s an example. If you site’s main keyword is teeth whitening and your domain is www.teethwhitening.co.uk, that would be an exact match domain.

Google Penalises Some EMDs

At the end of September, Matt Cutts announced via Twitter, that Google was seeking to downgrade Exact Match Domains with low quality content. These domains are especially popular with the Made For Adsense community but I know small business people who run micro sites with exact match domains bought at auction.

The result of this algorithm update was supposed to impact only 0.6% of US-UK queries. However there is been quite a bit of chatter on forums about it, possibly confirming that Adsense sites have been hit hardest.

But if you’re running sites with exact match domains Google may have your number. Even before this change, there appeared to be a shift towards brands.
One of way of thinking about this change is that Google is levelling the playing field since many exact match domains were acquired many years ago and the domain market isn’t a fluid as it used to be. But EMD also made some webmasters unduly reliant on the domain for ranking purposes.

An Over-Due Correction?

There’s been a feeling for years that keywords in domains have an important influence in Google rankings. There is no denying that as brands have become more important it’s no longer essential, even for small businesses, to have keywords in their domain. SEOMoz have been running an analysis of this, which suggests many of the dropped sites shared low quality signals.

Domain Diversity

Earlier in September Google introduced an update to increase domain diversity. It wasn’t unusual to see the same domain featured in numerous places on page 1 of the search results.

You may have benefited from this, in which case you will also have seen a reduction in traffic or the opposite. But what you may not realise is that some search results are only returning 7 results on the first page of Google rather than the more usual 10.

What Does It All Mean?

What does all this mean? It means that Google is apt to shake things up, proving once again it’s hard to predict its actions. Although you do not want to be over dependent on Google for traffic, you do need quality content to rank well. I’ve said before it’s not the only essential, but it makes for solid foundations for everything else. That way, you won’t be wasting money on internet marketing when you get around to promoting your site.

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