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Algo Change Targets Low Quality Exact Match Domains 9-28-2012
martinibuster




msg:4501351
 9:13 pm on Sep 28, 2012 (gmt 0)

Matt tweeted [twitter.com]:
small upcoming Google algo change will reduce low-quality "exact-match" domains in search results.

 

nickreynolds




msg:4502366
 8:10 am on Oct 1, 2012 (gmt 0)

@incredibill - maybe what you posted has been misunderstood. Although you said "IF your content sucks" the tone could easily be read as implying - "your site is penalised BECAUSE it sucks". This may not have been your intention, but it could have been understood that way.

xcoder




msg:4502378
 8:21 am on Oct 1, 2012 (gmt 0)

To describe us as "little webmasters" is unprofessional, you have no idea how we run our business and the amount of money and time we invest in our websites.

You should shut up if you have nothing constructive to add to this discussion.


+1

zarathustra2011




msg:4502379
 8:21 am on Oct 1, 2012 (gmt 0)

Total empathy for your predicament pelizden.
I understand google wanting to update their algo from time to time, but I just don't see the improvement. Everybody seems to be talking about this primarily affecting EMDs, but from my experience of searching keywords where I ranked very well (with my non EMD site), it is the EMD's that now rank at the very top!

viral




msg:4502391
 9:02 am on Oct 1, 2012 (gmt 0)

I am seeing quite a few non EMD domains across quite a few niches that have been hit by this also. Could this be the latest Penguin in disguise? I first decided to have a look because one of my biggest competitors (brand name and efinitely not EMD not even PMD) has dropped from first 5 pages. This site is a big and old site at least 8 years and has gone. Anyway I started looking around and lots of non EMD have been hit and lots od PMD sites also.

Anyway just a thought wouldn't be the first time a smoke screen came out of the Google camp!

pelizden




msg:4502393
 9:11 am on Oct 1, 2012 (gmt 0)

The real question is what to do now? To work as nothing happened and continue to write new content knowing that some jerk will copy everything and outrank me? I can't see any positive alternative right here...

Martin Ice Web




msg:4502394
 9:25 am on Oct 1, 2012 (gmt 0)

Related to MC this was supposed to hit us EMDs but we are located in germany and one domain i watch ( not mine ) that was exact match with google domain spamming ( 10x on page 1 and 2 ) has been hit. It is only 1 time on page 2 and the other results are now on page 3 anf following. But in fact domain spamming seems to be back for result pages >2. one query shows only amazon and one price compare engine.

After the latest panda i thought they got it better. Conversion and traffic were growing but till last tuesday the quality of search has been shrinking steadily. The weekend now shows the worst results ever. Exact querys are answered with rubbish.

And, our non EMD site has never seen less traffic over the weekend like this one. Also I found 90% of our page titles are rewritten again with our company name.

adder




msg:4502396
 9:30 am on Oct 1, 2012 (gmt 0)

low-quality "exact-match" domains


When I read the "low-quality" bit, I thought, phew, my blog should be ok then. How wrong was I - got hit by this recent update. If several hundred of journalist-quality pieces are "low-quality", how do we define "good-quality" then?

I know, I'll hire Charles Dickens to write for my blog... but wait, he's dead, isn't he?

I can't see any positive alternative right here

@Pelizden, you're right. Unless you can build a web business that doesn't rely on Google, there is no positive alternative. Just build your next site pretending that there is no Google.

jinxed




msg:4502397
 9:31 am on Oct 1, 2012 (gmt 0)

I must say this - I haven't really seen a difference with my sites traffic wise, but the SERPS are a complete mess. I'm seeing the most random ever results.

farouk111




msg:4502400
 9:54 am on Oct 1, 2012 (gmt 0)

guys, sorry for repeating myself but i am eager to know your opinion

my site has 2000 high quality pages (i say high quality because traffic tripled since panda came to existence)

my site structure is as follows : sitename.com/article_name
examle www.mysite.com/how_to_be_more_friendly

my site was hit hard by this update (-15%), the only explanation i have is that they target the whole url and not just the domain name since my domain name is: [snip] which doesn't really look like an emd for anything

else there might have been another hidden update within that one and that Matt didn't reveal it all,

what do you think?

thanks for listening

[edited by: Andy_Langton at 11:47 am (utc) on Oct 1, 2012]
[edit reason] No specific websites, thanks [/edit]

Martin Ice Web




msg:4502410
 10:10 am on Oct 1, 2012 (gmt 0)

farouk111, I would wait for a couple of days. Look at the serps right now, this could be the intent of this updates.
Also to say anything to this update or to give you an advice would be highest unreasonable.

I can say you only that we see good traffic followed by bad traffic where bad traffic hits the most timeline.

Vuffy




msg:4502411
 10:11 am on Oct 1, 2012 (gmt 0)

@farouk111

Highly doubt it. I don't have any hard facts, but I have good faith that a big portion of sites use this type of URL structure for their pages.

If that was the case, the entire Internet would be in an uproar. Escaping panda doesn't automatically make a site high quality, there's still a big discrepancy about false positives.

Perhaps pages linking to you were demoted from this algo change, thus not sending as much juice.

[edited by: Vuffy at 10:13 am (utc) on Oct 1, 2012]

jackonaplane




msg:4502412
 10:12 am on Oct 1, 2012 (gmt 0)

I run a number of EMDs, many of which have lost 90% of their Google traffic after this update, however some of my EMDs have not been hit at all.

Having thoroughly compared the quality of content, quantity of content, design/look and user experience metrics of those hit and those unaffected, I can not see any difference whatsoever.

I feel like the most likely explanation is that human "quality-raters" have been sent to all sites, some gave a thumbs up, others a thumbs down, and these (possibly subjective) ratings have decided whether the sites live or die.

Marketing Guy




msg:4502428
 11:23 am on Oct 1, 2012 (gmt 0)

It's probably worth noting that even professionally written content doesn't automatically mean it's "high quality" content, and even if it is, that doesn't mean it's a "high quality" result.

I could hire the best writers in the world to write copy for "buy blue widgets", but that's only one page and in the context of my larger site and the other competition in the marketplace, that piece of outstanding copy still could be considered to be a low quality result for the term.

Looking at the EMD "market", what percentage of sites out there are SEO tools (affiliate / adsense sites, hobby sites, doorway pages, "brand" changes to help local sites rank for competitive phrases) and what have simply been created naturally (a business decision to call your website keyword.com)? The former probably vastly outweighs the latter and I guess that's Google's logic with this update.

It boils down to the intention behind the website and even the whitest-of-whitehat content can be construed as being an attempt to artificially manipulate search results.

All things being equal (i.e. no SEOs using the technique) then EMDs might be a good indicator of relevance for search engines. But this hasn't been a reality for a long time and given there are quite a few people posting in this thread (and probably many more that haven't) that run networks of dozens, even hundreds of EMDs (across multiple markets) should stand testiment to the fact that the technique was well on Google's radar.

To speculate at answers to some of the questions raised in this thread;

Why weren't these sites smacked by Panda?

The impression I get is that Panda is a constantly improving internal process, possibly tied in some way to data from the quality rater program. A blunt instrument that's being fine-tuned every month. It could be the case that Panda process has made this update possible in terms of indentifying sites that appear to be of reasonable quality, but consistute a lower quality result for the query.

EMDs are a very unique data set within this problem for Google, so a later update to address the unique problem makes sense.

How to fix the penalty?

Well, at this point, it's anyone's guess! ;) Personally, I think taking a good look at affected sites and scoring their quality, not in terms of the "quality of content" which seems to be a recurring theme for people hit by penalities, but the quality of the site in the context of the market.

You could have the best New York Hotels blog in the world, but if you aren't an actual hotel in New York, then there's no reason you should expect to rank for the term "New York hotels". In Google's mind, that could very well be a "low quality" result.

"Content is king". I think we need a new mantra. "Intention is Emperor". The intention behind the search is what Google is trying to return good results for and the explosion of SEOs producing "quality content" for any and every search term over the years is getting in the way of that goal - hence this update and others like it (Panda, ATF, etc).

One question to throw out there for discussion;

A potential fix = changing domain to something more brand orientated. But would 301ing the old URLs trigger a Penguin penalty on the new domain with all the old EMD inbound links?

Leosghost




msg:4502435
 11:31 am on Oct 1, 2012 (gmt 0)

^^^ sound post :) I agree with a large part of it..

Zivush




msg:4502446
 12:16 pm on Oct 1, 2012 (gmt 0)

@ farouk111
I don't think you can post the domain name in this forum.
However, the two words keyword in your domain name have a wide variety of options and good search volume.
Apparently, this type of EMD is within the frame of this algo update.

atlrus




msg:4502461
 1:03 pm on Oct 1, 2012 (gmt 0)

All things being equal (i.e. no SEOs using the technique) then EMDs might be a good indicator of relevance for search engines. But this hasn't been a reality for a long time and given there are quite a few people posting in this thread (and probably many more that haven't) that run networks of dozens, even hundreds of EMDs (across multiple markets) should stand testiment to the fact that the technique was well on Google's radar.


Huh?!? I'm sorry, but I cannot think of any EMD that is not pointing to a website about that topic. The whole point of registering an EMD is to build a website around that keyword. In other words, you don't buy hotels dot com to sell soap.

ohno




msg:4502464
 1:17 pm on Oct 1, 2012 (gmt 0)

Based on the continued popularity of Google, the searchers are obviously liking most of the changes.

Who isn't liking the changes are the little webmasters with a narrow scope of traffic generation that relied on simple tricks like EMDs to get traffic which may no longer work for their sites.

Not a very good business model, eh?


That post made me laugh after I'd seen this post......

Similarly, I saw a post on another forum this morning where someone gave the example of searching for the term Star Wars Stockists on Google.co.uk. The top two SERPS results returned were for Tripadviser! I checked it and he's correct.

As they say; what goes around comes around!

affiliation




msg:4502468
 1:28 pm on Oct 1, 2012 (gmt 0)

@farouk111
my site was hit hard by this update (-15%), the only explanation i have is that they target the whole url and not just the domain name since my domain name doesn't really look like an emd for anything


Some EMD I have caught up in this are domains with numbers in the example 123keywords.uk others have been hyphenated or the singular term, were nice widgets is the search term the domain nicewidget.uk is deemed low quality.

This update leaves me with a dilemma, on one domain I own, I changed servers two weeks ago together with a complete site redesign and all new content. This is an EMD but I am unsure now if this has been caught in this update or if it triped some filter because of all the mods carried out. Suppose I will have to wait it out an see.

[edited by: tedster at 1:21 am (utc) on Oct 3, 2012]
[edit reason] removed specific domain name from the quote [/edit]

bsand715




msg:4502469
 1:38 pm on Oct 1, 2012 (gmt 0)

EMD.com. thin, no content, bad colored hard to read, out dated 2004 events articles, advertising close business with adsense still leading the pack here as always.

realmaverick




msg:4502470
 1:39 pm on Oct 1, 2012 (gmt 0)

I've just noticed a company I work for, has surprisingly been hit by this update. They have an exact match domain name, for a huge, single keyword term.

They are the authority in the niche and rightfully so. They appear in large publications, books, news etc. They're a non-profit .org and change lives every day with their content and community.

The content is well researched and beautifully written. I'm really disappointed.

Fortunately, only the exact match term has been hit by the looks of it. The particular keyword has lost about 50% traffic since the 28th September. It's not the end of the world, but it's not the point.

Yet another update that had a lot of promise and yet once again hurts perfectly legitimate websites.

Google engineers are really letting us down lately.

Jez123




msg:4502474
 1:48 pm on Oct 1, 2012 (gmt 0)

Who isn't liking the changes are the little webmasters with a narrow scope of traffic generation that relied on simple tricks like EMDs to get traffic which may no longer work for their sites.


Nice to know us little webmasters are still respected on here though.

My EMD site is of very high quality. I fail to see why it should be worth less just because of the domain name.

Marketing Guy




msg:4502478
 1:59 pm on Oct 1, 2012 (gmt 0)

Huh?!? I'm sorry, but I cannot think of any EMD that is not pointing to a website about that topic. The whole point of registering an EMD is to build a website around that keyword. In other words, you don't buy hotels dot com to sell soap.


Your statment is a perfect example of why we're seeing Google taking action against EMDs. SEOs have been doing exactly what you say on a huge scale for years. Why would Google want to rank thousands of sites, millions of pages of stuff generated by the SEO industry?

If every SEO that setup a site on an EMD built the best possible site for that niche, then I doubt we'd be seeing this update. But the reality is that a lot of EMD sites target low hanging fruit with boilerplate sites that have little to no resources behind them. There are lots of exceptions of course, as realmaverick points out, but I don't recall a Google update in the past decade that hasn't taken out innocent bystanders. Nature of the beast.

Slashus




msg:4502490
 2:33 pm on Oct 1, 2012 (gmt 0)

The answer is clear: Going forward I'm changing my search links for visitors to use to Bing.

ohno




msg:4502494
 2:40 pm on Oct 1, 2012 (gmt 0)

These updates are now causing so many issues it's almost as if G is seeing how far it can push the boundary for the GENERAL public (forget Webmasters).

incrediBILL




msg:4502503
 3:06 pm on Oct 1, 2012 (gmt 0)

Nice to know us little webmasters are still respected on here though.


They are.

Putting all your eggs in one basket isn't.

What I said was that anyone relying on a single gimmick to get the bulk of their traffic didn't have a very good marketing plan and/or business model. Much like people relying on AdSense for the bulk of their income also need to diversify.

Everyone gets upset with Google when in reality they should be upset with themselves for not having the broadest scope of marketing plan possible that allows for surviving SE turmoil. The SE algos will always change, that's a fact of life, and a webmaster must be prepared with multiple traffic generating strategies from multiple sources. If you suddenly lose one aspect of your SE marketing it shouldn't tank the entire business.

realmaverick




msg:4502510
 3:20 pm on Oct 1, 2012 (gmt 0)

Who isn't liking the changes are the little webmasters with a narrow scope of traffic generation that relied on simple tricks like EMDs to get traffic which may no longer work for their sites.


That's not really fair Bill. The one site in my circle that's been hit, is among the best sites I know of. It receives 80,000 visitors a day and was hit merely, because of the exact match domain, in a highly competitive niche. I think if a particular niche is highly competitive, then websites with exact match, are likely to get hit, regardless of quality.

Putting all your eggs in one basket isn't.


They don't look upon it as putting their eggs in any basket. As their lives are dedicated to the cause, they built and maintain the website because they're passionate about the cause and work hard to change peoples lives every day.

Not everybody creates websites to earn money and so don't look upon their sites as eggs.

I expect many on here to make assumptions when these updates happen, but honestly, I'd not expect that from you.

BeeDeeDubbleU




msg:4502511
 3:23 pm on Oct 1, 2012 (gmt 0)

Your statment is a perfect example of why we're seeing Google taking action against EMDs. SEOs have been doing exactly what you say on a huge scale for years. Why would Google want to rank thousands of sites, millions of pages of stuff generated by the SEO industry?
Exact match domains are not new. People have been naming their businesses with an exact match of what they do for many years. "Townname Builders, Ltd", "Townname Plumbers, Ltd", Acme Window Cleaning, etc. This is nothing new. Penalising people for doing it what's new!

Another example of Arrogoogle!

crobb305




msg:4502513
 3:26 pm on Oct 1, 2012 (gmt 0)

I have observed some partial-match domains taking big hits.

For example, in my niche:
bluewidget.com

fell over 100 positions for: big blue widgets (plural)

Another observation is a website that was hit by Penguin (EMD) and successfully regained its rankings after redirecting to a new domain (NOT an EMD) back in June took a big hit on Friday. I believe this was because the permanent redirect originated from an EMD.

My observations assume that this update was only about EMDs (per MC's tweet), and had nothing to do with Panda/Penguin.

[edited by: crobb305 at 3:35 pm (utc) on Oct 1, 2012]

atlrus




msg:4502514
 3:26 pm on Oct 1, 2012 (gmt 0)

Your statment is a perfect example of why we're seeing Google taking action against EMDs. SEOs have been doing exactly what you say on a huge scale for years. Why would Google want to rank thousands of sites, millions of pages of stuff generated by the SEO industry?

If every SEO that setup a site on an EMD built the best possible site for that niche, then I doubt we'd be seeing this update. But the reality is that a lot of EMD sites target low hanging fruit with boilerplate sites that have little to no resources behind them. There are lots of exceptions of course, as realmaverick points out, but I don't recall a Google update in the past decade that hasn't taken out innocent bystanders. Nature of the beast.


Regardless of your arbitrary opinion of a website, it still doesn't change the fact that in 99% of the cases an EMD is always related to the content of the website.

Now, whether the website is "quality" is a different discussion. Your claim was that EMD is no longer an indicator of relevance and you couldn't be more wrong. Again, people buy EMDs to build websites around the EMD, thus almost always the EMD will be a top indicator of what the website is all about. What EMD is NOT - an indicator of quality, but I don't see how you can dispute relevance.

Jez123




msg:4502515
 3:27 pm on Oct 1, 2012 (gmt 0)

If you suddenly lose one aspect of your SE marketing it shouldn't tank the entire business.


That's true but it's also true that a lot of the world is in recession at the moment. I know that my own diversifications are as dead as dead can be in the UK currently. Whilst it may seem to you that all eggs are in the google basket in reality google may be the only basket that is / was still performing. Easy to judge I guess though, if unaffected.

realmaverick




msg:4502520
 3:34 pm on Oct 1, 2012 (gmt 0)

If you suddenly lose one aspect of your SE marketing it shouldn't tank the entire business.


You're assuming again, that those upset, are depending entirely on Google. Regardless of the impact, being caught up in an update like this, can still be upsetting. Oh dear.

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