Google’s EMD Algo Update – Early Data

Recently, I wrote about changes we’ve been tracking in how Google treats Exact-Match Domains (EMDs). Yesterday (Friday, 9/28), Matt Cutts tweeted the following message:

Matt Cutts Tweet - September 28

It was initially unclear what “upcoming” meant and whether the change was in progress or would roll out later in the weekend. Matt went on to say that the change “affects 0.6% of English-US queries to a noticeable degree,” but didn’t pin down the timeline. This morning, our new MozCast “Top-View” metrics showed the following:

EMD Influence Graph

We measured a 24-hour drop in EMD influence from 3.58% to 3.21%. This represents a day-over-day change of 10.3%. While the graph only shows the 30-day view, this also marks the lowest measurement of EMD influence on record since we started collecting data in early April.

So, Who Got Hit?

Across our data set of 1000 SERPs, 41 EMDs fell out of the Top 10 (5 new EMDs entered, so the net change was 36 domains). Please note that we can’t prove that a domain lost ranking due to the algorithm change – we can only measure what fell out. Here are 5 examples of domains that lost ranking as of this morning (9/29) – all had previously ranked for at least the past 7 days:

  • Big Drop Inc (#1)
  • www.charterschools.org (#7)
  • playscrabble.net (#3)
  • www.purses.org (#3)
  • www.teethwhitening.com (#4)

The parenthetical value shows the EMDs ranking on 9/28 (the day before the drop). Again, all we know is that these domains fell out of the rankings for their exact-match phrases as of this morning – I’m not making any statements about the quality of the domains as a whole. As you can see, the affected domains cover a range of phrase length and TLDs (including .com’s).

There’s no clear pattern in the size of the drop – some fell out of the top 100 entirely, while others slipped a couple of pages. For example, www.charterschools.org fell from #7 to #23, whereas playscrabble.net dropped from #3 down 18 pages to #183.

What About The #1s?

You may have noticed that none of my example domains were previously ranked in the #1 spot. Across the 41 EMDs that dropped out of the top 10 in our data, none of them ranked #1 the previous day. Three domains held the #2 spot prior to their fall, including www.mariogamesonline.net, which is no longer in the top 100. It’s interesting to note that, of the 41 EMDs affected, 5 of them had “games” in their domain name, but this could just be a fluke (or a sign of an industry with too many low-value sites).

What’s The Pattern?

It’s not my goal to call these sites out – some may have dropped in ranking due to factors that had nothing to do with this algorithm update (and were only coincidentally EMDs). For example, www.charterschools.org appears to be a legitimate site representing a professional organization: the Michigan Association of Public School Academies (MAPSA). At first glance, it appears that their only crime may be choosing a keyword-focused domain over their own brand. The site doesn’t really target the phrase “charter schools” particularly strongly and is tied to one state. It’s not a bad site, but one can argue whether it deserves to rank in the top 10 for a competitive keyword simply because of its domain name.

Other sites in the mix do appear to exhibit more traditional low-quality signals – aggressive keyword usage, low-authority, spammy link-building, etc. – and seem to have been ranking solely by virtue of their EMDs. There’s no one clear signal in play, though – at this point, we have to assume that Google is weighing multiple factors. Again, it is interesting to note that no EMDs previously at #1 were affected, but our data set is still relatively small.

If you have specific questions about the data, please feel free to ask in the comments, and I’ll do my best to follow up. These patterns are surprisingly complex, and I wanted to dig in for a quick first look while the data was still fresh.

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Google gets all the bashing but why?

From what I have seen in forums and blogs Google gets so much bashing for something they do to defend their algorithm. Why do people do that? Don’t they ever know they wouldn’t have been doing SEO for their sites to rank in Google if Google never exist?

I have been watching Google ever since I started my online Business. I have seen major Google updates for a period of over 7 years almost all the updates were aimed at protecting their algorithm and getting rid of Spam and sites that entertain aggressive search engine ranking tactics. Today Google has changed into a highly quality search engine with good results. If they were not targeting the aggressive search engine optimization people they will not be what they are today.

Hottest topic in today’s SEO world is the Google’s ability to detect and penalize paid links. Whether you buy it or sell it if you get caught by Google police you are gone. Once in a SEOmoz post Matt cuts replied to Rebecca’s post where he talks about natural links being like very strong tires and paid or other artificial links as week tubes / tires than can burst any time. It’s actually true and from what I have seen every site that got affected for links had some sort of problem with artificial links.

Personal experience

Our own site had some problem with Google rankings when we created the search engine promotion widget and got lots of backlinks without knowing we were abusing it. Then we were hit with ranking filter which prevented our site from being in top 10. Did we whine? Well know personally we were not aware that widget links can hurt a site. We were not abusing the system in any way with widgets we spent money on our widgets and the only way we get back our investment is by links. We do that for all our tools but Google never complained on it but when we redirected the links from widgets to our Homepage Google algorithm got angry with our site and reduced our rankings.

What did we do?

We never whined we made all the widget links optional no-follow, cleaned up some links to homepage, removed link to homepage and added it to the widget page directory, checked for any other potential problem with our website and submitted a re-consideration review and in 1 month we were back in rankings.

So was Google wrong with our website?

Ofcourse no even though we thought widget links when not abused will not affect rankings still we shouldn’t have linked to the homepage with keywords. It’s our mistake and Google has every right to make us regret for this mistake their own way. But Google were nice, in fact very nice after rectifying our mistake and explaining them we got back to rankings. So Google definitely want us back in their rankings. Over 4000 people use our SEO tools (http://www.searchenginegenie.com/seo-tools.htm ) and out of that almost 2000 come from search engines. Google knows that and they know our tools get lot of traffic from them and they are happy to send people because people like it.

We don’t come under link buying / selling category

We never bought a single link to our site almost all of them are links to our tools, widgets and some custom built links through articles, directories, blogging etc. We don’t buy links but still hit with a link buying / selling detection algorithm. Was Google wrong in doing this? Ofcourse no why because abusing a widget Is same like buying links. Those links are not editorially given links, people linked to us in exchange for our widget. They didn’t link to our homepage because they liked our site. We understand / I understand and when everyone in our company understands Google’s position we are all good with anything Google decides. But not everyone take it that way I see so much Google bashing out there when something Google does to protect itself and its algorithm.

Being SEO is nothing to be proud of.

Some people think SEO is something great and they are the best in the world. I’ll tell you in Google point of view most of the SEOs are very close to spammers. Not everyone but most I said, including places like SEOmoz which is popular among SEOs discuss so much link buying / selling. Even Rand fishkin is an active support of Text-link-ads and he also supports buying / selling links for ranking. If this industry supports so much text link buying / link selling for ranking purposes and Google tries to defend itself is it wrong? For most SEOs yes Google is wrong. I would call that **** ****. Without Google you would have never existed, who are you to give commands to Google? The massive improvement by Google in transparency with webmasters and Google has helped webmasters a lot. But still webmasters and SEOs want more and more. They don’t want Google to penalize link buying, selling and other sort of aggressive and abusive link building tactics. I would say better leave the SEOs to run the search engine they know how difficult it is. Even the so called Google supporters abuse the search engines when they loose rankings. If you lost your ranking see the mistake you did. Rectify your mistakes, fix them and ask Google to reconsider rather than whining that Google is useless.

Confession from a SEO.

I am in this industry for more than 7 years. Am I proud to be a SEO? No never this industry is hated by so many people including the search quality engineers themselves. I am passionate about search engines I like them, I like the miracle algorithm that works behind it, I like all the PHDs. I personally wanted to become a scientist which never happened. I want to be friends of search engineers not for SEO benefit but to admire and gain knowledge from the wonderful work they do. I sometimes wonder why I came into this SEO industry. Truth I came into SEO from my programming background only for the money involved. This industry has so much money involved than programming and web design. People will pour money if they get good business from search engines. I have seen that practically in some PPC campaigns our company handles. Some big clients spend around 100,000$ a month for PPC. Though ‘not the same case in SEO still the rewards are high. But I am always looking alternate ways because I am not the bad guy type who goes after money. I like to earn money in a way everyone appreciates. Not in a way everyone glares at you. To all the SEOs out there realize the type of work you are doing and please give respect to my loveable search engine. If Google never existed I wouldn’t be here running a Business in SEO. Love Google and appreciate everything they do whether its right or wrong. Everyone appreciates if Google does something right and everyone bashes if they do something harsh to protect their algorithm. Love Google and all its efforts.

My suggestion to all the SEOs and newbie’s (so called SEOs out there) . Google is a search engine for people it’s not for you to play with.Visit www.searchenginegenie.com for more interesting blogs on Search engine related information

What is an Open City?

How do you applies principles of opennes to an entire city? Ask Vancouver, which has posted the following motion on open data, open standards and open source:

BE IT RESOLVED THAT the City of Vancouver endorses the principles of:* Open and Accessible Data – the City of Vancouver will freely share with citizens, businesses and other jurisdictions the greatest amount of data possible while respecting privacy and security concerns;

* Open Standards – the City of Vancouver will move as quickly as possible to adopt prevailing open standards for data, documents, maps, and other formats of media;

* Open Source Software – the City of Vancouver, when replacing existing software or considering new applications, will place open source software on an equal footing with commercial systems during procurement cycles; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT in pursuit of open data the City of Vancouver will:

* Identify immediate opportunities to distribute more of its data;

* Index, publish and syndicate its data to the internet using prevailing open standards, interfaces and formats;

* Develop appropriate agreements to share its data with the Integrated Cadastral Information Society (ICIS) and encourage the ICIS to in turn share its data with the public at large

* Develop a plan to digitize and freely distribute suitable archival data to the public;

* Ensure that data supplied to the City by third parties (developers, contractors, consultants) are unlicensed, in a prevailing open standard format, and not copyrighted except if otherwise prevented by legal considerations;

* License any software applications developed by the City of Vancouver such that they may be used by other municipalities, businesses, and the public without restriction.

If adopted, this will be pretty extraordinary – and a template for other cities who wish to re-invent themselves for the 21st century. Kudos to all involved: let’s hope this goes through, and that others follow.