whoapiad space available here, contact us todayad space available here, contact us today

Don’t Fear the EMD Reaper

December 24, 2012

the grim reaperI began drafting this post back in late October, in the wake of a Google algorithm change called the ‘EMD Update’ and never got around to finishing it, until now. Merry Christmas.

As most readers will be aware, EMD’s stand for ‘Exact Match Domains’.

Lately (at least, back in October) every time I turned around and read another domain industry blog post including the comments, someone was opining about the recent wrist slap given by Google to EMDs.

You may remember back to circa 2003 prior to the start of the second Gulf War in Iraq, the ostensible reason for the U.S. invasion was hedged in many a mind by the government’s adamant opinion that Saddam Hussein possessed WMDs: Weapons of Mass Destruction.

As it turned out, Saddam and the Iraqis never did have those nukes  (some would say never found them), and some clever pundit later coined the turn of phrase, Weapons of Mass Distraction to give new context to the hysteria over WMDs.

As we enter 2013, ten years later, it seems to me a similar hysteria has taken hold on the minds of many domainers in the form of EMDs, or what I might call E-weapons of Mass Distraction.

Turning to what SEOMoz, one of the leading SEO industry authorities, had to say following the EMD update, here are a few prescient points from their article on the subject:

  1. Please note that we can’t prove that a domain lost ranking due to the algorithm change
  2. (Speaking on a few of the domains they monitored in their data set), 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)
  3. Matt Cutts himself stated that the change, “affects 0.6% of English-US queries to a noticeable degree.”

To be clear, I am not saying that no EMDs dropped in SERP ranking as a result of the EMD update or that it did not have some overall effect on EMDs across the board, however small.  What I am saying is that in the grand scheme of things, viewed over a long enough timeline, this recent update is all but a tiny pimple on the arse of Google’s ever changing algorithm, and of very little consequence to investment quality domains.

Now if you are someone who’s focus is on monetizing your domains through development, and any of your sites built on EMDs lost ranking and revenue following this update, then I do offer you my sincerest condolences.  But I would also refer you back to bullet #1 from the SEOMoz article above, as well as this equally telling quote from a related story referenced in the comments section:

At this point I should probably also mention that there was also a Panda update (#20) that rolled out the day before the EMD Update (September 27), which could obviously have influenced the tanking of poor quality domains too. This is a classic smoke tactic by Google to leave site owners guessing to the true cause of a rankings drop …

In short there is little to any verifiable evidence of just how much this EMD algorithm update may or may not have affected any specific domain(s) if at all, and any loss in ranking is as likely to be a result of other factors such as content quality deemed too low.

However for those of you still trying to build your minisite empire, I don’t think you needed any further confirmation that it was bound to be a hardscrabble road – at least as long as we live in a Google-centric web.  See the recent memo from Eric Borgos.

My point in all of this, for those of you that seemed so concerned that your exact-match portfolio or domain investing in general was somehow suddenly on the skids due to this lone algorithm update, is to fear not.  Google is not the arbiter of value for memorable exact match domains.

Take to heart the wise words of Michael Berkens, that this is the year we’ve entered Domaining 6.0 and its all about branding, perhaps one of the most insightful posts of 2012 and worth revisiting.

To all who’ve read this far, a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.  Don’t fear the EMD Reaper in 2013.

Previous post:

Next post: