For a long time, SEOs and some website owners have known the value of selecting a domain name that exactly matches a keyword that a site is optimizing for. If you want great search rankings for the keyword “NJ real estate lawyer” you might attempt to register the domain NJRealEstateLawyer.com or RealEstateLawyerNJ.com. It used to work very well and the owners of those websites enjoyed a quick and easy path to the top of the search engine rankings.
Are the good times over?
Last fall, Google released its EMD algorithm update. EMD stands for Exact Match Domain, and this update is designed to reduce or eliminate the preference given for domains with an exact keyword match like those above. It’s not designed to penalize them, but just to reduce the tendency to give preferential rankings to low quality or mediocre websites just because their domains were an exact match for a popular keyword.
In our experience, the EMD update has begun to do what’s intended. It doesn’t seem to be 100% effective yet, but the trend is clear: exact match domains no longer own the top rankings. According to an article in Search Engine Journal, these are some notable EMD websites that have seen significantly reduced rankings
Has this affected you?
If you’re not sure whether this has affected you, you need to do some monitoring of your keyword rankings. If you know you’ve suffered as a result of this update, the solution is to improve the quality of your website with appropriate SEO techniques. A high quality website should not feel any pain from the EMD update.
How to recover
The article linked above at Search Engine Journal has a good list of steps to take to recover from any EMD slapdown you may have suffered. Rather than duplicate them here, I refer you to that article.