The Impact of Google's
EMD & Panda 2.0 Updates
For those of us in competing in the online world, 2012 has been busy to say the least. This spring brought a host of huge changes from Google including the “Venice” or local listings update as well as updates to Panda and a new animal called Penguin, which drastically changed the landscape of the online world.
And just when things were starting to settle down to a new level of “normal”, Google released another bombshell late last week. Initially called the "EMD" update (Exact Match Domain), Google’s leading man Matt Cutts said innocently enough the update was designed to take away the “bonus” SEO lift that many people saw from having an exact match domain such as “areaoflawpractice-city.com”.
This seems to make sense, as we’ve all seen cases where pretty thin and otherwise unworthy sites ranked high just on the strength of the domain name alone. In theory, this would seem to level the playing field.
The Real Impact on Sites
However, what we’ve seen is that a lot of sites that happened to have the keyword in the domain have been hit as collateral damage. Also, we’ve also seen some exact match domains actually go up in rankings, so everyone assumes there is heavy tweaking to come. But this is no consolation to those who got hit and hit hard – most dropped into Google hell somewhere and traffic nearly flat-lined.
Now Comes The Rest of the Story…
THEN, around mid-week it came out that at the same time EMD was rolled out, Panda 2.0 was also rolled out as well. And Google says this one was a major update, with more than 2.5% of SERPs impacted. 2 major changes in one day make for a lot of things to cover for site owners and managers.
It’s early, but it looks like this Panda update was fairly serious about:
- Purging Sites with Duplicated content
- Tougher evaluation of site quality – thin sites were really especially hard
- Penalizing sites with messy site structure
So what are the takeaways for us as website owners and managers?
- More R&D for Andre’ & research assignments for our team (like we needed more):
- Make sure that you have a really solid process for site launches & existing site audits that ensures you can avoid the problems related to duplicate content
- Use tools like SEOMoz to identify trouble areas on your sites and fix them right away (could do a separate post just on this)
- Keep a close eye on traffic and trends via Google Analytics
- DO NOT recommend clients buy exact match domains because it might help rank. Instead go with branded domains (for now)
- Micro-sites that were built for exact match domains probably need to be taken down – or at best no longer advised as a good strategy unless they will be “real” sites with regular content being added and a link building strategy
Find out more
I want to give a shout out to Ana Hoffman at Traffic Generation Cafe who was kind enough to ruin my late night TV watching with the first coverage of the story. Her brutal honesty is refreshing in this day and age of "holier than thou" SEO.
Also, Web Pro News had a little different take as their story was written a few days later with the benefit of a little extra information. Click here to read their story.
And lastly, I work in the industry and this sort of stuff makes me crazy. So I am going to get back to writing more detailed posts about these topics as I'd like to help as many people understand it as possible.