Here we go again. It seems that every time Google announces another batch of algorithm shifts, the online community runs to their houses like Munchkins reacting to the Wicked Witch. However instead of a puff or orange smoke, Matt Cutts came out to forecast this “weather report”, as he announced Google’s EMD update just under a month ago. We are now starting to see how it is affecting rankings.

What Is It?

Said to be a “minor” update, Cutts described this change as a “small” shift. Going into further detail he stated that the EMD update is designed to target exact-match, domains within search results that are of low-quality. According to Cutts, this would most likely affect around 0.6% of English/US search queries. He also stated that is is an update that is unrelated to Penguin and Panda.

No Seriously, What Is It?

From what we can gather it goes a little something like this: let’s say there is a website domain titled “discountcakes.com.” However this website does not have quality content, and reputable links. Before, if you were to search for the term “discount cakes,” this site might have received premium ranking based upon the fact that their web address is an exact match to the query. Google’s EMD update is out to correct that. Exact-match URLs will no longer have preferential treatment.

That Doesn’t Sound Like a “Minor” Change!

Well, from Cutts’ perspective it is. However the recent onslaught of complaints from websites that feel they’ve been affected say different. As it turns out (as Cutts later went public with this) a Panda update was also added right around the time the EMD update dropped. Since that point, Cutts has come out with news that new changes to both the Page Layout algorithm and Penguin update were recently added to the fray as well.

Okay, That Makes More Sense

The snowball effect sounds a lot more plausible for a lot of these complaints. Regardless, a lot of changes are going on in Googleville right now. These updates, coupled with the 65 updates from the summer that were announced in October, are really shaking things up. So if you’ve been blaming a down-tick in your site from the EMD update, it may be misplaced. Unless your site is an exact-match address situation, the EMD updates are not the droids you are looking for.

So Seriously, How Large Is The EMD Update?

It depends. Keep in mind, the EMD update isn’t going after websites with exact-match domains. It’s targeting low-quality domains that have exact-match URLs. Remember, quality is king. According to insiders this update has been on the docket for over 2 years. Google keeps striving to collect the best results based on page quality, relevant data, keyword relevance, domain authority, and off-site values. This EMD update is just the latest in a long line of changes from Google that are looking to close the short-cuts to hot-shot rankings. Furthermore, Google seem to have confirmed that EMD updates will launch periodically, similar to both Panda and Penguin.

What’s The Fallout?

Going forward, Google has made additional changes to how it manages domains recently. Keep in mind each of these algorithm shifts are designed specifically to enhance the overall quality of Google’s search results. For instance, throughout the years, many users have used anchor text and exact-match domains as a best practice. At that time it truly was. However due to this update, and previous ones, those practices have certainly changed. The trick now is trying to figure out exactly how much things have changed. The idea is still good, but it has to be pair with quality content.

At the end of the day, these updates aren’t meant to mess with Google’s users, they are meant to generate the best possible results. They are also making websites work for their rankings, which is only going to make the quality better, and allow the most deserving sites to rise to the top. Of course, like anything else, if you want to bake a cake, some eggs will have to get cracked in the process. Google is always looking to improve their cake recipe. So just make sure you’re website is a good egg, otherwise you risk it getting cracked next time it’s time for Google to bake a cake.

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