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Thoughts on Google’s EMD update

Posted in: SEO by Richard Hearne on October 9, 2012
Internet Marketing Ireland

Not written anything for a couple of years now, but Damien Mulley seems to have given me a bug. So copying this from Google+:

I found the Cemper report to be pretty poor overall (sorry Cemper), but one very useful piece of data was the list of domains.

Here’s what I see on the hit Vs promoted sites:

Exact match keywords used in regular text (not internal anchors) on homepage (e.g. “Anchor Text”):
Multiple times (i.e. 6-10) | few times (1-2)
Domains name used in regular text rather than keyword (“AnchorText.com” vs. “Anchor Text”):
Little or no usage (<2) | More prevalent usage (>2)

The above could be signs of over-optimisation and relaince on exact matchj over brand.

Now the interesting part about links. While Cemper did come to the conclusion that links were the major element in EMD update, they really didn’t back this up very well with their data. Here’s what I found via Majestic SEO (again Hit | Promoted):

Level of EM Keyword anchors (e.g. “Anchor Text”):
Top anchors were EM | Top anchors diverse

Linking root domains:
High number of EM links from each linking domain | Low linking domain:anchor ratio

Top Anchors:
Mainly EM or commercial | Diverse anchors with far fewer EM

There’s no way to know what mix of signals Google uses (other than to be certain it’s complex), but my gut tells me it’s a blend of anchor/link type together with some obvious on-site over-optimisation signals. Basically EMDs without SEO might still enjoy a ranking boost (as per the promoted set of domains in Cemper report).

If correct then diversifying anchor text and reducing on-site optimisation might see EMDs increase rankings as Google refreshes the data.

Of course the above is all humble opinion, and as with everything SEO YMMV.

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  1. Glad to see you’re back blogging and making sense. Its like the old school SEO folks are all fed up with SEO, ready to apologise to the brands who have mega bucks to spend and want to pretend that link building, EMD and branded search are wrong and evil.

    Any take on Rand’s campaign for Social Links? Given that its probably easier to build fake profiles, buy likes, RTs, and the nofollow and the walled gardens…?

    Comment by David Quaid — October 9, 2012 @ 10:30 am

  2. Hi David

    Sorry I didn’t see your comment, and I’m not used to replying here anymore LOL

    No ideas about Social Links campaign TBH. Social signals are still far too noisy, and the fragmented social arena means it will be difficult for Google to use this to bubble up content. Not everyone is liking the things we search for.


    Comment by Richard Hearne — October 19, 2012 @ 5:06 am

  3. I have several exact match domain that do pretty well but they are decent sites with a fair amount on anchor diversity. The sites that I have being hit hard have few links most of witch have high number of EM anchors. From what I have seen on my sites you get a little more leniency with EM anchor text ratios but it but if it is too high (say 1/3 or more), you are still going to get hit.

    Comment by Ashlee Anderson — January 23, 2013 @ 4:23 pm

  4. The EMD update was extremely interesting and I understand the aim of it. However from my research it seems many legitimate sites were affected and many low quality EMD sites weren’t hit at all. Another example of a failed Google attempt at cleaning up the search results.

    Comment by Cameron Whitaker — January 30, 2013 @ 2:08 am

  5. Interesting coming across this several years later… I *still* see low quality EMDs outranking better sites on a daily basis, and Google continues to put an inexplicable amount of weight on keywords in domain names it seems. I can’t figure out why they haven’t greatly de-weighted this as a ranking factor by now.

    Comment by Tom McSherry — October 23, 2016 @ 4:19 am

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