Matt Cutts Announces Google Algorithm Update

Google rolled out yet another update on 9/28/2012.

Now they’re going after Exact-Match Domains.

The crack-down is supposed to target low-quality “exact-match” domains.

Here are the latest tweets from Matt Cutts discussing the update:

However, it seems that even high-quality EMD sites are getting hit.

Here are a few comments from site owners around the web…


“Two exact domain name match sites of mine are gone. Both top editorial quality, top content, one has excellent links – in their chosen area they are the best. They definitely did NOT deserve to disappear.

In fact one of the sites has been in competition with another of my sites for the same term. The EMD was far better and it has now gone, the other site remains in position 2.”

“I run a number of EMDs, many of which have lost 90% of their Google traffic after this update, however some of my EMDs have not been hit at all.

Having thoroughly compared the quality of content, quantity of content, design/look and user experience metrics of those hit and those unaffected, I can not see any difference whatsoever.

I feel like the most likely explanation is that human “quality-raters” have been sent to all sites, some gave a thumbs up, others a thumbs down, and these (possibly subjective) ratings have decided whether the sites live or die.”

“2 sites gone. One 3 years old. Ecommence bags site, completely unique content. All hand written. 200 words on each page. I am lost on what Google wants and i have been in this industry for 15 years. Before Google even.

Oh, and Bounce rate good and time on site good. The products are all high end mens bags that are not in the normal stores but Google want to show just the same bags but from large retail sector shops.”

“I just did a search for a two-word phrase that gets about 60,000 searches a month.

There’s an exact-match .net ranking #6 that has ZERO content. All it has is an H1 with the primary keywords, a link to a related Wikipedia article, a link to their twitter feed and a Google+ “recommend this” button with 9 votes.

That’s it. Yeah, really, that’s it. Nothing else. And it is not well-linked at all either. Very few links to speak of.

What was that about “low quality” filters?”

“I know exactly how you feel, the Google somehow fails to see the original author, imagine this- My site is five years old, and there comes one blogspot blog (one month old) that copies my entire posts from three years ago and ranks number one for these while I’m nowhere to be found…I’m shocked and disgusted, have already sent copyright claims but I can’t do this for eternity, this algo is one huge mess…”

“All the sites, affected and unaffected, are designed using the same very, very simple template. All are equally well researched, written and illustrated with my own graphics.

So I am seeing something very similar. I have some EMD’s that got hit and some that didn’t. I dont see any correlations between the sites that got hit and those that didn’t.

Not sure if this gets us closer to answers but I wonder if G was able to determine what is a EMD and what is not an EMD. Its certainly possible, but harder, for a algo.

“bluewidgets” and “greenwidgets” one is a EMD and one is a company name. If someone is not in that business it could be hard to tell the difference. You would have to know that bluewidgets is a product and greenwidgets is just the company. Both terms could even get equal traffic. Splitting those apart is possible but not trivial.

I am leaning toward a general change in how domainnames are treated. Partly because I am seeing non EMD’s hit in the same time frame and I don’t think its chance.”

“I am seeing quite a few non EMD domains across quite a few niches that have been hit by this also. Could this be the latest Penguin in disguise? I first decided to have a look because one of my biggest competitors (brand name and efinitely not EMD not even PMD) has dropped from first 5 pages. This site is a big and old site at least 8 years and has gone. Anyway I started looking around and lots of non EMD have been hit and lots od PMD sites also.

Anyway just a thought wouldn’t be the first time a smoke screen came out of the Google camp!”

Keep in mind though… Google is known for releasing aggressive updates and then drawing them back in over time.

So let’s wait for the dust to settle before drawing too wide of a conclusion.

Related Articles:

Algo Change Targets Low Quality Exact Match Domains
New Google update targeting exact match domains announced


73 thoughts on “Matt Cutts Announces Google Algorithm Update”

    • I agree, but this update does not look at content in any way. Our 12 year old domain ecom site has lost 45% of visitors a day, however we have not been penalised by panda or penguin or any other google content update over the last 10+ years, i think we need to reduce our staff by 45%

  1. It sucks that another thing that was GOOD SEO in the past per Google is now BAD SEO.

    Yes it will reduce some junk sites, but as usual many GOOD sites will be hit hard.

    At this point you don’t know what to do or not to do since Google doesn’t seem to know what they really want.

    Thanks for the heads up Kim

    • yes, agree it will surely remove the few junk sites but many useful and old sites will also effected from this update.

      Many business are running only exact match domain sites and giving useful information to that particular keyword they will also hit by this.

      Giving relevant information on a particular query is not a bad SEO.

      Really don’t know what Google wants from SEO industry.

  2. From the research I have done on the sites that have moved not disappeared are domains with more than four letters exact – so if people have targeted long tail searches for instance howtohanganailinthewall then they would have been punished. They cannot change all EMD because they are fitting to the search eg tattoos, car insurance etc.

    I would probably think about changing the domain name and 301 redirecting all traffic to the new domain. If the sites contain quality content then they should bounce back. There are some other horrible ones still out there like so maybe the algo hasn’t been fully released yet or there is more to come.

    I don’t think they should cut out all sites for EMD as some do have good content. I don’t think it is fair when people have put in the work to deliver quality that they are punished. Despite being a sniper site or a larger entity. But they are just my thoughts ;-) For those that put the hard work in I hope your sites return and wish you all the best.

  3. The ultimate question seems to prevail: For what purpose do the Google people want to constantly disrupt legitimate efforts to post information on the internet regardless of the assumed value. Let the readers and users of the internet determine the value. It is no different than you deciding what reading material you choose to read? This censorship has gone waaay overboard. Google has turned into the biggest ‘Indian Givers’ EVER! Greed continues to prevail.

  4. Ranking in google search result are now becoming more complicated with lots of updates from google itself. I was afraid that my site will affect on this update. Hurmmmm….


  5. While I did not have the impression of having particularly been hit by the previous Panda and Penguin, this last update was clearly brutal (as of today). However, because it has not been a month yet, waiting could help reach a better conclusion.

    Google can clearly be an extremely volatile source of traffic. However, it has the advantage of being one of the cheapest and sometime provide traffic very passively.

    I am not giving up on Google. I was taught that businesses needed to foresee the future and adapt fast. I see in Google an environment where this appears to be true especially when I notice that not everyone has been impacted the same way by this update.

    • Ha! Funny!

      Regarding this topic, it took only getting bit once, by Panda, to learn my lesson. Have not bothered following a particular Google-ranking strategy for any new site, and only focus on list building and social marketing.

      I only do a small amount of SEO now, but search traffic is not my priority anymore. If it comes, great, if not, whatever.

      Don’t let Google be your site’s babysitter… It might just eat it!


  6. In answer to Paul’s question with regards to what to do, the teachings that Kim promotes don’t rely on Google and their SEO games.

    You just need to provide a site with great content that provides value. Then syndicate the content throughout the web.

    (And of course add in solo ads, etc)

  7. I’m getting pretty sick of trying to please Google. I understand what they’re doing from their point of view – trying to get the best search results possible. But quite often they “forgive” large established sites for the same “bad SEO” that smaller sites get penalized for. It’s really a shame.

    I think people are really over-obsessed with Google, though. Bing and Yahoo can still be good sources of traffic. And of course there’s the non-search engine traffic as well.

    I think SEO is important, but the more updates Google comes out with, the more I realize it can be a lost cause and a lot of wasted effort.

    • I wish I could look at Bing and/or Yahoo but in the UK they make up just 6% of the market share. Google is essentially a monopoly here. I have a site which advises people on how to manage asbestos in the UK. The content is excellent and 100% unique (I am a qualified asbestos consultant ) and its the only site of its kind in the UK which is constantly updated with new content. I even have a forum where I answer concerned people’s questions. Every week for the last 5 months it seems that something on my site has upset Google and I barely make a penny from it now. My site doesn’t even come in the top 100 on for the search ‘asbestos’!!! They just don’t know what they are doing and a perfectly good site has nigh-on disappeared as a result of their idiocy. The site name is (apologies if adding site names isn’t permitted here).

  8. I have one EMD site and that is nowhere to be found. It was filled with unique, original content and lovingly looked after. And no I can’t even find it in the search engines. I got hit with Penguin, then they changed their mind…

    I wouldn’t mind if the scrapers and spammers got removed, but they never do, and I’ve yet to see one spammy Google owned site penalised.

    Sorry I couldn’t respond more cheerily…

  9. OH… MY… GOSH!!! You mean to tell me Google actually did another update??? Lol, this doesn’t surprise me at all. I used to be an SEO fiend. Now because of random updates such as this, I could really care less about trying to kiss Google’s royal fanny.

    In my opinion, trying to crack their code takes much more energy than I’m willing to exhaust. I’m in the process of writing about this very thing in my upcoming blog post “10 Things I Hate About SEO: How I Put An End To My Content Marketing Misery!”

    Kim, thanks so much for sharing this and keeping us updated on the latest happenings. I can’t tell you how grateful I am to have discovered you, your blog, and Traffic Dashboard. You’re my saving grace! And is the very reason why I’m no longer sweating Google.

    Thanks again,


  10. Grrr, just went about bought an EMD… and I’m working my lil socks off to get it all contenified and pretty. It’s not an exact EMD though as I have a word before and after my main keyword. Maybe it’ll be OK if I don’t over optimize it…

  11. What does the name of the site have to do with content on that site? Because, from what Google was saying in the past, it’s all about the quality of content. So now we have to please the Google gods even before we write any content at all?

  12. I can’t believe people still rely so heavily on Google for their traffic. When you play on someone elses field, you have to play by their rules.

    If you haven’t figured out by now, open your own stadium, and invite others to play there.

  13. Ever changing but who’s really getting benefit?

    It’s a true fact that some EMD are built offering the “exact information” the reader is looking for. I really do feel for these 2-3 year old domains that have just dissipated due to fickle reasoning.

    Long live the small Entrepreneur right!

  14. So Google is going to penalize all of the folks that happened to get in early and managed to secure “”, “”, or “” Depends on their definition of low quality. Why don’t they put more emphasis on dwell time or bounce rate? If I come across some spammy looking site, but it offers what I want, I’m happy.

    Google shouldn’t be in the business of making qualitative judgements, just determining whether or not users of their search engine were being well served.

  15. My personal blog has completely disappeared from search results despite having been on page one for a number of (sometimes obscure) terms. In addition, none of the photos show up anymore in image search. This all happened overnight Friday Night.

  16. When doing research I’m now using Yahoo as my primary search engine as Google returns such inconsistent quality nowdays.

    Can we all encourage everyone to switch from using Google to Yahoo or Bing.

    Given time could the world turn on Google?

  17. Heya Kim:

    Prettty much all of my exact test domains gone. One I had as a “test site” (I actually used it as an example of what not to do when selling to executives) – that was always #1 or #2 – since 2006… GONE! Not a valuable site and it took 6 years to ‘catch’ it. ;-) Cheers, Jon

  18. I have been relying on the search engines traffic for years and was very happy with it, but apparently Google has a systematic step by step plan on killing the SEO niche ..and its called ‘minor weather report’ ;-), Stay tuned for the major weathers upcoming reports.

    Very weird but it seem that even high quality content has no guarantees anymore or I really can’t explain the following testing results I have recently got for a client.

    I have tested an optimized (LSI, tags and a few useful links) high quality unique content posts ranking on a quality blog, versus a spun version of the same article posted on a mid quality blog that had earned social proof, likes, plus+ and retweets, and have found out that the low quality spun version outranked the ‘naked’ high quality unique content post, so what we should care for anymore or what we shouldn’t?

  19. Damn you Google.

    I have lost 9 sites, all EMD, all were on Page 1 and all with unique content. 2 of them were a large part of my online Business bringing in over £1500 ($2422) per month from physical product sales which I stock myself.

    These sites have been on Page 1 for over a year and saw no adverse effect in Penguin and Panda, so cannot understand why they have been penalised this time around.

    To say I am really annoyed is an understatement!

    Whats also weird is that when I put into Google site:domainname one of the 2 sites home page no longer features in the listings whereas the others does?

    Hopefully when the dust settles Big G will see the validity of the sites and put them back where they belong.

    I am so fed up trying to keep ahead of Google. I think media buying is an option I will have to look at


  20. Judging the quality and legitimacy of a website by it’s domain name is discriminatory, there are many legit businesses using them and so far Google never mentioned that there is something wrong doing so.

    Yes, there are loads of 3 page EMDs with a few ads that do not deserve any rankings at all. Yes, it’s good to see that spam isn’t tolerated. But a “I don’t like your name, so you don’t offer value for visitors” update is a step in the wrong direction in my opinion.

    • Very well put Florian – I like your “I don’t like your name, so you don’t offer value for visitors” update spin on it.

      What exactly are people supposed to have as a domain name now, something that bears no relation to what the website is about?

      For example one of my lost EMD’s is – what am I supposed to have? !!!!!?????

      I really hope that after a few days things settle down and quality sites that have been hit start to return to the positions where they belong.

      • Jon you crack me up mate..LOL..Forget Google and build a list..

        Google are well unpredictable, if Google is your main source of traffic to get sales, then it’s all over for your business. That’s just my opinion

  21. Guys, I hate to say this, but building your business on Google’s whims is like building your house on sand. If you want reliable traffic, either have an irresistible offer and have affiliates promote it, or pay for it.

    • Russ your statement

      “building your business on Google’s whims is like building your house on sand”

      has been said for around 10-12 months by so many guru’s and bloggers and YET people still insist on doing the opposite.. and when Google release a new update that wipes out their business they start crying… Sorry guys i’m not trying to be being rude, it just has to be said

  22. I have 3 google sniper sites as a hobby. All lovingly written with 500+ word unique articles. They are popular on social media. All 3 are exact match domains. No adsense. None of them got hit by the update. There must be something google likes about them I guess.

  23. It is quite difficult to please the G. The legit SEO techniques that worked well before will not provide the same results now. The Google update makes website owners go beserk! Write for the readers and not for search engines .

  24. This doesn’t make any sense to me… Well, I know there are low quality sites on EMDs but come on, there are thousands and thousands of high quality websites out there on EMDs, and many of them are not using those exact match domains just for SEO purposes…

    If you want to get quality results you need to find a way to filter the bad ones, that make sense, but you can’t hit hard on just everything that fits some criteria… like all EMD sites are bad… they are not…

    OK, they probably didn’t “hit” all the EMD sites but apparently many good sites on EMDs are punished… for what? For having a website on “exact match domain name”? Since when that’s a “crime”?

    I guess they will somehow “fix” it in the end, but this is still bad… Also, I’m afraid to think what will be next “criteria” for removing sites from results that Google with came up with…

    At the end, I agree with Russ Ruffino on this one, no one in online business should rely only on traffic from Google, but this update is still bad…

  25. I am afraid many of my sites that dominated the search engines have now gone. A site that was on the first page for the last 4 years now gone to the tenth position over night whereas a site with only couple of RSS news feeds still there with adsense on it. I wonder whats next.

  26. I know that Google is trying to hit spammy sites, but they seem to miss most of them as I still see sites with obviously spun content on them ranking well in the results.

    I hope that the decent people who are only trying to make a living get their rankings back.

  27. And yet, the SEO tin foil hat crowd (not you Kim! – lol) are writing articles and pontificating about how you can “make nice”, with Google, passing out their sage advice about how to create that “special sauce” so that you can, once again, placate the dominant “jack wagon” of search.

    I am hoping that the legions of the faithful who have listened to their advice have come to the conclusion that Google’s weebling wad of bird fat has rendered their musings obsolete.

    With one swipe of their Algorithmic flipper, they can wipe out your earnings and your livelihood no matter how complaint you are. Tim Carter from has commented that he lost 80% of his traffic from the great animal attack that was Penguin.

    He was an adsense case study darling for the love of Pete. All might be well in his world by now, but I doubt it. They are hitting the honest brokers, long standing EMD’s, and it seems, just about anyone who has subscribed to their “value to the user” tour de force – for no particular rhyme or reason.

    As of this writing, I have a “page not found” ranking in the top ten of my 10 year old EMD. Wasn’t the idea of Penguin to purge the web of “spam and spun” content? Seems they let a lot of bad actors float to the top of the SE results for whatever reason.

    I find also, that through my web travels, they are still, since Penguin, giving a lot of weight to Ehow,, Amazon, Youtube, and properties they either own, or they might have some sort of partnership with.

    Why would anyone, at this point, trust Google with their business? They are thinning the herd, and me thinks that they are going to eventually push out the small players like myself.

    This is what happens when you become the 800 pound Search Engine Gorilla. Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts, absolutely. This is not your fathers Internet anymore. It may sound like simplistic and pedestrian advice, but you have to build web properties that are membership or subscriber based.

    In other words you need to be in control of your own customers. I guess it is the old advice, that is still the best advice. The “money is in the list” still applies probably more now then ever. I wish I had listened and implemented that mantra more aggressively.

    Google’ mentioned publicly that they do not like “walled gardens” like Facebook, Apple, etc., because they do not share certain technologies or let Facebook’s content open to Google’s SE results, or something like that…

    But they have the right idea. Imagine if you had 500 million registered users like Facebook does? Why would you need Google when you have the population of the United States plus probably all of Europe at your finger tips to market to? Talk about the money being in the list!

    And, knowing what Google has been up to lately, it would be business suicide for any of those businesses to rely on the Google God’s to bestow their blessings on either site. Realistically, you might not be able to get away from Google totally. But, you will have to find a way to minimize their footprint. If you build it, they just might come. Just don’t let Google own the building….

    Just sayin..
    Robert C.

  28. Hello All
    Thank-you Kim for sending me the email on the latest SE change update:>)
    I don’t know too much about “exact match” but I think if people get tangled up with automatic posters and do spammy auto-broadcasting of URL’s there is going to be a problem with SE’s raising the red flags, honest promotions, marketing and advertising are the keys. Kim Roach is AWESOME in providing value in content marketing, thumbs-up Kim :>)

  29. I listened to Google many moons ago and starting doing what they tell us to do, since I started this strategy I have sailed through Panda and all the other updates. My site keeps in increasing like mad and I have stopped counting the front page rankings. I believe it is simply a case of giving Google what they ask

  30. Cleaning up spammy crappy little sites, fine. Being even a little overzealous about it, ok fine. Doing about face moves on SEO recommendations and then performing quasi-Nazi fell-swoops that can wipe out legit site owners, NOT fine. In fact, really it should be prohibited at a higher level than Google. At some point, that too might come to pass since this is really inappropriate activity by what amounts to a near-monopoly in organic search.

    Thanks for letting us know. Personally, I echo what others have written. To hell with SEO…..and certainly to hell with Google. There is no better example of God-like syndrome out there.

  31. I like many of you on here I have been hit by this latest EMD algo update – I have lost some good sites with unique content and I’ll admit some not so clever sites at the same time. This update doesn’t seem to be discriminating. If Google is serious about better search results then going after EMD’s is a strange way to improve results – after all if you sell blue widgets and your site is called blue widgets pretty likely to be relevant.
    If on the other hand Google wants to have a go at SEO companies then this is a great way to go about it, as one of the first lessons I learnt abour site building was an EMD helped you get to the first page of Google.
    Why I hear you ask is the benefit of hurting SEO companies – the answer in my opinion is simple Google doesn’t want SEO companies around, they want to show them and everyone else that SEO is a broken business model and drive people away from doing SEO and they probably think that some will change there business model to Google Adwords as a more reliable business model and we all know who will gain from that change don’t we !!!!
    The game is forever changing but will everybody stay the distance I doubt it and so Google in part will achieve their goal.

  32. Google will constantly stay one step ahead of people who set up sites just to rank for keywords. I’ve always said that you don’t really need SEO in order to have a thriving blog. Just create valuable content and you should be fine.

  33. I will say upfront that I do not rely on google for traffic, mainly social networks…but that does not mean I do not want traffic from Google.

    My main site which is fairly new is ranking front page for EDM on posts that I produce. So for instance my domain name is half baked lobster…but I write about faith issues. So whatever my title of my post is, I rank for those keywords…I use scribe to help me with my posts…

    I think we have been so caught up in the unique content and backlinking thing that when we just do those two things…we are surprised when we are not rewarded…there is so much more to a site then just those two things…

    I think for bloggers the real sign that things were changing was when ezine was hit…Google told them what they wanted and how they could survive. Now to get anything posted to ezine takes an act of congress. But if you use them from time to time you can learn a lot about how we should structure your posts…now most of my articles are mini books…

    I started using Google webmaster tools-plus google analytics–plus other free google tools to clean up my site and make improvements to it. It seems to help…I am also getting ready to do Google Authorship

    I also use blog engage and other mediums to promote my posts and looking into syndication within my market as described by Kim…

    I do not want to build my house on someone elses platform and I get that, but I am for sure going to use those platforms that are out there…

    How else will we ever build a list unless people find us.

    I hate these updates because we always seem to throw the baby out with the bathwater…since Google changes the rules we throw up our hands and walk out the door, but it in reality it is all part of doing business. No matter what kind of business we are in, the rules always change…we have to adapt…

    I think this speaks volumes to the nature of our business or making money online…that we have to secure several avenues of revenue. That we have to stay engaged to our markets…and we have to network like crazy.

    We can not rely on Google and others to make us our income…but we can network and connect with those that have made it like Kim…learn as much as we can…get bits of advice and follow it…and hopefully we find that niche that allows us to do what we love…

  34. I really do not like this update from Google. Exact match domains may be crap for some but they are breadwinners for many around the world. That is what happens when you have monopoly over something! Affiliates would be hit very badly because there are multiple affiliates selling the same product from almost similar domains.

  35. First it was the idea to hit bad at sites and spammers who do a lot of keyword stuffing. Now it’s EMD. Oh my. I will say I have mixed feelings. I’m happy that most crap sites would fade away but at the same time, many top level and high quality sites would join this list. I just took a look at some of my contents and site and noticed that I have to some extent, naturally played safe without knowing that someday this would come up. But the problem I’m having now is what next as these updates would surely make web promotion a thing to worry so much about before taking any single step. Only God knows what next we shall get from this update soon…I’m just getting scared.

  36. I’m in the same boat as Michael (Corder) above….having seen my own “” treated as an EMD and disappearing off the page.

    I’m pretty sure that part of it has come for daring to use my real name when commenting on blogs like this, as I’m sure I’ve hit a Panda “over-optimised” penalty too. Trying to be transparent can be harmful to your health :-)

    I guess I should be signing into comments as “Awesome Internet Marketer” from now on, to try to dilute my name’s impact!

    Martin (Awesome Internet Marketer) Percival :-)

  37. Very interesting development. Just more proof that Google is waging a psychological war on low grade websites. Just like Panda, great sites are getting hurt. Looks like I need to add this to my “Things required to keep Google happy so I am not unfairly penalized” list. Thanks for the post!

  38. Next Google Update:

    “You have content about blue widgets on your site and you’re trying to rank for “blue widgets” you are trying to game us! Removed!”

    Honestly, Google is super paranoid about everyone and their brother gaming the system.

    It should be obvious now that trying to build *anything* for Google is folly, as Google continues to take what they once touted to be “good seo practices” and turns around and says, “You’re trying to game us, here’s an update to kill your site.”

    Just like with their most recent updates, I imagine they are cheering at the office as they watch their adwords purchases skyrocket.

  39. What about those “Exact Match Sub Domains” (EMSD) created in Blogger with spammy and spun content? Looks like Google is giving them a boot.

  40. Wonder if backlinking is part of the equation. I have an EMD that I have not backlinked yet, it has actually gone up in rankings and getting more and more traffic every day.

    I know EMDs have always had a little boost, is it possible that this last update just removed the EMD bonus. In that case does it mean that all domains are on level playing field and its all about the content now?

  41. I think we need to wait and see what happens. It stinks that some people’s quality sites lost so much traffic, but the best we can hope for is that this is a temporary blip and googlebot will start restoring the ranks of quality content again soon. I remember seeing a lot of heated posts about the last Penguin update, but bloggers adapted and survived. I think we’ll live through this update too


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