Have you noticed a downturn in web traffic lately? Is your domain name made up of keywords you’re targeting? Then you may have been hit by Google’s latest Exact Match Name Domain (EMD) Update.

What are Exact Match Name Domains?

Exact Match Name Domains are domain names containing words which match exactly the keywords a user would use when submitting a search query to a search engine, in other words the exact keywords for which the site is optimising. Exact Match Domain Names very often include a location (known in the SEO trade as a geographic indicator) and a product or service (a search category keyword). Examples include:

- Durbanplumbers.com*

- Capetownrestaurants.co.za*

- Outdoorfitnesstraining-johannesburg.co.za.*

Exact Match Domain Names are popular amongst website owners, for obvious reasons. Say you were looking for plumbers in Durban – you’d type in something like Durban plumbers and come across a site like Durbanplumbers.com at (or very near to) the top of the search engine results page (SERP), since this site’s domain name is an exact match for the keywords you used. And thus have owners of Exact Match Name Domains been sitting pretty at the top of the rankings. But, alas, no more! Enter the latest Exact Match Domain Name algorithm update.

What is the Exact Match Domain Name (EMD) Algorithm?

It’s the algorithm Google applies when assessing Exact Match Name Domains. The latest tweak in the algorithm took place recently and many websites with Exact Match Name Domains are feeling its pinch – lower SERP rankings and lower traffic.

Why Doesn’t Google ‘Like’ These Exact Match Name Domains?

In the words of Matt Cutts, Head of Web Spam at Google, the change is meant to ‘reduce low-quality exact match domains in search results’.  In short, Google regards websites with Exact Match Name Domains as spammy. And not without reason, either. Unfortunately, increasing numbers of website owners are ‘manipulating’ the rankings of low-grade websites by registering Exact Match Name Domains. You’ve probably come across a bunch of such sites in your own Google searches – there’s nothing more irritating than coming across a site which appears to match your request and clicking on the link, only to find a website filled with garbage content and monetised with ads and affiliate links. Google’s latest EMD algorithm update attempts to redress the situation, by ensuring that these websites’ rankings aren’t overinflated, in effect weeding them out of our view and, once again, levelling the playing fields between websites with Exact Match Name Domains and those with, for example, brand-name domains.

Are All Exact Match Name Domains Spammy Sites?

No, there are many good quality websites out there which have also made use of Exact Match Name Domains. However, these sites will now have to work harder to boost their SERP rankings through other means. Here are our five top tips for combating the EMD algorithm change:

- Ensure your website has high quality, original content, published on a regular and consistent basis

- Ensure that your website showcases your brand strongly or demonstrates strong brand recognition (did you know that an Exact Match Name Domain can actually create brand confusion in the eyes of web visitors and customers?)

- Work on your social media profiles to drive your website’s popularity

- Make sure that readers can share your web content via social share buttons

- Up your blogging efforts to attract new web visitors and encourage the sharing of content.

*No reference to actual websites is intended.