We have covered this update before but I want to provide more information about the subject. Many websites are scrambling to make up for lost time. It was previously possible to rank in the top 5 for a search term by having an exact match URL for the given search term. For example if you wanted to rank for “cheap airline tickets” you could purchase www.cheapairlinetickets.com and have a good chance of ranking in the top 5 search results without any supporting links for your site. Well, the party is over and it has been for a long time. Although the EDM algorithm update happened at the end of September 2012, Google has been warning us about this for years. In September of 2003 Google actually patented the EDM algorithm but did not employ it till it was approved this year.
Exploring this further we find other problems for exact match domains. We have spoken about changing up your anchor links in the past to help avoid penalties for keyword stuffing and this will have a big impact on EDMs. In the past it seemed fine to link directly to www.cheapairlinetickets.com, as this was the name of your site and probably not seen as excessive anchor link keyword stuffing. Google might have also recognized your URL as a brand and avoided the keyword stuffing issue. This unfortunately is no longer the case. I would recommend that companies with exact match domains start changing these links ASAP and remember to vary your anchor link choice.
Another practice that some webmasters are using is creating sub domains to create the same affect. Take for example www.onetravel.com. This company is using a sub domain in conjunction with their search engine marketing campaign. Their SEM ad appears with the URL “cheapairlinetickets.onetravel.com/” and appears to be designed to use the common URL optimization technique of injecting keywords into your URL. I might suggest to them to place a no follow tag on this page if strictly used for an SEM campaign. Since you are buying a keyword you do not have to worry about Google not finding your site. By inserting a no follow, you will make sure that Google does not mistake this as a quick way to gain SEO keyword power.
Other websites use a similar technique of adding in a category at the end of the domain such as www.some-airline-company.com/cheap-air-fairs/. The category addition is not at the heart of the EDM algorithm. The idea behind the Google EDM update is to eliminate low quality EDMs. So if your website has powerful links back to it but has an EDM do not fret. Remember that at the end of the day if you follow Google’s best SEO practices that your original choice of domain will not be a major factor.
– Matthew Wilkos
Boston Web Marketing | 108 Union Wharf Boston | MA 02109 | www.getfoundquick.com