EMD Abuse – Should They Rank?

By October 4, 2012 Search Engine Optimization

Starting on September 27 and continuing through October 3, 2012, Google introduced a series of “small” updates that affect the rankings of “low-quality” exact match domains (EMD’s). Among these enhancements was the 20th update to Google’s Panda algorithm.

Evidence shows that for at least 2 years now, Google’s webspam lead, Matt Cutts, has been confused as to why EMD’s rank so well in the SERPs (http://clixfl.com/mcpubcon). For years, it has been commonplace among search marketers to search for an EMD that correlates to their targeted keyword. Regardless of if the domain has a hyphen or not, the results usually speak for themselves.

Take a look at some of the examples below

  1. St. Louis Personal Injury Attorney – Ranking 2nd on Google SERPs

    St. Louis Personal Injury Results

  2. St. Louis Printing Company – Ranking 1st on Google SERPs

    St. Louis Printing Company Results

  3. St. Louis Insurance Quotes – Ranking 1st on Google SERPs

    St. Louis Insurance Quotes

  4. St. Louis Mortgage Rates – Ranking 8th on Google SERPs

    St. Louis Mortgage Rates Results

These are just some examples of EMD’s ranking relatively well for their particular keyword. However, the problem that faces Google is related to quality. How many Webmasters out there own exact match domains and how many of them are high quality?

I decided to do a little test on the word insurance. I entered the word into Google Adwords tool and received their list of keyword ideas (approximately 788). After downloading the .csv file, I then did some formatting and created a list of EMD’s. The final step of the process was to find a good bulk domain availability checker. The results are very unsurprising…

Step 1

Adwords Results

Check Google Adwords Keyword Tool for suggestions.

Step 2

Turn Suggestions Into EMD's

Turn the suggestions into comprehensive list of EMD’s.

Step 3


Check availability of EMD’s pertaining to insurance.

The results show that pretty much everything is taken! Search marketers, regardless of if they execute upon quality strategies or not, understand the importance of EMD’s and their current effect on search engine optimization. Most marketers will “build” the domain out with “quality” content (talk about subjective!) and sell it or use it as a crutch for a sales pitch. For example, one of our clients was recently contacted regarding purchasing an EMD (for a second time… by the same company – talk about annoying… that’s a post for another day). But, for fun, I listed an excerpt from the solicitor’s inquiry below in italic. It’s unbelievable how many companies try to leverage information in a manner that is misleading so they can get a paycheck.

I have writers working on 20 articles right now. All in all, I will be invested close to $1500 in this domain by the end of next week. Not awful considering this is the best possible name to own from Google’s perspective for a [insert keyword here]. With this domain, significantly less work will need to go into it to get it to rank at the top considering it is an exact match for the most searched keyword surrounding [insert keyword here].

I Want Your Take

Should any of these rank based on the site’s quality, content, freshness, call-to-actions and so on… Heck, do you get a good vibe from any of the taken EMD’s?

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