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Exact Match Domain (EMD) Update: Did Google Change Its Mind?

Back on September 27th, the same day as Panda #20 was rolled out, Google announced the EMD update that aimed to lower rankings for websites that achieved high rankings by using exact match domain (EMD) names. is not considered an EMD because it is expected that a company will use their name as the URL for their website, rather, the EMD update was aimed at sites like,, and

As with most Google algorithm updates of late, this one also shook up the SEO community. Most of us were excited for this update because it meant the end of spam sites with thin content outranking our client’s sites purely based on a URL. Many of these sites maintained high rankings with very weak link profiles, if they had any at all.

What then, has been the impact? Has this update been the magic answer to sites with keyword-rich URLs winning high rankings?

Looking at Data from MozCast, we can see that on September 27th, the day the EMD update was released, there was a 10% drop in EMD influence.

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But this metric is only looking at EMD data, Dr. Pete was smart enough to separate EMDs ( from PMDs (partial match domains like and Looking at PMD data, the decrease is also evident on September 27th.

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However, something interesting has happened in the PMD data that hasn’t happened in the EMD data — from November 18-22 the influence of PMDs has increased.

I have personally seen evidence of this in one of my client’s rankings for a targeted keyword phrase. Over the last weekend there has been a fair amount of flux in the rankings and as of today one of the sites outranking my client is Not only is it outranking my client’s site but it is in the third position for a very competitive keyword phrase..

My guess is that all the recent flux means Google is in the middle of either rolling out an unannounced update or they are running a test. If you’ve seen any evidence of EMDs or PMDs winning rankings please share your findings in the comments below.

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