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The Impact of the Google EMD Algorithm Update on My Sites

The Impact of the Google EMD Algorithm Update on My Sites

A couple of days ago, I discussed my strategy moving forward for building niche sites.  In a nutshell, this strategy includes focusing on larger and higher quality sites; rather than starting sites with only 1 to 5 pages of content.  Of course, its not all about the amount of content a site has; quality is key.  You can read the full discussion of my new strategy here.

The timing of that last post also coincided with the Exact Match Domain Google Update aka Google EMD algo update.  Because of the timing of my post (only a couple of days after the algorithm update) a good portion of the comments were focused on that.  However, today I wanted to provide a deeper look into how my sites have fared since the EMD Google update and my analysis.

I also want to stress that with any update, a lot of discussion is hypothesis.  So first, I will present some numbers based on the stats from my niche sites, but then I’ll do my best to interpret those numbers based on the recent Google changes and whether they were related.

First, I want to remind everyone that I have over 200 sites; really closer to 300.  I have a wide variety of type and quality of sites.  Some of these sites are several years old, and some of them were just created a month or 2 ago.  Some have over 100 pages of content, and others only have 1 page of content.  Some of these earn a substantial amount, and some don’t make anything.  So, what has been the effect on such a diverse portfolio?

The Overall Impact

I decided to take a look at overall earnings via Google Adsense to assess the damage that this algo change has had.  With over 200 sites, it would have been difficult to compare actual rankings before and after.  Before I report my numbers, here’s how I got them.

I compared the average daily earnings for the month previous to Sept. 28th (day the EMD update rolled out), to the couple of days following the update (its only been a few days now). I did not include the day Sept. 28th in either of my calculations, because the update seems to have taken place sometime during that day – so I just removed it from the analysis.  So here it is:

My portfolio of sites is earning on average 12.9% less per day since the update.  So my earnings are down 12.9%.  Compared to some others out there, this is a pretty small impact. The Adsense Flippers reported a 68% drop in earnings; and others with large portfolio of sites have shared with me similar numbers.

However, as I take a deeper look I see a more interesting story.  My sites at the bottom were impacted hugely to the downside.  However, my top 10 earning sites actually INCREASED in average daily earnings (although not by a huge amount).

Digging Deeper

So, in fact my top 10 earning sites actually increased in earnings since the EMD update.  Buy why?

Of my top 10 earnings sites, only 4 are Exact Match Domains.  The other 6 are either a partial match or 1 is more of a branded type domain.

However, what’s more important than that is the quality and quantity of content that these sites have. Most of these sites are not my typical 1 to 5 page content type site.  These are sites that I have grown and built into something bigger (many of them started as 5 page mini-sites though).

  • My top earning site has 62 posts.
  • Another top 10 earning site has 22 posts.
  • Another top 10 earning site has 134 posts.
  • Another top 10 earning site has 110 posts.

So as you can see many of these sites that were not affected are larger sites.  I can also tell you that they are better quality overall.  They are also older domains (for the most part).

On the flip side, as I look at all the sites that I’ve created over the past few months; most of these sites are just 1 to 3 posts.  These newer sites and overall MANY of my very micro sites got decimated.  Many of these that were ranking in the top 10 are gone.  I am also seeing just as big an impact on partial match domains as exact match domains.

However, because many of these sites were not earning as much (maybe only $15 or $20 a month or less), the impact on my average earnings overall was much less.  So overall, my earnings dropped around 13%, but among my newer and smaller sites, the drop was much more drastic – maybe up to 50 to 60%.  However, because my top 10 sites are such a huge portion of my earnings, my average drop doesn’t appear to be as bad.

One Interesting Example from My Sites

Not all of my top 10 earning sites are big sites.  In fact, one of them is a site with just 1 page of content.  So, why did it survive?  Not only did it survive, but its now ranked #1 for its keyword, where before it was around the middle of the first page on Google.  Its also an Exact Match .com domain.

Here’s the difference that I see between it and most of my other small niche sites.

  • I didn’t do my regular link building to it.  This site only has a handful of links, and they are from directory type sites.  But perhaps more unique is that NONE of the links include keywords in the anchor text.  Its all URL match.
  • The site is LESS optimized in keyword use on the site itself.  In particular, the URL structure is not my standard  But instead its the default WordPress URL structure:

So, overall perhaps this site survived and others didn’t because I was over-optimizing the on-page and off-page use of the keywords.

My Analysis

So, as I take a look, I see that my larger sites were affected very little; while my 1 page sites that are newer were hit really hard.  In addition, the overall link profiles of my larger sites is better as well.  I’ve had a chance to diversify link sources; whereas my smaller/newer sites have not.  When you build lots and lots of micro sites, the only way to build links is to automate.  It appears that Google has figured out these types of links pretty well.

So what does this Google EMD update really do?  Apparently it does indeed affect EMD and maybe even Partial match domains.  But the affect is much bigger for those sites that have small amounts or poor quality content and have a weak link profile.  If the site is of higher quality content and link diversity; the impact may have even been positive (even with an exact match domain).

Overall, it appears that this update is an extension of Panda and Penguin.  Panda addressed sites with low quality content.  Penguin addressed sites that were over-optimized in terms of keyword use on page and off page (anchor text) and the quality of links in general.  But apparently exact match domains were missed to some degree with the standard Panda and Penguin updates.  So, whatever bonus having an EMD had on rankings is now gone IF your site is of lower quality.  So, this may just be a Panda/Penguin update customized to target low quality Exact match domains.

I can only speculate on the overall causes and effects of this update, but this is what I’m seeing from my sites.  Others, including Becker from, have similar theories as well.

Wrapping Up

Overall, the Google update is again rewarding higher quality sites in terms of on-page and off-page factors.  This was specifically meant for EMDs that didn’t meet the quality thresholds.  My low quality sites got hit like everyone elses, but I also had at least my top 10 sites that not only didn’t get hit, but actually increased in earnings.

This just re-emphasizes the point I made a couple of days ago about my new strategy for building larger niche sites.  Its really the way to go.  Trust me, I wish I could build a bunch of 1-page sites, as its easier; but in the long run focusing on just a handful of high quality sites is a better way to grow your business.

I would love to hear your thoughts on the subject.  Lets me here it below!

114 Comments for this Post

  1. Des


    So going forward, do we need to start off with more than 50 articles per site. Should we post them at the same time or should we drip feed them through WordPress, what is the best linking method now, Is the new SeNuke XCR worth a shot, does UAW still work

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      No, you don’t have to always have 50+ pages of content. I’m going to focus on 1 site at a time; starting it with 20 to 30 pages of content. Once I’ve had time to decide whether it has potential or not, I would add additional content. Drip feed the content. Link building is a whole other discussion, but SENuke XCR or UAW are likely not going to cut it. They might help in some aspects, but those tools won’t give you a true diversified link profile.

    • Agencia de redes sociales

      Agencia de redes sociales

      Thanks a lot for the information. We had a bunch of EMD domains that are still ranking, but we think it’s because the High PR Backlinks they have.

  2. Andrew


    Thanks for the more detailed update! I definitely think it’s a good idea to focus on fewer, larger sites. But it’s interesting to see that in your portfolio, the number of posts is far from the only factor.

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      True, more posts is not the answer. Lots of factors come into play here.

  3. DeAnna Troupe

    DeAnna Troupe

    I agree wholeheartedly with you about this statement. That has always been my plan for building websites. Now does this take longer to get to profit? Yes it does. However, my main site has been unaffected by all of the updates because I focused on content and not link building.

  4. Chris


    I’m actually glad to see this change, as finding exact match was becoming more difficult, this update opens up the field for anyone delivering quality content to rise in rank regardless of domain. I have long thought that delivering quality content has always been king and if your delivering that quality then future update should have little to no effect on our sites.

    But if your a throw it up and run person, then you will always be battling Google and its updates. Quality content and real quality products will always reign supreme.

    • Frank


      I agree Chris. Many of us now can build quality sites without getting hung up on domain selection. Good Luck

    • Ross Corbett

      Ross Corbett

      Could not agree more.

      Produce consistent high quality content or products and you won’t have to worry about any such changes.

      • Colin Unger

        Colin Unger

        If only that were true. The update effected high large high quality sites as well.

  5. Omar @

    Omar @

    Thanks for the update Spencer.

    There is a lot of talk over at the Warrior Forum as well as too why this happened and what can everyone do to turn it around.

    Honestly, I think SEO is just the endless loop and shouldn’t be a sole strategy for a marketer.

    Great post Spencer.


  6. Frank


    Thanks for keeping us informed on this Google Update.

    Is there a certain amount of Keywords you’re targeting initially with this approach?

    I write a piece of content targeting 1-2 keywords per article maybe more depending on the keywords.


    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      Most of my sites target 1 primary keyword. This means only ONE article is optimized for that keyword. The other articles target different keywords (that are related). Or as the sites get bigger, you may just write content that is relevant to your niche without much thought for keywords. But generally you will want to target 1 or 2 keywords, even if they are very low volume. Then naturally you will get lots of SE traffic from long tail keywords that you weren’t even targeting.

  7. Trevor


    I’m still pretty new to this, but my first site which i started in July has gone from the first page where it had held position number 2 for a couple of weeks.

    It was EMD and only had 2 posts both unique 1000+ words, will have to see what happens over next few weeks might come back.

    The way forward i think is larger sites with good unique quality content.

  8. Thomas @ Mobile App Tycoon

    Thomas @ Mobile App Tycoon

    Glad that this didn’t hit you TOO hard. That small of a percentage is awesome compared to how hard AdSenseFlippers got hit. Definitely shows the authority sites are the future!


  9. Barry


    Another helpful post! Spencer I’m use to building micro niche sights with the EMD. If i’m going after the keyword “dog training” what should my domain be? Also, targeting authority sights should be 1000+ words per article with different keywords within the same niche?

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      EMDs are still fine. Just make sure the site is quality. I would recommend for at least your primary keywords writing longer articles close to 1000 words; but some articles might be much shorter. It all depends on the topic, niche, and purpose of your site.

  10. Luke



    We’re any of your sites hit that utilized Hayden’s strategy of owning your links?

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      I haven’t use any expired domains to link to my own sites. I haven’t done that. I’ve bought lots of expired domains, but I haven’t used any of these to link to my sites. But I know Hayden was hit really hard by this update.

  11. DoubleKGK


    Another quality post by Spencer :))

    Barry, you are not getting the point at all – first of all, you better not build any more NICHE SITES – that’s what Spencer and other dudes are recommending for future projects. Also it is not about Exact Match Domains and Keywords anymore. Make a search of “dog training” in Google , you will see Wikipedia at spot 1 , 6 more partial domains, along with branded domains and on the 7th Spot is sitting – so I will leave the thoughts to you.
    My recommendation – Do your Keyword Research from now on based on Phrase Match or Phrase to Broad Ratio, and just check the Exact Match as a factor to see the Traffic Flow 🙂

  12. Catt Mutts

    Catt Mutts

    Seems like its about time to learn some things about online marketing instead of trying to game the system and exploit the unfair advantage of EMDs. This business is so much more than find a keyword and throw 5 crappy articles with no added value on a MFA site. Thats around 5% of the knowledge.

    Its about concepts, entrepreneurship, real business ideas, conversion optimization, reputation, social marketing, brand development etc etc etc. Short: real company shit. The sooner you understand, the better.

    One real site can destroy your 200+ MFAs revenue-wise. Easily.

    • Paperchasing


      While I find your comments a bit absolutist, I agree with the overall sentiment.

      Structuring your entire business around an exploit is being foolish. People keep talking about how they don’t know what Google is going to do next, when, if they think about it from Google’s perspective, it’s pretty easy to understand.

      What is the purpose of Google’s search engine? To provide end users with quality answers to their queries. Advertisers pay Google because so many people are using their search engine, and so many people are using their search engine because they expect quality results for their searches. If you take away the search quality, the formula falls apart.

      If the quality of the SERPS degrades, over time, so will the user base, and so will Google’s advertising revenue. Obviously, they don’t want that, so it is in their best interest to promote the best possible results in their search engine. So, ask yourself, how much quality is your site really adding? How much quality are you adding with the 70 billion unreadable spun articles you submitted to sites nobody would ever go to on purpose for backlinks? Even if it works now, is this something you can really feel confident building your business around long term?

      I’ve never been a big fan of exact match domains, not only because I used to intentionally avoid those domains in search results before i knew anything about internet marketing, but also because, from a business owner’s perspective, most of them aren’t brandable at all. Not only is an “authority site” (I hate this term because, like most terms in the IM world, it has been used and misused so much as to lose all meaning) more stable than thin sites, they also can make use of a far wider variety of monetization and traffic generation options. Baskets and eggs and all that. It’s kind of amusing that one of the biggest arguments in favor of small niche sites has been the “don’t put all your eggs in one basket” one, yet most of the time these same small sites are using the same one source of traffic and the same one type of monetization, and they’re frequently even hosted on the same one shared hosting account.

      Now, all this is not to say that you shouldn’t take advantage of an exploit if it works. If you can make bank from it, and you’re not hurting anyone in the process, then more power to you. Just don’t pretend like it’s going to last forever, and don’t act like a victim when it inevitably stops working.

      • Paperchasing


        Oh, just wanted to be clear that when I said “you” in the above, I didn’t mean the literal “you,” Spencer. I’m talking in general terms. 🙂

      • James Thomas

        James Thomas


        Can i assume as your both being god like an righteous that you dont build small targetted websites?

        Given taht you dont you clearly dont understand something very important.

        Google are targetting EMD because of peopl like you crying about unfair advantage. had you not google would do nothing.

        Penquin and panda are not theoricial ideas dreamt up buttargetted responses to people complaining.

        Given the above there is no reason to target small sites built on an EMD that answer the users question. Thats what most of us do.

        So a 1 page site that nswers my search query is more valid than your 100 page site that doesnot. And waffes on with distracting menus an graphics.


    • Thomas


      Is that supposed to be Matt Cutts? Catt Mutts? That would be funny.

  13. alex becker

    alex becker

    Hey thanks for the shout out Spencer!

    Good read!

  14. Mark


    Hi Spence

    Still paintakingly disecting google I see. Have given up on that one. None of my sites on page one anymore or anywhere really. It just gets worse and worse. Not for you now but will eventually become a lost cause unless you are Wal-Mart or Coca Cola. It will be a long slow death for the little guys with google but it is coming! Just had my adsense account banned too for no apparent reason.

    So, looking at other ways to monetise and the traffic, although less is due to the fact ( although not as much) that now that I bothered to look am doing well in Yahoo and Bing and due to some submissions, minor search engines and directories. all ads up. and, feel liberated by not worrying about relying on Google anymore. So thats my direction. Other search engines and driving traffic direct.

    Any other persuance with google will eventually lead to failure, in the future you will consider it a bonus if you are listed there anywhere near page one.

    I’m just watching it happening.


    • Tony


      I totally agree with this….

      I also believe that google is starting to push itself outside of the search arena…. and will soon loose groung to Bing

      Really — i am searching for “how to prevent toe jam” and google thinks i would rather be at “footlocker/site/shoes and toe jam” (not a real example)

      Not a nice article with a proven technique for preventing toe jam. As long as its a good quality.

      See thats the rub… you dont need 20 pages to prevent toe jam. Just a wash clothe , some q-tips and tweezers.

      I personally have been using bing more and more as i like the results much more then googles….and i think there will soon be a migration that way


  15. shehzad


    Hi Spencer,

    I am following you from some time and i am impressed with your understanding and work. I have 4 websites. I have been in seo field only for less than a year. 3 of my websites are hit badly and are no where. 1 my site is not well on some keywords but still good at some.

    My analysis is that one of my website which survived had more content than other websites. I also believe that it is not emd but it is actually panda and penguin. The sites who were lucky to escape from panda and penguin got hit after this emd update.

    Now i am changing my strategy as well. I am going for 1 authority site instead 5 small ( 5 to 10 pages) sites.

    My question is, should we add a post or article (700 words) daily or can we add thrice a week ? Lastly what on page and off page seo will be best after this penguin update ?

    In the end, thank you for helping us out by posting such good updates.

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      You don’t have to add a post everyday or even 3 times a week. Just do what makes sense in your niche.

  16. Faith


    Hello, I’ve been on your mailing list for awhile, but this is my first time to comment. I want to say that I really appreciate the level-headed way you approach the internet and how you explain things.

    However, could say a little more about your EMD site with one page that didn’t get hit? Such as how many words were on that one page and the actual keyword density? From the rest of your post, I’m assuming you had one particular keyword you were targeting and that it was the same as your url, although I understand you used wordpress’s default structure. I’m also wondering how old this site was.


    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      Thanks for commenting Faith!
      I took a closer look at that one page site. The article is about 600 words long, and the exact keyword is only used 2 times in the article.

      This is interesting…lower keyword usage than many of my other sites…

  17. Brad


    Hi Spencer

    Your other websites that got hit are you just going to let them go?

  18. Steve Wyman

    Steve Wyman

    Hi Spencer

    I’m fortunate to be able to see a number of large portfolios which i don’t own and are unconnected to me.

    Plus some smaller ones again not related to me in anyway.

    To the folks that think small sites are done. Im sorry to tell you they aren’t we still have plenty of one page sites ranking. bear in mind that since penquin a number of people simply stopped link building.


    So unless google has decided 0 links is bad then penquin doesnot apply to the vast majority of the sites ive looked at.

    It does to some.


    There is no correlation between the length of the article and the quality of the writing as to why some sites survive and some failed. equal quality and quantity have failed or survived.


    100% clear that EMD and partial EMD got hit.


    I do think your right in part spencer. i THINK its MAYBE
    EMD filter
    + Tougher Panda Criteria
    + Tougher Panda Criteria

    So if your a EMD you might then fail against an Tougher panda test (most of the failed sites ive seen fail that) or and a Tougher Penguin test + some variable.

    EMD + (Penguin fail or 0 links) & 3 months old & 1 page
    then remove EMD boost

    EMD + Penquin Pass + Panda Pass + 10+ pages + 3 months + leave EMD boost

    Transpose EMD for Partial EMD.

    then factor in the Algo is not perfect and you see some random false positives.

    Just my speculation and Opinion. Ive simply seen a number of cases that the guy from warrior observation dont yet match.

    Lastly having said all this and implied in my formula,

    High quality relevant articles (panda) with a diverse backlink pattern (penquin) and a Non EMD (this one) makes sense that they will survive. They don’t prove anything other than what we already know Google wants.

    Thanks for the update spencer look forward to what more you find out.

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      Thanks for the analysis Steve!

  19. Mike From Maine

    Mike From Maine

    I totally agree that the slap has much more to do with low-quality links and the overuse of anchor text than the urls being exact matches.

    Glad to hear you only got a little big slapped around 🙂

  20. Rob Chapman

    Rob Chapman

    Thanks for the post. It explained what happened last week with my blogs.

    In another Google action last week. They cleaned out a large number of blogger / blogspot blogs for “violations of terms of service”. I had used the 50 free blogs they provide as outer circles on the old link wheel. They were all 24 months old or more and provided about 10% of my revenues. I lost every blog that was getting syndicated content with comments enabled within a few days.

    On the positive, every blog that I write for myself or has custom pages survived. Those 22 sites improved dramatically in rankings and made up the revenues of the 28 I lost.

  21. Paperchasing


    I honestly think it’s too early to draw hard conclusions on this. It’s become pretty standard for drastic, over-the-top change to come in immediately after an algo change, only for some results to be dialed back significantly. Remember the whole thing with the blank page ranking #1 for “Make Money Online” after Penguin dropped? A week later it was nowhere to be found. I would definitely keep watching for another 2 weeks to a month to see what changes. It’s funny though, because I know people are already trying to produce and/or sell information on how to “recover” from this sort of thing when they’re every bit as in the dark as anyone else.

  22. HIV Dating

    HIV Dating

    I think the EMD penalty update is BS. ANY domain can be exact match. Exact match for what? Who cares, it’s up to Google to decide that.

    I have sites that have been around for YEARS the one listed in my name is one of them, survived many Google algo updates and then this happens and I am toasted. WHY? I’m not exact match domain, in fact I’m not even a “niche site” other than that I am a dating site for people with HIV. I am not building niche sites around dating, just got a couple dating sites and they did well, until this update,. which is lame. I think it’s highly flawed and I really hope someone can figure out a way to sue Google for ruining peoples lives, especially in this crappy economy. With this update I am actually scrambling to figure out now how I’m going to pay bills which is what that dating site did for my family. It paid the bills.. Ha…I’ve had less than 1/3 the traffic I normally have since. Thanks Google….

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  24. AurangZaib


    I just registered an exact match domain a month ago.. I recently (a week ago) Installed WordPress and put only 3 articles (1 targeting the primary keyword, and other two are relevant to it). It just index and ranked on the 2nd position of the 1st SERP with it’s primary keyword. I dint build even a single link.. Did not do anything to optimize it.. The interesting thing is that.. the keyword is not even with “Low Competition” there are some authority sites ranking with that keyword.. But my site with thin but genuine content… beat them. Don’t know whats going on the SERPs

    • Liam


      Hey when u say “target keywords” how do u do it. Title, kw density???

      • AurangZaib


        Of course, Into the title, Description and as well as in the body of the article.. with 2-3% of density.. At the start, somewhere in the middle and at the end of an article.

  25. AurangZaib


    And on the other hand, 2nd domain.. is not ranking after index. I dint do any seo for that too.. but provided the genuine content as i did with that site (that is ranking on 2nd position). The search volume of both keyword is 8,100 (according to adwords keyword tool). Competition may be the different.. But with that site (that is ranking on the 2nd position) the competition is much higher than the keyword of that site that is not ranking. Confusing..

  26. dms27


    Wow, Thank you for the update… What amazes me is that ‘how you were able to handle 200+ websites?” as for the EMD update, thank you for sharing… Google’s algo is smarter now! They seemed to notice sites that are build just with EMD with low quality content and overly optimize.. I strongly agree that it’s an extended update to Panda and Penguin.. Google’s killing the site with no Quality…. CONTENT is KING!! KUDOS, love the post.

  27. Jen


    I’m in the process of setting up my first site, and although I don’t know what I’m doing, this is great information to use as a guide.

    Thanks Spencer!

  28. Ric


    I enjoyed the challenge of building a site, doing backlinking, writing quality content, doing keyword research, and watching the adsense income grow. And I desperately want this thing to work, but it’s just doesn’t make sense anymore. I have no problem with change, making improvements, but such quick, drastic changes that impact millions of websites – years of work – income lost – and it happens overnight with no guidance on “how to recover.” It’s like being laid-off from a job without a clue of “Why?”

    As one expert said: “Google, at the click of a button, can pick and choose which companies (walmart, etc) and domains they favor in the ranking system.” This may or may not be true, but is it really worth the time to deal with this anymore? Each answers that question for themselves…


    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      I agree that having all your income reliant on Google traffic is not a good idea. Some of your traffic should come from search engines (as much as you can get for free), but you should also have other products or traffic sources (paid, referral, etc) that balance out your business.

  29. amp


    One thing is protecting the quality of one’s search results while the other is blindedly hitting sites with absolutely pure forms of organic growth. Many of the victims were hit on sites as old as 6-8 years and all were hit with non EMD, content ranging no less than 500 pages full of hand written, no bs content. This “update” is nothing other than corrupted practice of favoring the bigger brands full of Youtube, Livestrong, eHow and Wikipedia. But hey let’s not complain and move on, where? To Bing and Yahoo. We are the people who rose Google to fame, yet they knock the smaller guys. Then we shall act by moving out business somewhere else. Spencer, glad your holding strong 🙂

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      I would love it if people moved to Bing and Yahoo! 🙂

  30. Kevin


    Great article Spencer.

    I’ll be interested to see how you update the evaluation of top ten competition. Still the same? or will you consider PR1 or PR2 as sites you can knock off with these bigger niche sites?


    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      The ideal weak competition analysis is still the same. But certainly if I’m going to built higher quality sites, I’d be willing to tackle slightly higher competition results.

  31. Jesper


    Thanks for the report Spencer. I wanted to ask you something. With your new sites on-page optimization do you still plan to put your keyword in title, url and description or would you for example prefer to use a more natural sounding url instead of some long tail keyword….

    Or do you think if the text on the page is not overly optimized and with a decent link profile you can safely use your keyword in all the metas and url ?

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      Sure, the keyword would still be PART of the title. But it would be natural sounding. If my targeted keyword is “Pitbull Dog Training”, the title is never just “Pitbull dog training” – it would be more natural, like: The Ultimate Guide to Pitbull Dog Training” or “10 Essential Tips for Pitbull Dog Training”. that’s the way its always been…

      However, perhaps I will make the URL less optimized and write lots of articles targeting other keywords for a more rounded approach.

      • Gray


        Thanks for sharing.

  32. Vi


    Spencer, I think most sites were hit by another Panda update, but not EMD

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      Thanks for sharing.

    • James Thomas

      James Thomas


      EVEN you new plan has no validity until you understand the lglo change made to panda

  33. Ming Jong Tey

    Ming Jong Tey

    Hi Spencer,

    It is interesting to see the impact on some of your sites. I am surprised for the 1 page site survive the update. T

    Moving forward, authority site will be the one to stay. In terms of SEO, we can only be as conservative as possible because what’s working now might not work tomorrow… This is the sad part when relying on SEO


  34. Alison Macdonald

    Alison Macdonald

    The SERPs are still dancing around like a crazy thing so the algo is clearly being tweaked. It’s pretty hard to form any definite conclusions until the dust settles.

    It does initially seem random sites that are hit and sites that have survived – especially when you’ve got a number of sites in the same niche and some have tanked while others have gained – but they’re all built “equal”.

    Great time to strengthen your knowledge on other traffic sources 😉

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  36. Google Exact Match Domain (EMD) Update | Passive Income 4You

    Google Exact Match Domain (EMD) Update | Passive Income 4You

    […] reading their blog post not all of their sites have been affected, others such as Spencer Hawes at have reported a much smaller drop in their adsense income 13% in his case.  He has also reported […]

  37. Mike


    Agreed! Quality over quantity.

  38. James Thomas

    James Thomas

    It is an EMD RELATED Hit. period.

    Not sure why you responded to this spencer when there are many more worthy ideas and question youve not responded to!!

    I would have deleted and sent a personal note.

  39. Tony


    Hey Spence

    Great article. One question.
    Because you have quite a few guys that have just started doing this a few months ago, and it seems that the testing grounds have just become extremely more expensive – ex: sites + 15 articles + hosting is $85 + per niches(or so)
    How would you recommend moving forward as far as testing niches (for upstarts)?

  40. Nate


    All I have to say is “GO BING”!!!!

  41. Nate G.

    Nate G.

    One of my EMD .org sites that got de-indexed so I went and bought the EMD .net version of it, wrote three times as much content, and now I’m back on the first page of Google for that keyword.

  42. kyle proctor

    kyle proctor

    I have several 1 page websites that survived the changes. It seems the websites that I spent more time with keyword research did not get hurt and in some cases went higher and are performing better. I dont believe that you need 50+ pages, I think you content that is more engaging. I dont think the EMD update did that much damage, low competition is still low competition.

    I think if we are all honest with our work we will see the lower quality sites are the ones that suffered. I am interested to see if adding higher quality content will make the websites hit go back up in ranking.

    We will see.

  43. James


    Interesting analysis Spencer.

    I have a larger authority site (30 – 40) pages that is 4 years old and has no backlinking of any sort done to it. This authority website also isn’t an EMD.

    Before this update the site was pulling in between 50 – 100 unique hits per day and now it gets 20 – 30 unique hits per day. No frickin’ clue why this site got penalized. It has quality content I personally written and no bad backlinks and no exact match domain. Very confusing.

    All I can hope is that the traffic eventually comes back!

    Same kind of thing happened to my new authority site that is 6 months old with no backlinking either. Dropped its traffic. Can’t figure it out.

    Oh well I’ll keep building my authority websites and see how they go in the long run.

    Thanks again for the analysis.

    • James


      Just read someone else’s post where they link to the twitter feed for Matt Cutt which explains another algo came out at the same time as EMD algo so I must have been hit by the other algorithm. Damn that sucks!

      Oh well just gotta keep battling with Google and try and find other direct traffic in the meanwhile.

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      Sorry to hear the negative impact on your business 🙁

  44. Rendell


    It was a EMD and Panda hit.

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      Thanks, someone else shared this previously in the comments above.

  45. Running a Marathon and the Panda Update | Niche Pursuits

    Running a Marathon and the Panda Update | Niche Pursuits

    […] I have talked at length about the recent Google EMD update here. However, as a couple of readers noted, it turns out that Google also rolled out an update to the […]

  46. Gaurang Joshi

    Gaurang Joshi

    Well, I donno know What’s going on Google mind. Why they are constantly rolling out freaking updates which is compelling webmaster’s to research new & new SEO tricks day by day. I was lucky to be prevented from Panda, but unfortunately Penguin rolled out which destroyed my blog. And the rest of the work is finished by the new so called EMD update 😛

  47. Terry


    I got done in my this update. I had a page one site and now its on page 33.

    There is not LOADS of content on the site, but its a service site, offering something. Writing fresh content for that is sometimes a struggle.

    My keywords on the homepage were approx 3% of the home page content. I dont have a lot of links, and its hard to get people to link to you.

    let alone have the time.

    I’m actually at a loss as to how I am going to get my site back onto page one.


    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      3% is really high. I never go more than 1% keyword density. I would start there…

  48. Dan K.

    Dan K.

    Thanks for all of the great information. I am currently entering into the world or internet business. I got my first niche site up just as the EMD update took place. I’m going to keep working on this site and see what happen. Thanks again.

  49. Excited for the Future of Niche Sites | Niche Pursuits

    Excited for the Future of Niche Sites | Niche Pursuits

    […] recently discussed, Google has come out with the Exact Match Domains update and Panda and Penguin updates as well.  These have thrown some niche marketers for a loop, because […]

  50. sudath


    I have a newly built site. Do I need to change the date of my posts to looks it like an old site to get good rankings.?

  51. Challenge: 30 niche websites in 30 days UPDATE #1 - - Mark doing niche websites and SEO

    Challenge: 30 niche websites in 30 days UPDATE #1 - - Mark doing niche websites and SEO

    […] many of you noticed or heard (you can read more here and here) that there was a Google update which hit EMD domains (and not only them). Many of the EMD domains […]

  52. Mark Sojka

    Mark Sojka

    Just another update. There will be more but it doesn’t matter as every new update will be just a new opportunity 🙂

  53. Income Report - September 2012 | AdSense Flippers

    Income Report - September 2012 | AdSense Flippers

    […] wrote a post shortly after the update that estimated around a 13% hit to his sites from the EMD update.  He attributes part of this to taking a larger hit on his sites […]

  54. Charles


    Great info Spencer. My site tanked, but weird because all the related search terms survived. Also top 20 n my main keyword at least 10 spammy sites, one is at 15 with nothing but 600×300 banners all over it and 3 paragraphs. Am thinking G isnt done yet.

  55. Chris


    I thought you got banned by Adsense Spencer. Did they let you back into the program? Curious because a good friend of mine was also banned and hasn’t been able to take any recourse.


  56. Niche site business ideas

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    […] google keeps updating their algorithm to punish them. Panda, penguin and Exact match domain  (EMD) updates are mostly hitting on this type of niche sites. Some see 69% decrease in traffic and […]

  57. Tipps für Affiliate-Domains – 1. Das Ende der Keyword-Domains? > Affiliate-Websites, SEO > Affiliate, Domain, Keywords, Google, EMD

    Tipps für Affiliate-Domains – 1. Das Ende der Keyword-Domains? > Affiliate-Websites, SEO > Affiliate, Domain, Keywords, Google, EMD

    […] gibt weitere interessante Analysen, welchen Einfluss die Änderungen gehabt […]

  58. The death of 10 blogs and birth of 1

    The death of 10 blogs and birth of 1

    […] my web guy, Richard at Square deal, as well as reading Spencer Haws Niche pursuits post about the EMD update and his new strategy of creating bigger niche based sites. I made the decision to create one large […]

  59. Financial Samurai

    Financial Samurai

    Spencer, I think it is GREAT you are going to focus on deeper, meatier, higher quality posts. This is exactly what Google and readers want!

    I think you are going to be reward in the long term. I’ve only got a couple sites ( and, but they have survived and grown during all these updates. I hope for the best, and just keep writing.

    Good luck!


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