Google’s EMD Update – Setbacks and Moving Forward

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If you haven’t heard by now about Google’s latest algorithm change, the EMD (Exact Match Domain) update, well then you are living under a rock as far the internet marketing community is concerned. Just like the former Panda and Penguin updates, this latest one has internet marketers all in a tizzy. More specifically, people who build niche sites and micro-niche sites. It has long been known and accepted that EMD’s held value on their own and were given a little bonus, or boost, when it came to search engine results. If you could find an exact match domain available for a good keyword, it was like finding a nugget of gold in the bottom of your pan!

The niche site community doesn’t know what to think and nobody is certain what exactly the latest update is targeting. One thing that is certain is that Google’s SERP’s are totally different than they were before the update. Everybody has their theories and I’ve been studying up as much as I can to try to figure this out and come up with theories of my own. It appears to me that Google may have simply taken away the bonus that they used to give out for EMD’s, but not necessarily penalized sites just because they are EMD’s. My guess is that their algorithm might analyze and scrutinize sites more closely if they are EMD’s just for the simple fact that they know people are creating these sites in mass just to take advantage of easy advertising income (usually with Google Adsense). To me, this doesn’t make sense from anybody’s point of view. It seemed like a win-win-win the way it was working. Sites were being built around keywords that normally would never have been considered otherwise. Traffic was being driven to these sites, ads were getting clicked and all 3 parties were making money. Well, hard to tell if the advertiser was making money, but they were the ones targeting these keywords via Adwords advertising.

How The EMD Update is Affecting The Big Players

The initial report from the Adsense Flippers on how Google’s EMD update has affected them is not good at all. They lost about 69% of their traffic and income over the first weekend. Check out their full report here and also read the discussion in the comments. Good conversation over there. Being that the Adsense Flippers are among the biggest of the niche siters and definitely have a lot of respect and admiration in the community, I am very eager to learn about their new strategies going forward.

Spencer Haws, from Niche Pursuits, was considering changing his strategies anyway because his latest attempts at building niche sites weren’t performing as well as he expected. He even wrote most of this post just before the Google EMD update. I like Spencer’s new strategy and am certain he will find success. If you are in the business of building niche sites, you definitely need to be following his blog.

Mike Thomas is another of the big players in the niche site business and he documents everything he does at his MikeFromMaine blog. He actually interviewed Spencer Haws yesterday and they talked about the Google EMD update. That interview is posted here on YouTube. Mike also has had a lot of success with niche sites, so it will be interesting to see the direction he will be taking his business.

Lastly, the WSOTesters are the other big players that I’ve been following while learning how to build niche sites. They haven’t posted anything on their site yet (as of the writing of this post), but I’m sure they will soon.

How The EMD Update has Affected Me and Moving Forward

Since I started this journey and experiment to build niche sites a couple of months ago, I’ve purchased 10 domains solely for the purpose of building niche sites. All 10 of these domains are either exact match domains or partial match domains. Of these 10 domains, I’ve already discontinued 2 of them – meaning my keyword research was bad and I never should have bought them in the first place. 3 of the sites I haven’t done anything with yet and now have to re-analyze whether or not I am still going to use them. 4 of the sites are in process – meaning they are works in progress. They have content posted and ads up but aren’t even close to ranking on the first page yet. I also need to re-analyze these and decide if I am going to continue to work on any of them. 1 site is complete – my very first attempt at building a niche site and my first experience with WordPress. That site actually held up. It is the only site I’ve had any success with, and is an EMD that still sits at #1 for its primary keyword. Go figure.

Even my Getting Rid of Fleas Now site, which I am featuring as part of the follow-along series, remains questionable as far as whether or not I should continue to pursue it. Looking at current Google first page results (post EMD update) for the search term, getting rid of fleas, this is a keyword I would not have even considered knowing what I know now and if the results looked like this. Here is a screenshot of what they look like now.

post EMD update Google SERP - Getting Rid of Fleas - Dumb Passive Income

A few things to note. All of the top 10 results (except the YouTube video) are PR 2, 3 or 4 and none of them are exact match domains anymore. Not good. If the SERP looked like this when I initially did the keyword research for this site, I would not have gone forward.

Another think I’ve noticed in this SERP, as well as several others that I’ve looked at today, notice how 3 of the top 10 results have author pictures included. This is something called Google Authorship and seems to be playing a more important factor in ranking towards the top of the SERP’s. Steve over at Ingenious Internet Income pointed this out and wrote a detailed post about it here. This is something I am going to look into more closely and consider basing part of my future strategy around.

It also appears that Google might be placing more importance on updated content. This totally throws a loop into my hopes and plans to create passive income with niche sites. If I have to constantly throw up fresh content, well, then that isn’t passive at all. But, I think I have a possible solution to that as well. Say I am going to build a larger niche site (25-50 pages of content). Instead of posting all the content as soon a I get it written, I could schedule the posts to publish at specific time intervals. Say once every two weeks, or once a month or whatever – depending on the size of the site. This is definitely not a short term strategy and won’t get a site to rank quickly, but it could be a good long term strategy if fresh content is in fact what Google is looking for. Who knows. This is one thing I am considering.

So, for me, smaller niche sites might be out. Luckily, at least one of the domains I own that I haven’t started yet is meant to be for a larger site with lots of content. It may be a perfect guinea pig to test out my new strategies. The two main things being the use of Google Authorship and scheduling posts to publish over time. After all, long term passive income is my goal. I’ll get by if things don’t happen quickly as this is only my side hustle gig for now.

I would love to hear any thoughts, opinions or advice from anybody else going forward after Google’s latest update. I have no idea what I’m going to write about next or even what I am going to work on next. Perhaps I will dive deeper into my new strategy post EMD update.

Until then, remember that there are several dumb ways to create passive income online, but only one site that is blogging about it! Dumb Passive Income… dot com.

-Matt