Google’s Newest EMD Update Once Again is a Victory for Content Marketers

by Marcus Sheridan

Once again, change is in the air w/ the Big G and content marketers need to take note…

In case you missed it, Google had another update last week—a pretty significant one—as it goes after low-quality EMDs (Exact Match Domains — domains with longtail keywords). To be honest, I say it’s about darn time, as many of these worthless EMDs have been the bane of my existence as a digital marketing guy who has always had a vision for the full overlap of content marketing mixed with clear and junk-free SEO. But for too long, I’ve simply seen too much crapola at the top of search rankings.

Now granted, just like any update, many sites are getting kicked where it hurts and certainly don’t deserve it (just read the comments on this post if you want to see what the word *angry* looks like in a blog comment section), while others are still sitting at their perch and clearly have no value to readers other than to take their money.

Notwithstanding, this update is just one of many, many more that we’re all going to see in the coming years that turns every SEO “trick” on its head and brings more attention to the one SEO technique that will be timeless—Great Content.

It’s for this reason that we’re also going to see, in my opinion, the eventual elimination of folks who are simply “SEOs” and the rise of Search Engine Content Marketers—what I feel should be the goal of every great marketer who respects Google’s job to deliver the best content but also understands what the word “value” truly means to consumers around the world.

And as I watch people freak out about this update left and right and act like it’s the end of civilization as we know it, I have to ask myself if they really have a clue as to what we’re all in store for in the coming years, with dozens upon dozens of updates yet to be unfolded.

All this being said, as businesses and marketers we can’t necessarily control the “Big G” and dictate future updates, but we can have a singular focus on making sure our site’s information is such that we are the best teachers in the world at what it is that we do.

If this is our true focus, come what may, there is a good chance we’ll be the digital leaders of our respective fields.

And to be honest, I look forward to that day.

Your Thoughts

Do you pay attention to Google’s updates or could you not care less? Also do you see a future that morphs content marketers with SEOs as I do? Finally, as you look at what Google is doing, do you think their search algorithm is better or worse today than it was before all the updates started happening?

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{ 44 comments… read them below or add one }

Rob Skidmore October 4, 2012 at

Marcus,

I totally agree. As an SEO I have to pay attention to the algorithm (one of our biggest clients actually got slammed by this last update) but I wish I didn’t.

It’s a little scary because I don’t know if the business model of the company I work at is sustainable. Creating great content is hard especially for an agency that is juggling many diverse clients. We have a number of clients from dentists to mining equipment manufacturers. But we lack the knowledge and just aren’t close enough to the action to make the kind of great content we need.

I think, with the way that things are going, companies are going to have to do a lot more insourcing. More chief content officers and less hiring SEO’s. Which makes it tough for places like the agency I work at.

Hopefully we can find a way to pivot.

I am excited for the way things are going because it means a better internet experience. But I am also a little apprehensive because the days of the SEO agency are dwindling and that means a lot of people are going to either have to adapt or lose their livelihood.

Lucky for me I have always been a content creator first and an SEO second.

As always your posts are thought provoking.

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Marcus Sheridan October 6, 2012 at

Actually Rob, I think SEO, done right at least, has its place and should be viewed with good thoughts instead of the negative perception it now has due to all the hacks out there.

Ultimately, I see SEO as our ability to teach search engines and make sure they know what the heck we’re talking about.

Your point about insourcing is awesome bud, and you already know how I feel about that one. It is the future of doing this the right way!

Have a great weekend my friend,

Marcus

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Rebecca Livermore October 4, 2012 at

This actually excites me, especially since I have great people like you to learn from! The ones who are going to be hit hard are the ones who don’t see the handwriting on the wall and keep doing what they’ve always been doing — assuming that they haven’t been focused on great content.

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Marcus Sheridan October 6, 2012 at

The hand-writing is on the wall, isn’t it Rebecca? What’s funny is how so many folks still act like it isn’t there…oh well. ;-)

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Jeremy Abel October 4, 2012 at

Hi Marcus,

Great post- I can just picture a giant grin on your face when you heard about this update :) Well, you’re not alone my friend. It’s about time Google finally released this quality change! Makes me wonder how long were they going to sit on this update. I can’t speak for everyone, but I would imagine Google is now sitting in the good graces of pure SEOs the world over.

This should revert some of the unearned trust the pseudo-SEO companies out there took from unfortunate businesses- the ones who told clients that rankings were only impacted by keywords, and maybe even guaranteed page 1 rankings. Maybe these companies weren’t around (or paying attention) when JC Penny was slammed for keyword stuffing, because the EMD strategy was essentially a hybrid of that black-hat tactic. Really? Stuffing keywords in the domain name? That’s like flooring it when you see a parked state trooper with a radar gun less than 50 yards away. And from a UX standpoint, who’s going to type in “www.leadmanagementsoftwareforb2bcompanies.com”?

In all seriousness, there are no quick fixes when it comes to SEO.

From a bigger picture perspective, inbounding isn’t just about the keyword strategy- there are so many other factors involved. And at the end of the day it always comes back to quality content that will entice, engage, and educate potential customers. Getting people in the door (i.e. on your website) is only the start. Keeping people on your site is where the conversation begins, the relationship is formed, and trust is established. Because -as this latest Google update shows us- we can’t judge a book (webpage) by its cover (domain name).

Again, awesome post Marcus! Still planning to write a post about this for our blog, but I wanted to give some thoughts here first- you earned it, and I don’t know how you got this post up so fast! Well done.

Jeremy

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Marcus Sheridan October 6, 2012 at

Jeremy, wow brother, that was awesome. Heck, kind of like a little follow up post within itself, looks like you need to write about this subject as well on your site my friend!!

Thanks for bringing so much value with all your words bud,

Marcus

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Kathi Kruse October 4, 2012 at

I look forward to that day too, Marcus! Thanks for updating me on the latest – it’s fun to watch the scramble. Hee hee.

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Marcus Sheridan October 6, 2012 at

Yep, and the scrambles will just keep on coming Kathi!

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Zeek Coleman October 5, 2012 at

“If this is our true focus, come what may, there is a good chance we’ll be the digital leaders of our respective fields.”

This is definitely good news for us all! Great post!

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Marcus Sheridan October 6, 2012 at

Appreciate that Zeek, thanks so much :-)

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tom martin October 5, 2012 at

So good to hear that Google is continuing to fight the good fight.

As true marketers vs scam artists… we need to think beyond the ranking. Great if we can rank, but if the person clicks thru and doesn’t convert because we don’t have the right content for them, then did they really click?

Keep it up Marcus… more folks need to get the religion.
@TomMartin

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Marcus Sheridan October 6, 2012 at

I like that Tom– “If they click through and jump out, did they click??” Yep, well said, and something certainly many need to think about going forward, as your vision of looking beyond SEO is spot-on.

See you in N.O.,

Marcus

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paul wolfe October 5, 2012 at

Hey bro

You’d think that people would have learned the lessons by now – trying to get traffic via SEO is soooooo 2007 (and Internet Years are like dog years, so that’s like 40 years ago!).

This should be tatooed on most people’s eyelids:

1. Don’t rely on Google
2. Provide content that people will find useful and naturally link to
3. Have a powerful reason for people to opt in to an email list.
4. Engage that email list with good content.

Once your email list gets to a certain level it doesn’t matter what Google does….as long as you don’t spam your list (and get banned by Aweber and the like) AND as long as you have regular, up to date back ups of that list so that if anything happens you’ve not lost those contacts.

Personally I just focus on creating videos that my audience will find helpful….and my Video Content Syndication system does the rest.

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Marcus Sheridan October 6, 2012 at

And that, my friend, is a perfect description in a nutshell of the conten/SEO model of the future.

You rock Wolfe :-)

Marcus

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Thomas October 16, 2012 at

Google hates any SEO (trying to game their results) but still junk gets through. Some of my “for fun” car blogs got hit & it sucks.

1. Don’t rely on Google
Well then since 80% of people use Google I should ignore that?

2. Provide content that people will find useful and naturally link to
Even if I provide the greatest piece of information…how will people find it? Or how will my car review ever rank higher than a site like Edmunds or KBB?

3. Have a powerful reason for people to opt in to an email list.
OK fine with this one

4. Engage that email list with good content.
Yup this works great

The EMD may have worked for the most part, but alot of little guys got killed. Collateral DAmage I guess

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Rob Metras October 5, 2012 at

Bang On Marcus. Forget Google and all the SEO coloured hats and just write great content for folks and they will keep coming back and sharing your useful content with their community. I know it works for you, and it does for me also.

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Lorie October 5, 2012 at

I agree..it’s about time for this update. Thanks for this post.

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Ian Altman October 5, 2012 at

Right on, Marcus! Deliver value, get results. Works for search, works for sales.

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Marcus Sheridan October 6, 2012 at

Yep, the principles are true across the board my friend. :-)

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Jon Birdsong October 5, 2012 at

Another win for the good guys. I did not know of this update. Thanks Marcus.

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Marcus Sheridan October 6, 2012 at

Yep, it’s a win Jon, as long as Google keeps their intentions pure, I think that will continue to be the case.

Thanks for dropping in,

Marcus

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Fern October 5, 2012 at

At last, Google helping folks instead of swiping the rug from under their feet. I must confess I’ve had it wasting time with these worthless EMDs. Hopefully this’ll crack down on the “SEOs” and give the genuine bloggers a real chance.

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Marcus Sheridan October 6, 2012 at

I think many people wasted time over the years on EMDs Fern, and I hope this also means that all those who are overcharging for a simple EMD will find they are collecting fools gold. :-)

Marcus

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Mark@ Make Them Click October 5, 2012 at

I don’t pay that much attention to Google’s algorithm changes, I concentrate on writing for my audience rather than a search robot.

While a lot of traffic comes from search, not all of it does. Depending on your site, probably 25-30% of it does. So you really need to be writing for the people who come to your site.

If your site get’s more than say 30% of its traffic from search, then I’d be very worried about your marketing mix. Anytime you have a single entity in control of a large part of your revenue you are at great risk.

Finally, I don’t see SEO’s morphing into content marketers as the two are two very different skill sets and personality types. You can’t turn a geek into a garrulous artist.

You’re either Sheldon or Penny.

I know many SEO’s are already desperately trying to transition themselves into content marketers and social media guru’s but it’s too late.

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Marcus Sheridan October 6, 2012 at

Hey Mark, really appreciate you stopping by.

Regarding what you’ve said here about traffic percentages, I would take a different opinion, as the true tell for “traffic sources” in the majority of industries is dictated by the industry itself.

For example, with my swimming pool site, 80% of the traffic is organic search results. 9% is from referrals from other websites that has linked to the content. Almost none is social because people don’t tend to tweet and share all day long about what type of inground swimming pool they are going to buy. All this being said, the site was built on GREAT content that pleases both Search Engines and regular people–which in my opinion is the ultimate goal and built to last.

Again, thanks for your thoughts Mark,

Marcus

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Marcus October 8, 2012 at

Marcus,

that’s exactly what I’m talking about.

Google controls 80% of your revenue, and they can take that away from you at any time in an instant. They’ve done it to many other businesses plenty of times in the past.

If a third party had 80% control of my businesses’ money supply, I’d be very nervous.

While it’s great that you get so much search traffic, I’d be working overtime to get the people who come via search onto an email list, connected socially, download something, bookmark your site, subscribe to your blog etc.

As for not tweeting about pools, maybe not, but I bet they tweet from the pool deck or the pool party.

And that opens up a whole world of opportunity about the conversations you can have about having fun with your pool.

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Ryan Aspy October 6, 2012 at

Content killed the SEO star.

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Ryan Hanley October 6, 2012 at

That is a great!

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Marcus Sheridan October 6, 2012 at

Actually Ryan, Al Gore killed the SEO star. Get it straight man. ;-)

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Darren McLaughlin October 6, 2012 at

I think this is largely a matter of perspective. Yes, quite a few lousy EMDs have been hit. But clearly they haven’t all been replaced by high-quality written content either.

There are many EMDs still working and many SEO tricks that are still effective. Google has a long way to go before they catch everything. That said, it’s still a better idea to create quality content. Your visitors will appreciate it, and that’s what really matters. Clearly written content with great images and videos help you tell your story, and that’s what online marketing is really all about!

Darren

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Marcus Sheridan October 6, 2012 at

Very true point Darren. Without question, Google has a long way to go. Notwithstanding, I’ve always felt that if they truly do try to make the best search engine in the world, eventually their algorithm will be able to cut through the bull immediately and discern good from bad content. But as you said, we’ve still got a long way to go Darren.

Thanks so much for stopping by,

Marcus

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Ryan Hanley October 6, 2012 at

Just be awesome… That’s the whole deal. If your site and content are not awesome or working towards awesome…

Google Gone Get Ya!

Hanley

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Marcus Sheridan October 6, 2012 at

Hahahah—”Google Gone Get Ya!” That made me laugh out loud brother :-)

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Bob October 6, 2012 at

I think you joking. What the Victory for Content Marketers??? If google not like your domain than your content will never found.
But emd usage is very very old (even offline) practice.

Big trouble what google penalize emd, not just taking away emd bonus. I think it begin of end for google as for web search engine.

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Matthew Stock October 6, 2012 at

Glad to see EMD’s aren’t the WMD’s they used to be, but we still have a LONG way to go based on what I’m seeing.

So EMD’s supposedly dont mean much anymore. SEO over-optimized sites are now bad. Social media signals are too premature and Google+ doesn’t have and probably never will have the base that Facebook has. And for many niches it’s impossible to get coveted anchor text links (even you link to me using my brand name and not my targeted kw phrases…don’t get me wrong I still appreciate evey bit of it!).

I’m not sure how Google will ever get where it needs to be. So until then, I’m gonna keep plugging away with kick ass content and strategic titles. And don’t count out paid either. I still do very well there….and I’m sure Google will see to it that they always keep that stream of revenue flowing.

Unless Al Gore can figure it all out. He did invent the Internet.

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Ben Troy October 7, 2012 at

Something is definite when SEO and rankings are concerned. No one can be sure of anything. Years past, EMDs were the hottest topics. Choose your keywords, get a domain name with your keyword and fill your site with contents based on the keywords of your choice. It seems that Google has finally decided to root out the Flippers

In a way, Google might be blamed for tolerating these kinds of practice. Had they started their campaign against these kinds of thing earlier on things may have been better.

As usual, we may never discover what Google means by Low Quality Exact Match Domains . They are not talking. Well let us wait and see.

By the way, thanks for the links you included. Just what I was looking for in order to get ideas about the happenings for the past year or so.

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Christina Pappas October 8, 2012 at

No matter what, people are never going to stop thinking about SEO. I will continue to get the question of ‘how can we get this page ranked higher’ when the page is nothing more than a lead capture form with a blurb about some offer. We can pay attention to Google changes – and we definitely should – but it’s the people that don’t listen, or rather, the people that don’t ‘get it’ that I worry about. They will continue to think meta tags rule and every image should have alt tag. Whereas, I believe you could skip the alt tag and spend that time making your on-page content better.

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Louie October 9, 2012 at

I despise google. I don’t want to freak out, so I’ll leave it at that. Who the heck do they think….never mind, I’m getting palpitations. Thanks Marcus

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Marcus Sheridan October 10, 2012 at
Nyagah October 9, 2012 at

Yapping to a deaf like Google won’t help. Roll up your sleeves and let us have great content outta there.

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Bella October 10, 2012 at

Marcus, this is great info! I found you by way of Josh Cary of PetSittingOlogy. I can’t wait to meet you in Vegas next week. I always love learning about this stuff and I am ALWAYS blogging… Good to know I am doing the right thing! :)

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Marcus Sheridan October 10, 2012 at

Hey Bella! Very excited to meet you next week too!!!

See you soon,

Marcus

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lisa@Show me Some Money October 12, 2012 at

I never paid any attention to the updates, until this one when I got hit! Not one to sit and moan about the unfairness of it all, I’m looking on it as a positive – working on getting traffic from other sources has given me loads of material to blog about for a start. I’ve met some great people who’ve stepped in to help out, and I’m finding some really cool blogs in my research (like this one!)

Google – sshhhmoogle!

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Wade October 17, 2012 at

I knew getting the domain “Bloggers Make Money” would work out! However I still have much to learn about Google and their updates. When I feel like I’ve got a grasp on it, they change something!

Makes me want to punch Matt Cutts in his ear.

Either way, I try to do some keywords, but I don’t like saturating them in my posts like some people do. Maybe this update will help me!

Maybe not…I guess we’ll see.

Either way, I’m still going to focus on content and not SEO.

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