Cutts: Google Launched Another Update During The EMD Update (i.e. Panda 20)

Oct 3, 2012 • 8:00 am | comments (84) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google Search Engine Optimization

Google Update BrewingFriday afternoon, Google launched a major algorithm update coined as being "minor" that targeted low quality exact match domains - the EMD update.

Update: Matt Cutts told me this is a fairly major update to the Panda algorithm affecting 2.4% of search queries. More on this over here.

The number of complaints and comments about this update is pretty up there. The levels of concern and those reporting ranking declines is huge. So it seems to have hit the SEO industry pretty hard. As hard as Panda or Penguin? Doubt it but time will tell.

That being said, to make things even more confusing, @GregrySmith was able to get Google's Matt Cutts to confirm that the EMD update was not the only update happening at that time. Matt confirmed on Twitter that at least one other update was released around the same time.

What exactly did that "other" update impact? Smith asked "As an Authority Local SEO Company all sites we reviewed that was hit by EMD update was not EMD's at all.Can you explain this?" Matt Cutts responded, "yes. 500+ algo launches/year mean 1-2 a day. I know of at least one other algo rolling out over same timeframe for example."

Here is the embed:

What was this other update? I am not sure, but I will try to find out.

Clearly, Matt Cutts felt it wasn't major enough to tweet about initially. But for webmasters and SEOs to figure out what algorithm hit them, they need to understand the variables as much as possible.

Do you guys have an idea on what this other update was all about?

Forum discussion at Twitter.

Previous story: What's New & Important With Google's New Webmaster Guidelines


Praveen Sharma

10/03/2012 12:22 pm

Not sure, but if it was not related to the content or links quality (Panda or Penguin respectively) then it may be about site structure, architecture or may be user experience of the site.

Nitesh Ahir

10/03/2012 12:43 pm

Yes Praveen you are absolutely right, After EMD effects and if matt Cutts tweet we can assume it will be on Site Structure, not doing a Quality Back linking and also for the Black hat SEO we can say. as We know Google Loves Fresh and Unique content.


10/03/2012 12:51 pm

I'm still at a lost as to why a site would be penalized for having an EMD? I just can't follow the logic on that...Penalizing sites for what domain they choose to use just seems ethically wrong... If I choose to use the domain "" because I sell blue widgets in city.. LOGIC

Lyndon NA

10/03/2012 12:54 pm

There is a distinct difference between a "tweak" (or adjustment) and an "algo release" (or update). Google have mentioned that they make various changes/adjustments in the past ... and it was obvious they altered thresholds a tad here/there ... but that is not the same as pushing out automated hunter/seeker algo's. That said, it shouldn't come as a surprise, they've done this various times in the past, sneaking in little changes. The last obvious one was the Panguin push ... Panda, Penguin and various "moderate" (rather than minor) adjustments all within a few days. As for Matt not tweeting it - it's likely because it wasn't specifically targeting high-volume SEO activity (unlike Penguin).

Mike Kalil

10/03/2012 01:01 pm

I think he's just saying that since there are about 500 updates a year, there's at least one tweak most every day. The big problem they need to get on is domain crowding.


10/03/2012 01:04 pm

Whatever the hell it was its broken and someone is hopefully fixing the mess they broke. Hopefully its a brand new team of engineers because the current ones have no clue as to what they are doing while testing BETA updates on real live businesses and livelihoods.


10/03/2012 01:13 pm

I finally see exactly what the other update was all about that Matt is talking about. See here for a complete understanding of what Google need to accomplish by October 17th. I guess they are just gearing up for it.So far they are doing brilliantly.Great job Matt !!!

Mike Kalil

10/03/2012 01:25 pm

Plenty of EMDs are ranking fine. It's the low-quality ones they're targeting. The algorithm is still heavily biased toward EMDs; just Google "movies" and is the first result, even though no one uses that site.


10/03/2012 01:32 pm

This is how SEO myths are born. Who said EMD were penalized ? Where did you get that ? EMD had bonus before and now this bonus was removed. That's it.


10/03/2012 01:48 pm

I can assure you Barry, that professional web developers ( those, who are working for people, not for Search Engines ) are not paying too much attention to "what algorithm hit them". Just a tiny piece of additional information, nothing else.

Barry Schwartz

10/03/2012 01:50 pm

I bet you are right.


10/03/2012 02:23 pm

Its ok for Google to target low quality but they missed the target a lot and millions of innocent bystanders got killed in the crossfire for now.

Oleg Korneitchouk

10/03/2012 02:26 pm

I've actually seen the same thing. A lot of our EMD domains had no change in rankings while some local businesses that have been ranking well for years dropped. No idea how to interpret it.


10/03/2012 02:30 pm

The low-quality dropped, because the only "quality" they had was an EMD. This bonus was removed - they dropped. Those, who have something else except EMD, are still ok.

Nathan Grimm

10/03/2012 03:07 pm

The, "EMD had a bonus and now this bonus was removed," explanation isn't quite true either as not all EMDs were negatively affected by this update. Rather, some low-quality websites were ranking better than they should due to their domain name matching a valuable keyword. With this update, Google figured out a way to better measure the quality of websites when they have an EMD and reduce the rankings of the low-quality EMDs accordingly.


10/03/2012 03:09 pm

I sure do know what it was and I will be blogging about it on SEO later this week

Nathan Grimm

10/03/2012 03:10 pm

Do you have any examples of "innocent bystanders?" In the past, Google has reduced the rankings of truly awesome websites. The situation was made very public and shortly thereafter, those websites recovered.


10/03/2012 03:10 pm

Sorry that url is

Christoph C. Cemper

10/03/2012 03:19 pm

Hi, we just released our latest case study on the EMD update using 60 real sites and comparing their SEO metrics and back link profiles for 100+ metrics you can get the full report here best regards Christoph C. Cemper

Dr. Peter J. Meyers

10/03/2012 03:35 pm

I keep trying to pound this message in. 500+ updates/year = 1.4/day - so on any given weekend (Friday-Sunday) that's somewhere in the realm of 4+ updates. Sure, many "updates" are small and aren't what we think of as major algo changes, but the algorithm is in motion constantly.

James Barker

10/03/2012 03:41 pm

Perhaps the EMDs that weren't negatively affected actually had good content / link profiles, so it's right that they shouldn't be affected too bad, if at all.

James Barker

10/03/2012 03:43 pm

Examples please, would be interesting to examine them.

Kevin Gerding

10/03/2012 04:08 pm

Look at the history of what has happened. Google nearly doubles their lobbying budget for 2012. Major algorithm changes panda and penguin create havoc in the serps. Google's Internet Association officially launched last month - a lobbying group of major online brands - Exact match domain penalties are dished out randomly. More keyword queries result in no organic listings above the fold. Are we witnessing the death of organic search and the internet's most powerful players joining forces to further monetize the works of small businesses and webmasters?


10/03/2012 04:09 pm

I'm new here, but thought I HAD to reply, as someone asked for an example. We own (8) stores all within a particular industry. Each store relates to an individual niche, in the industry . . . so our stores are named as such. Our most important store, for the season, got hit hard. And yes, it is an PMD, as it has been for 4 years ( Day 1 September 28, 2012 - Got hit, traffic down 3,000 Day 2 September 29, 2012 - Massive slide to 400 visitors, down 5,100 Day 3 September 30, 2012 - Slightly up to 500 visitors, down 5,000 Store has no ads, good link profile (that I can control), unique content, manufacture info on product pages - similar to text of competition, yet written to be somewhat unique. Page 1 for 4 years for 100's of terms, now totally gone. Note that one of my industry's largest businesses also got hit with 50% of there EMD and PMD sites erased from the search results (that's over 100 stores). Also note that survived Panda and Penguin and their subsequent updates.

James Barker

10/03/2012 05:19 pm

Sorry your site got hit, I would be so disappointed if this was my site. But as you kindly posted the URL, I had a quick look at the inbound links, and there are rather a lot of spammy and/or exact match anchor text links, link exchanged links, and article links. Many originating from something called "neighbors marketing" plus others that are a bit dubious. I wonder if these links have triggered the ranking loss, rather than the EMD.


10/03/2012 05:45 pm

And I'm not sorry ... We own (8) stores - Why eight ? Offline chains exist to cover more area. What is the reason to run eight stores within a particular industry online ? To cover what ? SERP ? This is clear SPAM. good link profile (that I can control) - how ? How EARNED links could be controlled ? Links under control are not earned links, but SPAM. yet written to be somewhat unique - means rewritten or spined text = SPAM Google has a lot to do to clear SERP from such "quality" ...

Rob Kennedy

10/03/2012 05:56 pm

Ugg.. we got hit also. I posted stats here:


10/03/2012 07:29 pm

Here are is my website which hit, which was at 1st position in google. But after EMD I could not able to find it in SERPs. With in two days I redirected(301) my website to a new domain and the new doamin is ranked to top 20 in SERPs.

Mushegh H. (Andava)

10/03/2012 07:45 pm

What about this.. - see here ..

Barry Schwartz

10/03/2012 07:47 pm

Covered that at


10/03/2012 08:16 pm

I wonder if you'll be punished for this comment spam. Hopefully.


10/03/2012 08:18 pm

I agree that this seems more like a penalty than having their "bonus removed" as Anti-Seo claims. I have about 10 EMD domains which all have natural links and good unique content that were totally kicked out of the SERPs. Now, in my opinion, if a site "lost its bonus" then you could expect it to go from the first page to the second, third or fourth but if it is kicked out of the serps it seems more like a penalty to me. I admit that some of my sites were better than others but they were all kicked out. I am wondering if Google checks the owner and then penalizes all sites owned by the same person. I think that 20% of the sites derserved to get kicked out but at least 80% definely did not.


10/03/2012 09:00 pm

Same here, we manage over 200 sites, about 70% took major damage. Most are for small local mom and pop businesses. Oddest thing is that one would fall off the charts while another stayed first page, yet both with almost identical fundamentals. For instance a small town plumber, printer, electrician, and mechanic were all 1st page, no hard feat. Now the electrician is all that remains, all others dropped out of top 50. Last week all were in top 5 spots. It smells like they rolled out another penalty, because the websites are very relevant to the search terms, but do not appear in the top 50 results. Note, these are not even competitive search terms. Example "Really Small Town, State Plumber", so even if the domain and links are devalued, they should still appear at least on page 2 or 3.


10/03/2012 10:22 pm

Google acne, the first link is for a clothing website. Where as is at the bottom of the page


10/03/2012 10:24 pm

I guess its not just about bonus being removed but also about links being removed from SERP's. Its not just the EMD but the other update that rolled along. What if the links on first page do not show up on over 10 pages of keyword search ? What if the content of the target site(a complete paragraph) doesnt render the site as a result though other feed aggregators show the excerpts along with the source of target site?


10/03/2012 10:26 pm

What was the other update that rolled along with EMD around 27-29th September ?

josh bachynski

10/03/2012 10:39 pm

Stan, if this is panda then this makes perfect sense- I can fix this for you, contact me


10/03/2012 11:08 pm

It would actually be better if Matt just said nothing. His announcements are just designed to confuse. The EMD update announcement was a smoke screen to cover the fact that Panda was being run. He really is starting to enjoy his role as Google's head of hogwash.


10/03/2012 11:09 pm

Probably part of the Panda release.


10/03/2012 11:19 pm

Love how Cutts portrays these most recent algo launches almost like they are no big deal...just another algo launch. Based on the feedback, sounds like the magnitude of the impact was a pretty big deal.


10/03/2012 11:36 pm

And James now that I know his domain if I was a competitor I could just spam his site! WTF have spammy links got to do with anything? The problem here is that Google thinks it knows who built those links. What has Google developed psychic ability? His competitors could for the low low price of $100 send over 2 million spammy links at his site just using fiverr gigs! If you can't see that this is ludicrous then you are probably beyond help.

10/03/2012 11:42 pm

Stop thinking that Google has to follow your rules. SEO's work the other way around--You have to fight to the top of Google's algorithms whatever they may be. SEO means you know how to rank, not that you keep your same stale principles from years ago and complain that they aren't working anymore.


10/03/2012 11:53 pm

Who is complaining about SEO here? Read my comment properly, although it is possible judging by your site that you can't read. I was complaining about Matt covering up one update by announcing another. This has nothing to do with ranking or SEO. It is about deceit and sowing confusion. OMG Barry why do you allow these site spammers to comment here?


10/04/2012 12:21 am

I Missed you Anti.


10/04/2012 02:35 am

Barry seriously what is up with all the spammers? akismet?

Barry Schwartz

10/04/2012 02:44 am

This is fine, this one is okay.

To BabyCry

10/04/2012 02:59 am

What's up Alan? Don't tell us you never have done spam.... if a simple link in a blog that doesn't belong to you produces you diarrhea and ulcer, you need to grow up man.

Eric Strate

10/04/2012 03:58 am

Anyone have any early theories on what the 2nd algorithm was attacking?

James Barker

10/04/2012 06:19 am

"Beyond help"?! LOL. It comes down to whether spammy links are "ignored" or "penalised". Ignored is OK, but if they are penalised then I agree competitors can try and knock other sites out. In the patio heating case, it seems like the Panda or Penguin effect, not EMD.

Rekha Bisht

10/04/2012 06:26 am

That's a big update after EMD update, I really appreciate Matt Cutts efforts to improve search engine results. :)

James Barker

10/04/2012 06:42 am

Have a look at's backlink profile. At first glance it looks good, but if you examine the links there are lots in footers, sidebars, with exact match anchor text, and from low quality sites, some from unrelated sites. In my opinion, if took a fall, it is because the backlinks it is associated with have been devalued. Regarding the clothing brand "acne" being at the top, that's a whole new issue around "in context". Google could ask "did you mean Acne the clothes brand, or Acne the skin complaint"? Or, based on the user's search history, could make an educated guess (eg if someone has visited acne treatment sites recently, fair assumption that is what they want, not the clothing brand).

Ashish Pratap Singh

10/04/2012 06:49 am

Google rolled out Panda 20 update along with EMD


10/04/2012 07:06 am

Not ok for me. I wouldn't even buy a candy bar from this guy.

rb saud

10/04/2012 10:09 am

my site dropped from 15000 impressions daily to 3500 and lost all ranking for keywords insanely .... what is the reason the date it happened was sep 28


10/04/2012 11:26 am

A few words of wisdom: Look at Google's next earnings report to understand why they did this. Hint: Like with Panda and Penguin they are targeting non-advertisers by cutting off their traffic. In my niche, all sites that make money of our top keyword have been destroyed, 2 brands /Adwords advertisers, youtube and Pinterest have all the rankings now. Google wants YOU to buy adwords. Panda and Penguin increased their revenue by leaps and bounds, but they still need to have better earnings. Call your Congressman, Senator and FTC. Google is using it's monopoly in search to force you to advertise, increasing prices for everyone.


10/04/2012 11:29 am

Low Quality EMD Update........

Rahul Mishra@SEO|SMO

10/04/2012 11:56 am

It is all about money. I think, Hitler is better than Google. Google is our no.1 search engine and who made it..We people..!!!!! So we should have to complaint in our country for this Monopoly.


10/04/2012 12:23 pm

Google Updater is a program installed automatically with Google programs, such as Chrome, Desktop and the Google toolbar. The program launches automatically and connects to the Google server to download and install the latest Google software updates. If you prefer to download and install Google software updates manually, you can uninstall Google Updater. For more information please visit website :-

rb saud

10/04/2012 12:33 pm

i dont have any matched domain , neither keyword stuffing, nor bad links..... my traffice is down by 85 % i have lost the ranking as well....

John Britsios

10/04/2012 12:36 pm

In addition to a new "EMD" update, Google has now also confirmed a fresh Panda.

John Britsios

10/04/2012 12:41 pm

Christoph, you weather report failed and is inaccurate. In addition to a new "EMD" update, Google has now also confirmed a fresh Panda Update has rolled out,

rb saud

10/04/2012 12:47 pm is one

James Barker

10/04/2012 12:50 pm

Disagree. People use Google because they want the best search results. Google's entire business is built around quality organic restults. If Google was really doing what you say, then people will soon start distrusting it, because all the results are ads. Then Google collapses. On the contrary to what you say, the quality of their organic results is crucial to their retained / increased market share, and forms the platform to sell AdWords and all their other products.

rb saud

10/04/2012 12:50 pm is dropped by edm ... on oct 29

Dr. Pete

10/04/2012 12:50 pm

I think we have to use what he says plus our own data. His data is useful, but only if we keeps our eyes open. The biggest danger is that we see this newfound "transparency" and get complacent, and I see a lot of SEOs doing that. That's why I built MozCast - it's painfully clear how little we know about how the algo changes. Google has confirmed 500+ updates per year for 2010-2012 and we've named something in the realm of two dozen of them since 2002 (if you don't count every Panda iteration). There's a lot we don't know.

rb saud

10/04/2012 12:58 pm

i agree on both of you.... but google has certainly earned after the algorithm changes.... and in the name of algorithm change they have punished some good sites as well. but if google keeps this trend then they will certainly earn distrust over them.


10/04/2012 01:26 pm

If you're right with that, I'm afraid time will come that all the first page results in SERPs are by paid advertisers.

Sheldon Campbell

10/04/2012 02:44 pm

In support of what Dr. Pete said, there are updates every day. That makes any effort to pinpoint either the effects or focus of any update nothing more than an exercise. Predictably, my inbox this morning was blessed with garbage promising the "hard facts about the Google EMD update". I understand that we all have to try to figure out what the new rules of engagement are, but I find it totally irresponsible to publish such drivel, when it's conjecture, at best. I'd also point out that there seem to be a lot of SEOs out there that still don't recognize the difference between a "penalty" and a "filter". ;)


10/04/2012 03:00 pm

I'm seeing longer tail queries completely devoid of sites that have commercial intent, replaced with forum and magazine results. That encapsulates exactly the G medium term strategy. To try and work out what each of these updates is about is meaningless unless the above is taken into account. They are trying to obscure their medium term strategy with concurrent and confusing updates which keeps webmasters chasing their own tails. In fact their real strategy is to remove all of the smaller websites which are taking money from G's own products. It's as simple as that.


10/04/2012 03:01 pm

Look at the results: all advertisers and ads on the first page. Brands = advertisers for Google, that's why they have a brand bias.


10/04/2012 03:02 pm

That's to confuse site owners as they cut $ traffic to small sites

Nathan Grimm

10/04/2012 07:33 pm

The product descriptions on that site are not unique. Why would Google rank it?

Maria Brooks

10/04/2012 07:44 pm

Just when we thought we had all issues handled from the last update. Google certainly is keeping everyone on their toes!


10/04/2012 10:56 pm

In my opinion there is no doubt Google are checking the OWNER of a site that is being penalized and penalizes many if not all their other sites. I personally have over 30 sites most are Adsense earners albeit 50 plus pages, not one page scams BUT also 5 'Legitimate' eCommerce sites with hundreds of products and good content. ALL my sites were sent into oblivion including the quality eCommerce sites. Google can take the others if it wishes but taking out the eCommerce sites = wrong. Mike


10/04/2012 11:05 pm

or they were regular Adwords purchasers?

Steve Anson

10/05/2012 02:59 am

I agree Jenn. I think the long term organic SEO outlook is bleak. Anyone who doubts this, read "Search & Destroy" by Scott Cleland.


10/05/2012 08:36 am

main purpuse of google only adwords to earn money,that,s why update again and again

Rachel - Tasty Thailand

10/06/2012 03:40 am

never mind

Rachel - Tasty Thailand

10/06/2012 03:42 am

That would be me. Expert on Thailand. Lived in Bangkok for 10 years. Write daily on everything about Thailand. Being hit by Google over and over and over again.


10/06/2012 07:21 pm

This certainly looks to me like some sort of adwords extortion. Think my next site will be totally anon to big G, - no analytics, no adsense, no jerky '+1' buttons.

Laura Grace

10/08/2012 08:11 pm

There is no such thing as a good link profile that you can control...


10/10/2012 05:31 pm

A penalty is definitely happening. A site of mine just fell off the SERPs on Sept 29th. The site is four years old, the content is absolutely original, I was getting hundreds of natural Facebook likes on each page along with natural links from users on Tumblr and from organizations like PETA. It has gone from ranking 1-3 in the SERPs for the primary keyword (green widget) found in the domain ( to nothing at all except for the exact domain name and the keyword without the space (greenwidget) but who searches for that? Now if it was a bonus being removed, my site should still be on the first several pages for my primary keyword but the site is nearly absent in google's serps. I am just livid right now.

Chris Beasley

10/12/2012 01:34 pm

I may have been hit by this, it happened on the 29th, I used keyword rich domains but still rank well on the exact match phrases so I don't think its that. It is like sub content pages that took a hit. I don't get it at all. Two sites lost 50% of their traffic, one was completely noncommercial without any ads on it, 3 or so years old, 100% unique concept, it does use a government database, but then presents the information in a totally unique and useful way, as well as having unique user submitted content as well. The other 100% unique content hobby blog done on the side by me, very high quality, authoritative. I don't even really do any SEO on it, I just write quality content that ranks well because so many other blogs link to me. Another site lost 10-20% of traffic, 13 years old, lots of non-unique content (nature of the beast for this site -public domain stuff) but the pages that lost rankings were the unique content pages where I've paid writers (unique... except for all the places that steal my content - do I have to spend a couple weeks doing DMCAs to get rankings back?) Another site lost 0% traffic, lots of non-unique content on that one, but very old, over 10 years. I haven't been touched by any other update Google has done since Florida. That long ago. I think they must have jumped the shark here. I really can't make sense of it, but if they're penalizing my hobby blog and a site I hadn't even put ads on yet (just letting it grow naturally)....

Asif Faridi

06/13/2013 05:26 am

(New Domain) 301 Redirection work in most cases, if you are penalized by Penguin.

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