Late Friday afternoon, Google's head of search spam, Matt Cutts, dropped a bomb on some webmasters and SEOs.
He announced on Twitter that Google is going after "low quality" exact match domains (EMD) to ensure they do not rank well in the Google search results. Matt said this algorithm update only impacts 0.6% of English-US queries.
He has two tweets on this, here they are:
Minor weather report: small upcoming Google algo change will reduce low-quality "exact-match" domains in search results.— Matt Cutts (@mattcutts) September 28, 2012
New exact-match domain (EMD) algo affects 0.6% of English-US queries to a noticeable degree. Unrelated to Panda/Penguin.— Matt Cutts (@mattcutts) September 28, 2012
Honestly, I am a bit surprised it took Google so long to do this. I mean, Matt said publicly that Google will look into exact match domains almost two years ago. I would have thought Google would have done something shortly after. Maybe they have and maybe this is just an update to that? I am not sure. But this shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone going after the exact match domains.
I believe Google was slowing pushing this out a few days ago, on Thursday night. I saw an uptick in SEO chatter in the WebmasterWorld thread but I really didn't think it was Panda or Penguin related, which it wasn't, so I decided to wait it out and see what I could find out over the weekend. It was this, an exact match domain algorithm change.
It seems like many sites were hit, as many webmasters have reported being hurt by this update. A WebmasterWorld thread has several webmasters claiming to be victims. I will do a poll on this in about a week, I don't want to poll our readers until they have time to investigate if they were impacted by this. But it seems pretty significant, especially for SEOs and domainers.
SEOmoz has some early data on who was hit and how many sites were impacted. They say it seems like a pretty big update and shared this chart via mozcast:
Anyway, this is a special weekend report - I rarely do this but hey, I am offline Monday and Tuesday.