Google Analytics September 29Google has done it again.  The September 28 update to Google’s Algorithm has apparently (according to Matt Cutts)  impacted .6% of US search queries but the implications are far reaching.

What are Exact Match Domains?

Exact Match Domains are domains that have an exact match to the keyword or keyword phrase for which you are trying to rank.   Example: if you have a site about chocolate and your url contains the word chocolate, that is “exact match”.

In a September 28th update to the Google Algorithm, a modification was made as to how the algorithm considered exact match domains.  The fall out of this update is extensive and forums and comments abound with regard to sites that have seen significant declines in their search engine rankings.

Sample Traffic Results from EMD Google Update

Who is most likely to be impacted by this update?  Our extensive site partnerships and research indicate that newer sites (less than 2 years old, and in particular, those less then 1 year old) appear to have been hit the hardest.  The chart above shows the results of an older site with an exact match domain and the non-impact on the site with regard to traffic following the September 28th update.  The chart below show the results of a newer site (approximately a year old) with  an exact match domain.  The results of the update on this particular site are quite drastic.

September 29 EMD Dip

Historically, changes such as these are often followed by either a “soft” recovery, as Google adjusts their results to be more appropriate, or a “quick” recovery, as they rollback the update in larger forms.  Still other times, this is only the first wave of multiple larger long term adjustments to the algorithm.  Only time will tell how quickly the younger Exact Match Domains recover from the update. Side note: This update only impacted the US Google search results.  If your site derives most of it’s traffic from international search, these changes have yet to hit and may have a rolling impact on your traffic.  Results from other search engines such as Bing and Yahoo remain independent of Google and as such have seen no such EMD results changes.

For other resources and discussions about this update, you can follow the professional chatter at SEroundtable,  SEOMoz, Search Engine Watch, and Search Engine Land.