Even minor Google algorithm updates can have a major impact on the way that its organic results are calculated, which is why the uproar following the most recent alteration, is perhaps not that surprising to see.
Tweets from Google engineer, Matt Cutts, posted late last week, revealed that an update was being made to cut down on the number of exact match domains (EMDs) that appear on SERPs which, in theory, would cause problems for about 0.6% of all search terms.
Mr Cutts was also keen to point out that the Panda and Penguin updates have nothing to do with this particular tweak, which was a move that may have been designed to play down the importance of this news even further.
However, Web Pro News is reporting that a large number of site owners have been taking to the web to voice their concerns over the impact of the update, which is apparently a little more significant than Google had initially predicted.
Figures published by SEOMoz, show that EMDs were subject to a sharp decline in search influence over a 24 hour period at the weekend, dipping from 3.57% to a low of 3.21%, after months of consistency.
It should be pointed out that SEOMoz only began analysing EMD data back in the spring of 2012, but until now, its influence has never dipped this low, which suggests that Google’s algorithm has hit its target.
EMDs are not necessarily a bad thing, but Google’s aim was to make sure that it was culling the EMDs which offered the poorest quality content for its users.
An EMD is basically a website which has a domain that is designed to correspond exactly with a particularly string of keywords that make up a search term.
While the use of EMDs as an SEO tactic has declined in recent years, it is clear that the practice still remains in place, given the number of people who have spoken of serious ranking impacts occurring after the update.
Google currently seems to be on a mission to tweak its search algorithms, so that domain names are a particular focus, largely in order to eliminate the lowest quality websites from its SERPs.
In the middle of last month, Mr Cutts announced that yet another Google update would be implemented in order to improve the diversity of domain names being returned for the queries that it handles. Two weeks later, he heralded the arrival of the EMD-oriented update discussed here and there is a chance that yet more modifications will be made in this area.
Choosing a domain name can be a very important part of building a successful site, although it is not the be all and end all of SEO. Google is trying to reinforce the idea that no matter how searchable your domain name may be, you need to back this up with quality content and a relevant, user-friendly site, to make sure that you are not penalised in the organic rankings.