Google’s EMD Update and Staying White Hat
So another mass panic in the world of SEO, Niche Sites and making a living online was sparked by Google’s EMD update almost a week ago. Matt Cutts announced via his Twitter account that a small algorithm change would target low quality exact match sites, and in some cases (I’m sure) the update has done what it set out to. As with the recent Penguin update, the initial results were drastic, and people saw their sites, whether low quality and spammy or high quality and well constructed, fall drastically down the rankings. As the dust began to settle, people in the IM and niche site communities started blogging about the update and some of the effects they saw on their sites.
Some people out there saw some pretty nasty results, and those earning thousands of dollars every month in the niche site market saw their businesses hit. Badly. Some of the best blog posts on the subject are over on Niche Pursuits and Adsense Flippers. I’ve followed these guys for a long time, and I know for a fact that their sites are not low quality. In fact, these blog posts point out some brilliant examples of poorer sites seeing good results while their more well constructed sites saw bad results. This can be extremely frustrating for those of us who have worked hard on our sites for a long time, only to see them gone from the SERPS in one fell swoop. In fact, frustration is probably the main feeling post-EMD.
It can be tempting when you see these kind of mixed results to do one of two things; the first is to give up, throw in the towel and move on to something else. If that’s for you, then no problem, maybe you’ve made some cash in the online space and think it’s time to pivot. Alternatively, you can, as the Adsense Flippers say, roll with the punches. The truth is, google isn’t some all-seeing power that cynically gets rid of sites for no reason, it does have a long term vision, and it doesn’t make any secret of what the long term vision is. Their terms of service are clear, and their criteria for ranking, though slightly secretive, is pretty widely accepted. Changes such as the EMD update can know you for six sometimes, but whether with the sites that have been hit, or with new ones, you should persevere and move on with white hat methods.
As mentioned above, one feeling people experience in the aftermath of an update like this one is temptation. I’ve seen a few examples now of sites that really aren’t well built or particularly “google friendly” (or so we thought) that are actually performing pretty well. This can lead us into spammy techniques as we think “well what’s the point in staying white hat when the black hat guys have all the success”, but the truth is that the black hat success is never going to last. Google has to evolve, and we cant blame them for making updates such as this, and though they’re not always everybody’s best friend (don’t get me started on adsense accounts and the like) they do have a vision that they are happy for us all to be a part of, stay white hat, build sites for the long term that are full of quality content and backed up with high quality back links, and over time you will see the amazing results you’re hoping for. There is no quick fix, and attempts to game the system are always eventually knocked on the head (not that having exact match domains were ‘gaming’, just saying).
Good luck to you if you find yourself needing to rebuild and restructure your online business in light of the new updates. Drop me a comment and let me know how you’ve been affected and what your future plans are.