Exact match domain and page layout updates
Coming hot on the heels of the Panda 20 update, Google's head of webspam Matt Cutts announced that there had also been two other updates released. The first of these was an update to the 'exact-match' domain (EMD) algorithm:
This was aimed at devaluing low quality websites using EMD URLs to rank in the serps. An EMD is a URL which contains the niche keywords for which it is aiming to rank - for example: www.solar-pv-panels-online. These URLs have been both the making-of and the bane of the SEO community for some time. There has been widespread debate on these issues within the SEO industry since this update, all summarised nicely in this SEOmoz post - highlighting what would be considered best practices with EMDs, amongst the most important of which are:
If these principles are adhered to, and you are providing a quality website with a link profile that isn't manipulative - this should negate the effects of any future EMD penalties.
Page Layout Algorithm Refresh
The latest development in this busy Google update period came on October 9th when Google announced a refresh for its 'Page Layout' algorithm. This algorithm was aimed at devaluing websites which are thin on content and have a large degree of advertising 'above the fold', which impacts on user experience at the expense of getting as many ad clicks as possible.