Is targeted anchor text the main advantage of EMD-s these days?

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This is just something I thought about a few days ago.

If your domain is www. besthosting .com, then "Best Hosting" is your brand. So you can get away with exact match anchor text more than other websites.

The homepage would, of course, be a comparison of best hosting products.
 
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Getting Google to believe that's your brand and not a generic search term is tricky. They caught on to this like 10 years ago.

What actually happens is you end up with less leeway for exact match anchor texts. Think of it like there being a threshold value of 100. If you go over 100, you trip the radar for over-optimization:
  • Exact Match Domain = 30 points
  • Exact Match Anchors = 50 points
  • On-Page for the Term = 30 points
You've hit 110 points and have tripped the filter. If you didn't have the EMD, you'd still have 20 points to be more aggressive.

So you might say, well I'll just build 30 points of Exact Match Anchors then. Well, you may rank less well than someone without an EMD who did it like this:
  • Branded Domain = 0 points
  • Exact Match Anchors = 70 points
  • On-Page for the Term = 30 points
They'll get to be more aggressive with their anchors, and that may out weight you in the rankings. And they'll be getting actual branding boosts you won't get, because Google isn't going to think that's your brand. Those days are gone.
 
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I believe what @Future State outlined happened to me personally. I triggered something and tanked. In the end I switched domains with 301s (and created a new non-EMD brand).
 
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There is even a small difference in the local, with local you can still go with EMD without facing any penalty sometimes
 

Stones

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@Darth, I have two local emd sites that were built as tests about 12 months ago.

One of them, I managed to finish and I was pretty disappointed with the results. I did pillow links and a couple of partial match but that site seemed to trigger a penalty around last Xmas. It was producing enough leads to pay for itself and other projects took over so I haven't revisited it yet.

The second site was much more of a bare bones job. I didn't build out the local area pages and when I saw how poorly the other site fared, it moved down my priority list.

So if rebranding an EMD has worked for you, I'd be interested in your experience. I see no reason why it wouldn't.

I'll try and make time this week and update here for anyone else curious.
 
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@Stones Yes I saw an eventual recovery. After switching to the new domain/brand traffic REALLY tanked even further (I actually considered switching back) but then about 8-10 months later visibility finally started coming right.

An added bonus is that since I made a "generic brand" so to speak, I can be a lot more flexible with the content and actually expand the site to cover other sub-categories in the overall niche.

Also, the new domain/brand included one word/acronym that would be included an "EMD". Like if my EMD was 4 words in total "RedBlueSportsCars.com" for example, the new brand name was "FlashyCars.com"
 

secretagentdad

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I 100% agree with the initial premise that you appear to get way more leeway on anchors. I think this is also very true for partial match. My default strategy right now is to try and get short brand name stem keyword.

They have their own penalty thicket of bs you gotta dodge just like everything else.

I think they’re totally worth it right now. I’ve been taking advantage of smaller tlds with premium keyword real estate still available for building topicality nodes.

They for sure have a disadvantage and when it comes to click through. Especially the longer weirder ones. Not totally sold those are going to work.