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Here's a pretty good article about the EMD (Exact Match Domain) with info from Mr. Google himself, Matt Cutts. There is also some Panda information and links to get more details.
As Jonathan and I talk about on the podcast, your best bet is to provide regularly updated content that is relevant and has importance to human readers.
Let us know how you have been affected by these algo updates and what you are doing to increase traffic.
I have almost given up on the whole niche site thing. When it comes to Adsense I seem to be doing really good with YouTube videos where I allow ads to be played. ( Image that, Google owns YouTube) It seems like the playing field is pretty level on YouTube compared to Google.
I am leaning more to Jonathan's way of thinking by creating products and putting them on Amazon, ( or sites like Zazzle, Cafepress, etc.) Let the sites do all the work of getting the traffic. Google will never mess with Amazon when it releases one of it updates.
I really like to use YouTube to collect email addresses and build my list. Then I can use the content that I would have used on a site to mail my list and then put affiliate links in these emails.
I like to do the Amazon associate thing ( it is cool to see the odd stuff people buy after going through one of my links) but I don't care for the whole 24 hr thing. I like the cookies that last for months since people may come back after the 24 hr. time frame.
Yeah, I never was able to do very well with Adsense. Product creation is probably number one - especially if you have affiliates working for you. And there is certainly a trade-off with the Amazon affiliate program. Twenty-four hours is a short cookie but so many people know and trust Amazon they are very likely to buy. I have other affiliate links on niche sites but even with the short cookie, Amazon out sells them.
Know what you mean about the odd items. like the motorcycle side mirror order that originated from a cooking site!