Why Exact Match Domains Are a Thing of the Past


Saying that the face of the SEO industry is changing (and quickly) is the understatement of the century. Google – the number one authority to impress when it comes to web searches – is constantly making adjustments to its already sophisticated algorithms. Plus, brand new technologies and SEO strategies surface every day. This means website owners that are serious about SEO need to be sure to keep up with what’s new at all times.

However, this is naturally easier said than done. Sweeping Google updates like Panda and Penguin have made strategies that used to be seen as a sure thing obsolete once and for all. One of the most notable of these is the leveraging of exact match domains (also known as EMDs).

Why Exact Match Domains Were Once King

It was actually only a few years ago that a given website could receive a huge boost in the eyes of the search engines if it was attached to an exact match domain name. An exact match domain name was/is a domain name that was exactly the same as a given search term. (For instance, if someone was trying to rank well for the search term “alien widgets”, they would want to own the domain AlienWidgets.com, naturally.)

The next best thing was what was known as a partial match domain name. This meant that someone wanting to rank for “alien widgets” would probably want to choose AlienWidgetsAmerica.com or BestAlienWidgets.com as viable alternatives, assuming they were available. The “boost” wasn’t as beneficial as it would have been for an exact match, but there was enough of an advantage attached that such names were definitely worth considering.

Why EMDs and PMDs No Longer Matter

Exact Match DomainsEven though it wasn’t terribly long ago that exact match domains were highly coveted (just prior to 2010 or so), it officially became a thing of the past when Google’s October 2013 update happened. This update was made specifically to do away with the previous boost attached to having an EMD. Statements were even released by Google employees confirming the theory that the update was part of an attempt to “dial down” the previous effectiveness of EMDs.

Updates like these are all part of a larger plan on the part of Google to ensure that web searches return the highest possible quality. Of course, there is no guarantee that an exact match domain would have actually meant that the website attached to it was capable of delivering the best possible quality information in regards to the search term.

Are You Penalized for Having an EMD These Days?

It only stands to reason that people today are wondering whether updates like the one touched on above mean that EMDs are seen as a negative in the eyes of the search engines today. The answer is actually no. However, recent Google updates like Penguin, Panda, and so forth absolutely require that the site you build be a proper authority site filled with high quality, informative content. Assuming this is the case, an exact match domain is perfectly fine and possibly even beneficial.

Modern website owners must also be careful of over-optimizing their content. More and more each day, the search engines are catching on to the various tricks web moguls use to help their sites rank as authorities. There are no longer any ways around offering stellar quality.

The Age of Brandable Domains

So what is the new EMD of our current day and age? The brandable domain! Brandable domains are domains that consist of catchy (and sometimes invented) names. (Hulu was once such a domain, but is now a recognizable brand name in its own right.)

Brandable domains are short and easy to remember, but don’t sound spammy or gimmicky. It’s easier to get a valuable .com extension if you come up with an original one. It’s a simpler process to really build a brand and become an authority with such a name as well.

There is even evidence that the major search engines (Google included) are beginning to prefer brandable domains to the alternative. Fill such a domain with high quality, well written, entertaining content that visitors feel compelled to link to and share and you have a wonderfully viable alternative to EMDs on your hands indeed!