Forget Google: Why Exact Match Domains Are Still King

There’s been a lot of concern from people about Google’s recent adjustment of how it handles sites created on exact match domains (EMD).  Back in October, many domain blogs posted that owning an EMD—a domain that contains the same keywords used on your site—would no longer be advantageous and that sites will be banned from search engines. This statement, taken completely out of context, is also completely untrue. What did happen, according to Google Webmaster Help’s Matt Cutts, was an adjustment in the algorithm so that EMDs would not have a preference over domains without keywords unless they earned their position by meeting the same relative positive engagement metrics that other sites used.

Sites Rank Better When They Meet Positive Engagement Metrics

Positive engagement metrics include:

  • Length of time on site (your visitors stay for a while to look around)
  • Multiple page views (your visitors review more than one page on your site)
  • Repeat visits (your visitors come back to see if there’s new content or to purchase something)
  • Low bounce rates (your visitors aren’t accessing a page, and then immediately clicking a link way from your site)

The Google Update Only Levels the Playing Field

There was a multitude of microsites created by speculators that offered the visitor no valuable or relevant information related to the keywords. The old algorithm placed these low-quality sites higher in the organic search engine results than a non-EMD site with valuable content created for the user. Google decided that this wasn’t a good experience for the user, so it changed its filters to assess sites with or without EMDs on a more even keel. Let’s use an example:  I purchase the domain name and I publish low-end or duplicate content on a microsite.  Before the Google update, my site could easily come up #1 in a search for “best weight loss secrets” even if those keywords are not included in my content, simply because they are included in the domain name itself. 

Now if Tess puts up a site without those keywords in the domain, and she actually writes articles that discuss and demonstrate “best weight loss secrets,” then Tess’ site is offering a better value to the visitor since it’s providing them content related to their search. If we consider the best user experience, it’s obvious whose site should rank better.  Tess’ site offers content that the visitor wants, while my site only brought them to a page in anticipation that they will generate ad revenue for me.

The Best of Both Worlds:  Exact Match Domains that Meet Engagement Metrics

In the world of domain names, Exact Match Domains are still King, if you follow the guidelines and meet the positive engagement metrics.  If your site meets these metrics, AND you have keywords in your domain, the better off you are!  Even after last October’s updates, when comparing your EMD site to a site with similar value and user experience, your EMD domain still has an advantage over a non-EMD domain in the search. In addition, you will benefit from higher conversion rates for click throughs on your sponsored ads since the EMD contains your keywords (extra bonus!). Finally, not only is a premium domain with exact match keywords usually more indicative of what your site is about, it benefits you in the Social Media arena too.

Social Media Mentions can benefit your Exact Match Domain

In a world where search engines look for evidence that a site’s content is in demand, we must not forget the value of Social Media in this mix.  Every time someone mentions your site on Facebook, or pins an image in Pinterest, the search engines take notice.  Having a one word domain in this case makes it much easier for mentions to translate into free advertising and possible increased rankings, as your domain name becomes the brand in itself.

Get Your Domain Name Broker Involved

Talk to your domain broker about finding an EMD that demonstrates the intent of your business and make sure that you put some killer content on there.  This way, you’ve given yourself the best chance of landing at the top of the search results! As a domain name broker, we are often aware of premium domains which may not be publicly on the market. Consider us a resource in your quest for a domain that both brands and defines your business, while also providing you with every possible search engine advantage.