There are very few cases today in which I’d recommend someone buy an exact match domain. They still work for SEO, but only in special circumstances.
I will explain those circumstances and help you decide if an exact match domain name, which is also known as an EMD is right for you to buy and build off. Before I do, let me explain a few things about this topic:
The most common question and scenario in which people ask about EMD’s is in regards to their SEO and ranking power.
There was a point in time, many years ago, where the name of your domain would be considered one of the most important ranking factors. And if you look at the 10 I listed in that link, you’ll notice that this is not the case anymore, but before I explain why, let me give you the proper context of why EMD’s are still a popular SEO topic today:
When the name of your domain did have a big impact on your rankings, smart marketers simply chose high volume keywords, and purchased domains that literally were the very same keyword they targeted. In other words:
And without doing much SEO work, people who did this were able to get high rankings for the targeted keyword, and obviously get traffic to their site from it, by simply leeching of the website’s name itself.
I can’t deny that I was one of those people who did get high rankings from doing this, but that was a very long time ago. Today, the value of an EMD is still present for rankings, but it has been depreciated substantially, so much that I would never even suggest it be taken into consideration for someone whose thinking of a title for their page (unless it meets a certain criteria I’ll be listing).
What happened to EMD’s? Why they lost their SEO value:
Because the amount of ranking factors rose as SEO had become more complex, the value of the domain continued to depreciate overtime.
Most of the people I knew (including myself) who used EMDs to rank their sites, typically didn’t put much work into them and had maybe a few pages worth of mediocre content.
This is why as the standards rose, the very same people who relied on EMD’s suddenly saw their rankings drop and thought that this was some sort of Google penalty, when in fact, it was just a rise in more standards expected for a quality website to rank high, and the value of the domain not playing a large role anymore.
The smart marketers who realized this changed their approach and improved the value of the website, while those who originally relied on the lazy method of just letting the name of the site carry them, failed. And I assure you that if you still own an EMD that you wish to grow, it can be done if you do these things.
Then there were those who completely stopped caring about having EMDs altogether and decided to structure their websites under names they could turn into a brand. I would argue that today, these are the people who are most right.
Here is the most important thing to understand about EMD’s today:
In short, every website name, EMD or not has the same ranking potential today. What determines the success of these sites is a combination of doing SEO things like these and not having too much competition, which will allow them to rank.
So if you are currently deciding on a domain name and wondering if it should be an EMD or not, let me help you decide…
When to use exact match domains.
1) If you want to use your name that is a keyword.
A few months, I helped a friend who happens to be a pro fighter create his own website. When deciding on what to title it, I suggested we just use his full name and the reason why was because through fighting, he would become popular among mass audiences who would then look him up on social media and Google. Having a website that is literally under his full name would be the right choice.
The great news was that there was hardly any competition for the keyword (his full name) so after taking about 1 hour to set up the pages and optimizing them briefly, I gave it a few months and let the site get out of the sandbox. Now whenever people Google his full name, the website is ranked #1.
Here is a link to his site in case you want to see how it played out. Setting this up didn’t cost me much, but I do know people and companies who would have charged him well over $1,000 to set this up, and yes, that would be a rip off.
Now this idea made the most sense in this circumstance because his name would be the keyword and there wasn’t any competition for it. So it made sense to make an EMD.
2) When the website name’s keyword is high volume and it blends together with your content.
Let’s take the keyword I used above “Six pack ab exercises”. The very name of it suggest that the site is going to talk about this topic and in this case, the keyword gets searches and if I start writing individual blog posts on specific ab exercises, each which carry their own keyword value, then it’s blend well with the domain name.
For example, if one of the keywords is “Do crunches make six pack abs”, then it blends well together with such a domain name and it’ll become “Sixpackabexercises.com/do-crunches-make-six-pack-abs” and the pemalink in that case will rank for the keyword. It’s also called the meta title.
Note: And by the way, the meta title 100% carries more SEO value than the EMD.
When not to use exact match domains:
1) When you’re seeking to create a brand name that isn’t already a searched keyword.
When I used my friend and the website I created for him, his name was already getting searches in Google, but there was no official site set up, and thus making an EMD made sense.
However, if you’re seeking to create a brand name which no one knows about, then you SHOULD do it, because the content you build from the site will then grow it and people will eventually start to recognize the site name and Google it.
That is actually what I am seeking to do with HelpingHandSEO.com. Right now, not many people know about it, but through getting more and more people to visit the site and remember the name, it’ll eventually grow and become a popular keyword.
2) A business name.
Again, if no one knows about the business, let your domain name be the name of the business. It will have all the potential to grow and become a brand. I helped a client a long time ago do this. His site wasn’t ranking well and just improving it’s content (not the website name!) caused it to grow and get higher rankings.
Remember: All fresh domain names, carry the same ranking potential.
It doesn’t matter which ones you buy, EMD or not. If it’s fresh and has no history, it will always start with the same ranking potential. But it will be the growth you put into the site, that will help it grow and become valuable.
This is why you can technically choose any website name you like when starting out and not worry about it’s SEO potential. Of course, this doesn’t mean you should choose profanities or controversial names. Choose simple names for your site that are simple to remember.
If after having said all of this, you still have questions or worries about picking the right name, let me know.