Understanding Exact Match Domains (EMDs)

Exact Match DomainsGoogle spokesperson Matt Cutts announced the latest Google algorithm the other day that is focused on Exact Match Domains.

Panic has set in – at least for those who don’t understand what is really taking place.

The algorithm, like all others before it, is Google’s attempt to remove “junk” websites from flooding the first pages of Google search results.

It is NOT about demoting Exact Match Domains, rather the poor quality of the websites attached to many of them.

Websites that are built for the purpose of trying to rank using mostly the backbone of an EMD will feel the pain.

Use an EMD correctly, as one small piece of the SEO puzzle, while having all your other ducks in a row (with what Google considers a worthy website), and you’ll be ranked as well as, or a little better than others.

An EMD can work for you or against you, depending on how you use it. Outside of SEO, EMDs have several other very strong points that make them attractive.

  • Click-through rates, more often than not, far exceed CTR of other types of domains.
  • EMDs are normally easy to understand and remember. This is an important psychological factor in the mind of a consumer and business owner.
  • EMDs convey an immediate message. It tells you, this site is about this specific topic.
  • An EMD is instantly recognized and therefore immediately usable to attract new business, just like Dell uses CloudComputing.com to capture traffic and redirect to their main site.
  • A BRANDABLE domain is a better choice for building your long-term business. However, it takes a lot of promotion and time to get the general population to recognize the brand and what it stands for.

Like all other Google updates, a LOT of website owners are going to get slapped in error at first, and it will take weeks or months for Google to correct and adjust their algorithm. We’re going to hear about different experiences from different website owners until the ripples subside.

Google is known for releasing aggressive algorithm updates and then drawing them back in once the dust settles.

19 Responses to “Understanding Exact Match Domains (EMDs)”

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  1. Bill Davis says:

    Nail, meet Hammer. Great post, Gene. The takeaway for me is the CTR on EMD. That’s huge.

    • Gene says:

      Thanks Bill, so many people focus purely on the SEO values of an exact match domain, but in my opinion, the more important reasons for owning and using EMDs are those I listed. SEO rankings can be obtained equally with our without EMDs.

  2. Mary Maples says:

    Thanks for the explanation of EMDs and GOOGLE.

    All your input is greatly appreciated!

  3. Lee Gillett says:

    Thanks Gene. The fact is that no matter what updates Google releases, if you create good informational websites with great unique content then you should be fine – EMD or no EMD. But as you say, and EMD linked to such a website can only help.

  4. Jesse says:

    ThiS worries me, because my business relies on buying emd’s to develop.

    But I have to agree with google on this one. Recently I searched for something and saw a website exact match. I looked at it for real answers but it was shitty. The only reason it is in first page is because emd and it did not deserve it.

    Good strong content will filter out the competitors.

    BTW, do you know any software that finds EMD’s. Or untapped resource, or whatever… ?

    • Gene says:

      It shouldn’t worry you at all. In fact, it should make you happy that Google is attempting to clean up what appears in the highest ranks of search results. They are not penalizing Exact Match Domains. They are penalizing EMDs with websites that are unworthy of good search rankings.

  5. Excellent points about the other factors that still argue in favor of EMD’s. And anyone who’s been in this game more than a couple of years knows how the Google update game is played. They overreach, then walk it back. We all panic initially, only to realize that if we did get gigged, it was because of our own shortcut tactics. Good content and easy navigation. That’s really all Google has ever wanted from us. Too many of us fight it. Who’s to blame when our own strategies backfire on us?

    • Gene says:

      Thanks John. Yes, it is those always trying to game the system who lose out in the long run. Provide what Google wants and you’ll win the race. There are never any definites, and algorithms are never perfect, but it’s important to feed the machine what it needs.

  6. Larry Christopher says:

    I wonder how (or if) this update will affect the domain buying strategy of purchasing domains for local businesses. For example, would it still be worthwhile to buy a domain such as atlantadentist.com and attempt to sell it to dentists in Atlanta? Of course, we could still do this, but will such a domain still make it easy for local businesses to rank on Google?

    • Gene says:

      It all depends on how appropriately the domain is used. Whether it’s an EMD or other type of domain name, the answer is the same. If Google deems a website unworthy of good rankings, it’s not because of the domain name. It’s because of how it is used.

  7. Sharon Deloy says:

    Hi Gene:

    You really cleared up a lot of things about emd’s. I sometimes use them, sometimes not.

    I try and have a quality site, one with articles and other interesting things.

    I was worried, but not so much anymore with you explaining it all.


  8. Well said. I’d use exact domain matches even if there was no such thing as a search engine ๐Ÿ™‚

    If people want information about a 3 word keyword phrase, just the type in traffic alone is worth having the EMD. Not to mention if you see that exact URL on facebook, in ad directories, or wherever, and that’s what you’re looking for from a keyword perspective, you’re obviously going to click through.

    The only people on the market this eliminates is those who weren’t making any money anyway because of the lack of quality of their sites – and they never had any money to buy domains from us to begin with ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Gene says:

      Jason – thanks for pointing out one of the important attributes that I didn’t mention: Type-in traffic. Many of my keyword rich domains get noticeable traffic from people who simply type the exact keywords in their browser.

  9. Hi Gene,

    looks like I’m a bit late joining the party, but since I just had this link pop up and read your article, I wanted to let you know that I really appreciate your info about EMDs. I was a bit worried for a while, but it looks like most of my EMDs have survived relatively intact so far. Whew!

    Of course, that’s because I’m providing quality info ๐Ÿ™‚

    And I’m going to be adding some more of that to those that have been demoted some…

    Thanks for reassuring us that we don’t have to go out and get non-exact-name domains now…


  10. Will says:

    Hey Gene,
    Very new to Domain Clout and wondering if you have an update to the Google EMD slap…is it a waste of time to simply redirect a new EMD to an existing site that has good content? Much like the atlantadentist.com example above.

    • Gene says:

      It is not a waste of time at all, in fact, it is one of the best strategies to build up the presence of any main “money” site. There are different purposes to be aware of however. If it is a EMD that gets type-in traffic, it makes no difference what Google does, now or in the future. But if it’s a domain that you want to get up in the Google ranks for the specific keywords, you need to provide good content on that domain name, and have that content lead visitors to the main money site.

  11. Muhammed says:

    Hi Gene
    Here’s a question for you.
    When you can’t get an exact EMD you add a ‘s’
    at the end of the name. Whether you can do
    that in the middle of the name with equal effect?

    Is bestdogschains.com as good as bestdogchains.com


  12. Gene says:

    Hi Muhammed,

    The short answer is a resounding NO. Adding as s to a word that doesn’t read correctly as a phrase will not be nearly as effective as the correct phrase. In fact, it may very well be hidden from search results.

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