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Exact Match Domains in 2018: Does it hurt or help SEO?

Exact Match Domain had brought storm to the online world, when Google updated the algorithm in the 2012. To find out whether EMDs are still an influential thing and affect the ranking, read the blog.

You website's domain name is the first thing that customers connect with. With over 339.8 million registered names, you need to settle with one that would be easy to remember, type and share.

So, choosing a right name is going to be a lot of thinking. One of its considerations is the Exact Match Domain. Its update had hit SEO in Sydney, Melbourne and all over the world. A complete story on the subject lies below -

What is Exact Match Domain

It's a domain name that has targeted keywords in it.

For example, a site reading has the words that are matching the keywords, "watch free movies online". And so, when people will search for this key term, this URL will automatically pop up on the top rankings.

Or, you want to be found for buy bags online and you kept your site's name as

The term pretty accurately sums up the definition - with EMD essentially being a fully keyword rich domain. 

Sounds clever, right?

What merits do you get from EMDs?

Running services for SEO in Melbourne, there's always a few questions we get asked by clients. Will EMDs work in 2018? How can we win over Google with the right domain name.

A study conducted by Can I Rank found that domain keywords rank on average 11% higher than 'branded' domains.

In the early days of Google, matching your domain name with the keyword you wanted to be ranked for was seen as a viable and successful method of getting to the top of search engine results page (SERP). Logically, it all made sense. When you have the keyword fitted right into your domain name, then the links too will naturally contain them. And due to these anchor links, you gain better rankings.

But today, the caveat is this alone cannot boost your position.


No more free lunch for EMDs from September 2012

Well, the things came official from Google, which claimed that businesses running under the URLs (domain name) having the exact name as the keywords will face lower rankings.

Google will ensure that the sites with poor quality which are enjoying privileges just because their search terms lies in the domain names, will not rise above the fair competitors.

So, will you be dumped because you have an EMD?

Working on several kinds of businesses, EMD update brings major changes in the practices of our SEO company in Sydney.

Let us first clarify that the update doesn't mean that it will take down all the sites that looked like EMDs. Matt Cuts said that the free ride which exact match domains of low quality were getting is about to end - and that's the whole story.

Back in the years around 2010, there were lots of such site names that were based on search terms, and when customers opened those links, it turned out be a spam. This resulted in SERPs becoming oversaturated with results such as;, and, because of the exact match terms. However, their ultimate aim was to generate heaps of traffic and generate huge sums of revenue from this. 

In response to this, Google planned to reduce such low-quality "exact match" domains on their SERPs. In fact, this saw that the influence of exact match domains would evaporate, and quite quickly too. The result was that many exact-match domains saw decrease in ranking that devalued the notion of going with an exact keyword match in the URL.

According to Moz, there has been a surprising drop from 3.9% to 3.2% in a very narrow range.
Sites like,, and lost their 1st page-rankings in few hours and days after the implication of the update.

While there is no problem with the EMDs per se, it becomes a problem when it's linked with low quality, unrelated or spam-ridden websites.

The major flaw that these websites had was the fact that people would buy domains with exact match keyword phrases, build a site, but then have extremely poor content provided little to no value to the searchers, customers or readers.

So, the update aimed at purging 'spam sites' and poor content, which was seen as something of a solid SEO strategy back in the day. Today the webmasters have been focusing on quality content, real link building and on-page optimisation that have good intentions.

Consequently, there are exact match domains that in spite of the update, have been hitting the roof in terms of sales and revenue and are working progressively in their niche.

For example -


In fact, is one of the most expensive domain names sold at $11 billion.

So, that means good EMDs are good - as long as it's high-quality, relevant and useful. Google never said that EMDs are a black-hat technique, only that if it isn't authentic and relevant to their searchers, you're not going to see any benefits to your rankings.


To summarise, EMDs are still working in the 2018! However, it's recommended that you don't solely rely on this. You have to bring original, useful content and relevant information on your website, with a smart use of keywords and phrases. Additionally, it's always best when you aim to rank without having keywords in your domain - and succeeding on the merits of your brand name and the content on your website. Instead of settling in a crowd with similar names and a hundred variations of a key term, you should aim to rise above them with a unique branded domain.

Webplanners offers local SEO services in Melbourne to help businesses all over Australia rank and stay at the top. If you need some direction, book in a consultation today. Simply call us on (03) 9510 0717. 

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Sunday, 16 June 2024