Home General Is This the END of Exact Match Domain Names?

Is This the END of Exact Match Domain Names?

by amol238

Domain Names

Exact name domains are exactly what they sound like – domain names that use precise keyphrases rather than brandable titles. So for instance if you have a company that sold flowers called ‘PowerFlower’, then rather than ‘PowerFlower.com’ or something similar, you would instead go for ‘buy-flowers-boston.com’ or something along those lines. This is a strategy that many people have used, feeling understandably that it will help them to rank highly for those terms.

But not everyone agrees that this is the best way to go ahead, and others believe that there is more benefit to using a brand or something with a little more character. Here we will look at why exact name domains might not be the best idea in the world any more.

Google’s Aim

As most people know, Google’s main aim is to provide its users with the best quality of search results and that means it needs to be as spam-proof as possible. Where the algorithms are ‘workable’ people will inevitably find ways to work the system and bring undeserving content to the top.

Exact name domains are one such method that people have been working the system until recently – as by buying exact search terms as domains it became possible for anyone to get a little extra pull in their rankings.

This is why Matt Cutts at Google recently pledged to do something about this and to stop favoring this strategy.

We have looked at the rankings and the weights that we give to keyword domains and some people have complained that we are giving a little too much weight for keywords in domains.

So we have been thinking about adjusting that mix a bit and sort of turning the knob down within the algorithm.

 This is in keeping with other moves that Google has been making to bring more ‘quality’ content to the fore rather than keyword heavy quantity of content. Hope you haven’t bought any exact name domains recently…

The Alternative

So if exact keywords in domain names don’t do it for Google any more, what is going to fill that void? The answer is brands. Brands have now been given more weight if they are recognizable, so much so in fact that doorway pages are ranking well just for being hosted on a brand’s domain.

Google is more and more drawing on external sources for its search algorithms, this means they are looking at things like their business volume data, pricing information, maps and locations, ratings, social networking cues and more to find out which businesses people are looking for and which sites people are enjoying. The parring down of exact name domains is actually only symptomatic of a wider switch to more organic and real-world-based data to inform searches.

What This All Means

Is this a good thing? Or a bad thing? Well this depends. In some ways of course this means that the entrepreneur will suffer who can’t afford quiet the marketing clout that brands can in the real world, and in some ways this sadly might bring the status quo back to the point where individuals have little hope of competing on a grand scale with huge conglomerates.

However at the same time it could also be argued to be a good thing for the user because let’s face it – those sites that rely too much on exact name domains and keyword heavy content often aren’t very good. Often they are looking for a silver bullet rather than putting real work in to make a site that people want to visit.

There are other benefits to using branding too. For instance it can help you to bring back more repeat customers, and it can open up a lot more marketing opportunities. If you ever did want to get serious and take your business into the real world then it puts you in a much better position for that too.

So really the moral of the story is to focus on quality and to make people want to come to your website. That means eschewing cheap tricks in favor of acting like a real business and that means branding by extension. And of course when it comes to domain names at this juncture there is nothing to stop you from having both a brand site and an exact name domain.

What are your thoughts on this ?

Image Credit:Goo2o Technologies

You may also like


Hardip March 23, 2012 - 9:48 am


Its really interesting. And somehow horrible for me. 🙁

I’m domainer and used to buy keyword specific domains since long time. I’ll have to change scenarios over it.

Lets see what happens. Lets cross the fingers.

Thanks for sharing good thing.

Jeet March 24, 2012 - 12:57 am

@Hardip: I believe ‘single’ keyword domains would still continue to rank high because Google might treat them as brand domains, but the same can’t be said for longer domains and ones with lots of dashes.

This might also force internet marketers to shift focus from lots of smaller sites to a few bigger brands. As you say, only time will tell 🙂

Hardip March 24, 2012 - 1:25 am

Then Its fine for me because I don’t have domains which has dashes.

Tarik Pierce March 23, 2012 - 3:42 pm

Good post. The key to making websites is to first find out what problem people have then solve it.

You will always get good rankings because you are giving people EXACTLY what they want.

I think if the page has good content, it will rank no matter what the domain.

Jeet March 24, 2012 - 1:28 am

@Tarik: You have made some good points here. I specially agree with the good content part of your comment.

However, we are essentially talking about many people solving the same problem here. And who should be ranked highest is decided by Google.

I go to many small towns and see shops and businesses with ‘exact town name’. e.g. Milpitas Plumbers, I am inclined to think they got the business name only because they have been in the business for a long long time (or they didn’t think big 😉

Google probably shouldn’t be ignoring exact name domains if the business is registered with the same legal name.

Tim Ruswick March 23, 2012 - 10:48 pm

I think the system has been abused beyond the ability to fix it…but I think we’re also seeing the end of availability of exact match domain names. Theres like none available anymore. Sure you can get a .info but everyone knows .coms work better in google and people trust them more.

I think its about time…because there arent really and legitimate businesses that share a name with the benefit they offer. Its almost always a search engine tactic.

Im indifferent, but I just think it should be obvious that people dont buy them on accident.

Jeet March 24, 2012 - 1:30 am

@Tim: You are right about the abuse part. I have seen many SEOs recommending clients to change domain names to seo friendly domains. That’s ridiculous because in this process, the company has lost it’s brand to SEO.

I recently saw a video where one of the top internet marketers said, if you can’t get .com, grab a .cc 😉

Tim Ruswick March 25, 2012 - 5:24 pm

i have 2 current clients that have exact match domain names because their previous SEOs told them too…now that theyve built a business its awkward having absolutly no brandability at all. Whats your website? Oh you know, http://www.goodchinesefoodrestarauntinlosangeles.com


ZK March 26, 2012 - 4:06 am

Hi Tim,

You’ve given a great example of such domains, it took me sometime to understand it 🙂 Soon these type of domain name will not have any advantage with Google

Goa trip March 24, 2012 - 3:05 am

Now this is your turn like the time has been come to work more hard for how you would work for your site for attract unique visitor.

Jasmine March 25, 2012 - 3:27 am

Good informative article, Jeet. I think most importantly, is to provide quality content. With this we will get good search engine results.

irenelim March 26, 2012 - 1:32 am

Thanks for sharing.. I think keywords in the content also very important for Google searching.

ZK March 26, 2012 - 4:07 am

Domain names will soon be an equal playing ground with emphasis on quality content

Jeet March 26, 2012 - 4:45 am

When Google rolls out their ‘over optimization penalty’ update, everyone would be on equal playing ground 😉

Jasmine March 26, 2012 - 10:31 pm

With the Google Panda around, everyone will be on a more level playing ground. What’s more important is frequent updates with good quality content.

Frank March 28, 2012 - 11:27 am

This would be a big ‘surprise’ for all guys selling domains.
Keyword domains still get the highest prices

craig April 7, 2012 - 3:50 pm

So your saying if a searcher queries yellowdogfoodbowl and there is a website named “yellowdogfoodbowl” that has been indexed, it won’t be displayed?
Not bloody likely! How long would a search engine stay in business when matching queries are ignored?
How long would that performance be overlooked by regulators?
Sure exact search term domains have an advantage – and for good reason………..THEY MATCH WHAT THE USER IS LOOKING FOR, AND OFFER THE BEST POSSIBILITY TO SATISFY THE INTENT OF THE SEARCH.
It’s the folks that passed up the opportunities to aquire them who like to believe this stuff…….common sense is still common sense…….jmo

Tim Ruswick April 7, 2012 - 5:04 pm

Did you even read? He wasn’t saying they are going away forever, he said they will hold less weight. Right now, you can rank a domain based solely on the domain name, with no optimization. They are too powerful. They need to be less powerful.


Leave a Comment

Are you sure want to unlock this post?
Unlock left : 0
Are you sure want to cancel subscription?
Update Required Flash plugin