Are Exact Match Domains in Trouble? (SEO)

Hey everyone,

There’s been some buzz lately about exact match domain names and how search engines (particularly Google and Bing) may be not giving them as much authority in the future. We at believe strongly is the power of registering exact match domain names for SEO purposes but I wanted to open up this question to the community.

A Long Time Ago…
In the past (a decade ago) you could effectively keyword-stuff your content to the hilt and Yahoo would love you and instantly promote you. Now, that is changed. Also, Google used to allow hidden keywords (same color as background) and you could still rank higher. I’ve honestly never attempted this but have caught plenty of people doing it even within the last year or two.

I took a formal search engine marketing (SEM) course recently in Denver and the instructor said she used to have great success stuffing adult-related keywords (hidden) within her text and meta data. Of course, we’re all glad that you can no longer get away with this. But, what would be the inherent risks involved if Google were to take exact match domains and not give them as much authority?

Why Would Exact Match Domains Be Devalued?
Many are speculating that Google might be demoting the importance of exact match domains in 2011 because so many good domains are just hosting parked pages and remain undeveloped. Too often, the domain you want is just sitting in somebody’s account and you have to pay a premium price to acquire it.

Despite the costs involved, having a premium exact keyword match domain is still by far the best way to go if you’re developing a new site in a competitive industry. Just like in the Octane360 examples I showed a few weeks ago, you can effectively climb to page one of Google in a relatively short amount of time by getting the exact match domain and developing a very minimal amount of content.

What would you do if having exact match domains becomes less important in 2011? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

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  • Michael Curving

    its possible they could lighten the weight of exact match domains in the algorithm, but there are still other advantages, even for SEO. for example, when i link to your site from my blog, i may just use for the anchor text, so you get the keyword 'name' so much more frequently in your anchor links, than for example if i was linking to GoDaddy. You can see when you search the word, 'name' on Google your site comes up #3. Similarly, just do a search for 'Daddy' in Google and you will see that GoDaddy comes up first result. What does GoDaddy have to do with 'dads'? see. So as long as anchor text remains an important factor for SEO, so will exact match domains, regardless of whether they lighten their overall relevance. I think there are other good arguments why the exact match is still important

    • artenke

      Hi Michael,

      That's a very strong point: “…as long as anchor text remains an important factor for SEO, so will exact match domains.”

      If you look at the trend over the last 10 years, Google has worked very hard to make natural search as “natural” as possible and that's a very good way to approach SEO. If you catch yourself doing something that just seems weird, then you're probably doing it wrong. To me, it would seem very unnatural if they demoted exact match domains too heavily.

      Because most people naturally link to sites using the domain name, it would seem like a daunting task to demote that too heavily. My guess is that they will increase the importance of anchor text backlinks in 2011.

      You would not be surprised to know that our bounce rate for the keyword “name” is extremely low. I wonder what Godaddy's bounce rate is for the keyword “daddy.”

  • Jamie

    I'd be all for this. Squatters would sell their “premium” domains to people that would actually use them, and I don't see how a crappy just-for-money minisite on a one- or two-word domain should rank above a quality site on a lesser domain.

    • Michael Curving

      you are not using the term 'squatter' by its correct definition here. a cybersquatter is someone who sits on a domain name that is either a trademark or a typo of another company or brand name. This is not the same as owning a premium generic one or two word domain. Unless you don't believe in property rights, there's nothing inherently wrong with owning domain names, regardless of what one plans to do with them. Similarly the argument for 'best use' is flawed. Consider the following example: Old lady Smith owns a vacant 10,000 square foot lot in downtown Austin. She's owned it since 1996 and she has no immediate plans to develop it. Instead she charges cars $10 a day to park in her lot within walking distance to all the restaurants and shops in downtown Austin. One day someone comes along and says, I could turn that 10,000 square foot lot into a small office park, or a new high rise mixed use commercial skyscraper. What a waste of prime real estate! How dare old lady Smith! She's not even using that property! I shall form a committee to have old lady Smith's property forcibly taken from her through 'eminent domain' so that it can be put to 'best use'. i think you get the point. The bottom line is you either believe in property rights or you don't.

  • Jeorge Peter

    That will be a problem if it would happen. For me domains is a lot important and on how to think of a right and efficient domain name.