A domain is a domain is a domain, right? Well, it’s a little more complicated than that. Your website’s domain name is often the first impression that a visitor gets of your website and plays a significant role in how search engines find and rank it as well. Before registering a new domain name, you should ask yourself if you would benefit most from an exact match domain, a partial match domain, or a non-matching domain.
So what’s the difference between these three types of domains and why does it matter? It all comes down to how well they match relevant keywords. Although there are many factors that go into search engine optimization, your domain name often plays a role in determining your page rank. Let’s run through the pros and cons of each domain type.
Exact match domains
These are the domains that exactly match search queries. An example of an exact match domain is someone searching for “denver condos” and getting denver.condos as the first search result. Having one or multiple keywords directly in your website’s URL can give you a pretty significant boost in search ranking, which is especially helpful for smaller businesses who don’t have a large advertising budget.
Partial match domains
These domains contain one or multiple keywords that partially match what is searched for. If a web surfer types in the search query, “meet denver singles” the result denver.singles would be a partial match domain. These still tend to rank higher than a website that doesn’t use any keywords at all (we’ll get to that) but if someone else happens to own meetdenver.singles, then they’re probably going to rank higher than you and thus get more of the search traffic.
These domains are more common than you’d think. Any business that solely uses their brand name in their URL could miss out on organic traffic because it doesn’t match the searcher’s keywords. For example, if a law firm uses a URL that reflects their company name, jonesandassociates.com, it won’t match the query “denver attorney,” which web surfers are more likely to search. But if you have a well-recognized brand that visitors will navigate to directly, a non-matching domain is perfectly fine to use.
Each of these types of domains have their merits and can lead to more people organically discovering your website. But why not enjoy the benefits of all of them? By registering multiple domains, and redirecting all of them back to your main website, you can keep the domain name you currently have while playing off the strengths of keyword-rich domains as well.