About HALF of the programs I review always try to have you believe that if you just tweak your site’s settings and a few other things that it’ll magically hit first page positions without much content.
One of those “tweaks” is the exact match domain myth and if you just use that tip, you’ll already be farther ahead than most others. But does it really matter?
The answer is absolutely not.
I’ve tested this with numerous websites and read from a lot of people that prove it, but the way I’m going to prove it to you is I will show you a couple of exact match domain (EMD’s) websites I have that didn’t get ANY bump in the rankings just because they were EMD’s. The ONLY way they managed to get anywhere was when I began loading them up with unique, quality content.
What is an exact match domain (EMD)?
It’s just a domain name you buy that is spelled out exactly the way a keyword is. If you know anything about keywords, it’s that the more popular ones are always sought after by marketers of all sorts.
Managing to land on the 1st spot or 1st page of Google for a keyword that gets numerous searches every month is almost guaranteed to be a money maker for you. Keywords still hold very high value among marketers and are still a very good indication of how much visitors you can get, but a few years back, a lot of people discovered that if you just name your website exactly the same way as the keyword you’re chasing, you’d get more value and higher rankings for that specific term.
Products sprouted around this idea and began teaching it over and over again. But this information became so common that any product that charged you for this information was just ripping you off. Anyway, the big key to making EMD’s work wasn’t just in finding the keyword, but also seeing if the competition was low enough for any website you’d make under the actual term pop up.
From there a few tweaks in your website such as making silo pages on the website to give the main one weight and editing meta tags and somewhat “spamming” the keyword in certain settings of your site made it easy for search engines to spot it and rank it. But that all pretty much came to an end around 2012.
Google evolved and the exact match perk slowly lost it’s power:
If there’s one thing you should know about Google, it’s that it always tries to improve it’s search and the main thing they always aim to do is give it’s users (the people who search on it), the most relevant page/s that answer their questions.
Unfortunately when the EMD trick was popular, too many people abused it, got high ranked websites and littered it with garbage content, most of the time just trying to sell anything. You even had many websites that abused the EMD perk and sold things that had nothing to do with the keyword they were landing on.
Littered is also the same word I’d use to describe how often these bad websites would land on Google and give people things they really weren’t looking for and so back to what happened, Google put a stop to it.
What they did as far as I know, was that they removed the weight any EMD had for just being that and began grading websites for other metrics. This really cleaned out their search engine of the bad websites and this has been the trend even since, all the way to today in 2016. Yet there still people pushing that EMDs are still the way to go.
My experience with using exact match domains:
So a little bit before the whole EMD game changed, I was involved with SEO and it was through a program called Bring The Fresh where I first discovered about that perk. I will admit that it did work for a bit for me, but only until Google stopped it.
I was a stubborn man at the time and still kept making websites as EMDs in hopes that I could still make it work, but it ended up being a major waste of time. All I really needed to do was sit down, work hard and put up some great content on my website.
I have 3 exact match domain websites. One has about 30 posts worth of content on it, the other around 20 and the last one a little over 60. I am mentioning the amount of content on each site because THAT is what plays the most major role in ranking, even though they domains themselves are titled under popular keywords.
The way I will show you these websites is by showing you the keyword they are aiming for and it’s competition, followed by the traffic stats each one has:
The first one is chasing the following phrase (the EMD worked here):
I purchased the domain with that same exact keyword. And guess what? For many years it was ranked on the first page of Google.
In fact, I did make money from this site from what I considered a micro niche idea and it was about $10,000 over the years. Yet this wasn’t necessarily because the EMD perk worked, but because the competition was super low.
If I checked this site in 2020, it would not be on the first page (In fact, I did and that’s how I know).
Next site: An EMD site that has about 30 posts.
Nearly 500 searches and the competition is also low, but higher than the previous site. But in spite of the low competition, when you do a search for it on Google, you won’t find it on the first 20 pages and me having about 30 posts of content is NOWHERE near the amount I’d really need to get closer to the 1st page.
Yet, to my surprise, when I looked at the traffic, this is what it showed me:
The site STILL has a good amount of traffic and I have not looked at it for a VERY long time. I actually forgot about it until this case study idea arose, but I am shocked to see that it’s still active. There’s still so much I can do with this niche site! I also made a case study on this hot niche site at one point, but back then I was more active with it.
This new revelation is huge for me. I only stopped with that site because I stopped enjoying the topic, but there’s still much I can do with it. I can technically sell it for a great price. Or I can keep using it and make money in affiliate sales.
But does it answer the EMD question? Yes it does. I don’t rank for it’s main keyword and it only gets visitors because it has content.
Last site: Has over 60 posts and also uses an exact match domain.
I currently am ranked on the 3rd or 4th page for the main keyword so that should tell you how much weight EMDs do NOT carry anymore. For a keyword with such small competition, you would think I’d have a higher position if the whole EMD theory was true, it obviously isn’t!
BUT because it has content and really a lot of it, it does have excellent traffic stats:
Even though I don’t rank for the keyword my domain is under, the traffic is obviously coming from somewhere! It is coming from other keywords I have found and written content on.
The main point is that you shouldn’t rely on EMD. Instead this is what counts:
Today, if you type in “how to lose weight right now” you will not get my site on the first page of Google. In fact, you probably won’t find it on the top 3 pages for that long tailed keyword either and that’s because the EMD perk is no longer working for me, so what I am left to rely on for rankings (as it always was) is the quality of the content I write on this and the other sites I showed you.
Ultimately, quality content is what matters, not the EMD:
People still ask me today about using EMD’s and considering how many different keywords there are, how they fluctuate in searches and how many LSI varieties there are, and mixing that all in with the fact that EMD’s carry little to no SEO help these days, I wouldn’t even think of suggesting you use it when choosing your own domain name.
15 thoughts on “Do Exact Match Domains Really Matter For SEO Rankings?”
I’m a newbie to affiliate marketing. I was one of those people your article discusses. I too was sucked into quite a few systems that said exactly that. If you just tweak here and there, it will make thousands for you. Lol. Funny I didn’t want thousands I just wanted to keep up with the lifestyle I had grown accustomed to.
Because of my of my lack of knowledge and honestly, my laziness. I wasn’t willing to put the work into it. Knowing darn well that work is what it was going to take to build a viable business online. Until I removed the excuses of not having the knowledge or the time is when things started to get traction for me.
I would also like to say thank you for clarifying some questions that have been bouncing around in my head about the EMD’s. I do have a website that is just what I wanted to call it. And after getting started found myself doubting if I made the right decision. To my pleasure though upon posting an article here not too long ago, I checked it and found it rank second-page fifteenth place on GOOGLE.
I read your website and found it extremely informative. Answering many questions and squelching quite a few self-doubts I’ve have been experiencing.
I am blessed to have stumbled on the Wealthy Affiliate Platform. It will take you from zero to hero if you are willing to put in the time and effort.
I believe and know in my heart that this is the best place to learn how to educate myself about making money online.
Thanks for sharing your experiences.
This is great information. I don’t think I have ever seen one given with a case study like you did. Thanks for sharing and it really does help the next time I start up a new website to put attention to where it matters. It goes to show that writing great content is still the best way forward. Can I ask what do you do to think of content as you do? Do you have a process? Sorry this is out of the topic of your post. Actually just want to say I’m a big follower of your site.
My ideas and content come from my experience in the niche. I think up things I’ve been through when it comes to trying to make a living online, the many questions I’ve had and if I see there’s others who also have those questions, I will write an article or several of the discussing how I got through it.
A lot of my ideas also come from product reviews because in my situations, I’ve purchased and seen how awful they are and I know there’s many who are doomed to have the same experiences unless they have someone whose been through it show them there’s a better way and better program.
But that’s in my niche case (online marketing). Your content should always reflect your knowledge, the questions you’ve answered on it and really finding what other people in the same niche topic are asking, and answering that THROUGH your content. I hope that makes sense!
As always this post is very thorough and packed with useful info. I started out chasing EDM’s but gave up because I find them too restrictive in terms of creating content. I get bored writing about the same thing over and over again, but I know I need to address this because to make money online you do need to focus on a niche. I actually went with my name as domain name for this reason, because I figured I could change the title of the site to reflect keywords and the site would retain it’s majority. I now need to get courageous and check how I’m doing with rankings. Thanks again, I always learn something new with your posts 🙂
Hi again Deb, making your name as the domain is not a bad idea. If your site gains steam and becomes popular, people will recognize your name as an authority which you can use to your advantage.
Also making any type of EMD on a specific keyword is as you said…limited because on a niche site itself, you will be able to find an ample amount of keywords that are outside the boundaries of a EMD focused on just 1 keyword and that will make the site grow far larger than it would had you focused on a keyword as your domain.
I remember worrying about this when I first learned about keywords. I worried that my brand name was going to interfere with my ability to get my articles indexed. Now, just as you are saying, I just focus my energy each day on looking for content to write about for my site. Then I also focus on making videos. That way, I am building a presence online. It would seem to me that in this day and age trying to have an EMD would be very limiting because just like you say, it is a good idea to target different keywords with each piece of content.
If anything, the different keyword/s you target are in fact the exact match (without the domain), but through this, you can get ranked for any amount of keywords relevant to your niche topic which leave the space for endless rankings, traffic and sales to your site wide open, vs having one EMD and all your content centered around only boosting it which in turn would lead to less traffic…
Very interesting indeed and a very thorough article. Thank you for writing it. My question to you is this – if you have an exact match domain with great content, and your competitor does not have a EMD but also has great content – all things being equal, who will rank higher do you think?
The funny thing is even if we take say 2 sites, that are of the exact same niche, attempting to rank for the same keywords and all, that the one which will rank higher is the one which will get more comments and will have better content.
The point is, the 2 sites will not have the same content because 2 different people wrote them, even if they chase the same things.
I know the research says the EMD doesn’t matter. I always stand by data and reputable sources of information. I do have to wonder: WHY? I mean if your domain name matches an exact search for a keyword, wouldn’t that be a good thing? In the end it doesn’t matter too much, facts are facts. Frankly I am glad for this one, keywords matching articles is better for everyone anyway!
Absolutely awesome and highly informative post. I tend to still think that exact match domains, or slightly matched domains are still relevant today, although not as much as they used to be for SEO purposes.
But, this is perhaps the elephant in the room, keywords in domain names give a good indication to the end user, the visitor what the site is going to be about. This very site is a fine example of both points as it is memorable and from the name I can determine that you teach how to earn some cash from the internet in a scam free, genuine and honest manner.
Well the topic was more so covering if the domain name itself is enough to rank high Derek and the fact is, it isn’t. It is true that a memorable keyword name signifying the niche topic works, but it only really works for the user that visits it, not the search engine.
Since the weight of the domain name doesn’t matter, it is better to not let that misconception limit you when you are choosing your own domain names. And if you can find a name that’s catchy, makes sense and is a keyword term, like my site, then sure, go for it, but remember, it will not benefit you much in SEO.
Vitaliy, thank you for your awesome post. You have absolutely nailed it with your final statement – it is all about the content we write along with the keywords that creates awesome rankings.
When I first started, I got a little too hung up on the domain name and my advice for those new to this business is exactly the same was yours.
I agree that the name of our websites can become popular and lead to a “brand” but it’s not necessary to make it an EMD.
Keep up the great work!
Your article is great and it cleared lot of doubts from my mind. But still I feel that EMD’s rank well because when you look at the keyword, “Wealthy Affiliate Review” then there are few sites that have a very few content and are on first and second page of Google.
I think it is just because of EMD name. Even i have looked other similar keywords that are displaying EMD’s on first page.
Hi Khan, I looked at this and I did not see a single page for that keyword which had little content. In fact, I looked over the first several pages and all of the websites that appeared had tons of content on them. EMDs do NOT rank well.