Exact match domains don’t have the best reputation as these are often of dubious quality. However, this isn’t an SEO tactic that has entirely gone away. In fact, a recently study has shown that exact match domains still work well, with domains ranking highly with fewer links and with less content than their competitors.
Here we’re going to explore this issue further.
What is an exact match domain?
Exact match domains are those that feature the whole search term as opposed to just the keyword that a site wants to rank for. www.weaselsdirect.com would be an example of partial match domain that wants to rank for weasels, where weasels.bs would be an exact match.
More good examples of exact match domains are the proliferation of pirate sites that are called watchmovieonline.bs etc. When people are looking for places to watch movies, SERPs are full of these exact match sites and not legitimate places to watch films like Netflix and Amazon. Another one is pay day loan sites called, imaginatively, paydayloans.bs etc. It’s often the less bona fide businesses that were carrying out these practices.
These are dying out, however, with partial matches moving higher up the SERP. This could be because of Google’s algorithm updates, but could just as easily be from these dodgy businesses failing. These sites often have success but it never seems to last very long.
When it comes to super competitive verticals such as cheap flights, cheapflights.co.uk used to score highly, but now comes underneath Skyscanner and Google’s own search for flights function on the results page.
The stats to back up the facts
- Keyword and partial match domains rank higher than branded domains by 11%.
- Brand domains need 40,000 more links to get to number one, and 35,000 more links to get to the top ten.
- Branded domains need 69% more domain authority to get to the top ten.
- Keyword domains reach number one with half the content and half the keyword frequency.
So do exact match domains look like an effective strategy?
Exact match domains are very expensive and this can be to your detriment if you are going for a broad range of topics with your site. However, if you are looking at niche topics, then it could be that an exact match domain could suit you.
Another tactic can be to buy a domain and then make that domain an exact match with your key phrase through television and radio adverts, injecting the phrase and domain name into the minds of the multitudes.
Long term brands will be better off targeting more than just the domain name, however. There are lots of other things you can be focusing on instead of just the domain name to rank highly for your business, although if search is one of your main marketing tools, then it could be good to consider it for a short term business model.
Ultimately, Google considers quality is better than quantity and using exact match domains in most instances isn’t the best plan.