Busting the myth surrounding exact match domain names

Do exact match domains (EMD) help or hinder your Google ranking?

Your website’s domain name is one of the first things that potential customers will use to connect with you and your business. With over 363.8 million registered names already, you need to identify one which works for your business and is easy to remember. Over the last 20 years, a simple SEO tactic was to use an Exact Match Domain (EMD) to establish quick ranking results on search engines. But with all of Google’s recent algorithm changes focused on original content, does an Exact Match Domain still help SEO today?

What is An Exact Match Domain?

As the name might suggest, an exact match domain is a domain name that features the keyword that a business or website is trying to rank for. In some cases, this is a happy coincidence where a business is trying to make it easy for potential customers to understand the goods and services on offer. But often, the reason for using it is to propel a website up the rankings. For example a courier company using this tactic may use a domain like

  • Courierservices.com
  • Samedaycouriers.com
  • Bestcouriers.com

Businesses that adopt this method typically use high volume keywords to match a search query, with the intention of their website appearing at the top of the rankings. When the keyword appears in the domain name, internal links will contain them, and backlinks from other websites will naturally use them within the link and anchor text. Once a website is visible in search engine results pages, it stands a greater chance of being clicked because the domain looks familiar to the user due to the exact matches to the query, as well as being easy to remember.

Cool yeah?

In the early days of Google, domain name matching was seen as a viable and successful method of getting to the top of search engine results pages. However, noticing the impact that this was having on the quality of search results, Google adjusted its algorithms (initially in 2012) to prevent poor quality websites with an EMD enjoying the benefits of high ranking at the expense of fair competitors.

This in itself seemed a reasonable response, but initially it was a concern for businesses who had an exact match domain, AND had worked hard on publishing original content to climb the rankings on merit.

Google’s regular updates, and specifically their focus on steering website owners to publish credible and original content, has helped to prioritise trustworthy businesses, and at SEO Results we 100% agree with this.

Do Exact Match Domains still have an impact today?

If you run a Google search using a typical high volume keyword, despite Google’s attempt to demote low quality domains, you will still see many of the top positions occupied by businesses continuing with this tactic, and in some cases un-naturally performing well.

example of exact match domains
Examples of exact match domains performing well in SERPs – are they there on SEO merit or has their EMD influenced their ranking?

We are often asked by clients if it is beneficial for them to purchase a domain name that relates to their industry or matches what their customers may search for. With search results still littered with EMDs, the simple response is yes. But, the essential requirement for any type of business wanting to dominate Google search results is to have a website that fulfils the needs of its audience. Simply having an EMD is not enough. For a website to steer clear of penalties, and to grow domain authority on merit, we will always advise to pursue a SEO campaign done the right way. Regardless of whether the domain matches a high volume search query, using proper SEO methods will always be better than EMDs.

If you’re looking to climb Google’s search results pages, do it the right way with SEO Results. Call our experts today on 0121 726 3861.

By John Anderson, SEO Results

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