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Are Exact Match Domains All They’re Cracked Up to Be?

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Business owners might think it’s smart to build exact match domain websites around their business, but they might actually be doing more harm than good.

Many experienced web surfers today might similarly say that they know spammy websites. The hairs on the back of your neck are raised as soon as you click on the wrong site. In fact, you sometimes know just by looking at the url string. This is where the world of Exact Match Domains (EMD) come into play.

The Risk of EMDs

Exact match domains are website names derived by the keywords typically used to conduct online searches that might yield that domain. Examples include Insurance.com, CarsForSale.com, WatchMoviesFree.com and TeethWhitening.com.  Some EMD sites have value while others are useless or even dangerous. But today, most shoppers are suspicious about websites utilizing the exact match domains without it being behind a brand.

Most trustworthy commercial websites simply use the names of the company or brand. Think ebay.com, Amazon.com or Walmart.com. But in earlier days some less-than-reputable sites figured out that they could game Google algorithms with names that matched the most obvious search terms, thereby rising to the top on Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). Keep in mind that studies show that most web users only take the first few non-ad results seriously. If your website ends up on page two or farther back in search results, forget about it. They’ll never find you.

Google caught on, as the search engine usually does when website owners attempt to gain unfair advantages. It started adjusting its algorithms in 2012 to avoid preferential indexing of questionable sites with little content or promotional effort beyond the questionable naming strategy. So if you plan to use an exact match domain, be sure you have a brand behind it that builds trust and don’t be shy with adding great valuable content for both your users and the search engines.

Not-So-Better Travel Deals

To see the Google algorithm change in action, consider “BestTravelDeals.com,” a domain named for keywords many internet shoppers might use while planning a vacation getaway. In the old days, that might be your first search result. But trust us, you wouldn’t find much reason to visit this site.

If you select the keyword “best travel deals” today, the first Search Engine Results Page (SERP) directs traffic to an ad for Kayak, trustworthy non-paid results including Expedia, Travel Zoo and Travelocity, and high quality articles from Forbes Magazine, Wall Street Journal and Kiplinger’s Magazine. Nowhere in at least the first two pages of results can BestTravelDeals.com be found.

Bottom Line

The final word on the subject is to avoid temptation. Don’t go out of your way to try to gain an unfair advantage with the use of an EMD domain name. Savvy web browsers will stay away and you might fall into the purview of the Google police.

However, if you have a company name, such as Cheapflights, don’t worry about it. Use the name as your domain just as any other dependable company might do. Just make sure you pack your site with content that’s rich, informative and interactive. That might get you at the top of SERPs organically while at the same time keeping your brand in the good graces of Google.

At Xplode Marketing, we’d love to work with you and your company to develop websites and content that will deliver results the right way.

About Brock Gratton

Brock Gratton is the nuts and bolts behind Xplode Marketing's development and marketing side.
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