Feature | Exact match domains

Google Update: Exact Match Domains

In 2012, Matt Cutts, Head of Google’s Webspam team, tweeted that Google’s algorithm has been changed again. Google introduced exact match domains.

Matt Cutts Tweet

What is the Exact Match Domains?

Google is trying to stop websites that use keywords with high search results in their domain names (exact match domains) but with poor quality content, from ranking highly in search results.

For example:

A website called www dot acnetreatments dot com (exact match domain) had low-quality content, was “spammy” and didn’t really offer acne treatments so is not very useful to people searching for acne treatments.  The latest change in the algorithm is trying to stop sites like this ranking highly in search results.

(Note:  this is an example for illustrative purposes and it is not my intention to single out this domain, should it exist, nor infer that it is poor quality)

Exact Match or Brandable Domain?

Until this latest change, there was some debate about whether to go the keyword Exact Match Domain (EMD) path or to go for a “brandable” domain. Those in favour of EMDs thought that having the popular keywords in the actual domain, would boost search rankings, which it could be argued was the case until this last algorithm change.

The other option is to have a “brandable” domain name.  If you think about some of the biggest names around – Google, Apple, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, these are all Brand domains.

The domain doesn’t contain the keyword – although ironically, in some ways these brands are now keywords. Given this recent algorithm change, the case is even stronger for brandable domains.  If you can find a domain with your brand name and keyword then that’s great but remember, shorter is generally better than longer, again showing a positive correlation in The Open Algorithm studies. Almost 18 months ago, Matt Cutts answered the question about EMDs and brandable domains.

How to get your brandable domain ranking well

Remember, Google is trying to serve up the most interesting, relevant, useful content to it’s users.  So give them what they want by adding fresh, original, sharable content to your website on a regular basis.

Make sure your website has the key elements in place following Google’s guidelines – Good Website Design, Technical Matters covered and Quality Content. Build your brand through good online marketing and PR and increase your online footprint by getting your brandable domain in multiple places like YouTube, Facebook, Google+ and other social networks.

Most importantly, produce and share useful content that is relevant to your customers so that they visit your site regularly and share your content widely. If you would like to learn how to own your space, I recommend you take a look at this excellent short course “Own the Racecourse” by James Schramko click here to visit this site (affiliate link).

This short course comprises 12 short modules with video and full transcription plus an invaluable checklist that you can use to implement what you learn.  In a lot of courses, you learn what to do but not how.  In “Own the Racecourse” you not only learn what but also how to create, publish and share relevant, useful content for your audience.


If you want to know more about how Google affects your website, book a call with me.


*Editor’s Note: This post has been updated on August 2020 for accuracy.

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