An Exact Match Domain (EMD) is a domain name that uses keyword or keyword combinations with the intent of optimizing the site for search engines. For many years, exact match domains were popular as people believed they would help their websites ascend the search engine rankings faster. Though this may have been true in the past, but keyword rich domains lost most of their mojo. Read on to learn how and when.
Many low-quality sites caught onto the idea of EMDs as a way to achieve high rankings with minimal efforts. They found themselves soaring above high-quality sites in search engine rankings due to their domain name alone. They began stuffing their domain names with keywords and hyphens, even sometimes creating troublesome URLs that did not point users in the direction they intended to go. Other legitimate websites cried foul on these sites that achieved top rankings by shoehorning a few keywords into their domain name. Google’s EMD algorithm fixed that.
In an effort to remedy this situation, Google introduced a 2012 algorithm update to reduce the number of spammy EMDs in search results. The update leveled the playing field by downgrading the importance of keyword-packed domain names in Google’s stratification process.
Now, to rank on search engines, websites have to earn their place through quality content, trusted backlinks, easy-to-navigate design, and other best practices. And those still using exact match domains are running into problems with credibility. It is often problematic because when a URL matches a search term exactly, it is considered to be a sign of a spammy website.
The trend now is toward long-term online business development. A key part of this is creating a brandable domain name. Gone are the days of benefiting from trumped-up EMDs. Search engines now reward brand-style domain names with higher rankings. If you’re contemplating your domain name, aim for catchy, memorable options that will appeal to customers as well as to the latest and greatest Google algorithms.