Exact Match Domains in SEO – does it still pay to use them?

What are EMD (Exact Match Domains)?

„An EMD is a domain name that precisely matches a search query that will likely drive traffic to your website. For instance, if you call your website BuyCheapJeansOnline.com.
The search query ‘buy cheap jeans’ is a lucrative search term, and if you call your website this then you might assume this is a short cut to the top of a search engine results page (SERP).
Source: What is an exact match domain (EMD) and how can you safely use one? | Search Engine Watch„.

Should you use them? Yes, you can still use them, but their value is declining, and you might want to consider going for a branded name in your domain.

Akshay Hallur – High level domains, https://flic.kr/p/md3Nxt

Rand Fishkin (here):
“I think Google is confusing mentions of your brand name with the keyword itself and thus you’re benefiting in their rankings/visibility. I’m not saying exact match anchor text/EMDs don’t work, just that it’s a conflation on Google’s part when they work in these sorts of fashions, not an intentional element of Google’s ranking goals.”

Mark Preston (here):

„… my personal belief that exact match domains or even partial match domains still work very well, but maybe for less competitive terms only …”
Dr. Peter J. Meyers (here):
Should You Buy an EMD?
That’s a bit tougher question. If you’re a brand with a unique name, then yes, absolutely, buy yourname. com, etc. If you’re simply using a domain for keyword value, then I think you have to be a little careful and consider your long-term game plan. If you over-rely on that EMD or PMD, you’re likely to pursue other spammy tactics and ultimately be disappointed as Google gradually lowers the volume. I don’t think buying an EMD carries a large amount of risk, but I’d considering your overall branding strategy. An EMD might be an SEO tactic, but it’s just one small factor of many – it’s not a strategy. You also have to weigh the costs and benefits – finding a short, unregistered .com is one thing – buy it and you can decide later how and if to use it.

Todd Malicoat (here):
Take my opinion on EMD’s with a grain of salt. No, I didn’t test my theories like Pete. This is just my experience. I have bought a fair share of them thinking they were a great buy for future projects, or just to invest in and sell in the aftermarket at a later date. We’ve been warned of the “death of EMD’s” for a long time. I just hope EMD’s continue to suffer the same type of death that SEO constantly battles with: one that is curable with creativity, innovation, and execution.

Graham Charlton (here):
EMDs: the stats

  • The canirank study mentioned earlier found the following:
  • Keyword domains rank on average 11% higher than branded domains.
  • Brand (non-EMD) domains needed an average of 40,000 more links to hit position one, and 35,000 more links to reach the Top 10.
  • Branded domains needed 69% higher Domain Authority and 22% higher Page Authority to rank in the Top 10.
  • Keyword domains were able to reach position one with half as much content, and only using the keyword half as frequently.
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