There are a lot of people online right now, claiming that exact match domains are no longer effective in getting listed high in the search engines.
Is This Really The Case For Exact Match Domains?
From what we have seen this statement could not be further from the truth there have been changes to the way these domains are indexed but not in the way you may think.
We can honestly say that it is definitely not because of the domain name.
Initially when Penguin was released many of these domains did get hit which is what brought about all the posts and articles saying that they were no longer effective.
Once the dust had settled and everyone including me started to get more of a bigger picture about what was happening it was clear that these sites were simply being penalized for over optimizing.
Why Did Some Exact Match Domains Get Penalized?
As with nearly everyone online that knew something about SEO they were doing it all wrong, using every technique that some months back was acceptable but now a huge “Red Flag”.
Having an exact match domain made it even worse simply because every aspect of on-page and off-page optimization was being used to target their primary keyword which also happened to be their domain. This included their primary keyword with-in internal links as well as using bold text, italics and underlining in their site content.
In some cases multiple title tags were used, the primary keyword used in every instance of H1, H2, H3 tags and again in the meta tags of the site and on each and every page. Especially if you were repeating those primary keywords in your Meta keyword tags and site title.
As a result of this those sites then started to receive penalties depending on the extent of the over optimization.
I would also like to add that many of these exact match domains were not offering very much quality content, some were of course, but many were created simply to promote a product or service which resulted in a very low quality score unless they had built additional content around the product or service to increase the user experience and social influence of the site.
As far as Google is concerned with these sites it looks to them that they are trying to game the system and increase their listings through what is now associated with Black Hat tactics.
Did Any Survive The Penalties
As with just about every site currently online some were hit and others have seen no change or have seen an increase, this is the same for the exact match domains. Those that have done very little to no optimization and have added value to their site through quality content that is shared and linked to from other sites in a natural way saw no change and some saw massive improvements in their listing.
Many of the sites that have been penalized either by Panda or Penguin had one thing in common, and this is not me making this judgement but Google, they were all low quality and presented no real value to the user.
I have seen the keyword in my domains stop bringing in traffic over the last couple of months which leads me to the conclusion that exact match domains do not work anymore. But the fact that they ever worked didn’t make any sense.
You might want to take a look at the on-page optimization for your site as well as the links you have coming into your site. The only reason you will see a drop in traffic is either the niche you are in is not ever green meaning it is popular all the time or you have received some some form of penalty.
Are you updating your content regularly and do you have any social influence which are all part of your sites quality score.
Matt Makes Websites says
I agree. I started a blog late last year and just focused on creating the best content possible. Every time there’s an algorithm update my rankings get better. It’s brutal for people who played the optimization game (because you had to for so many years) but now you can focus on your content more.
People have based their whole career around doing SEO for clients and for many it has resulted in a bad experience for all concerned. Writing for the the reader rather than the the search engines is a really great concept however the severity of the penalties that many have suffered was really not called for in my opinion.
Exact match domains are website addresses that contain an exact match of a search keyword or a keyphrase, for example ‘plumbinginlondon.com’. It’s well accepted that keyword specific domain names automatically have a higher chance of being on the first page of Google. There is concern about whether these domains are still effective for SEO purposes. Some people would argue that there is a complete loss of brand identity and it becomes harder to gain trust, while others say that the increased chance of ranking highly in the search engines is worth it.
Thanks for this wonderful insight into this topic. Every Google update has its pros and cons. But with Penguin, it has come really hard upon many of us.
This is a wonderful insight on the much talked topic of these days- the Penguin Update. Google do a lot of things which are in the interest of the bloggers, but with updates such as Penguin, nobody knows what Google is up to.
I believe that there is some degree of dilution for exact match domains. It is definitely not as strong as it used to be but the issue of over optimization is not to be overlooked. Anyone who had purchased an exact match domain was definitely aiming for some serious optimization and this might have resulted in a penalty
candice michelle says
With the way people are connecting to the internet nowadays, phones and all those crazy gadgets and devices, most people will no longer key in the domain in the address bar.
Andy Brown says
Hi Ron, My site got penalized by panda when the update was released. From then on I avoid using black /grey hat tactics, as they show short-term success. What i do nowadays is write top quality content, and then use guest posting, article directories to promote my site and gain reputation.
Its a long term strategy, which takes time to see effective results – but my site will remain on top on the next Google update.
I understand where you are coming from, this site was also smashed by Panda as there were heaps of old links I was not aware of as well as the links that I also built. I purchased this domain name from another marketer and even though the tactics he used where acceptable back in 2007-2008 that is no longer so.
I would also suggest to anyone that is looking to build authority with-in a niche to consider using high quality content to get links back to a site this is the safest way and will also make you look like the authority. If you are considering using any services to build links then you really need to understand that with those services can come very harsh penalties from Google.
Quality content will always attract links followed by requests for guest posts, again allowing you to get more quality links. As you have said Andy this is a long term strategy but it is the most effective strategy if you have long term goals of success online.
Andy can I ask whether or not your site has recovered from the penalty? If so would you like to share what you did to turn everything around.
Hi, Ron! Google made it official that having an exact match domain won’t facilitate higher rankins. However, I know a few businesses with exact match domain that haven’t been penalized in SERP, probably just like you said, because they were good optimized. I’ll download more tutorials about this matter.
I have nothing to back this up but, what I believe is happening there is that these sites have a good user experience such as time on site and social influence which is why they have seen no decline or changes in the serps.
Will Martin says
I am completely agree with you over optimize sites are being effected.