Are Exact Match Domains Good For SEO?

By | August 25, 2019


Hello, this is John Locke, and today we’re
going to talk about exact match domains, partial match domains, and whether
they’re advantageous for you to use as your main domain name. So let’s dive
right into it. When choosing a domain name for your company website, most people are
going to default to their brand name. And that makes sense in most cases. Some
people have found that there is a little hack that works in certain cases: having
an exact match domain or a partial match domain. I want to explain really quick
what that is. So, an exact match domain would be when your
domain name is the exact match of the search phrase that you’re trying to rank
for. Let’s say that you’re trying to rank for “Atlanta HVAC”, and you buy the domain
name AtlantaHVAC.com. So that would be an exact match domain. It matches the search
exactly, the main search phrase that you’re trying to rank for. So, a
partial match domain, in the same way, it has part of the words that you’re trying
to match for in it. Let’s say if you’re a manufacturing company, you would have
“manufacturing” in the domain name. If you’re a web design company, you would have “web
design” in the domain name. If you’re a contractor, you would have “contracting” in the
domain name. Or, if you’re targeting a particular geography, like a city or a
region, you would have that city name in the domain name. But I want to point out, this
isn’t what I normally recommend. Here’s where it [exact match domains] works the most
effectively. So, when the business name and the actual domain name match up,
Google tends to look at them as one and the same. This is when an exact match
domain is going to be most effective for you. Here’s a couple examples that I
found really quick: “Cleveland auto repair [.net]”. “Charlotte plumbing [.com]”.
“Sacramento Web Design” — there’s a company out there that has that in their name.
These work because the company itself has made the business name what they
figure people are searching for online.
[The business name and main search query are the same]. There’s a few reasons why I don’t think
this is particularly the best SEO strategy, unless you’re targeting a very
specific geography. Google is moving towards something which is called the
Entity Graph. Before, they [Google] would use things like links, mentions of your
business on other websites, and public records as a way to
figure out what your business was about. But the Entity Graph — think of
it as Wikipedia, times a hundred, on steroids. That’s basically what the
goal for the Entity Graph is — to basically say, “Here’s all the businesses,
they are entities. How do they relate to the rest of the world? What are they
about? Who do they serve? What service do they provide? Who are the people
associated with them? How do they fit into their community, and the rest of the
world?” Because so many people in the past have gamed things like domain names, or
the anchor text in links, trying to rank for certain local terms — they are [Google] really
trying to emphasize brand building, which is what you should do anyway. Google is
basically trying to teach it’s [ranking] algorithm to think like a human. That’s what
machine learning is. You’re hearing a lot about that, like AI and machine learning.
Google is also implementing that. Their version of it is called RankBrain. So for
that reason, you should be trying to build a memorable brand. So if you want
to target a specific city, and you’re building a brand new business, and you
don’t feel like you’re going to expand to other cities — ever — and you want to put
the name of the city and the service that you provide as your company name…
then by all means go ahead [and use an exact match domain]. I wouldn’t do it personally. I think it’s good to have
a memorable brand name, because I think that’s where search overall is
going. And I think it’s a lot more memorable than having just a generic
(“city” plus “service name”) for your business name [and domain name]. That strategy might be able to game the search engines at least for now. In the future, I don’t believe that this [strategy] is going to be
as effective as it is right now. I think the best thing to do is pick a memorable
brand name, and try and build around that. But if you’re starting out, and you don’t feel like expanding ,and [you believe] that you’re going to stay in one city forever
and ever — yeah, you can leverage that too. Another thing that you could do with
exact match domains or partial match domains, is build a secondary site —
secondary to your main brand name. Maybe you’ll pull in a few dozen extra
people looking around each month on Google. You could do that as well. My
opinion is, having a memorable brand — a memorable brand name, is better than
trying to put your city and your service in your domain name. But that can work,
provided that the name of your business matches the domain name that you’re
choosing. My name is John Locke. My business is Lockedown Design and SEO. And
we help manufacturing and industrial companies with SEO, helping them get more
traffic through Google, so they get more RFQs. If you have an SEO question that
you’d like us to answer, go ahead and leave it in the comments below. We will
answer it out in a video for you in the future. Don’t forget to subscribe. Peace. [Outtakes: Well, there’s a few reasons really, so…]

2 thoughts on “Are Exact Match Domains Good For SEO?

  1. John Locke Post author

    Exact match domains and partial match domain names still have an effect on SEO, but less than in the past. It is better to pick a memorable brand name, and build word association around that brand name and your service. I would avoid using your city or region name in them domain name, unless you plan on never expanding beyond your city. This still works (for now) because Google thinks people are searching for the business name, when they are actually searching for the generic (city + service).

    Reply

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