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The idea that exact-match keyword domain names can be a significant ranking factor is not new. But, for me at least, the significance has always been hard to confirm for a few simple reasons.

First, it's not every day that I acquire an exact-match keyword domain for a popular search phrase. Second, I've never launched a new site on an exact-match keyword domain with the specific goal of seeing what the domain can do on its own. That makes it nearly impossible to isolate the ranking factors that are likely contributing the most to results.

But I now have a little 'case study' to go on and I wanted to share the results.

The setup:

  • Thanks to the economy, lots of great domain names are being dropped. A few months ago I managed to pick up a gem: an exact-match .com domain, originally registered over five years ago, for a fairly competitive three-word phrase that receives over 20,000 Google searches globally each month.
  • I developed the domain by building a simple WordPress-based website/blog. Some decent if not spectacular content was added. I heeded basic SEO rules for content structure, etc. but didn't go out of my way to optimize.
  • Once I launched the site, I registered the site with Google Webmaster Tools and submitted an XML sitemap.
  • In an effort to see what the domain name would do all by itself, I held off on all of the tasks I'd normally get started on right away, namely link building.

In short, I began with very little. A basic site with a moderate amount of decent content. Nothing that would differentiate me favorably from competing websites that have been in operation for years. 0 inbound links. A domain without much age.

Less than a week later, the result: I'm on the first page of Google for the three-word phrase that my domain is an exact match for. I've even leapfrogged a number of highly-popular sites that have been around for years. Every single visitor my site has received thus far has been sent by an organic search result for the three-word, exact-match phrase.

The logical conclusion: there's absolutely no reason for me to be on the first page of Google's results for a reasonably popular search phrase. Except for the fact that my .com domain name is that phrase.

Obviously I still have a lot of work to do. First-page SERPs often mean very little; the real money is usually in having a "top 3" listing. Which means that I will have to build inbound links, continue developing content, etc.

But this experience has convinced me that exact-match keyword domains can be very powerful. While I certainly wouldn't assume that the results achieved with a single domain reflect what can always be achieved with every keyword or phrase, I think my recent experience is compelling enough to warrant consideration.

Patricio Robles

Published 24 September, 2009 by Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles is a tech reporter at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

2378 more posts from this author

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Vincent Roman

I would agree with your likely conclusions.  I have seen the exact same myself.  I was able to pick up the domain applemactutorials.com and within a very short period I had leap frogged onto the front page of google, second only to apple.com.

Other than putting a tiny amount of content onto the site, the domain picks up traffic from the sundry results in google the content posted returns and certainly wont needs as much effort in the long run in comparison to other tech article sites I have launched for the Mac.

As you say front page results aren't the be all and end all. and although I have other well picked keyword matching domains, they do not automatically generate the kind of traffic you would expect.  Mainly because of the competitive market place online in which they sit.

Keyword dominant URLs are definitely a major plus factor and shouldn't be ignored.  It's one of the recommendations I make to clients whose site is pretty much dead.

almost 7 years ago

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rauhbautz

totally agree! I've 5 sites that match 3 word keyword phrases and most of them are on the 1st page of Google SERP. Although I have noticed that after some period of time, most of the sites go down.

I also use WP + SEO plugin + XML sitemaps (it submits it other SE)

Anyway, thanx for sharing!

almost 7 years ago

Rishi Lakhani

Rishi Lakhani, Search Strategist at Independent Consultant

Its not surprising to see this to be honest. The speed of indexing however is because you chose Wordpress which for some reason google crawls quicker...

almost 7 years ago

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Jason Merry

I have the URL of my name and have had for 10 years now.

It was only at the end of last year that I finally got some hosting for it and put some content on it.

There is only one page and all the content is hand coded.

low and behold I seemed to instantly get tot he top of Google SERP.

I have only one page and no inbound links. I add or edit the page about once every 3 months and I still top after 10 months.

Previous to this the only references to me directly were in a few news articles I was mentioned in or becouse of my surname any search would be something like "Thanks Jason. Merry Christmas."

Keywords in Domain names over in URL are definately worth it.

almost 7 years ago

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Phill Midwinter

I don't understand how this works as a controlled experiment. It's another anecdote without referral to any data.

almost 7 years ago

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Kruse Internet Services

I think this is one of those things that's going to come and go. I've been hearing about it for a while now but put it down to some transient state in the algo that will have moved on before anyone can achieve anything significant with it. It is interesting but that's about all.

BB

almost 7 years ago

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Martijn

I couldn't agree more. I have 10 sites running on 2 keyword-url's. They are all on first page, usually within 3 weeks. 4 of them already have top 3 ranking.

almost 7 years ago

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Chris Bantock, Managing Director at BeSeen Marketing Ltd

As you say this is nothing new and something I have believed in for a long time but it is always good to receive new anecdotal evidence. The fact your using Wordpress also helps.

The real trick is finding the right domains!

almost 7 years ago

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Martijn

Bytheway: the theme of the sites is exactly the same, the keywords are within that same theme and almost identical. So yes Phill, this experiment is serious...

almost 7 years ago

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Link building

An efective seo content writer has got to be aware of how to use keyword-rich contents. You should be aware that there is no "standard" blog approach and that what really counts is how effective you are at communicating to your selected audiences the messages or news you want to get across.

 Links are very important becasue Search engines view links as votes for a site and the higher the quantity and quality of links your site has, the better your chances of ranking for related keywords in the search results.

almost 7 years ago

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Dale Buckey

I think you are on the right track using exact match keyword domains. Please visit OrganicKeywordDomains.com for a list of over 1500, 2-3 word generic domains in 17 developing categories. @ Vincent Roman- be mindful of trademark complications. Using the words Apple and Mac in your domain name may not last long term.  And Rishi Lakhini is correct.  Google will index Wordpress blog sites quickly

almost 7 years ago

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Jack, Available Domains

You are right! The exact match keyword domains in the popular domain extensions are good for getting higher SERPs. If the domains have age then even better.

almost 7 years ago

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Larry Melton

I own a wholesale sign company.  We have many capabilties and I want

to get a new webpage coming up on Google searches.  My capital is low

but I am aggressive and can offer many high quality sign products

to commercial retail customers at almost wholesale pricing......anywhere

in the USA. I have a good computer man to help me.....any ideas on

the most effective way to do this with a low-budget.  There is a website bringing

in hundreds of hits per day...how can I get a webpage up high that will be right

there with this one.

almost 7 years ago

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Todd Allison

I really don't understand how Google hasn't devalued this yet.  I find this to be the biggest factor limiting relevancy in search results.

I don't think this should be completely eliminated as one of the 200 or so ranking factors, just that the importance should be cut significantly.

almost 7 years ago

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Adam Downey

Did you separate the words by hyphens?

almost 7 years ago

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GF

I agree.  have had the same experience, on a major keyword.

For over 5 years I am competing on a major search term, with a website of over 4000 pages, 8000 forum messages, many articles, many inbound links. I am located 4th on the first page.

Than one day I aquired the domain with the exact match (only not a .com domain).  I opened a new website using that domain name, and made no links.  Withing 1 week after registering in DMOZ my website entered the first page results.

Exactly a years later- it jumped to the second position and is there untill now, stably.  No links ! Just content, and not that many content (around 100 pages in total, each page is a simple article).

I have no doubt at all that the domain name is the reason. And that links are for kids.  You leave your website as it is and exactly one year later you will see it coming to be first.

I have dont this with another keyword in another country, and the result was similar (4th position, but the website is hosted on another continent, which might be the reason why it is not 1st).

almost 7 years ago

Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles, Tech Reporter at Econsultancy

Adam,

Nope. No hyphens.

almost 7 years ago

Geno Prussakov

Geno Prussakov, Founder at AM Navigator LLC

I've actually experimented with a domain (in a highly competitive niche; over 31 million Google results) that's a 3-word one WITH hyphens, and 1 year later, here's what I see:

Google - not in the top 100

Yahoo! - #3

Bing - #8

AOL - not in the top 100

AltaVista - #3

AllTheWeb - #3

Conclusion: if you're targeting Google, you better look for a non-hyphenated domain name.

almost 7 years ago

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Larry Melton

Question: Do these .......it sounds like highly effective....... exact-match keyword domain names have to be THREE WORDS and the .com? or what else could they be to maintain the most effectiveness.

almost 7 years ago

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Larry Melton

What about separating the words in the domain name with

a period or a /?

almost 7 years ago

Geno Prussakov

Geno Prussakov, Founder at AM Navigator LLC

Larry, sounds like you're talking about subdomains and subdirectories. It is definitely important to use the right keywords in these, but I personally have no data that would compare the effectiveness of domains vs subdomains (i.e. YourKeyword.com vs Your.Keyword.com). I wonder if anyone else has experience with these.

almost 7 years ago

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webmarketing

This is good blog. In my opinion interactive thinking needs to be at the heart of all marketing strategy and interactive channels at the heart of all marketing delivery.Online Marketing leads the way, and the marketing dollars don't lie! The internet, as a marketing medium, now ranks ahead of TV, Radio and Print as the preferred marketing method for businesses, brands and organisations .

almost 7 years ago

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Dora

Need suggestion to bring the keyword to first. I tried a lot.

almost 7 years ago

Vincent Amari

Vincent Amari, Online Consultancy at Business Foresights Ltd

IMHO, the SE algorithms are influenced by the relevance ratings for the keywords within each of these in the following order of priority:

-Domain name
- Full URL
- Page title
- Within the page content
- Links from other sites that also have the same keywords
- Links from other sites, especially authority sites (i.e. sites that receive a lot of traffic.

almost 7 years ago

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Jason

The notion that page one can be obtained without links would be startling if true.  Can exact match keyword domains be that powerful?

almost 7 years ago

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Eur

I don't think there is data to prove this

almost 7 years ago

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Eur

I don't think there is data to prove this

almost 7 years ago

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Aaron

Exact match domains are extremly powerful with ranking. I dont know why it would surprise anybody. Why shouldnt Google trust a domain that associates with the exact match of a searchers qurey? You would be pretty stupid to waste a great domain name by uploading an irrelevant site and content.

Just think of any generic multiple worded domain name as its own brand. Google is putting more emphasis on brand names today than it ever has before. E.g. If someone does a search for "cocacola", Google will presume the company that owns that brand will be able to provide the searcher with the best quality content they are searching for, therefor ranking them accordingly.

Todd - I dont agree with you at all. Why should they devalue exact match domains? If anything, I would think they would and should increase the power of exact match URLs in the future. A company shouldnt be on the same level playing field as their competitors when trying to rank for their own brand name. This would be chaotic and de value the search results. Obviously you dont own a valuble exact match domain and neither do I unfortunantly. I just wish I could go back in time with a million dollars and buy as many of those domains as i could. Best investment anybody could have made.

almost 7 years ago

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Make Money on Internet

Your post is indeed very informative. These days not only amateur webmasters are doing internet marketing but also young grad students are promoting their less professional sites as their practice and projects. Articles on starting an internet marketing business are available on the internet easily

almost 7 years ago

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Rich

Aaron, I totally agree with your post - we currently have around 12,000 live domains targetting the travel sector. All our domain names contain exact match, long-ish tail search terms, and although they don't bring in a huge amount of traffic in their own right, the critical mass of monthly unique visitors is in the millions.

I also agree that these sites do drop away after Google's initial push, and a certain amount of linkbuilding is required (although a lot less than a non-keyword domain) to keep it near the top of the tree.

I do have a slightly off-topic question here though, and this is something i've been pondering for a while. Whilst we are offering users a service that is relevent to their search query (ie a certain star rated hotel in a certain city), i've often wonderered whether the scale we're doing it on maybe considered spam. For example, any user could probably find what they're looking for, in any city, by just going on a site like hotels.com and searching from within.

I still don't see how Google can penalise smaller, 2 or 3 page sites with an exact match domain, if they are providing a service to the users of the web (and perhaps even more relevent results than a huge site like hotels.com that will require further navigation)

This is where it gets tricky. We'd like to look at our stats in greater detail using some form of web analytics. I'd like your advice as to whether you think creating a google account with 12,000 domains, each with the same tracking script (to monitor combind traffic), would be a red flag to google, and even if it was flagged, is there anything they could do about it anyway, given that we are giving the users exactly what they are searching for?

Thanks,

Rich

over 6 years ago

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Aaron

Rich - ill give you my opinion. I have also pondered about the same thing because I also have a large portfolio of 2 and 3 word exact match domains that im developing. I came to the conclusion that Google already knows that I own each one of my domains due to the fact that they are all registered under my name and business. Google is granted full access to this info by the registeries. So putting all your domains on one google account wont make red flags fly.

If your websites give value to the visitor and follow whitehat methods then you will have no problems at all. Your method would definitely not be considered spam either. Remember that Google ranks web pages not websites. Doesnt matter if each page is on a seperate domain, just as long as their is visitor value on the page. Your simply being an authority in your niche using thousands of mini sites, while the big boy, Hotels.com is also an authority in your niche using common method of authority by size. Your method may take a huge amount of management and domain reg costs but its the only way you could ever give Hotels.com any competition. Taking advantage of the exact match brand bonus that Google gives.

Obviously you use an awesome mass domain CMS. Could you tell me what you use? if so, do you have a massive network linking structure between your domains? Would look like an internal linking structure of a common wordpress blog. This would make your domain network appear as one huge authority site. Spreading link juice and huge amounts of anchor text across all your domains while taking advantage of the exact match bonus. Wow, hotels.com would be in trouble then.

Be good to hear back from you if you ever read this article again.

over 6 years ago

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Rich

Hi Aaron,

We've developed our own CMS to manage each domain, and each site is automated and set up in a matter of minutes. We haven't linked them together though, again, for fear of being classed as spam. we're trying to treat each site as a total individual. I'd like to play around with a bit of internal linking though to see what kind of results we get. How would you suggest going about doing this? Each site is only 2-3 pages in size, and the content is entirely built around the keyword in the domain, so i'm unsure if internal linking with different anchor text will be enough to help us rank for extra terms.

what does the linking structure of a wordpress blog look like? donm;t quite undertand that.

thanks for any help

over 6 years ago

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patrick cowan

I bought a keyword .ca and built a simple word press site, content was not that relevant to the name but instantly showed up #5 on Google page one under that search term,added some good keywords and lo and behold jumped to #1 position displacing a billion dollar company that had totally relevant content, this site was an investment site but we only had news feeds from clean energy(solar ect.) sites. the power of generic keyword domains is real,and probably the fastest way to a high Google rank.

over 6 years ago

Vincent Amari

Vincent Amari, Online Consultancy at Business Foresights Ltd

@Rich You could use Wordpress MU version, although the same features are about to be merged into Wordpress version 3.0 due to be released in March this year. For best effect you'd chose the option to create each blog onto a subdomain of it's own. The setup for each would take less than 1 minute, and all of them can be managed through the single admin interface. Hope that helps

over 6 years ago

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Joel Turner

How do spaces figure in to exact match domains?

If I put the domain name in without spaces I am the first on Goodle.

If I put the exact phrase in with spaces between words I am not in the top 100.

any ideas other than basic SEO.

Thanks

over 6 years ago

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Lead Generation Philippines

I totally agree with you. Having the exact match of keyword and domain increases the traffic on your site. Link building may be a lot of work but it pays a lot in the end. Exact match domains are powerful tools in increasing your rank in search engines like Google.

over 6 years ago

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seminar projects

hey dude

Great stuff! i got a lot of inspiration from this post

i went through this page four times

it is very interesting ....

am learning for social work 

Thanks

over 6 years ago

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andrew

hay i have a question i just bought a keyword domain to use for and affiliate program, and my question is can i just forward the domain to the affiliate link or should a build a little website for it and have some kind of text link to the affiliate.  if you could help me out it would great Thank You

over 6 years ago

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Ponara Eng

If you have an exact match subdirectory with a strong root domain (age, inbound links, high PR, etc) you may be in better position than a new exact match keyword domain in my opinion. There are alot of hurdles to jump to rank and while its quite easy for low search interest exact match terms, I doubt Google gives it the same kind of influence when you move over to more competitive phrases. Trip Advisor ranks well for Cheap Flights to New York and I doubt the currently undeveloped newyorkcheapflight.com (over half a million exact word searches/month) could just knock them off their pedestal with a few content pages and inbound links. Finding easy success with low search volume exact matches doesn't necessarily scale to the big leagues, nor should it.

about 6 years ago

Ranvijay  Singh

Ranvijay Singh, CEO & Founder at Vcope India Pvt. Ltd.

Exact match keyword domains really have a better page results with little seo works. There are several of domain performing well. But I must say the keywords which are mostly searched and available as domain costs much. This shows how great it is to have a keyword related domain.

about 6 years ago

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Art

I got on a first page of very competitive term with about 1,000,000 searches a month on google in 9 days with exact match two word.com (profession) domain and relevant content (about dozen articles)hosted on word press. Domain was 10 years of age, but thats about it. This is fastest ranking i have ever done for a domain. I am expecting 3-6 month to hit #1 spot. Will see.

almost 6 years ago

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Telemarketing Companies

Interesting post! I guess the battle now starts with coming up with the best domain and being the first to register it.

almost 6 years ago

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Manchester Jewellers

Hi everyone,

I have recently seen my site in a few weeks come up on the first page of google on the exact keyword search.  started getting into seo and themed back linking very early stages but was interested in Exact match domains.  Its is very true people are dropping some real stunners.  I bought 2 .com exact match keyword domains that yield 670 thousand global monthly searches in the google keyword tool.  Just wanted to get peoples view on this number and if they are potential winners.

Regards

William

over 5 years ago

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James Whitrow

Thanks for sharing.  I have always had great success with sites that have exact keyword matches in the domain name. It really does seem to be a massive boost in the right direction. Definately worth it.

over 5 years ago

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Mr.Ven

This is a great information with example, i think its tough to get exact keywords as domain name. But if we find some then its great !

Thanks.

over 5 years ago

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Jamie

i have a . net exact keyword match not even two weeks #1 bing and yahoo 2nd page google yahoo counted my 2 links google didnt sstraight too the top with exact keyword and good content lmfao

over 5 years ago

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Mellia

I agree with the keyword rich domain name, but after certain time, a page with no keyword rich domain name can easily take over the one that has it. It definitely helps to have the keyword as the domain name with no hyphens but its not the be alls and end alls of ranking number 1 or first page. It definitely pushes you to the first page but the rest of it, making that domain hit number one really requires backlinking and keyword rich content on the site. Thanks for this interesting article!

over 5 years ago

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Marc Callec

I think today, 2 years after this article was written that EMD's are even more important to Google.

almost 5 years ago

Robin Moore

Robin Moore, Head of Consultancy at Coast Digital

Hi. I'd be interested to know how people are finding exact match domains now? I was running a couple of thin domains on exact match - they got killed by Panda so the content will need fattening up. But on a site where I have more content the above 2009 situation is still holding true - the only major difference being the sites that surround mine are now brand sites not other content/affiliate sites.

It seems to me there is only room for one or two non-brand sites on page-1 of SERPs... anyone else seen this to be the case?

over 4 years ago

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