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Chances are that when you created your website, you had a difficult time deciding on your domain name. With all of the sites out there on the Internet already, yet with so many options to choose from, it can be a challenge to understand precisely which domain name will help your business rank the highest it possibly can on Google.
Another common scenario can go a little something like this: a savvy tech guy emails you saying he’ll sell you an exact match domain for $500. I mean, why wouldn’t you want to snag a domain that features the exact keyword for the service your business offers? There’s no way that wouldn’t benefit your business, right?
Not so fast. Before you reply to that email with an enthusiastic and resounding “Yes,” you should take a step back and evaluate whether or not an exact match domain will actually help—or hurt—your business in the long run.
Common earlier in the millennium, EMDs were often seen as the ticket to shoot straight to the top of a search engine results page (SERP). However, it’s not as simple as it seems. Now that Google has changed its algorithm to rank webpages using more advanced criteria, purchasing an EMD may not be the best option for your business—and could even have the potential to bring down your rankings.
Why Don’t EMDs Help with Google Rankings?
First of all, think of all of the times you were trying to keep your kids occupied over the weekend and wanted to find a new movie or TV show for them to watch, but you hadn’t signed up for Hulu or Netflix yet. Maybe you searched for “free movies” on Google hoping that this would lead you to a reliable movie streaming service. As most of us have experienced firsthand, searches like this typically lead to a first page of Google full of spammy sites that you probably wouldn’t want to click:
Funny enough, Hulu doesn’t even show up until the second page of search results:
In terms of clicks, the first organic search result on the first page of Google receives almost 33% of overall search traffic. This means that the second page of Google doesn’t get many visitors—if any at all.
Now, you may be wondering, “Well, if an EMD gets me on the first page, isn’t it better than a branded domain name that only makes it to page two?” On one hand, this seems like a logical way to look at it; at least those spammy sites are making it to page one. On the other hand, those spammy sites are on the verge of using black hat SEO tactics in order to achieve that ranking, which is a strategy your business should avoid at all costs. Google will reward you for having a website full of pages that contain relevant and meaningful content, not for shelling out cash to get a lazy domain name.
Think of it this way—you might have perfectly good frosting, but if the cake isn’t any good, nobody is going to eat it. People would rather click a credible brand name than a generic search term riddled with spam. Plus, even if those black hat SEO tactics are working temporarily, Google will change its algorithm frequently enough to penalize users of those sneaky strategies later. Your business will be in a much better standing in the future if you stick to Google’s Search Quality Rating Guidelines.
How Can I Increase My Google Rankings Without Using an EMD?
The beautiful thing about Google is that they care about what’s on the inside more than they do about appearances; an exact match domain might look pretty at first glance, but it doesn’t have much to offer below the surface. In order to get your business on the first page of Google, you should be focusing on creating high quality content that has something to offer to your potential clients.
Using the example from earlier, let’s say a lead clicks on “www.dcairconditioninginstallation.com” and expects to see a brightly colored, informative page about air conditioning installation services in the DC metro area. Instead, they arrive on the homepage and find little to no content about air conditioning installation at all; it’s essentially a blank page with a short paragraph that uses the term “air conditioning installation” 16 times within four sentences. Do you really think they’re going to stick around and call for an estimate? I don’t think so—and neither does Google.
Even if you do decide to buy an EMD and don’t get punished for it immediately, there are other drawbacks to moving all of your content over to a new domain. Just like music fans get confused when a band releases an album under a different name, changing your website domain can confuse your potential leads and clients. In addition to keeping your current customers happy, optimizing and maintaining your existing website gives you the advantage of gaining domain authority. The longer your website is online and the greater number of valuable links it accumulates, the more domain age authority it will have over time.
So, back to your original question. Are exact match domains effective for SEO? No. Even though it might take you longer to see results from legitimate SEO tactics, it’s worth the investment. Your potential leads, clients, and customers are far more interested in learning useful information and getting quality service than they are in seeing how many keywords you can stuff into each paragraph. Ultimately, search engine optimization is about just that—optimizing your webpages to make them so valuable that search engines decide to put them first.
Let the Digital Marketing Experts Do the Work for You
Just because Google has an algorithm, that doesn’t mean they make it easy. You can’t depend on a basic formula to get your business in the number one spot on Google—it takes a lot of tracking, analyzing, and strategizing to make that happen. From mobile site speed to local SEO, there are countless components that can make or break your site’s chances to outrank your competition. Thankfully, that’s what we’re here for.
At Blue Corona, our job is to help businesses grow by making data-driven marketing decisions. Our marketing strategy is simple: TRACK > TEST > TWEAK > REPEAT. We believe in using SEO to make your site the authority in your industry—no EMDs or keyword stuffing needed.
If you’re ready to see real results for your business, and if you want to work with a team that genuinely cares about your success, contact Blue Corona today for a free website analysis.
About The Author: Hannah is the SEO Team Lead at Blue Corona. If she's not busy daydreaming about the training session for her team, you can find her improving client conversion rates and planning her next trip.
View more blogs by Hannah Nelson