Is the Exact Match Domain Dead After the Recent Google Algorithm Updates?

There was a time when purchasing an exact match domain name guaranteed a top slot in search results. This, as a result, prompted many webmasters to register their website name based on their targeted keyword(s). However, Google recently unleashed changes and updates in its algorithm that have significantly impacted the way domain names are defined and detected. Anchor text and EMDs have been considered one of the best SEO practices till now. This latest tweak by Google has reduced the importance that EMDs or exact match domains have held for a long time on search engine results.

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Google’s EMD Update and the Fall of Short-Sighted SEOs 

What is an EMD?

A website address or URL that focuses on or comprises of keywords and not the brand or company name is called an EMD. These keywords match the search query or word precisely. For example, if you want to create a website targeting the keywords ‘top world attractions’, the EMD of the website will be topworldattractions.com.

An EMD is known to provide a boost to your website ranking in search engines, as the keyword features in the name of the domain itself.

The Recent Google Algorithm Update and Its Impact on EMDs

In late September this year, Matt Cutts, Google’s webspam head, announced in a tweet that a small algorithmic change in Google’s search engine in the future would bring down low-quality ‘exact-match’ domains in Google’s search results.

Shortly, many websites’ rankings were affected due to this update and all of these websites’ domain names comprised of keywords. However, Google maintains that this update is aimed at decreasing the number of exact match domains of low quality that come up in search results and are not necessarily EMD websites.

The focus of Google has shifted more towards organic search, which is an integral aspect of online marketing mix. Designed to improve Google’s search results quality, the intention behind this update is to provide more relevant and up-to-date results. The quality of a website is a subjective issue; however, there are some obvious signs such as excess usage of keyword and cookie-cutter design that indicate the worthlessness of a website. Another one of these is excessive backlinks that amount to spamming. It is such EMD websites that are the targets of this update.

What Should a Website Owner Do?

Assessing your website objectively is the key to determining its utility to users. If you feel that you would use your website even if it was not yours, chances are that the content is relevant and useful. However, if your website domain name is an EMD, you might want to purchase a new domain name and transfer data to your new website. Having an EMD might result in the washout of years of hard work, though it also gives you the opportunity of buying a new domain and starting afresh. Though starting afresh might sound tiring and repetitive, it would give the webmaster an opportunity to correct his past mistakes relating to SEO and put up things in a much professional manner.

Building links to your new website as you gradually phase out the one on an EMD is the next step in the process. Introduce your new website to users and focus on building a better brand through it.

However, exact match domains still come with plenty of benefits for website owners. They help attract social mentions with keywords as well as keyword anchor text. Moreover, EMDs also help in the marketing and branding of a website. As quality is a subjective issue, if the content and information provided on a website is useful for the end user, a website may not be drastically affected by the latest Google Algorithm update.

Have you seen any search result changes for EMDs?

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Written By Jennifer Dunbarton

This article was created by Jennifer Dunbarton, at Octopus-ims. Jennifer enjoys blogging about SEO, Social Media and promoting Sussex internet marketing. She can be found here on twitter.

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7 thoughts on “Is the Exact Match Domain Dead After the Recent Google Algorithm Updates?
  1. avatarAlex Rascanu

    Good post, Jennifer. Google is aiming to decrease the rankings of low quality sites, but if your site has good quality content on it (even if it has an EMD) I would not register a new domain name and move the content over. EDMs with quality content on them still rank very well.


  2. avatarLex

    @Alex No, they don’t! Top quality content got obliterated just as much as low quality. Google cannot detect quality content, why does no-one actually get this? The EMD update was a blunt instrument that did much collateral damage.


  3. avatarpandaa

    Very nice post, I’ve been wondering this for a while and you answered a lot of my questions. I don’t think they’ll entirely discredit EMD’s, but I do think they will be matched down a little bit. It’s just proving to me that what everyone has been saying is starting to become more true; content is king.


  4. avatartikoun

    Thank you Jenifer for this post. I have to say that I am currently unsure about what Google is trying to achieve with its latest big update.

    I think that an EMD may become suspicious if the majority of the backlinks coming to the site contain the keyword making the EMD domain. Because, I don’t know how Google would detect that an EMD domain is actually an EMD domain unless the website owner is actively building links with an anchor text that is close to the EMD but is not the EMD itself (ex: grow organic food vs groworganicfood.com). If the anchor text is exactly the domain name, it may perhaps look like the person is building a brand.

    Another element that could show that a webmaster is trying to trick Google is if the domain name picked is an EMD for a keyword that already represent a considerable amount of searches.

    Please let me know what you think.


  5. avatarvida_llevares

    I am now shifting my target from the exact match. I don’t think it will guarantee a high ranking in search engines.


  6. avatarAlen MJ

    Exact match is still working.. Only thing that you have to do is – Keep standards. There are lots of companies that use EMDs get better organic results..


  7. avatarAbhinav

    We can see lot of comments like “content is king”, need to book a new domain etc. is there any proof. i mean anybody successesed in these activities for defeating EMD.



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