Let us quickly understand what does “exact match domain” (EMD) means. Before we jump into its background and relevance in 2020 and beyond, EMD is a URL consisting of the keyword or combination of keywords. In layman language, the domain name of a website, you are planning to optimize the exact keywords used for optimization. For example, if one has a domain name ww.besthairdresserinnewyork.com it instantly tells the visitor that this site is about hairdressers in New York City and will help them in finding hair styling related services and products. You don’t even have to open the website to know the content, and hence exact match domain remains a popular factor for SEOs and better website ranking. This type of domain is also called” keyword domain”.
Because the exact match domain offers the quickest way of optimizing a website by including all keywords within the domain. Having an exact match domain guaranteed your way to rank at the top in no time. It was super effective and easy, which meant people started abusing it. There were sites with no relevant content ranking well because of the keyword domains. In September 2012, Google decided to reduce the weightage of the exact match domain on website ranking and made an EMD update. This was a turning point, and since then, the exact match domain has seen a decline. This helped in controlling the spamming of websites in an already rapidly growing world of web.
After making an update in 2012 and reducing the weightage of EMD in the website ranking system. In 2016, Google also went after spam sites that used the keyword domain and implemented severe penalties. This meant that the low-quality exact match domain sites were not reflecting in the search results which killed their whole purpose of existence.
Around this time a new market came into existence which is known as domain name selling. Many players in this area bought important domain names and sold it at higher rates. Companies like 123 Reg and Go Daddy continue this trend as they offer the open marketplace where one can buy, sell domain names. Just like Amazon offers a marketplace of almost everything in the retail business for both sellers and buyers.
The relevance of exact match domain in 2020
Although the significance of the exact match domain websites has gone down over a period of time, it’s still relevant in 2020 and beyond. You need to be careful enough and use it judicially after doing proper research and using a keyword instead of an exact match domain which may have chances of getting penalized. Try doing a simple search on different types of industries, and you will see Google gives good ranking to websites.
Having an exact match domain is certainly not a crime, there is still scope for EMDs in 2020 and beyond. The key, as I mentioned above, is to do proper research while building a website, including the different aspects of SEO that can certainly help. In some cases, instead of getting penalized, you may end up getting benefits out of it. Such chances are very few and realistically having exact match domains will be tricky and make it susceptible to future penalties from Google. It also impacts the overall website management in the longer run. One example is of developing landing pages on your website. Let’s say you have a website bookaflight.com, The landing page for this could be bookaflight.com/bookaflight.com. See you have fallen into the trap of SEO fixing cycle. The keyword and domain name have become a mess. So there are almost no chances of this ranking at the top. Besides, you will end up wasting time and resources on pushing more than needed SEO for your website, which might be counterproductive.
Conclusion: It’s not too late to change and plan better.
If you already have an exact match domain, it’s still not too late to go for a change. There have been few examples where existing brands changed their domain name and were able to regain the ranking within weeks. A major chunk of the SEO you hold within your website will still be there. Studies have shown that 301 redirect also achieves up to 90-95% success if you plan to go for a new URL which redirects users to your existing URL. This, however, needs to be done with utmost care.
Instead of going for EMDs, Partial match domain names can be more effective for a certain niche. These use half keywords and can help in getting traffic from different genres of websites with common keywords.
Focusing on your brand and other key factors, it will certainly help in achieving the best SEO results. SEO remains an interesting and challenging field and will remain so. Whenever you have a concern, don’t hesitate to seek professional help from a reputed SEO company.