Once touted as the holy grail of SEO, ranking an exact match domain could put you on the map to receive instant search rankings and increased traffic for your website.

ranking exact match domainsOften composed of highly competitive and costly keywords, exact match domains could help you get and keep an edge on the competition without much effort in terms of content.

Just the simple fact of an exact match domain containing keywords was enough to rocket a website to front page search rankings.

Hundreds and thousands of exact match domain websites popped up overnight and exact match domains were strongly commanding search rankings across major search engines.

Deceptive exact match domain ranking sniffed out

But like previous SEO advantages that were deceptively used to rank, Google launched an exact match domain update targeted to lessen the preference of exact match domains in comparison to non-keyword specific domains.

However, the EMD update, as often referred too nowadays, would not penalize the ranking of an exact match domain if the website met and adhered to sound SEO ranking factors as other websites per Google’s SEO Guidelines and Policy.

Good, bad or ugly: The endless exact match domain arguments?

In recent years, there is much good, bad and ugly conversation to be had about whether or not exact match domains still rank well in search engines.

There is the camp that says ranking an exact match domain has lost its step and way in search engines.

They consider exact match domains as archaic as dinosaurs and as ineffective as the US Postal service.

Others to argue and say exact match domains are still the greatest thing since sliced bread when used according to search engine SEO policies.

Regardless of which camp you belong too, I think it’s safe to say that owning an exact match domain still provides value and an advantage over a domain that does not contain keywords.

Today’s post, I’ll attempt to address some exact match domain concerns while giving insight to one of my latest exact match domain experiences.

Inside my very own exact match ranking experience

Although Google may have taken steps to diminish the ranking impact of exact match domains, sometimes referred to as keyword domains, this doesn’t mean that they are off the table completely in regards to achieving highly visible search rankings.

In my latest rendezvous, I wanted to see if I could personally get an exact match domain to rank well in search engines, more specifically Google.

I wanted to chronicle every step of the way, and gather the lessons learned regardless of the outcome.

However, before I continue, for the sake of maintaining of my ranking, I’m not going to reveal my exact match domain name as no good niche marketer wants competition knocking at their door.

Finding the perfect exact match domain

So on November 12th, I purchased a geo-specific exact match domain after searching and researching a few niches.

All I will say about the chosen niche is that is one that is seasonal, yet lucrative in terms of being well-paid to provide quality leads and referrals.

And just why did I settle on a geo-specific exact match domain?

The truth is that this geo-domain lacked competition and I felt that I could use sound, search-safe SEO tactics and techniques to rank the domain.

In addition, I settled on geo-specific based on the fact it was available for hand registration, and I wouldn’t have to buy it aftermarket or via a domain auction.

Developing a search-safe website

After making the domain purchase, I spent an entire day’s work of creating value-add content as well as developing a moderately optimized website to generate referrals and leads.

I used an inexpensive, yet classy website template that would provide an easy-to-read and navigate website, and to ensure the website’s code was near flawless as to not hinder SEO ranking.

In addition, I included a number and variety of interlinked articles as they related to the keywords used within the exact match domain.

I wrote content geared towards educating and engaging potential customers while highly optimizing page titles, page descriptions, header tags, images, keywords, links and etc.

Finally, a simple contact form for users to complete was created to capture user contact information.

I also included a popup modal to capture emails for building a newsletter list using MailChimp services.

Whoops, I forgot one last thing that was quite important: sitemaps and webmaster tools.

Although I was ready to launch the website, I also setup Google Webmaster Tools and Analytics accounts which helped to ensure the website would be indexed within hours and not weeks or months.

And with that, I launched the website on November 13th after working around the clock.

And the exact match domain results are in…

After launching the website, I never went back to touch it once nor did I really care too.

At this point, all the hard work had been put in and now it was just time to sit back and watch for results.

In less than 24 hours after launching the website, close to 11 hours to be more exact, I witnessed my exact match domain website fully indexed in Google and ranking page one and two for multiple keywords.

This was surprising seeing that we have yet to enter the prime season for this niche, and no I’m not speaking or giving any more detail on the niche.

However, your results will vary depending on whether or not you decide to use a geo or non-geo exact match domain, and based on how competitive your chosen niche is.

Other factors to consider that will determine exact match domain success or failure are the number of competing pages, keyword competition, and search volume.

These items as well as 180+ ranking factors will play a major role into whether not you will be able to rank as fast as I did.

I was even more surprised when on December 4th, less than 30 days after launching the website, I received my first legit leads.

Although this is the beginning of the season for this niche, seeing two (2) leads arrive was well worth the effort.

After all, the exact match domain is only a few weeks old as is the website content.

I plan on adding more content after a few more leads come to warrant such.

I’m very pleased with the outcome of using an exact match domain and I can’t wait to see how well the website does with the pass of time.

Personal insight when using exact match domains

I will go on the record to say that I personally don’t think that ranking an exact match domain is challenging or impossible.

In my opinion, I strongly believe that one must use sound, white-hat SEO principles for an exact match domain experience to be successful ranking in search engines and weathering SEO updates.

It’s not enough to own exact match domains, and created websites with low-quality content, whether scrapped or spun, and deceptive link building tactics.

Days of high ranking using deceptive SEO is over, and levels the playing field of organic search ranking rightfully so.

So before you or anyone else, including myself, positions ourselves to murmur about Google’s EMD update, let’s check ourselves and our motives for why we were using exact match domains in the first place.

It’s all about context and having the right perspective of when, how and why one should use an exact match domain to sustain search-safe rankings.

In closing, just like with any other thing in life, we’ll reap the greatest reward when we sow and use tools within their respective context.

What is your opinion on using exact match domains to rank in search engines? Are they still relevant?


Written by Alvin Brown
He's an experienced and passionate serial entrepreneur, founder and publisher of Kickstart Commerce. Alvin possesses a great love for startups dominating their market using profitable digital strategies for greater commerce.