Are Exact Match Domains (EMDs) good for SEO or not
Long gone are the days when people used to find their ways on roads by asking others. And long forgotten are the moments when people had to go to a place to shop. It is not so that these things aren’t happening now, but life has become simpler with the Internet. The world we knew isn’t the same anymore and to which it will change in the coming years, will not be like it is now. All this is because of the ever changing speed of the transformation happening in the ways we do things. The world as a whole is now online.
In this rapid transformation, no one likes to remain behind. People along with their interests, their beliefs, their feelings and most importantly their businessesare going online and digital. To bring people in the Internet loop, Google and other search engines provided the needed boost. These search engines work through a series of processes carried out by algorithms or programs which list the pages or sites on the internet and display them according to their ranks. When we type a keyword in the Google search box, Google display results generated by its algorithm. Now the human tendency is that we look at the results displayed on the first page and rarely do we go further to other pages. To be at the top on the first page, websites and webpages need to have certain features and maintain certain threshold standards. This whole process of optimizing search results is called Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and the factors or parameters for optimizing can broadly be:
o Technical aspects of the website like Meta tags etc.
o Content on the website
o Relevance of content
o Click Through Rate
o Domain Name etc.
All the parameters are important in deciding the page rank of a website and search engines like Google optimize search results by weighing a website on all the possible parameters. We will focus here on Domain Names and that to Exact Match Domains (EMDs).
A domain name is the address of a website or webpage for example; www.anyname.com. Now a domain name can be anything from the name of your company to the services it offers, from the brand image of your products to something you believe in. Defining a domain name considering the SEO process and the parameters affecting the rank in search results, a domain name can exactly be same as the keyword used for search. These types for domain names which are the same as the keywords typed for searching them are called Exact Match Domains (EMDs). This can be one’s whole search engine optimization strategy.
- Till now people have preferred EMDs or the domains having keywords more than other domains.
- It is believed that there is an added advantage in SEO process for EMDs.
- Data from various researches show that the correlation between the EMDs and SEO ranks has decreased in the last few years.
- EMDs have better CTRs than generic domain name sites, data suggest.
Advantages of an EMD
- Having a keyword in the domain name or having an exact match will lead the customer to the exact place which he wanted.
- Having one of the ranking parameters in your domain name certainly helps.
- Visitors know instantly as to what to expect from a specifically named website for example one would not expect other gadgets from a website like onlymobiles.com.
Disadvantages of an EMD
- Limits the scope- If the owner of the onlymobiles.com wants to sell iPods also, he can sell them but the visitors will not expect iPods from that site. So EMDs can sometimes limit the expansion plans and the best example of a company experiencing this disadvantage is Amazon.com which started with only books and today sells any possible product you can think of.
- With search giants like Google decreasing the weightage given to EMDs and continuously changing its ranking algorithms, choosing EMDs at higher costs than other domains seems less rosy in the future.
The Road further
Then what should one do in the context of choosing a domain name;
Whether an Exact Match Domain (EMD) will solve the purpose or any random domain name will do. This dilemma can be answered by looking at the overall SEO marketing strategy of a business which depends on:
- Nature of the business or service
If a city wants to have its website, it cannot go for any other random name. It has to have a name exactly same as the name of the city itself. Government sites and various portals which offer specialised and specific services should have EMDs as these specific services are not going to change.
- Long Term Plans
Any business should have a clear cut plan for the long term SEO marketing if it wants to reap profits out of it. If a business has no plans for future expansion and is selling a unique product or service which is not going to change in the near foreseeable future, then having an EMD can be an added advantage. But for the ones having expansion and change plans in sight, having an EMD will not help. A classic example is the Indian E-Commerce platform flipkart.com which started with selling only books.Had it kept its name specific to books category; no one would have visited it for apparels, shoes, gadgets and what not. Now whether you search for books or use keywords related to online shopping in any search engine, flipkart.com is there.
There are well established brands also in the marketplace and for them having an EMD is a necessity. For example, Adidas has to have a website with its brand name as the domain name of its website. Nothing will work better than that.
In conclusion we can say that having an EMD is nothing more than a fad if you are considering taking believing that it will take your website to the top of the results because search engines are continually narrowing down the weightage given to the EMDs in the optimization process. But if a business has a unique product and a long term plan, then EMDs can be the best bet.