Search engine giant Google recently released another algorithm that provides better search results and user experience, but the exact-match domain (EMD) update affected the rankings of ebsites with highly-searched keywords in domain names.
“New exact-match domain (EMD) algo affects 0.6% of English-US queries to a noticeable degree. Unrelated to Panda/Penguin,” said Matt Cutts, Head of Webspam Team at Google.
This poses a challenge for domain buyers and resellers as to whether they should still consider exact-match domains after the Google update.
The EMD update focuses on sifting spam or low-quality exact domains on SERPs. Search engine optimizers know the value of registering exact-match domains because the strategy helps a website to rank high in the search results.
“In the early days of search when relevance algorithms were rather weak, many folks used ‘double dashed’ domains because they were cheap to buy, and easy to rank. $6 to rank for a 3 word phrase. Sold,” said Todd Malicoat, SEOmoz.
“However, when you see best-online-seo-company.biz in your search result, you start to question the weighting of relevance factors. This is, in large part, how EMD’s got a bad rep to start with.”
If a webmaster wants to create an easy path to Google’s top search results for the keyword “cheap domains,” he would attempt to register the domain “wwww.cheapdomains.com.”
However, regardless of domain names relevancy on search results, most of them are considered spam.
“It has been proven statistically that domains with more than a single dash are very likely to be spam. Multiple dashes in a domain were an early spammer trick because of the low barrier to entry with cost. Don’t bother with a double dash domain,” Malicoat said.
The majority of websites with exact-match domains lack quality of content and are stuffed with keyword-rich articles that look great to search engine spiders but not to human readers. Most of them were registered to generate money through affiliate links and advertisements.
“Across our data set of 1000 SERPs, 41 EMDs fell out of the Top 10 (5 new EMDs entered, so the net change was 36 domains),” said Dr. Pete on SEOmoz’ Google’s EMD Algo Update – Early Data.
The advantages of exact-match domains over branded names have been neutralized, which means an exact-match domain has the same effectiveness as other branded domain names in terms of search engine results and visibility for local terms.
Buying exact-match domain would affect unique branding because of the generic nature of the exact-match domain.
The availability of EMD domains is very rare. That’s why they are way too costly for now. Hence, the EMD update and its effects remain a relative “mystery.”
Would you still buy an exact-match domain? If you’re ready to cash in a large amount of money to top search results, acquire better visibility on social media, and if you want to target local searches and no plans of expansion, the answer is YES.
On the other hand, regular branded domain name opens the door for expansion, and you don’t have to think about the algorithm updates since you want to focus on brand recognition over SEO.