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53 responses to “Exact Match Domain Names – Yes or No?”

  1. Scott Ludtke

    Wow! 2 posts in three days???

    Excellent bit of advise Griz.
    Too many people want to be followers — like those who would create nikeshoesforless dot com, or something of that nature… Like you, I would have to agree that G would be in no logical position to penalize exact domain name sites. Besides, there’s literally thousands of them out there, right?

  2. Leo Dimilo

    I have to agree. The issue is that there are a lot of exact domain websites that aren’t branding…they are simply using it for an SEO measure to easily rank for long tail keywords….in essence, they are branding exclusively for search. 5-10 page websites with very little references “out there” in regards to their website because their content doesn’t move anyone in their market.

    I think that it will be interesting to see how greatly social references will influence ranking since it can be a truer representation of actual web presence than anchored links (it is hard to game 1,000 “tweet” links from 1,000 different sources) over a small window frame among influencers already established within a market. Dunno how much they are going to rely on this as a bigger ranking potential but I have to say, outside of establishing “friend rings” (which will likely have FB killing large blocks of useless profiles exclusively used for spam), it would be harder to game influence.

    I actually asked you a question on Facebook a couple days ago about whether you thought that affiliate links (as in an affiliate e-commerce store with tons of links) pointing out would actually cause problems for the website and if a “buffer” redirect page could change this if this is the case. Would love to know if you have tested this before (I have several e-commerce sites that are affiliate based and don’t want to do any live tests on sites that are ranking…just curious if I am wasting my time from an SEO perspective by utilizing redirects).

    On a separate note, I actually ran a small audit on Liz’s site (with her permission) and one anomaly stood out- Her highest pagerank came from an actual redirect page….talk about weird.

  3. Cata

    Hey Griz,

    I agree with everything you say except this:
    “Time to stop playing and start building sites that serve a real purpose other than serving ads or selling affiliate products. ”
    Isn’t selling products as an affiliate (or leads, or ads, or whatever), what we are here for? It’s either this, or making our own products, which I personally don’t want.
    Also, as long as I can snatch up blue bicycle pads dot com and I can sell blue bicycle pads as an affiliate, I will do it. It’s just a question of searches, commission and work involved for me. But usually, even if it’s a single product, I WILL build a site around it if I think it’s worth it.

  4. Darren

    Thanks for this one Griz. This post answered a lot of questions and confirmed things I have been noticing for a while now.

    Sound the other post you did in 2008 on Lead Basics – does it need to be updated for 2010 or is it all still valid?

  5. Nick

    Hey Griz,

    Glad to see you’re posting things on Twitter and Facebook – you’re becoming quite sociable these days ;-)

    I remember Vic saying sometthing similar a while back in TAA, and I then thought to do a mixture of both branded and keyword-rich domains. The keyword rich ones have been leading but the branded ones aren’t doing that bad – although I do buy aged domains and don’t do highly competitive niches.

    One thing I wanted to ask you about: changing the link structure and cms of a site (completely) – have you done it before and how long does it take G to move with you (after giving it the 301 redirects).

    @Cata – you probably want to be thinking DIVERSIFICATION – I do this on everything to do with business. It might sound great making your own product but you should, even if it’s through a JV.

    1. Paul Lamach

      Nick – After switching to WordPress I strongly suggest Custom Taxonomies. You’ll be so glad you did!

  6. Terry

    Hey hey, looks like I’m pissing around with a big spam niche then LMAO! Funnily enough, there is an EMDN site keeping me off #1 for a keyword I had for a couple months early in the year until the Mayday update reversed our fortunes. I haven’t been able to unseat it yet either, which irks me no end.

    But the worst is the dipshit owner of that EMDN site can’t even promote the damn big affiliate commission product we’re ranking for cause its against their TOS to have their brand name in the domain! Difference between #1 and #2 is half the traffic. I make only half the big buck in commission I could make and he makes pennies from adsense. Crazy!

    Anyway, interesting post Griz, thanks

  7. Mark

    Makes me wish you had time to post everyday:) Glad you have a life though.

    This is really good stuff and makes total sense. I have to admit, it’s gotten harder to find some good names compared to a few years ago because there are so many parked pages out there…from what I can see, none ever seem to rank that well but they must get some traffic. Makes it that much better when you put a really good site on a decent domain. For all practical purposes that should stand the test of time, and Google, for a long, long time.

    Happy Holidays Griz!


  8. Ross

    Nice post…

    A while back I was asked by a client to help them choose a domain name.

    The first, and most obvious to me was their company name. We went with (example).

    A few months later they asked me to come up with a different name that would better describe what they do. We settled on (example) and we slowly noticed more sales inquiries.

    When I mentioned to the client that traffic was also increasing and it seems to be since the domain name was changed, they asked me to think of one more name that would even better describe their product.

    I started searching various search engines for terms related to my clients product. I noticed that the top results mostly all described the product in the domain name, to some degree.

    I kept researching and came up with (example) as the final name. This had a serious impact on traffic and sales, and search engine positioning. Not overnight, but quicker than one would expect.

    It was sometime ago so I had limited access (and knowledge) of search numbers but as I began to understand SEO and get comfortable with decent research tools, I was surprised to see that both “doctor software” and “software for doctors” received comparable searches.

    Grizzly, any thoughts as to why adding a conjunction between two keywords (in the domain) would result in significantly more traffic?

    *** not including the fact that research tools can be misleading

  9. Dave Starr

    Tallies exactly with my limited experience, Griz. An EMD is powerful _if_ people are searching for that word.

    An EMD for the sake of grabbing a few of the clicks for some some third-tier long tail is likely not worth the registration fee.

    As they day here on the Internet (long before many of today’s players even knew what it was, or were even born) (yes, I am old, I hail from the DARPANET days, long before there was a www service), YMMV. (you can look it up, young-uns, it is safe for work and children).

    Regarding an earlier comment … absolutely a good thing to build a site around “Blue Bicycle Pads” … if … you are actually providing any real information about Blue Bicycle Pads. And who determines if you are actually providing valuable info? Why Google, of course.

    Griz often uses “oil filters” as an example. So I just searched it. First three slots are the corporate websites of the largest three filter companies in the world, fourth slot is the Wikipedia entry for “oil filters”, likely providing more info on oil filters than any of us ever wanted to know, and slot number five is an independent business with “oil fitters” in it’s domain name. Do they actually provide content, or are they just sniping with an EMD?

    Well, they seem to be a large, third-party supplier site that offers everything from cross reference numbers for hard to find filters, to special purpose wrenches, to where to environmentally dispose of used oil and filters, atc., etc.

    Probably Google made good call regarding value here. In some ways the third-party site provides more value regarding the subject than the first 4 “name brand” sites, and they do have an EMD. But I don’t think they got that number 5 ranking “becuase” they have “oil filter” in their domain. If you look at what they actually provide, they would appear to have earned it by value provided.

    Same sort of pattern repeats through the next five first page positions. “Real” sites of oil filter manufacturers and another catalog site which provides real service, this time with no keywords in the domain.

    So, seem to me, for sure, that EMD’s may have a value, but are one of the lesser factors in building site success. Or so Dave opines.

    Happy Holidays to all.

  10. RED

    Wait a minute… I thought the new internet marketing lessons was going to be on the .ca site? I guess I have to drop by all three now. No prob. Also, to all who are out there. I’ve seen a significant drop in the serps if you have an article linking to two link sources that links to your main site. So, say you set up 2 websites B and C to link to site A. You create a page or article on another site and link to BOTH B and C in that same article/page, you will set off some kind of unnatural pattern alarm. This happened with me, although I appear to be working my way out of it now. Can anyone else attest to this theory? Griz?

  11. RED

    Actually, now that I think about it, it may not have been that. It could be that adding a navigation menu that links to certain posts at the top of the website may have been the cause for the dropped serps. So either that, or what I said in the previous post. It could actually be the previous thing helping me rebound from it. This is the problem with seo(the delayed reaction).

  12. Cata

    @Dave Starr,

    Value and spam are very relative things (just like beauty is in the eye of the beholder :D ). Is sniping with an EMD bad? Not from where I’m standing. I have 1 page sniping sites that get natural citations because people find them useful, and this means they provide value. So since people find them useful, Google should find them useful as well, because that’s their main interest: to serve relevancy to searchers.

  13. Dave

    Returning with a vengeance there Grizz. I have always seen the EMD as nothing more than a single keyword out of many thousands in a niche. From comments I have had it seems that the reason why so many people fail to make a success of their sites is they get fixated on that one keyword. And spend waaaaaay to much time chasing 1 single elusive term.

    Especially those after the adsense clicks.

    A catchy site name and a big bag of keywords around the niche is always going to be better than getting hung up on just the one main keyword term, and if it means sacrificing an EMD then it may even be a good thing. It means you don’t get caught on the one term and focus all your time on it.

    Apart from anything else it will make folks realize the benefit of building a large site around a much broader topic, and DOMINATE.

    Happy Chrimbo everyone.

  14. Mark

    Hi Dave,
    You’re right on the perspective thing. I have personally found them annoying but it’s usually because I wanted a domain and someone got to it before me and I found the pages virtually useless. But…the world doesn’t necessarily revolve around me, even though it should:) Despite my bitterness…Happy Holidays!;)

  15. Dennisjr

    Was this a guest post? I have been reading your blogs for years and have benefited greatly in $$. I just dont remember you ever starting sentences with “And” along with some other things that caused me to pause and question who wrote this. I don’t mean this as an insult, I have always been impressed with the flow and your style of writing; this article seemed off with with previous articles. My bag if I am wrong.. Glad to see you back to sharing your insights.

  16. Seth

    Most of my sites are 30 to 100 or more posts all on one subject. I just keep adding anything I can think of about the topic and will for years to come (hopefully). Do you consider those “thin” sites?

  17. Darrell

    Hey Griz

    Merry Christmas to you and your family.

    Have a great and safe holiday season to everyone.


  18. Mikael Rieck

    Hi Griz,

    Really cool post and lots of very valid points. But in the end of the post I kinda lost you…

    Isn’t it contradicting when you say:

    Time to stop playing and start building sites that serve a real purpose other than serving ads or selling affiliate products.

    and then

    …either because you actually replace furnaces or you sell leads to those who do or provide ad spots to service suppliers.

    Merry Christmas!


  19. Justin (seozombe)

    Hey Griz,

    It’s been a while. How are things going?

    Nice post. There has been a lot of buzz about exact match domains on some of the lists I’m on. I think this might be a focus of Cutts and his team now that they’re pulling back together a bit.

    Anyways, what are you up to these days? I moved out to Seattle to work with Distilled and SEOmoz.

  20. bowillis

    Can you provide any insight on aged domains?

    I’ve got a few that I haven’t done anything with that are a few years old? EMDN’s that haven’t been used. I understand aged, backlinks, previous (positive) ranks, etc. would make a difference but will just the age of a domain, even it hasn’t been used, help with ranking?

  21. RED

    Grizz, or anyone else that may know…

    I’m going to test this out soon, but what does everyone think about getting a strong link to be indexed with from the beginning. Is there a better effect or no effect at all by getting a few links and then a strong one, or having your strong one be your first link to get indexed? Anyone test weather G throws more weight in one way or another? My plan was to build “normal links” and then a month later or so then throw in one that will have considerable weight. I was just curious if anyone knew anything about that. I think I remember reading somewhere(possible MMFB) that its good to get a strong link first, but now that things are changing I might want to go as natural as possible. I think I answered my own question, but if anyone else has any input, it would be greatly appreciated. I love theories on this stuff. They are addicting in their own right.

  22. Lorecee

    I think I can help Red with his question:

    I’m going to test this out soon, but what does everyone think about getting a strong link to be indexed with from the beginning.

    I’ve been watching the construction process of Griz’s other two MMO blogs. The cardinal rule of bear watching is “watch what he does more than what he says.” Of course you need to remember that that some things he does may be tests, as in don’t try this at home or you might blow something up.

    I’ve been wrong before (or so my BF tells me), but it would be just like Griz to model the construction of a new site from the ground up for those who care to pay attention. True or not, he’s sure got mine.

    Glad to see you back, Griz. –Lorecee

  23. RED

    I’ve actually been watching what Griz has been doing with It appears to be heavily bookmarked(scuttle plus) on individual posts. I don’t know if this is Grizz’s doing, or if someone just decided to help him out. I also noticed they are on bookmarking sites that are indexed in G and some have pr2′s or higher on their index page. The anchor text looks to be a mixture of heavily targeted and general related terms. I also noticed not just anyone can register on these bookmarking sites. So either, Grizz owns them or a buddy of his does. Or the third option. I once came across a “service” that allowed you access to a number of scuttle plus sites(with PR) for a fee. I’m not trying to blow the lid off anything your doing Grizz, so if you want to edit my post I understand. That being said I think all of the above is common knowledge with the folks that do this IM stuff. It also looks like he is trying to relate the words “Grizzly” and “Brears” with having to do with Internet Marketing and SEO. I’m not an expert on G, but I assume if it finds Grizzly and Brears on pages related to that stuff, it will start to equate those words with having to do with the niche. How many other people will choose those words for their IM or SEO site? Most likely only Grizzly. I guess it helps with branding. Just a theory, though. It may not work like that at all. By the way Grizz, which site should we watch most.,, or this one? I’ve already picked the .ca to closely watch. Am I in the right ballpark er.. golf course?

  24. Latest SEO Practices | WordPress WP Themes

    [...] Grizz, back from his long hibernation made his observation concerning the use of Exact Match Domain Names as our preferred domain URL as a guarantee to better rankings as something that is not as feasible [...]

  25. Exact match domain + number?

    [...] nothing works as well as an emd, I've found hyphens to give no benefit. Have a look at what the main man has to say about this. I am outranking EMDs with one year old .INFO with quality content, and find EMDs too restricting. [...]

  26. GrizzlyBrears

    [New Post] Exact Match Domain Names – Yes or No? – via #twitoaster

  27. Carlos Manrique

    Hi Grizz,

    Was looking for your original blog “How to make money online for beginners”, but the original blog was removed? What happened? Did you remove it to make a new one and this is it? If so let me know.

    I like your new look and template. It looks like WordPress.


  28. Neil Mack

    Regarding the DoctorSoftware vs SoftwareForDoctors post earlier, I would say that the difference in traffic would not be so much due to the number of searches performed in Google using those keywords but more to do with which links the customers are clicking through. SoftwareForDoctors says exactly what the site contains and anyone who is looking for software that has been made specifically for doctors will click through. However DoctorSofware could be construed as a cool name for any software site and people may see it as Dr.Software and not realise that it has anything to do with real doctors.

    I think this is a great example of why you should keep your customers in mind as well as (if not more than) Google when deciding on a domain name.

    Just my two penneth worth

  29. Kimberly

    Okay Griz,

    Given what you’ve said here, if I am starting a brand new site today (and this is long-term) do I start it with the keyword targeted domain and wait the months I know it may take for it to rise in the SEPRs because it is new and not yet an authority or trusted site, OR do I use a domain name that has been indexed by Google for 3 years, but has no reference to what the website is about?

  30. Kimberly

    Okay, Griz fine…Don’t answer me. Make me read the post AGAIN and AGAIN to get the answer to my question, so you don’t have to repeat yourself. I hated teachers like you…

  31. IS Exact Match Domain Name is Necessary for SERP

    [...] Here, let me Google that for you: Exact Match Domain Names – Yes or No? SEOmoz | YOUmoz – The Problems With Exact Match [...]

  32. Merv

    Hi Griz
    Wow, my sister and I have just started getting into this money on line business and I had asked her the question just last week about domain names and keywords and if it she had read anything about them being necessary. So anyway, she found this post by you and sent it onto me. I loved reading the posts and replys – sooooo useful. Thank you. I still dont fully understand the whole thing, but hey we’re new at this and I would imagine that in time I will be able to fully participate in these kinds of chats.
    Ciao for now

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