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Unraveling the SEO Mystery: Are Exact Match Domains Still a Thing for Success?


Domain names play a significant role in search engine optimization (SEO), and one popular domain name strategy that has seen its fair share of fluctuations in its impact on SEO is the use of exact match domains (EMDs). This article will explore the history of EMDs, their rising and falling importance in search engine rankings, and whether exact match domains are still a thing for SEO today.

The Rise and Fall of Exact Match Domains

Early dominance of EMDs in search results

In the early days of SEO, EMDs held a significant advantage for ranking in search results. These domains are a perfect match for the target keyword or key phrase, making it easier for search engines to associate the website with specific search queries. The perceived relevance of the exact match domain resulted in higher rankings in search engine result pages (SERPs).

Google’s EMD update in 2012

As search algorithms evolved, Google began to prioritize the value of the content on a website over the domain name alone. In September 2012, Google rolled out its Exact Match Domain update to help level the playing field in terms of search engine rankings.

1. Decrease in EMDs’ search visibility

The EMD update aimed to reduce the rankings of low-quality websites with exact match domains. While high-quality sites with EMDs could still rank well, websites with thin or low-quality content saw a decline in their search visibility.

2. Importance of quality content over domain names

The update emphasized the importance of providing valuable, informative content rather than relying solely on the domain name for better search rankings.

The Current State of Exact Match Domains in SEO

Relevance of EMDs in modern SEO strategies

Exact match domains still hold a place in SEO strategies today, though their relevance in modern SEO has shifted.

1. Pros of using EMDs

Some benefits of using EMDs in your SEO strategy include:

a. Natural keyword targeting

With an EMD, you automatically incorporate your target keyword into your URL, which can help in search engine rankings.

b. User perception of being authoritative

EMDs can give users the impression that your website is an authoritative source on a certain topic due to the direct match with their search query.

2. Cons of using EMDs

However, there are potential drawbacks to EMDs:

a. Limited flexibility in content topics

An EMD may limit the range of topics you can cover, which could stifle your content and negatively impact your SEO over time.

b. Risk of being perceived as spammy

Google and users alike may perceive EMDs as spammy, especially if the site focuses strictly on keyword optimization and lacks valuable content.

Impact of recent Google search algorithm updates on EMDs

Recent algorithm updates have continued to evolve the SEO landscape, and as a result, the importance of exact match domains has further diminished.

1. Focus on quality content and user experience

Google’s algorithm updates emphasize providing an excellent user experience through high-quality content. This shift has reduced the emphasis placed on EMDs as a ranking factor.

2. Emergence of other ranking factors

Other factors, such as mobile responsiveness, page speed, and user engagement, are becoming more critical ranking factors, making reliance on EMDs alone less effective.

How to Use Exact Match Domains Effectively in SEO

Selecting the right domain for your business

When choosing a domain name, both keyword relevance and brandability should be taken into consideration.

1. Balancing keyword relevance and brandability

While emphasizing your target keywords is essential, ensuring your domain is memorable and representative of your brand is equally important in building an online presence.

2. Keeping it simple and memorable

A short, easy-to-remember domain name will have a better chance of making a lasting impression on potential customers.

Focusing on high-quality content and user experience

Even with an exact match domain, providing valuable content and a seamless user experience should be a top priority.

1. Creating valuable, informative articles

Investing in producing high-quality content will contribute to improved search rankings while offering value to users.

2. Implementing an easy-to-navigate website design

A well-designed site that facilitates smooth navigation will improve user experience and contribute to better search rankings.

Using EMDs alongside a long-term SEO strategy

Using EMDs should be one component of a comprehensive SEO plan that includes:

1. Securing quality backlinks

High-quality backlinks lend authority to your site and can help improve search rankings.

2. Applying on-page SEO techniques

Optimizing title tags, meta descriptions, header tags, and other on-page elements will contribute to ranking higher in search results.

3. Leveraging social media and content marketing

A strong social media presence and content marketing strategy can help attract organic traffic and improve website authority.

Examples of Successful Exact Match Domains in 2021

Explanation of the chosen examples

Several EMDs that found success in 2021 include,, and These websites blend the use of an exact match domain with comprehensive SEO strategies and providing valuable, user-centric content.

Analysis of the SEO strategies employed

These successful EMDs illustrate the importance of combining keyword targeting with quality content, a focus on user experience, and other important SEO tactics to achieve high search rankings.


The evolution of EMDs in SEO underscores the importance of aligning your domain name strategy with modern SEO techniques for success. While exact match domains can still be a valuable SEO tool, focusing on quality content and a comprehensive SEO strategy is essential for online success. The key takeaway is that EMDs are still a thing for SEO, but they must be utilized alongside other important strategies to achieve the best possible results.


1. What is an exact match domain (EMD)?

An exact match domain is a domain name that precisely matches the target keyword or key phrase that the website aims to rank for in search engines.

2. Are EMDs still relevant for SEO in 2021?

EMDs remain relevant in SEO, but their importance has diminished with the evolution of search algorithms. A successful SEO strategy should prioritize high-quality content and user experience over EMDs alone.

3. How can EMDs be used effectively in SEO?

To use EMDs effectively, combine them with a comprehensive SEO strategy that focuses on quality content, user experience, on-page optimization, and gaining quality backlinks.

4. Do EMDs guarantee high search rankings?

No, EMDs do not guarantee high search rankings. While they can help in targeting specific keywords, the overall quality of the website and its content is more critical for higher search rankings.

5. Can EMDs have negative effects on search rankings?

If used improperly, EMDs can be perceived as spammy and potentially harm search rankings. It is essential to focus on quality content and user experience alongside EMDs to avoid negative consequences.

6. What are alternatives to EMDs for SEO?

Alternatives to using EMDs include using branded domains, partial match domains (PMDs), or generic top-level domains (TLDs). The key is to pair the domain name with a strong SEO strategy that prioritizes quality content and user experience.

7. What should I consider when choosing an EMD?

Consider both keyword relevance and brandability when choosing your domain name. It should be easy to remember and representative of your brand or business in addition to containing your target keyword.