As you’ve probably seen, there’s been a ton of buzz recently on the power of Exact Match Domains (EMD’s) to rank in Google’s SERPs. An example of this would be www.competitivekeyword.com to rank very highly for the keyword “Competitive Keyword”, despite having a below average backlink profile and sub-par onpage content compared to the other ranking pages.
SEO’s from around the world have been taking to the streets (aka their blogs and Twitter) to appeal to Matt Cutts and his webspam team to adjust the algorithm and shift this balance of power. However, more recently, some legit SEO’s have stepped forward and voiced their opposition to these complains.
There’s Joe Hall’s post “Dear SEOs, Please Shut Up”, where he basically calls Exact Match Domains a SEO competitive advantage and urges SEO’s to “shut up already and buy your own!”. Then there’s Bill Slawski, author of SEO by the Sea, who calls the power of Exact Match Domains “SEO mythology and folklore”. In our brief Twitter chat this morning, he went even further to say that sloppy EMD’s can be more harmful than helpful for the rankings of a website. Check out the full transcript below:
bill_slawski: The benefit of exact match domains is SEO mythology and folklore, and sloppy exact match domains can be more harmful than helpful.
garyjmag: Myth, really?! RT @bill_slawski The benefit of exact match domains is SEO mythology & folklore, sloppy EMDs can be more harmful than helpful
bill_slawski: @garyjmag Yes. EMD is a poor ranking signal. First to register domain name is an automatic winner in search results? Not likely.
bill_slawski: @garyjmag The indirect benefits of EMD are possibilities that people will link to you w/the keywords that you want to rank for, and…
bill_slawski: @garyjmag The other indirect benefit is a search engine associating your domain with a matching named entity found within a query term.
bill_slawski: @garyjmag Though that entity association will look to much more than whether your domain is a EMD
bill_slawski: @garyjmag In the meantime, your site may be stuck with a pretty generic and ugly looking domain name.
Now, in my opinion, there’s no doubt that Exact Match Domains get some weighted power in the SERPs. But Bill does make some good points. Will degrading the weight of EMD’s in Google’s ranking algorithm really be the answer to all of our problems? I thought it might be effective before, but now I’m not as sure. Weigh in with your thoughts in the comments…