When choosing a domain name you will have to decide whether you want a domain that leans towards potentially being brandable – i.e. something that is hopefully short and memorable such as Twitter, Nike, Pepsi, etc, but on the surface does not immediately suggest what the site is about OR a domain which leans towards being an Exact Match Domain name i.e. its keywords describe what the site will be about e.g. SportsShoes.com.

Exact Match Domain names have always been popular, with many believing having one gives you an advantage not only with search engine rankings, but gives many side benefits such as receiving type in traffic – i.e. visitors landing on your website by simply entering a keyword or phrase in their web browser’s address bar and e.g. adding .com or any other gTLD (generic top-level domain) or ccTLD extension (country code top-level domain); rather than following a hyperlink from another web page.

Search Engine Rankings

The domain name you choose can have an effect on your SEO results, and if it’s a new website, especially a new online business, your search engine rankings will be very important to you, as it will effect the number of sales/leads you generate. This is why you need to give some thought when you register a domain name.

While having a brandable domain name has advantages, the fact is it will be a lot harder, and potentially more expensive to create & develop a popular brand name, that people will recognise. As a result, many people prefer to register an Exact Match Domain Name as they think it will be easier for them to achieve a higher ranking on search engines such as google.

Matt Cutts Video

In March 2011 Matt Cutts of Google released the video below, comparing brand domains vs Exact Match Domain Names:

 

Since Google frequently change their algorithm, which determines how well a website ranks on their search engine, theories of what is the best way to achieve high rankings are not all set in stone. You have to react to Googles algorithm changes as best you can, and it’s not always clear cut what is the best strategy to take to get to the top of Google.

Advantage or Disadvantage?

There has been a lot of debate regarding how Google ranks Exact Match Domain Names, sometimes known as Keyword Domains. Following the “Google Panda Update 20″ which took place from September 27th through the first week of October, 2012, some have claimed that having an Exact Match Domain no longer gives you an advantage, or worse might even be penalised. However, if you have an Exact Match Domain (EMD) or are planning on registering one, then you have nothing to worry about.

Engagement Metrics

According to Google Webmaster Help’s Matt Cutts, there was an adjustment in the algorithm so that EMDs would not have a preference over domains without keywords UNLESS they earned their ranking by meeting the same relative positive engagement metrics that other sites used.

The fact is achieving a good search engine ranking position for your website has never relied 100% on your domain name – that is only a part of it. Following good SEO practice such as meeting engagement metrics is a major factor. These metrics can include:

  • Length of visit (how long do visitors stay on your website for?)
  • Number of different page views (how many other pages did your visitors click through to?)
  • Bounce rate (are your visitors quickly clicking away from your website soon after arriving?)
  • Returning visitors (how often do visitor return to your website?)

If you have an Exact Match Domain and your website scores lowly on the above metrics, then odds are Google will penalise you. Having an EMD on its own will not be enough to keep you in the number one position. The “Google Panda Update 20″ amongst other things penalised websites that had EMD’s and low engagement metrics. So if your website has an EMD and positive engagement metrics (which you should have had in the first place) then you have nothing to worry about.

Registering an Exact Match Domain Name is still a good choice, as long as you follow Google’s SEO guidelines and provide positive engagement metrics. Even better, if your website meets those guidelines & metrics PLUS has an Exact Match Domain Name then you will have an advantage.

For example, if you had two websites with exactly the same content, the one which has an Exact Match Domain Name is more likely to rank higher on search engines.

Social Media Benefits

Even better, it’s not just your search engine rankings that could benefit by having an Exact Match Domain Name – you will also benefit when it comes to social media. Unlike a brandable domain name such as Amazon.com, having an Exact Match Domain name e.g. HotelsInLondon.com, helps suggest what your website is about. Every time somebody mentions your website in Twitter, Pinterest or Facebook, etc then search engines will pay attention. It is must easier and natural for users to mention and share an Exact Match Domain Name – thereby helping to not only increase your search engine rankings further, but it will result in free advertising for you.

Best Choice?

Unless you have lots of money to spend on marketing your potentially brandable domain name, and lots of time and resources to develop it into a brand, then you may struggle to get it noticed above the competition. With this in mind, it’s no surprise that an Exact Match Domain Name remains popular and is likely to for a long time to come. Everything else being equal an Exact Match Domain Name is the better choice.

Is there a domain name you’ve been thinking of registering? Search and register your domain name with Easyspace today, before somebody else does.