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Exact match domains have been a target of controversy in the SEO world for over a decade. There are people who are die-hard proponents of exact match domain names, then there are those who cite high profile examples of successful websites that are not exact match domains. Here are a few:

  • Google
  • Yahoo!
  • Bing
  • Alexa
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
  • etc.

The list could go on.

Exact Match Domains Are In Decline

SEOmoz recently conducted a study on whether or not exact match domains are in decline in SEO results. The conclusion was that they are.

The author of the blog post, however, was careful to point out that the fact that exact match domains are in decline does not necessarily mean that the search engines have targeted them in their algorithms. There could be any number of reasons for this decline. Here’s one:

I suspect that, by targeting some forms of spammy anchor text, Penguin disproportionately hit EMDs. Many people who use EMDs solely for ranking purposes are also aggressive with exact-match anchor text. The EMD drop was probably collateral damage.

Don’t Dump Your Exact Match Domain Yet

There are a number of reasons why a webmaster might want an exact match domain name. If it’s for branding purposes, then I think your chances of ranking well with your exact match domain is better – unless you engage in spammy SEO tactics.

On the other hand, if you want an exact match domain name because you think it will help you rank better in the search engines and your intent is to SEO your web pages using exact match keyword phrases and anchor text until you rise to the top, there’s a very good chance that you’ll over-SEO your website and produce the opposite effect. But that will be because of your on-page SEO spam, not necessarily due to your exact match domain.

My personal opinion is that your domain name, exact match or not, enhances what you do on your web pages. If you engage in solid SEO practices that are well received by the search engines, then your domain name can help. But if you engage in on-page spam, then it could also be considered a part of that spam.

Conclusion: Tread lightly.

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