Late Friday September 28, Google’s Matt Cutts tweeted that “low quality” Exact Match Domains (EMD) are being dropped from search engine results pages (SERPs). What you may not know is that the Google Penguin update included EMDs. The theory goes that if you buy a domain name with that keyword phrase, it’ll help you stay high in search ranking and indexing for that term. Search Engine Academy teaches SEO, and we stay on top of the latest and greatest from Google, so let’s examine this update and what it means.

You may also have seen Partial Match Domains (PMD). They may contain part of a keyword phrase you want to rank well for.

First, EMDs are domain names that contain an exact keyword you want to rank well for. It could be a phrase or a very well known brand name. It’s all fine and good that you want a keyword phrase for your domain name, but remember, SEO is much, much more than just the domain name. Don’t buy a PMD/EMD and call it your SEO strategy, because that’s just so weak, umkay?

Anyways, back to Google and Matt Cutts. Here are his tweets on the matter:

Matt Cutts announces an algorithm change for EMDs

Google's Matt Cutts tweets about algorithm changes regarding EMDs

For those of you who keep up with Google’s changes, this should come as absolutely no surprise, since Google’s been saying this for a couple years now. But it appears that they are finally tweaking the search formula to hit quality, trashy sites.

The bottom line is, if you have busted your butt building a high quality, useful site with lots of great content, you have nothing to worry about. As always, this is aimed towards spammers looking to score easy rankings fast before being caught. On the other hand, if you managed to snag a great keyword phrase EMD, and you haven’t put a lot of effort into making the site great, look at your analytics and see if you’ve been hit.

Having an EMD or PMD appears to be a six of one, half a dozen of another type of situation.  This analysis of EMDs and PMDs doesn’t settle the debate, but it will give you something to think about if you are creating a new site and are staying awake at night, wondering what domain name to buy.

My take on EMDs and PMDs is this: if you have a site that targets enduring keyword phrases – products, services or situations that are always being searched for on the internet – and if you have built a great site around that subject area, your EMD/PMD probably isn’t going to take a hit, or even much of one. It’s hard to predict if a domain name is going to help or not. There’s the old debate of dashes vs. non-dashes, etc. And if you can get the EMD/PMD for a TLD of dot com, that’s probably going to rank better than dot net, etc., but it’s probably already taken.

Consider this viewpoint on EMDs that presents the good and the bad for your search engine optimization efforts, but in the end, you make the call!

And if you are puzzled about the best practices of SEO, let us teach you what’s “white hat.”  We have SEO training locations around the world, and there’s probably one pretty close to you. In the meantime, keep it between the ditches!

All the best to you,