Do Exact Match Domains Still Matter Today? Pretty much a big question for all the internet marketers these days, is not it? Small micro niche sites focused on a single long tail keyword (With moderate search volume and little content) used to work pretty good earlier. These are never high earners, but it’s pretty easy to make one and hence, you can create many such sites and earn quite a residual income on absolute passive mode.
Now, the last line may be tempting and is probably the most used one in sales copies of micro niche site sellers. Things like “micro niche” sites may have worked earlier, but the big G is even more vigilant these days. Google hates thin content sites and micro niche sites are anything but content rich. Just a few articles are thrown all over the site and a micro niche site is made for you. Google does not like those anymore, mate!
Exact Match Domain & Micro Niche Sites
Now, getting to the point! Micro niche sites are often based on an exact match keyword and the domain is an exact match domain. Wonder what are exact match domains? Suppose, you want to rank for a keyword: make money online. Now, an exact match domain will be makemoneyonline.com (A net or org extension is fine as well, but info ones are generally not that effective). Now, as you have got the idea of an exact match domain, let me answer the question that’s in the title. Well, they still work, but ranking a site with an exact match domain is not that easier anymore.
Previously things were pretty easy with exact match domains, particularly for keywords that had less competition and moderate searches. You just write a few articles, get some low quality links and the site would have easily ranked in page 1 of Google. Off late, Google is continuously de-indexing sites that have thin content and hence updating your blog on regular basis, is more important than anything (Even if you write an article once in a month, make sure to provide some value to the readers).
With an exact match domain, you should not expect anything more than a slight on-page optimization advantage over your competitors, as you in that case, have a domain that contains exactly the keywords. Other than that, as far as off-page optimization is concerned, you are out of luck unless you make quality links pointing to your root domain or inner pages.
These days, Google gives more importance to off-page optimization and obviously the content of the site as well. Exact Match domains still matter but only if you do the things wisely enough.
A Case Study
I chose two keywords: “yahoo store coupon” and Midphase promotion coupon. Both of the keywords have moderate searches and luckily I was able to acquire com domains for both the keywords.
For the Yahoo Store keyword, I chose to go the traditional way. I wrote a few articles of 400 words around and threw them in the website. I gave the site a Scrapebox blast and just left it as it is.
For the “midphase promotion coupon site”, I wrote a few high quality articles of 1000 words or so. I put some inner links to some of the authority sites, also started link building for the site. I mainly went with guest posts around related niche, also created some quality web 2.0 properties. I avoided directory or forum profile links altogether and continued to add content to the site for 2 months constantly (1 each week).
After 2 weeks, the first site was indexed, but was placed out of the first 100 results of Google. Whereas, the second site was already ranking in the first page (9th place to be more specific).
I have ranked similar keywords with similar techniques as I did with the first keyword. But, it was clear to me by the end of the case study that Google does not like those thin content exact match domain sites anymore. They want to provide quality results to their customers and hence their algorithm is now strong enough to distinguish the proper blogs from the thin content ones. Hence, it preferred the later.
Both my linking strategy and content development went wrong with the first site. The fact that it was an exact match domain didn’t save me from the failure and I learnt this lesson that: Don’t buy and make a website around exact match domain and leave it on hope of residual income. Show it some link and content love; it will flourish in no time. Better if you have an exact match domain, but, in case, that’s already taken, don’t be frustrated. Buy something similar and work on it; you are bound to reap the benefits.