Are Exact Match Domains Making a Big Comeback With No Effort Required?

Atlantic Corporate KitsIt looks like exact match domains or as I call them, keyword-based domains may be ruling the roost again with Google. It’s that or a freaky coincidence with 2 of my clients popping up in the last 24 hours. Now, I am not a brilliant search engine optimization(SEO) genius. I have a lot of SEO knowledge, expertise, and skills and so do members of our team and we do great SEO work for our clients, but I don’t pretend to understand the low level details of Google algorithms and I doubt I ever will. We are a digital strategy firm and rely upon the geniuses on our team to help us guide our strategies for our clients but these examples are too crazy not to think something is up.

Exact Match Domains(EMDs) have always been helpful in SEO strategies, but the geniuses have been telling us for awhile, that there are far more effective tactics you can implement that will help you more than a domain that is directly tied to the keywords you want to own in your marketplace. Clients usually want their brand as their primary domain and that is usually a better technique than using generic search terms for your domain, because it doesn’t help tie a visitor to your brand and give them something to remember. That said, there are other domain strategies you can use outside of your primary brand.

My evidence for all of this is anecdotal. I do not have a large statistical sampling to back this up, but at the very least, this is a bit crazy in terms of these two clients and all of this happening in the last week or so and noticing it in the last 2 days.

Exact Match Domain Change Example 1:

CorporateKits.com and CorporateKit.com

(My client owns 2 companies that provide incorporation and corporate kit services directly to entrepreneurs and to attorneys and accountants that offer incorporation services to their clients. They’ve been in the business for over 30 years, so if you are starting a company and need incorporation services, stock certificates, or a complete corporate kit for your new company or if you are a law firm offering these services, then the folks at Empire and Atlantic are the best in the business and their prices are excellent.)

On to the example. Previous to this week, if you searched on the phrase(without quotes) “corporate kits”, both of my client’s web sites(corporatekit.com and corporatekits.com) would appear in the top 5 of search results. Today though, everything has changed. If you search on “corporate kits“, then corporatekits.com is in the top 5, but corporatekit.com is not. If you search on “corporate kit”, then the corporatekit.com site appears in the top 5 and corporatekits.com does not. So, from this slight example, you can see a very domain to search term centric result. It was obvious to us, that this was the case, but we didn’t really think it was dependent on the domain. Some variables we did consider were that the site was only a few months old in it’s current version and with a brand new shipping cart and that Google supposedly released a new version of it’s algorithm. That said, we didn’t really think it was directly related to the terms and the domain, but it was difficult to ignore.

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Exact Match Domain Change Example 2:

Our client had setup a site over 3 years ago as an SEO experiement called ShipCharters.com and other than a wordpress theme change, it was not cared for or updated at all. The content was old and stale and the site while it looked decent had little to no traffic on it. So, while looking through some reports on the site, I was astounded to see that this site that had never ranked for it’s domain’s search phrase – “ship charters”, was now suddenly ranked number 3 for it’s target term without any changes to the site, to inbound links, or any other typical factors for SEO gains.

That’s when it dawned on us that the two strange changes to our clients’ sites were strangely similar, because they were both based on generic search phrases and while one was positive for one client and one was negative for the other, they both were directly related to a generic search phrase, a domain of that phrase, and a significant change in the rankings that seem to point to Google giving much more credence in the path to matching specific search terms to specific domains.

This is obviously not a scientific conclusion and I really will look to the world’s SEO geniuses to write up what they find, but I am amazed at these results and would love to have folks weigh in with their thoughts.

We also noticed significant gains for the latter client on similar search terms for their branded domain site on specialized content pages we built just a few weeks ago and some that were older as well. We saw significant gains from very high quality content articles on terms we highly covet, so we are very excited to see the hard work paying off there. In addition, we’ve been applying all of the steps in Neil Patel’s Advanced SEO guide and while we haven’t completed those steps, we are already seeing amazing results from that work across all of our targeted terms for the site. Thank you Neil for once again for providing outstanding content and training to the rest of the world.

What do you think? Is this related to Google’s recent Panda updates or is it just a silly coincidence and I am wasting my time rambling on about it? Looking forward to you SEO geniuses giving us your thoughts in the comments.

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