Do Exact Match Domains Still Work in SEO?

Hey SEO folks!

Today our topic of discussion is, do exact match domain still work in SEO?

While this ranking factor still works for Local SEO, but you cannot just rank a website using EMD’s.

Many people have doubt on this topic and there are many discussions available where some agree to it & some don’t.

Well, today we are going to take you through all of it via this post, all you need to do is stick till the end.

Here’s a teaser to what we are going to take you through:-

  • Definition.
  • Google’s Official Statement.
  • Our Research on using Brand Name.
  • Does EMD Still Work?(with proof)
  • Conclusion.

So, at the end of this post, all your doubts will be cleared.

Let’s get started with it.


What’s an Exact Match Domain(EMD)?

It is a Domain with your targeted Keyword. It is also called Keyword Domain.

For Example- You want to rank for a keyword, “buy college bags online”. If you would use an EMD you domain should look like

Basically, when you choose a domain with your exact targeted Keyword it is called as an Exact Match Domain. It’s like a fully keyword rich domain.

Google’s Official Statement

We always include(if available) an official statement from Google. In this Video from 2011, someone did ask a question on Webmaster’s Official YouTube Channel:-

“Question: – How would you Explain “The Power of Keyword Domains” to someone looking to take a decision what kind of domain to go for?

Matt Cutts Replied that:-

It’s definitely definitely possible to succeed without having keywords in your Domain. Think about some of the biggest successes there are Like “Zynga”, nothing in the Domain name says Social or Gaming or Anything like that. Other Examples Twitter, Facebook, Yahoo, I mean the names that are brandable, that you can recall when you think about, tend not to be those Keywords laden Domain. It all depends on your Goals, I would prefer domains which are brandable, because for example if you have 15 sites about Android, and all have android, android, android, it’s gonna be little hard to remember, to rise above the noise, if you have something brandable, people tend you to remember, they’re going to be able to come back.

Some People have complained that we are giving much weight for Keywords in Domains, so we have been thinking about adjusting the noise little bit & sort of turning the knob down within the algorithm so that within given two different domains it would not help you as much as to have a domain with a bunch of Keywords in it.”

As you have read Matt Cutts doesn’t insist on buying a Keyword rich domain, So, they also changed the Algorithm back in October 2012 which doesn’t give much weightage to an EMD.

P.S:- There was a time when you just needed a Domain with your targeted keyword, with no or less content & it ranked on the 1st page of Google.

Matt Cutts Statement

Look what Eric Schmidt have to say about it:-

Official Statement

Recently at SMX West 2017, Search Engine Land asked Google questions regarding usage of EMD’s

usage of EMD answer by google


Finally, we are in the Section where the debate will happen. Here, we are going to talk about the pros of Branding.

Branding: Giving your website a brand name have its own set of benefits. If you want to start a company of your own, then you should go for buying a domain with your Brand Name, because the Name of the company is your Identity and it should not be a keyword targeted spammy domain.

Using your brand name as the domain will make you stand out of the crowd, & if people like your products then they will come searching again by your Company name.

When you search for “Apple”, which is the name of a Fruit, as we all know, but Google returns the result for the Apple Inc.

This is because over the time Google collects data & it knows that what people are actually searching for:

Apple Brand Search

Advantages of using a Brand Name Domain:-

  • A brand name has the ability to give your website an Identity.
  • They are easy to remember
  • It sounds less spammy
  • You can get .com domain easily if you have a unique name
  • It will be easier for people to find you
  • A catchy & unique domain will help your Brand establish Authority
  • Your brand is how customers remember you
  • When potential customers conduct searches, they will most likely find your website
  • You have registered your business and organized it with the right authorities.

After reading the official statement from Google & benefits of branding your websites, you guys might be thinking that the Days of EMD’s are gone by?

But wait, we have something that will blow your Mind.

EMD actually still works.

Don’t believe me?

I’ll show you some live results where people actually uses Exact Matching Domains and their websites are Ranking on the Top.

Does EMD Still Work?

Google have never said that it is Black Hat Method or your website will be penalized, but in the interest of doing good SEO, you should focus on what factors will rank your websites at the top.

Does EMD Still work?
Here, we see that these Websites are ranking on the 1st page, with Keywords in their Domain.
EMD Works for Local SEO
For the keyword “watch movies online”, we see that Domain with Keywords like “movies”, “watch” are ranking ahead of Hotstar & Netflix.
benefits of using EMD
In the above Image, the Top 2 positions Website are same because they are using an EMD.
Use an EMD example - cheap flights
In the above Image, the 1st position Website is using an EMD.


A great Case Study is written by Mark Preston on We are going to give you a summary of what It has written. Do read the Full Case Study.

Mark Preston wanted to Start its own SEO Consultant firm, so he registered the Domain He used his own experience of 15 Years and developed a great SEO Friendly Website.

After a couple of months, when he checked the links through Ahrefs and noticed that, the site was ranking on the first page for Preston SEO(Preston is a city and the administrative centre of Lancashire, England.)

His business address, the address on his website, My Google account, and citations all state that his business is located in Blackpool, not Preston. The towns are about 17 miles, or 27km, apart.

You Might be thinking that how it is possible?

Here, Google got confused between Mark’s Surname & the local Preston Area. Google used as an Exact Match Keyword Domain.

I agree that the search volume is not great, but Google is clearly ranking him for a town that his business is not located in. To me, this shows that local is all messed up or Google is seeing “Preston SEO” as a keyword, and not a location, so they are ranking him based on the keyword anchor text which just happens to be part of his domain.

We have seen that, despite the Exact Match Domain Update, Google still gives importance to EMD & PMD.

But that should not be the case every time. In the Next section, we will Conclude & guide you whether to use an Exact Matching Keyword or a Brand Name for your Domain.


As we have seen that, Google Official Statement & also, live rankings where EMD’s are still effective, we conclude that, both of these domains have their own sets of advantages & disadvantages.

SEO is an unpredictable field where a small update can have a major impact on rankings

EMD can be used for these conditions:

Local Area SEO: – If you are Ranking a Website for a Local Area, Town, City, then you should go for EMD. The fact is that you will need 11% more links to outrank a Local Area targeted EMD compared to a brand name.

Keywords Having Low Search Volume: – You can easily Rank for these Keywords by using, not to forget, Using just an EMD will not work, you also Need Unique Content & High-Quality Links.

Brand Name can be used for these conditions:

Building a Company: – If Starting your own Company then, use your company name as the Domain. As we have mentioned above the advantages of using them.

Lastly, I’d like to put this, whether you are using an EMD or a Brand Name, if you have done the technical SEO right then, it will show significant results for sure.

Domain Name is one of the Ranking Factors in SEO, Decide what suit best for you and Move on.

If you have any questions,  shoot it in the comment section.

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