This is a guest post by Mark Collier who describes himself as an SEO expert turned domainer.
I recently completed a significant correlation study of Google’s algorithm and noticed the continued decline since 2010 of the power of Exact Match Domains (EMDs).
After Matt Cutts’ announcement that Google latest algorithm update would target “low-quality” exact match domains, domainers were left feeling that the last 3 years have been nothing less than a pummeling by the search giant.
This sustained set of blows to the raw SEO power of EMDs has left many in the domaining industry, including myself, pondering the future of EMDs.
Now we all know EMDs hold branding and memorability value, but what’s the likely value of EMDs in 2014, 2015, etc.
It may help to look at what the future of search engines will be in 2014 onwards to make this determination.
We know due to the continued decline of webmaster controlled factors (particularly on page factors) that Google are moving away from using factors that can be influenced easily or significantly by the owner of the website it benefits.
Essentially Google want to be harder to manipulate, not because they don’t like webmasters but because they believe and probably rightly so that being open to manipulation leads to poorer search results for users.
So in recognizing this, we could say that as EMDs are controlled solely by the webmaster that they are destined to continued decline and ultimate failure, but that of course would be nonsense, I’m not a doomsdayer and EMDs are most certainly not dead.
If Google’s goal is to provide the best search results for users then they must take into account the fact that users often search for the domains they could type directly into the search bar and the fact that often the EMD for a search result actually provides the most relevant content for a query.
What’s evident here is that Google will strive to recognize when users are searching for a particular domain or brand and when the EMD actually provides the most relevant content and only then will webmasters see the value of their EMD translated into search engine traffic.
The recent update targeted “low-quality” EMDs, translation:
irrelevant or poor quality content e.g. parked domains.
And the recent addition of a EMD patent to detect commercial queries (brands) is further evidence of this seismic shift.
This is the future of EMDs, webmasters will have to either create brands out of their EMDs or develop a site of substantial quality to benefit from the SEO power of EMDs.
Exact match domains are no longer powerful for the same reasons they were five years ago, but they are still extremely valuable for SEO purposes, but only when used in the right ways. Domainers must recognise this and adjust both their purchasing and developing decisions accordingly.
Mark Collier is a 17 year old, maths, stats and computer nerd who has “developed a revolutionary Dropday/Freshdrop alternative, which gathers the data domainers need to analyze dropping domains (including exact match search volume!).”