It’s tempting to think that, if you insert obvious keywords into the domain name of your website, it will attract Google users en masse. This kind of thinking likely explains why many keyword-based URLs, like computers.com and hotels.com, have sold at high prices in the past.
However, Google has cottoned onto the fact that sites shouldn’t get a free ticket to SEO respectability simply because they have a straight-to-the-point URL. For this reason, while your site’s domain name can still play a part in its online visibility, the effect is much subtler than it used to be.
What is an ‘exact match domain’?
If you aren’t familiar with the term, this is probably because the use of exact match domains has long gone out of fashion. An exact match domain – otherwise known as an EMD – is a domain name that includes the exact keyword or keyword phrase for which the site is intended to rank on SERPs (search engine results pages).
So, a bookshop that specialises in selling Mills & Boon novels and the like might have favoured a URL like romancebookshop.com, while a company selling antique furniture could have opted for a domain name along the lines of buyantiquefurniture.com.
However, in September 2012, Matt Cutts – at that time a Google engineer – tweeted that Google was set to lessen the prominence of “low-quality” EMDs in search results. This would doubtless have come as a relief to webmasters who believed their sites were more genuinely useful and informative than competing sites that used EMDs and were being given an unfair advantage as a result.
Can an exact match domain today confer any kind of SEO advantage at all?
In 2020, John Mueller – a Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google – addressed the issue of whether EMDs positively affect SEO, with Mueller explaining in a video: “In short, no. You don’t get a special bonus like that from having a keyword in your top-level domain.”
He explained in justification: “Just because a website has a keyword in its domain name doesn’t mean that it’s more relevant than others for that keyword. In short, you don’t need to put keywords in the domain name.”
Choose a domain name that would bode well in the long term
Over time, the importance of keywords in various forms of online content – including web copy, social media and, as we have just implied, domain names – has fallen. These days, you’re likelier to push Google’s buttons by simply making your website as helpful as possible for its target readership.
You should also make sure your website doesn’t initially mislead people about what type of content it offers. Since your site’s domain name can heavily influence first impressions of the site as a whole, you should prioritise selecting a domain name that looks likely to be ‘future-proof’ for your site.
So, romancebookshop.com could become problematic for a bookstore if it starts stocking books from genres other than romance. Fortunately, we can help you to secure just the right domain name for your website.