Last Updated on December 6, 2023 by Mathew Nolan

In the early days of SEO, exact match domains (EMDs) were a hot topic. Many marketers believed having a domain that perfectly matched their target keyword was the key to ranking high on search engine results pages. 

However, as Google’s algorithms have evolved, the effectiveness of EMDs has come into question. The SEO community has many discussions about the importance and benefits of using an EMD. 

While an EMD domain has been an effective way to deliver great rankings and traffic in the past, do exact match domains still work? Let’s find out. In this blog, we’ll learn what are exact match domains, when and how to use an EMD, it is essential, how Google treats them, and how it can influence your SEO campaign and strategy.

What are Exact Match Domains?

A domain name that includes words from the search terms requested by web search engines is referred to as an exact match domain. An exact match domain can also have multiple keywords with high search volume in the domain name. Exact match domains involve branding elements in queries for ranking purposes.

The domain name alone tells you exactly what the website is about, which can be a powerful signal for both search engines and users. Using an EMD domain matching their target keyword, the website gained visibility on search engine results pages (SERPs). It attracted many visitors looking for information and reviews.

Exact Match Domains

However, it’s important to note that the website’s success is not solely due to its domain name. The site also provides high-quality content that helps users make informed purchasing decisions, ultimately keeping visitors returning and driving sales. Additionally, an EMD can be helpful for successful local businesses that want to rank for location-specific keywords. See the exact match domain example below…

  •  Exact Match Domain Example:

Let us give you a real example of Google exact match domains; suppose there is a meditation and yoga studio in Denver; here, a website owner using an exact match domain like “” to attract more organic traffic & increase SERP rankings. This domain name includes your target keywords and clearly communicates the location and nature of your business to potential customers.

Exact Match Domain Example

By using an exact match domain that matches your target keyword, they can increase the relevance of a website to users searching for meditation and yoga services in Denver. 

Some other exact match domain examples of using an EMD name include a web design company choosing a domain name:


Another exact match domain example, where a plumber business targeting competitive keywords in a local area might look like this:


EMD domain can help attract more organic traffic and improve the site’s search engine rankings but only when you focus on providing value to your customers.

What is a Partial Match Domain?

A partial match domain (“PMD”) is similar to an exact match domain; however, it contains only part of the keyword phrase features that a brand wants to target or feature. For example, suppose you cannot get the domain name “” as an exact match.

Exact Match Domain & Partial Match Domain

In that case, you might consider a domain name such as “,” “,” or “,” etc. Partial match domains like these can also have significant ranking power when a proper SEO strategy is implemented. 

Some other partial match domain examples might be –


We typically advise avoiding a hyphenated compromise like “” – it looks spammy and difficult to market in other print media, radio, TV, etc. 

Do Exact Match Domains Still Work? What Google Says…

Google has become more sophisticated in its understanding of user language and intent. In 2012, Matt Cutts announced an algorithm change to reduce the amount of low-quality Google exact match domains in search results.

This algorithm update aimed not to exclusively target exact match domain names but to penalize sites with the following spammy tactics: exact match domains + poor quality sites + thin content + poor SEO

These websites’ main flaw was that SEOs would purchase domains with exact match keyword phrases and build out a site, but the content would be incredibly thin and of little to no value. But Google’s algorithms have evolved to prioritize high-quality, relevant content over Google exact match domains.

Before the update happened, Google’s Matt Cutts warned the industry that this would be a focus of a future update. A tweet from Google’s head of web spam spells trouble for webmasters who have relied on keywords in their domain name to rank. 

Cutts announced the EMD update on X on September 28, 2012, & also tweeted, “New exact-match domain (EMD) algo affects 0.6% of English-US queries to a noticeable degree. Unrelated to Panda/Penguin.”

Cutts announced the EMD update

EMD domain can play a part in getting you better rankings, but it’s iffy. When it comes to EMD SEO, there’s the good and the bad truth about it.

Does Google Like Exact Match Domains? Tactics To Keep In Mind…

Google like EMDs as long as they are not spammy. Many examples of EMDs staying high on the SERPs without fear of exact match domain penalty like– (, ( are high-profile examples. 

These EMD domains are a great signal of user intent for those searching for hotels & cheap flights

If you are stuck with an exact-match domain, there is hope your site will be visible on Google again. Ensure your site has multiple pages with rich content; Google can easily pick up when your site has 1 page full of the same keyword. 

Remember: These domains can’t rank for local listings because they don’t own the hotels & flights. Google initially used the EMD update to regulate spam and clean up the SERPs. For local audience reach, you must optimize your Google Business Profile (GMB) for local SEO optimization.

But Google realized some valuable exact-match domain holders also had been penalized because of having a catchy EMD. After that, they released an algorithm update that raised the value of these domains and penalized the low-quality EMD sites.

So, if you want an exact match domain, be prepared to do extensive research to find a good one that is readily available. Getting an EMD can satisfy user intent and help your brand grow, as people will easily get to know what your site should be about before they go to it.

What Are The Benefits Of Exact Match Domains For SEO?

Exact Match Domains (EMDs) were once considered a valuable tool in the SEO arsenal, allowing website owners to match their domain name to their target keyword. 

This made it easier for search engines to understand what the website was about and could potentially result in higher rankings on search engine results pages (SERPs). 

However, in recent years, the effectiveness of EMDs in SEO has been questioned. It thoroughly depends on the site context. EMDs can still be effective in certain situations, but they are no longer the “silver bullet” they once were.

  •  Important SEO Practices To Support Your EMD Domain Strategy

In fact, using an EMD without considering other important SEO factors like creating & amplify high-quality relevant content, user experience, user-friendly website, and other SEO optimization tactics can harm a website’s SERPs rankings. Following the major elements in the table below can definitely boost your ranking, quality traffic & conversions.

Target Low-Competition KeywordsUpdate Existing Content
Write Quality Original ContentAim for Featured Snippets
Optimize ImagesGet Backlinks from Authority Sites
Make Your Site Mobile-FriendlyWork on Business Blogging
Decrease Load TimesOptimize Title and Meta Description
Use Internal LinkingImprove Local SEO/GMB listings
Conduct Regular Site AuditsTrack Metrics with Google Analytics

Some effective practices you should avoid engaging in include:

  1. Adding low-quality links
  2. Adding spammy links
  3. Excessive reciprocal linking
  4. Avoid keyword stuffing
  5. Having unnatural links to and from your website
  6. Pure spam
  7. User-generated spam

While these are just a few examples of what can bring your rankings down and penalize your website, there are several other things to avoid. 

If you decide to use an EMD domain as part of your SEO strategy, there are some important considerations to remember. Most of all, preventing practicing black hat SEO tactics and engaging only in white hat SEO is essential. 

You must create high-quality, relevant content that matches your target keyword. Don’t rely solely on your EMD to boost your rankings. Ensure your site’s content is natural and valuable to users. Finally, use SEO tactics, such as building high-quality backlinks, to support your EMD domain ranking. 

Conclusion: Is Investing in an EMD Worth It, or Should You Look Elsewhere?

In conclusion, the effectiveness of EMDs in SEO has changed over time. While they were once considered a surefire way to rank highly on search engines, Google’s algorithms have evolved to prioritize high-quality, relevant content over exact match domains

However, using an EMD domain can still be a viable strategy in some cases, especially for niche websites with a specific focus market, location, or local businesses. Focus on providing high-quality, valuable content that matches your target keyword, regardless of whether or not you use an EMD. 

Remember that while exact match domain names are still prevalent and a great way to rank up, you must apply other effective SEO tactics. An E-commerce/SEO agency can undoubtedly help with better alternative strategies. 

We offer result-driven digital marketing services, including SEO marketing, social media marketing such as Facebook, LinkedIn, etc., and website design to help your business succeed online fast. Don’t hesitate to contact our expert SEO team for advice on domains, website optimization, or other SEO services. Get a free consultation call now @ +1-307-209-3608


Exact match domains used to work well, but search engines like Google have updated their rules/algorithms to focus on content quality, intent, and relevance. Today, even if you have an EMD, you need to focus on quality content & overall SEO activities to rank higher on search engine results pages (SERPs). 


Exact match domains are slightly expensive as they help you generate millions of dollars in revenue if they rank higher or if you sell them in the future. With the right brand name, you've new ways to access an untapped customer base. Google also values these EMDs. A premium domain name that aligns with your brand/niche will connect you to new leads without advertisement.


Using EMD domains can be risky as there are an exact match domain penalty if you are spamming your content, stuffing keywords, or performing other black hat activities. An SEO agency can help you avoid these risks and ensure your EMD SEO strategy is effective and ethical in terms of search engine bots. 


An exact match domain can have multiple targeted keywords with a high search volume in the domain name. An EMD can still provide some SEO benefits if used alongside other powerful tech SEO strategies, such as high-quality content and high DA PA link building. However, you must remember that an exact match domain alone will not guarantee higher rankings on SERPs. Get a free consultation call now @ +1-307-209-3608 


Several alternatives to Google exact match domains exist, such as a partial domain name, brand name, or unique domain name relevant to your niche. Partnering with an SEO agency can help you identify the best optimization strategy for your business.


The time it takes to see results with an EMD strategy varies depending on various factors, such as the competition level in your niche and the effectiveness of your SEO strategies. An SEO agency can provide a realistic timeline based on your specific needs.


An expert SEO company can help you determine whether an EMD is a suitable strategy for your business and niche. Renowned SEO agencies like Digital Guider can help you choose & optimize your EMD with quality & informative content, high-quality backlinks, and technical on-page optimization to boost the chances of your site ranking higher on Google's 1st page.


To get started with an effective SEO strategy, partner with an experienced SEO agency specializing in your niche. They can provide customized solutions that meet your business needs & help you achieve your SEO goals. Contact our experts today to achieve higher rankings on SERPs and drive more quality traffic to your site. Get a free consultation call now @ +1-307-209-3608