Exact match domains (also known as EMDs or keyword domains) are quite literally domains with keywords in their names. The sole purpose of these types of domains is to make websites rank highly in Google’s search engine results.
So for example, if you owned a computer repair store in Doncaster and you wanted to be sure that most people looked at your website instead of others, then one thing you could do, and it is common, is to use a keyword domain name such as “computer-repair-doncaster.com”.
Now if you lived in Doncaster and you wanted someone to repair your computer, you could go on to Google and search for “computer repair Doncaster”. You would then get a list of search results showing you some relevant websites for your search query, and there would be a very strong possibility that the example domain name above would feature prominently on the first page of the search results.
Why EMDs have become a problem
Although this would work fine for legitimate websites, as you can imagine these types of domains have also been opened up to abuse by unscrupulous individuals for the purposes of making money through a whole host of unethical and in some cases, illegal methods.
To tackle this problem, Google have released an EMD update back in September 2012 as part of the regular adjustments or tweaks they make to their search results ranking algorithm. As a result of this update, websites that have EMDs are more likely to be targeted by Google than ones with no keywords in their domain names.
How to avoid any negative impact from the EMD update
Google is pretty transparent when it comes to improving their service and explaining why they introduce certain updates to their search results ranking algorithm. Here are some tips to help you avoid having your exact match domain being negatively impacted from this update:
- DO have relevant, quality content – make sure it is easily readable and makes sense to humans, and not written purely for search engines.
- DO remove spam comments and posts – if you run a blog or a forum, make sure your content is good quality and delete any user generated spam.
- DO check your site regularly for vulnerabilities – take any steps necessary to prevent hackers from controlling your website and its content, and ensure that all of your passwords are strong.
- DO report any “unnatural” links pointing to your website – if you use Google’s Webmaster Tools, it offers a “disavow links” facility to report links pointing to your website from any suspicious websites which could affect your website’s reputation.
- DON’T use black hat SEO tactics – keyword stuffing, link cloaking and pages loaded with malware are a sure fire way to have your site frowned upon by Google.
- DON’T plagiarize – stealing someone else’s content by automated means (for example, content scraping or grabbing content from RSS feeds).
- DON’T have any duplicate content – Google’s search results ranking algorithm is forever evolving and can pick up even the subtlest of duplicate content on your website.