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The Rise, Fall and Resurrection of Exact Match Domains (EMDs)

What have you experienced in recent years when it come to EMDs?

     
5:49 pm on Oct 26, 2017 (gmt 0)

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In my experience the value of "some", not all, Exact Match Domains (EMDs) has plummeted . . starting with Dot Net EMDs. The devaluation has cascaded into all manner of new gTLDs.

The general decline coincided with the un-weighting of EMDs in search engine algorithms.

On the flip side, robust .Com and .Org EMDs still "have legs" in my experience - both as to value and utility - for a variety of reasons.

Here's what I observe and/or what I have experienced:

  • They play nicely in social media settings since they are easy to remember
  • IF you have the benefit of "the real deal domain" the pretenders to the domain tend to suffer at the hands of folks on social media who "remember" the real word/phrase + default to the presumed TLD and not to some made up pretender. (Likely explains why many startups move from their .io domains to the matching .com once they prove their vitality.).
  • Social references to easy to recall EMDs appears to play into SERPs in a round about way ~citations, virality, etc.
  • Did I say "Easy to remember", as in billboard-able and therefore enhanced utility value across more than just search or SERPs: billboards, TV spots, radio spots. (In my local TV market I know Mr. "I am THE injury lawyer @ InjuryLawyer.com!")
  • Decreased marketing = branding costs in an ever cluttered and competitive digital world still argues (to many) for the utility of EMDs.
  • There's more but . .


So, while I wanted to say STFU to everyone who was publicly talking about the benefit of EMDs back in the day (STFU ~"Sure, go ahead and rub the shortcomings of search algos in the engineers faces. That'll work.), I equally want to hand a less shrill bit of . . guidance . . to those talking down EMDs today.

It ain't over 'til it's over and the value of EMDs doesn't reside only in the ephemera of weighting of "words in domains" in search engine ranking signals.

Your turn.

Anyone bemoaning the decline of their EMD holdings? What was the "best" EMD that you just let slip away (expire)? What were you thinking when you let it go?

Anyone still holding EMDs . . in any gTLD other than .Com or .Org? I guess there's a few holders of .Info or other gTLDs, but I'm also guessing that your non-dot-com/org EMDs are very robust one word domains. What say you, holders of other gTLDs?

I'm okay if you post a few of your very best with your EMDs with a "statement of reason(s)" for holding tight, including any evidence to back up your thinking.

EDIT: Fixed typo

[edited by: Webwork at 9:59 pm (utc) on Nov 16, 2017]

8:07 pm on Oct 26, 2017 (gmt 0)

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My casual impression is that bing is particularly fond of EMDs.
8:49 pm on Oct 26, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I've always looked at the EMD as a brandable commodity.

Most of my EMDs didn't suffer from the deweighting in SEs as they had good relevant content.

The issue was with the three word hyphenated stuff with spam content, which was pretty much wiped out.

From a domain investment perspective EMDs are guaranteed value in com, org and info.

I think that the new tlds will not have enough 'highly commercial' EMDs to keep the registries running and we will see some of them disappear over the next five to ten years. There is probably some money to made in commercial term EMDs in new tlds for the professional investors, but I will steer clear.

I'm still holding onto single word .coms and a few two word .coms generally with the .co.uk to match - been dropping net and biz domains except for one or two reasonable single words.
2:54 am on Oct 30, 2017 (gmt 0)

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EMD's may not have an inherent ranking advantage, which means it's a level playing field. All things equal, which is fair.

The advantage of an EMD isn't for ranking. It might be for conversions. It seems to me, from my past experience, exact match domains convert at a high rate. That's my impression at least. Not sure if that's still happening as my EMD's are dormant. But... it might be time to activate some.
7:21 pm on Oct 30, 2017 (gmt 0)

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>>I've always looked at the EMD as a brandable commodity.

totally agree.
i've never thought of them as an seo tool, but very much as Webwork also says "Easy to remember"

i've a few .com and .co.uk's which i'd never let go of, those not in use are directly exact matches to product types i sell (eg not brand names but descriptions) - and one day i'll use them most likely as mini sites or landing pages for (not online) marketing campaigns
8:40 pm on Oct 30, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I registered a single-world .NET EMD several months ago, which was available to my surprise, and expect to launch the site by Q1. The only "downside" I see right now is that you are pretty much forced to include the extension in the brand name, and .NET isn't that best for that (but still better than .INFO or .ORG for a commercial site). I'd rather have had the .COM or the ccTLD, of course, but for targeting "widgets" I still expect widgets.net to do much better than, say, widgetsonline.com or whatever non-EMD one could think of. Then again, I outrank several competitor EMDs in other niches; it's certainly no golden ticket, but I think you can put it your advantage for much the same reasons as those mentioned above. Marketing is going to be easier. Having said that [youtube.com], it could fail miserably and explain why the domain was available in the first place.

Domains are cheap enough to not let the EMDs I have "slip away", but I'm not a portfolio guy.
3:46 am on Nov 16, 2017 (gmt 0)

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The way that EMDs come into play now is easy-to-remember and type-in
11:37 am on Nov 16, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Any domain name can be easy to remember and typed into the search bar... as long as it's easy to remember. It doesn't have to be an exact match.

Uber is easy to remember.
Travelocity is easy to remember and it's evocative of travel and speed.
1:16 pm on Nov 16, 2017 (gmt 0)

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It helps to have a trademark or company name matching your EMD to avoid trouble with the Gods
5:48 pm on Nov 16, 2017 (gmt 0)

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It helps to have a trademark or company name matching your EMD
Well, if there's nothing to match, you can't call it an EM-anything, can you? Unless you've invented a wholly brand-new product or idea, with a wholly brand-new name, you're not going to be able to snabble widgets dot com and get a leg-up that way; someone else has already got the name and it's not worth fighting for it.

Sure, it helps to have an established, pre-existing name. If your company has been around for decades and generations and centuries, and you're only now getting around to creating a website*, then obviously it's to your advantage to use that already-familiar name as your domain name. And, if necessary, to pay whatever it takes to get the name away from whatever dragon is currently reposing on it.


* In which case, hurry; the obvious first-choice domain name appears to be for sale. I checked.
6:42 pm on Nov 16, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I do have a bunch of 'slogan' EMDs (in dotcom and applicable cctld's) that are also service marks for trademarked main domains; they catch, filter/qualify, and funnel a good amount of traffic.
9:06 pm on Nov 16, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Better match the EMD, long term it will help

I would match any one word, two words EMDs

From 3 words will smell
 

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