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How to compete with exact match domain about to overtake me?

     
1:08 am on Feb 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Hello,

For my main keyword, I notice the 'exact match' domain is encroaching my position extremely fast. Here's some things I noticed:

  • The domain has little link value
  • The domain has recently been bought by a new party
  • They have little to no textual content on their main page

    Now how on Earth am I going to compete with an exact match domain if all that's needed for them is the domain name? My domain has been under my control for about a year and a half longer than their domain has been under their control. They haven''t overtaken me *yet* and Google has even granted me mini sitelinks recently, but still... The fact that so little effort is needed for them to score so well is disturbing.

  • 2:35 am on Feb 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

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    Your scenario certainly adds credence to the opinion that keyword domain names remain extremely important. Last summer ('09) I built a new site and for the first time in awhile did not use a keyword rich domain. Other than that, I built it very much like other sites. My result -- it does not do nearly as well as those other keyword domain sites. I think in the past there's been some commentary here that a keyword domain is less important than it used to be -- your posting and my own experience do not uphold that view.

    ....................

    7:13 am on Feb 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

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    I see this as well, despite the assertion from some professionals that it is not the case.

    In genres I am part of, often a combination of the .org, .net and .com can rank together on page one. For product orientated searches the .com seems to get the biggest boost on exact keyword domains. But all three do get significant boosts, especially in the case where the domain has been indexed in Google for more than a few years (even if it has a very low inbound link count)

    Just look in google.com in the top 100 results for any exact keyword, and you will find exact keyword domains rankings even through they are parked pages.

    7:48 am on Feb 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

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    Long term: you will lose the battle. It makes perfect sense to favor exact match domains, since 99.99% of site owners would not sell shoes on computer--com but computers.
    8:38 am on Feb 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

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    Long term: you will lose the battle. It makes perfect sense to favor exact match domains, since 99.99% of site owners would not sell shoes on computer--com but computers.

    But what if there is little or no way to check whether they really do? And what if another site, on a less-exact match domain, sells better computers at better prices?

    Point is, a lot of money is spent on exact match domains, which in itself is a certain vote of confidence. However, I think the algo is taking it a bit too far in many cases.You can basically buy yourself to the top 3 for many phrases.

    9:32 am on Feb 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

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    And what if another site, on a less-exact match domain, sells better computers at better prices?

    Ah but it's not the search engines job to compare prices is it? ;)

    For my part I launched a website in September last year with a domain www.#*$!xsoftware.co.uk. With little promotional effort it is now number three in Google on a search for "#*$!x software". It certaibly looks to me that exact match domains carry a lot of weight, as (arguably)they should do. It is not difficult for G to confirm that the website content correlates with the domain name and rank it accordingly.

    9:41 am on Feb 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

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    Ah but it's not the search engines job to compare prices is it? ;)

    If two run-off-the-mill ecommerce sites provide the same goods, but at different prices... Which one would provide the best user experience? But I guess that's way beyond what search engines can and will do.


    For my part I launched a website in September last year with a domain www.#*$!xsoftware.co.uk. With little promotional effort it is now number three in Google on a search for "#*$!x software". It certaibly looks to me that exact match domains carry a lot of weight, as (arguably)they should do. It is not difficult for G to confirm that the website content correlates with the domain name and rank it accordingly.
    Yes, but what if the *quality* of the material as indicated by link profile is higher on another domain? IMHO, exact match should be a factor, but not one that's so heavily weighed.
    9:58 am on Feb 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

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    And what if another site, on a less-exact match domain, sells better computers at better prices?

    Googlebot can't tell the difference, not to mention that prices and quality change over time. If you have better prices and stuff, you could get a lot more links more users and make up with secondary keywords. Also, it's possible to outrank them, but very very hard. Google 'Insurance' for example and see that it's possible but...

    1:07 pm on Feb 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

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    IMHO still believe that the content and quality of service or whatever you offering in your site will outrank the competitors with exact match domain name.

    For example: if I own a domain name online store dot com, do I automatically list in serp close to Amazon? Amazon don't even have a domain name that show it is an online store. So do strange words like google, digg, facebook, twitter, etc.

    2:41 pm on Feb 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

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    Yes, and Apple and Dell rank for 'computers', but who has their budget and clout?

    As others have said, you get a BIG boost for a keyword domain, and I also agree that it's over-boosted in the algo right now. It's the most basic form of keyword spamming.

    If you have an even slightly savvy competitor using one, I'd either get one yourself or be prepared to work at least two or three times harder than them.

    3:00 pm on Feb 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

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    Back to the original question: how to compete?

    Some thoughts:

    1. Get more and better links than your competitor.
    2. Develop more ways to drive traffic that don't depend on SEO. (Yes, that will help your SEO over time.)
    3. Make sure your on-page / on-site SEO factors are polished to perfection.
    4. Get more and better links ...

    3:11 pm on Feb 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

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    Based on no research whatsoever, I've always suspected that a keyword-based domain name is not a very important ranking factor in and of itself. I think there's a good chance that often its a case where a keyword domain is controlled by a webmaster that's focused on his search engine performance. So he's likely doing a lot of the 99 other things it takes to perform well, but at a glance it appears that the domain name is the key to his success. The other minor factor involved is that nearly all active sites have a modest proportion of their links that use the URL as the anchor text, so keyword domains benefit from them automatically.
    3:59 pm on Feb 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

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    @ FranticFish
    And funny word joomla has rank high for CMS without big budget. :)

    My personal opinion, buckworks approach is the best things to do in long term.

    Again, my personal opinion, exact match domain is not meant to be BIG, it's only for fun. Just something to play with SE and to satisfy webmaster desire.

    I mean, if you build a brand or biz entity, do you name it as operating system dot com instead of microsoft or linux or whatever other funny words?

    4:39 pm on Feb 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

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    joomla has rank high for CMS without big budget

    Yes, but it's another bad example because it's possibly the most popular open source CMS system.

    I agree with what you're saying with brands, but I bet that most brand owners would still jump at the chance to own the closest keyword domain to their brand if they could.

    Would monster.com rather be jobs.com? Definitely. What big insurer wouldn't want to be insurance.com? British Gas use house.co.uk - and so on.

    4:43 pm on Feb 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

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    It's the most basic form of keyword spamming.

    I disagree. If I sell redtechnowidgets I call my website redtechnowidgets.com that is hardly keyword spamming is it?

    4:48 pm on Feb 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

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    another bad example because it's possibly the most popular open source CMS system

    But it didn't start out that way, did it?

    Study why Joomla has the rankings it does, and learn from it.

    4:50 pm on Feb 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

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    my website redtechnowidgets.com

    A keyword domain like that is a mixed blessing. What good will such a domain do if you want to branch out into selling yellow doodads?

    5:04 pm on Feb 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

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    @ FranticFish
    Yes, I aggreed with you, most of the big companies want to own keyword domain related to their business.
    Look at money dot com, and see where it redirect to.

    But again, it's "just for fun" in term of this big corporate. In the example of money domain, they don't even put content in it.

    I wonder when the big guy snap that s3x dot com just to redirect it to make their own brand stronger.

    5:32 pm on Feb 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

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    I am too old to branch out. :)
    5:41 pm on Feb 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

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    Well, you just pick up the yellow doodads domain. ;)
    5:48 pm on Feb 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

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    So he's likely doing a lot of the 99 other things it takes to perform well, but at a glance it appears that the domain name is the key to his success.

    Well said. The domain name is ONE of the keys to success, along with the other 98. But my own experience (as I mentioned in the second post above) is that if I do those other 98 things competently, but do not have the keyword domain, then my cool but meaningless domain seems to hurt (I am not at the level of Amazon or Apple!); if I do them competently and DO have the targeted keyword domain, it can push me up to a respectful level. It's almost like it "validates" everything else (the actual theme of the website) in such a way that I get that much desired extra boost -- which can make a huge difference in many cases, especially for smaller sites.

    ..............................

    6:20 pm on Feb 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

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    One of the workaround is to create keyword subdomain and fill it with your targeted services or product.

    You don't have to own money, house, apple domain for that purpose. And, it's a lot cheaper. :)

    9:40 pm on Feb 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

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    I don't think you get the same boost for a subdomain, if you ever did. Turned way down in the algo to stop spam. You get the anchor text by default on IBLs, but you miss something else...

    What Reno said. That is exactly what I've seen. For local search at a town/county level, the choice of domain outweighs pretty much everything else. I see businesses with incredible editorial links from 'household name' media portals, THE niche review sites, being comfortably outranked by keyword domains with free directory links and splogrolls. I see these sites that should be first and second and they are just inside the top twenty. And I see it in every niche I've looked at in depth for as long as I've been looking (over a year now).
    9:51 pm on Feb 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

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    Study why Joomla has the rankings it does, and learn from it.

    erm... footer links?

    Seriously though, I do get what you're saying and I agree. Transform your site (and therefore your business, or at least the way you spin your business) into something worthy of discussion and citation, so links follow automatically. Long term success plus traffic vs short term rankings.
    10:04 pm on Feb 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

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    I have a site which is <city><keyword>.com and after three months I have crept up to page one, with just a few links and not much content development.

    Other sites on page one and two are all the big industry hitters with dedicated listings for that city (v.competitive area).

    So I believe it is very useful to have exact matching domain name.
    8:09 am on Feb 5, 2010 (gmt 0)

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    Last week i was interested in a exact keyword domain. I wanted to use the domain to redirect to my existing site.

    The funny guy asked me 20.000 euro. It is not a value domain but just the exact keyword.

    I became angry, worked for 5 day's on my site and now im on page 1 in google and page 1 in bing.

    Just takes time to takeover his #1 spot.

    Then i will call him again ;)