The Decline of Exact Match Domains

by Paul Wilson


For the last several years exact match domains have been the gold of SEO. You could buy one and with relative ease rank the domain on that exact keyword. So, if you had and were selling stone garden turtles than it was somewhat easy to rank on the keyword stone garden turtles. However, if you bought than it meant more work in gaining organic traffic on the exact keyword.

Recently, I have seen a shift with Google that suggests that exact domains have lost much of their SEO value. At the same time, I have also noticed that the usual links I have been acquiring are not as powerful. To confirm my suspicions I reached out to SEOMoz and asked their opinion on the matter.

SEOMoz’s Answer
There appear to be changes happening a lot lately with Google SERPs. In particular, I’ve noticed changes in the ranking of exact match domains. I think this is because of Google trying to take action against thin affiliate sites who buy exact match keyword domains and ranked very easily with few links and poor content. So I think they’ve been tweaking the algorithm a bit to try and solve the problem. I wouldn’t be surprised if you are seeing changes in SERPs because of this.

Another thing I’ve noticed is a small devaluation in sitewide links. These do not seem to be as effective as they used to be, in particular if the link is an exact keyword. This is mainly speculative on my part and my opinion really.

Also, article marketing doesn’t seem to be as effective when the links are at the bottom of the article in a bio section. Matt Cutts commented specifically on this at Pubcon late last year. You can read more here –

He talks about how the links at the top of an article are more likely to be valued higher than those at the bottom. Traditionally in article marketing, the links have always been at the bottom so this may be an indicator that Google can spot article marketing links easily.

I hope that helps!

Obviously, this is not a definitive answer, but it does support a lot of the theories I have been drawing about exact matches and specific backlinks. What is important to take from all of this is that Google is working their very smart brains to make it harder for the web marketing community to game their index (which is truly nothing new). It will be interesting to see how drastically these changes will revolutionize the landscape in SEO.

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