Exact Match Domain Names For SEO – What You Should Know

If you hadn’t heard Google came out recently with a new update to their algorithm (they seem to be doing this once a week) that affected exact match domain names.

I have always been a strong advocate for exact match domains because up until this last update, Google gave undue advantage to them in the search results.

All you had to do is have a domain name that matched a phrase people would search on google and you would rank for that phrase.

With their most recent update Google decided to remove this advantage. So what does it mean for you?

The reason having an exact match domain was so powerful is because Google was trying to make sure that if a person was searching for a specific company (ie Amazon.com) that company’s website would be the first result. So I would go to Google and search “Amazon” and amazon.com would show up as the top result.

The problem has always been that they have been unable to differentiate between company names and random domain names. So if I owned www.realestate.com and someone searched “real estate” Google would assume they were searching for my website and that it must be my company name.

This is how exact match domains came to be so popular. People would buy up the .com, .net, .org, .biz, .co and .info of key phrases that are highly searched and they would be ranked quickly in the search engines.

Now Google has taken away that advantage. They really scrutinize a website just like they do non-exact match domains and don’t automatically have them show in the rankings. They want to see good natural links and good content on the site to be considered to show on page 1.

So it seems that it is much like the way they treat all other domains. The playing field has been leveled…or has it?

Google still gives extra weight to an exact match domain. They still can’t differentiate between the name of a business and a keyphrase rich domain. They want to provide the best results to their users so what they are doing is assuming that if someone is searching for a business, the business website will have plenty of content and good links pointing to their site that include their business name as the anchor text.

So if you own an exact match domain, the way you make it still rank high in the search engines is to point links to it that have your exact match phrase as the anchor. Do a ton of those. Google won’t penalize you if your links are all simply the name of your website, just like they wouldn’t punish Nike.com for getting a ton of links that have “Nike” as the anchor text.

When you seek out an exact match domain one thing that I always do is I will go and search that key phrase and see if there is already an exact match domain at the top of Google. If there is it will most likely be very difficult for you to get to the top 5 for that phrase. Google has already given authority status to the other exact match domain.

If you don’t see nother domain there that matches then you are good to go. I recently took a brand new exact match domain (it is a .biz) and got it to #1 for its phrase in less than 4 months. Here is the kicker, the site only has 4 or 5 pages with minimal content and I haven’t added any content since the original design. All I have done is get links to the site. It does still work, even with a .biz.

How To Buy An Existing Domain Name

Buying an Existing Domain


If the domain you want is already taken, there’s a good chance that you can buy that domain from the owner.  Again, I don’t mean going to a domain registrar like Actnowdomains.com and registering a new, never before registered domain. This is something you should and will do most of the time. I mean buying a domain name that someone else has registered but they are selling the name.

If, when you go to the domain, there isn’t a live site you can go to www.whois.net and find out the owners contact information and then contact them directly about buying the domain.

Sometimes you will type in a domain name into a browser and then see a live website but in reality it is just a parked page and there actually will be a link on the page that says “This Domain Might Be For Sale”. You can click on that link and then make an offer on the domain. You may or may not get a response but this is how I purchased my last domain.

Advantages to Buying an Existing Domain

I see two main advantages to purchasing an already existing domain. First, if your heart is set on a certain name and you don’t think that you can do business with any other name then you should try to buy the domain name from whoever owns it.

The second reason to buy an existing domain name is to take advantage of any previous link popularity the domain has. Many domains that are up for sale used to be active websites that were promoted by their webmasters.  Many of these old websites obtained many links pointing to their site and although the site has since shut down, the links remain. That leaves the opportunity for you to build a new website and take advantage of the old links pointing to that domain. Keep in mind that you need to put up a new site that is similar in nature to the previous website or the links will hold little to no value to you.

Use the Yahoo link feature I explained in step 9 of the section “Buying an Existing Website” to check if a domain has links pointing to it.

Resources:

Here is a list of some good websites to buy or sell domain names.

http://www.buydomains.com has hundreds of prime domains for sale.

http://www.afternic.com another good list of domains for sale.

http://www.sedo.com has a big selection of domains as well.

http://www.tdnam.com is a good place to find a very large selection of domain names for sale at a cheap price.

How To Buy A Domain Name


Starting from Scratch: Buying a New Domain

If you’ve chosen to start your website from scratch, the first step is to find and purchase your new domain name.  When I say “new” domain, I mean a domain name that has never been previously registered.

Choosing a Domain Name

There are a few things to consider when choosing your domain name.

SEO Friendly

Your domain name itself can actually help a good deal in your efforts to rank better for certain key terms.

One of the quirks in the Google algorithm is that if someone searches for exactly what your domain name is, you have a very good chance of ranking for that term with out doing a lot of SEO for it.

For example, if you do a Google search for “buy domains” the website buydomains.com is the first listed site. Google makes the assumption that when you search a key phrase and there is a website who’s domain name matches the exact phrase you searched, they assume you were searching for that specific company. So you can buy domain names that are highly searched key phrases and get ranked fairly easily for those phrases.

You can use one of the key phrase search tools I talk about in the SEO portion of this guide and find some commonly searched terms. Then go see if any of the domains that match those key phrases are available for sale.

If buying an existing domain: keep in mind that Google at anytime can change their algorithm and this could no longer be an effective technique so there is risk involved if you are spending a lot of money for a domain. Having said that I recently spent $800 on a domain because it is a good search term that would bring very targeted visitors for what I am offering.

.com or .net?

When buying a domain I recommend always trying to get a .com name. People naturally see the .com website as the authority and if they are typing in your web address they will often type .com out of habit. You could lose customers if you own a .net or .org domain name.  If however, the .com domain that you’re determined to get is taken, I would consider a .net as the next best option.

Easy to Remember and Type

All things equal, a domain name that’s easy to remember and type is better than a long, difficult one.  If, for whatever reason, you plan on advertising the domain, you will definitely want it to be easy to remember.

This may not be as big of a factor, however, depending on how you intend to get most of your traffic.  If, for example, most of your traffic will come from organic rankings (which should be the goal for many of you) a long name won’t matter as much.

For example, I recently started a website where my main key term (searched more than 3 times the amount of the next biggest term) consisted of four large words, making it a very long key term.  I found a domain that contained that exact phrase, so I bought it.  Now, when friends ask what the site is, they laugh, but the site also started ranking (it just got on page one of Google) much quicker than it otherwise would have.

What if the Domain I want isn’t Available?

In most cases you’ll find that the perfect domain for your new website has already been taken.  You’ll often have to be a little creative and flexible when coming up with other alternatives.  Here are a few ideas to get you thinking:

  • Consider adding hyphens (-) between the words in the domain.
  • Consider getting a .net rather than a .com website.
  • Find possible synonyms for different parts of the domain.
  • Use the Google Keyword Tool to find similarly searched terms.
  • Consider buying an existing domain (see Buying an Existing Domain).

Buying Your New Domain

Ready to buy a domain?  This tutorial will walk you through each step necessary to become the proud owner of new domain.  While there are literally hundreds of different companies that act as domain registrars, we’ll be using our favorite for this tutorial: Name.com.  We’ll also be setting up a domain named www.prosperlybeginners.com.

Step 1: Go to www.Name.com.

Step 2: Either create an account or log in (both found at top right).

Step 3: Type in your desired domain in the search box at the top. Click Search.

If your domain is available it will have a box that you check to select it.  If it’s not available, the option for that particular domain extension will be in grey and “Taken” will appear:

Input different domains until you find one that is available.

Step 4: Click on the domain extension (.com in the example) that you want.  Then click Checkout.

Step 5 (optional): If desired, click the Private Whois box to have your personal information hidden from the public Whois records.  Click the Google Apps box if you’d like to automatically be signed up for Google Apps (for now, I suggest keeping it unchecked since we can easily sign up for it later).

Step 6: Input your payment information, agree to the terms and conditions, and click Purchase Now.  *You may also want to do a quick search for “name.com promo code” to get a small discount.

You can view and manage your domains by clicking on Account at the top of the screen. We will come back here when we set up hosting for the domain.

You are now the proud owner of your new domain.


Buying An Existing Domain Name – Get Traffic Faster

When buying a domain name I recommend always trying to get a .com name. People naturally see the .com website as the authority and if they are typing in your web address they will often type .com out of habit.  You can still be very successful buying a .net or .org domain name, I just recommend getting a .com.

There are 3 reasons you should consider buying an existing domain name. I don’t mean going to a domain registrar like Actnowdomains.com and registering a new never before registered domain. This is something you should and will do most of the time. I mean buying a domain name that someone else has registered but they are selling the name.

First, if your heart is set on a certain name and you don’t think that you can do business with any other name then you should try to buy the domain name from whoever owns it.

The second reason to buy an existing domain name is to take advantage of any previous link popularity the domain has. Many domains that are up for sale used to be active websites that were promoted by their webmasters. Many of these old websites obtained many links pointing to their site and although the site has since shut down the links remain. That leaves the opportunity for you to build a new website and take advantage of the old links pointing to that domain. Keep in mind that you need to put up a new site that is similar in nature to the previous website or the links will hold little to no value to you.

Use the Yahoo link feature I explained in step 9 of the Buying A Website Part 1 to check if a domain has links pointing to it.

Thirdly, one of the quirks in the Google algorithm is that if someone searches for exactly what your domain name is, you have a very good chance of ranking for that term with out doing a lot of SEO for it.

For example, if you do a Google search for “buy domains” the website buydomains.com is the first listed site. Google makes the assumption that when you search a key phrase and there is a website who’s domain name matches the exact phrase you searched, they assume you were searching for that specific company. So you can buy domain names that are highly searched key phrases and get ranked fairly easily for those phrases. This is a great way to get traffic to your website quickly.

Keep in mind that Google at anytime can change their algorithm and this could no longer be an effective technique so there is risk involved if you are spending a lot of money for a domain. Having said that I recently spent $800 on a domain because it is a good search term that would bring very targeted visitors for what I am offering. After a month or so I am now #4 on Google for the name and the site is getting good traffic.

You can Google’s key phrase search tool and find some commonly searched terms. Then go see if any of the domains that match those key phrases are available for sale.

Many times you will actually have to just go to a browser and type in www.keyphrase.com to see if there is a site up or not. If there isn’t you can go to www.whois.net and find out the owners contact information and then contact them directly about buying the domain.

Sometimes you will type in a domain name into a browser and then see a live website but in reality it is just a parked page and there actually will be a link on the page that says “This Domain Might Be For Sale”. You can click on that link and then make an offer on the domain. You may or may not get a response but this is how I purchased my last domain.

Here is a list of some good websites to buy or sell domain names.

http://www.buydomains.com has hundreds of prime domains for sale.

http://www.afternic.com another good list of domains for sale

http://www.sedo.com has a big selection of domains as well.

http://www.tdnam.com is a good place to find a very large selection of domain names for sale at a cheap price.