Are exact match domains dangerous to use?

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It is very common that you see SEO blogs say that you should avoid EMD (Exact Match Domain) domains because it is too hard to build links to them. The risk is too high that you will trigger an over optimization penalty in Google which prevent you from reaching the top of Google and thereby preventing you from earning money from your website. In this article we are going to look at whether that really is true or not.

What is an EMD?

emdAn EMD is a domain that consist of the exact keyword or keywords you want to rank for. Lets says you want to build a website about green coffee beans and you want to be seen in the top of google for the term green coffee beans. The EMD for this website is (net/org…..).

Why EMDs used to be popular

EMD domains uses to be very popular because they made it very easy to get to top of the search engines. The search engine assumes that a website that had the keyword in the name was a good resource to show in the search results for that key word. Webmasters did of course exploit this and started building a lot of bad websites using EMD domains to make them show up in the search results. This technique was especially effective on less competitive topics. Some content and a few links would be all it took the make it on to the first page.

Google has since taken steps to make it harder to exploit the system like that.

The fall from grace

Google now penalize sites that seems too optimized for a certain keyword. Google wants your website to gain organic links and a too optimized link profile does not look organic. It is common that people use your domain name to link to your website and you therefore risk getting to many links with your keyword in it if you use an EMD. A lot of webmasters believe that it is harder to build links for a EMD because there is a higher risk of triggering a penalty. Partly because you are not able to use naked URLs (domainname) to diversify your link profile. You are also not able to use sources that force you to use your domain as a keyword to link to your site.

Should you avoid EMDs

I do not think you should avoid using EMDs. Premium EMDs still hold a lot of value and are still a great way to start. A visitors that sees is more likely to click that than any other website that is shown in the SERP. However second tier domain EMDs such as info, co, biz, us, eu should no longer be used. They do not purvey the trust that a .com does.

It is true that the risk of getting an over optimization penalty is higher then it used to be but EMD domains are still easy to push to the top of the search engines as long as you do it in the right way. The old spam methods that many webmaster still use does not work with an EMD. You need to make sure that you only build quality links and that you never use the same anchor text twice. Your goal should be to build a link profile that looks as natural as possible and the key to that is to make sure that you never use the same exact anchor two times. Use different variations of the keywords. Look at the suggested searches at the bottom of the search results for you main keyword and make sure to use all of them as anchor. These are terms that you know Google think are very relevant for your main keyword.

I also highly recommend that you make sure that your website has more than one money page. It should preferable have two or tree different pages that can generate a high income. You should build links to all 3 of these. The average link profile has about 40% links to the index page and 60% links to different sub pages. By having more than one important sub page you can mimic this while still getting a high ROI on your investment.

EMD Domains are a great choice if you avoid short cuts and focus on building a good website.