Revisiting Exact Match Domains for Local SEO





Blog Date

June 3, 2024


UK, Manchester

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Revisiting Exact Match Domains for Local SEO

The Potential Power of Exact Match Domains

As an SEO specialist, I’ve always been intrigued by the potential of exact match domains (EMDs) for local businesses. It’s a topic that’s been debated and dissected endlessly in the digital marketing world, with opinions ranging from the staunch advocates to the vehement opponents. But in the ever-evolving landscape of search engine optimization, I believe it’s time to revisit this strategy and explore its nuances, particularly for those of us targeting local audiences.

You see, I’m not your typical SEO expert. I’m more of a marketing all-rounder, a jack-of-all-trades if you will. So, when it comes to ranking websites, I approach it with a unique perspective – one that combines technical know-how with a healthy dose of creative flair. And that’s exactly why I’m so fascinated by the EMD conundrum.

The Rise and Fall of Exact Match Domains

Let’s take a trip down memory lane, shall we? Back in the early 2000s, the internet was a wild, wild west of search engine optimization tactics. Businesses, both big and small, were discovering the potential of leveraging exact match domains to climb the Google rankings. It was a time when the algorithm seemed to favor websites that had the primary keyword incorporated into their domain name.

And why wouldn’t it? After all, if I’m searching for “plumbers in Manchester,” wouldn’t a domain like “” seem like the perfect fit? It’s a natural assumption, and one that many savvy marketers capitalized on. Soon, the web was flooded with EMDs, each one vying for a spot on the coveted first page of search results.

However, Google eventually caught on to this trend, realizing that the proliferation of EMDs was negatively impacting the quality of its search results. In 2012, the search giant released an algorithm update that sought to address this issue, often referred to as the “Exact Match Domain Update.”

The Aftermath and the Evolving Landscape

The aftermath of this update was, well, messy. Countless businesses that had invested heavily in EMDs found themselves tumbling down the rankings, their hard-earned positions usurped by more authoritative and relevant websites. It was a harsh lesson in the ever-changing nature of SEO – what worked yesterday might not work tomorrow.

But as the dust settled, a new reality emerged. Google’s algorithms had become more sophisticated, better able to identify and reward high-quality, user-centric content over mere keyword-stuffed domains. And that’s where the story gets interesting for local businesses.

The Resurgence of Exact Match Domains in Local SEO

You see, while the landscape has shifted, the potential power of EMDs hasn’t been entirely diminished, especially when it comes to local SEO. Many experts still believe that having a keyword-rich domain can provide a subtle yet valuable boost to your search engine rankings, particularly if you’re targeting hyper-local search queries.

Imagine you’re a plumber serving the Manchester area. Would “” still have an edge over a more generic domain like “”? The answer isn’t a simple yes or no, but it’s certainly worth considering.

The Balancing Act: Branding vs. Keyword Optimization

Of course, the decision to go with an EMD isn’t as straightforward as it once was. There’s a delicate balance to strike between branding and keyword optimization. After all, a strong, memorable brand can be just as valuable (if not more so) than a domain that simply reflects your target keywords.

As one entrepreneur eloquently put it, “Cutting corners might save money initially, but over time, such decisions often prove even more expensive.” The cost of forgoing a strong brand identity in favor of a purely keyword-driven domain name can be harder to quantify, but it’s no less real.

The Hybrid Approach: Partial Match Domains

So, what’s a local business to do? Well, one potential compromise is the partial match domain (PMD). A PMD features only a portion of the target keyword, rather than the full exact match. This can provide a bit of a boost in search rankings while still allowing for a more memorable, brandable domain name.

For example, instead of “,” a PMD might be “” It’s not a perfect match, but it still conveys the key information about your business and location, all while giving you the flexibility to build a strong brand identity.

The Importance of a Holistic Approach

Of course, as with any SEO strategy, the success of an EMD or PMD ultimately comes down to the broader picture. At MCRSEO, our approach is to look at the whole ecosystem – from content optimization and link building to user experience and technical SEO. Because at the end of the day, even the most perfectly crafted domain name won’t matter if the rest of your online presence is sub-par.

So, to all the local businesses out there, I say: don’t be afraid to explore the potential of exact match domains, but don’t let it be the be-all and end-all of your SEO strategy. Keep an open mind, stay adaptable, and always put the needs of your customers first. The rest will follow.

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