Exact Match Domains can be Brands Too!

July 25, 2011 - by admin · Filed Under Affiliate Blog, SEO 1 Comment 
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    There’s a lot of debate in the affiliate marketing world about the future of exact match domains and Google.

    A number of affiliates take the view point that you need to build a brand instead of using an exact match domain.  I used to think this was just arrogance from webmasters who decided it was “beneath” them to run sites on exact match domains.  Having a brandy website such as Mosesbet.com was far better and made them look more professional.

    I think this is completely wrong however.  There is nothing wrong with building a brand on an exact match domain if done PROPERLY.

    Why “Brandable” Domains are no better than Exact-Match Domains

    1. First of all, the “either or” stance that you can’t build a brand on an exact-match domain is wrong.  There are thousands of examples of websites and brands that have built themselves up from exact match domains, including PokerNews.com, Ski.com, Insurance.com, Sportsbook.com and more.

    In the 21st century, a short, descriptive domain with a .co.uk/com extension can be just as brandable as anything else.  All the term “brand” means is that your product identifies itself among customers as distinct from competition. If I promote BuyGold.co.uk then it CAN make this website stand out from all others.  As long as my website offers something of value, that traffic can engage with, and has a short memorable domain, than nothing else matters.

    2. I think affiliates need to do themselves a favour and realise that 95% of them will be making money through SEO more than anything else.  You can argue that your websites have more value then others, spending 0.5 cents per word on professional content, or that you get lots of natural “type ins” from Google.com.  Hell, you can even argue that your ideas are amazing and you make the best websites on the internet!

    But at the end of the day it’s SEO that matters.  It’s been proven that exact match domains still give a huge boost to rankings.  I personally don’t see this going away completely – even if gets reduced a little bit. Having an exact match domain not only gives users and Google.com a key indicator of what your site is all about (i.e. a brand), but it is also easy to remember for returning website traffic.  There are millions of “brandable” websites on the internet.  Having a brand doesn’t make your STAND OUT unless your content and substance stands out.  And this has nothing to do with your domain.

    3. The argument that brandable domains get natural type-ins is a good point.  But where did this traffic come from in the first place?  That’s right, 90% of it will have come from SEO.

    4. I have to admit that I have no idea where SEO is going to be heading in the next few years.  Some analysts argue links will become less important (or completely redundant), others prioritise social media or user interaction.  Overall I don’t know, but what I do know now is that the most important thing is to offer something with as much value/concept/content/news/interviews/videos/features as possible.  Brandable domains don’t really fall into this argument.

    5. Exact Match Domains can be Good Investments.  If you buy a domain in a growing niche for a good price than it can end up being a fantastic asset or investment for you.  Mike Jackness’ blog mentioned how he flipped the domain WebsiteHosting.com for a $100,000+ profit within just a couple of months.  This is the kind of benefit you get from exact match domains.  You never know what big company is going to be calling you up wanting to buy your domain off you.

    6. EMD get higher CTR’s than brand domains.  A recent study at MemorableDomains.com showed that generic domains such as ElectricBicycles.com get up to a 40% higher CTR% than brand domains such as YourBike.co.uk or InaRush.com.  The association of the generic keyword domain matches the consumer’s search, whilst click through rates are also bolstered by the bolding of the domain in the search results.

    Conclusion on Exact Match Domains as Brands

    While I believe you can build a brand on an exact match domain, there are a number of limitations to this.

    First of all, you need to build a brand on a .com/co.uk extension. There are instances of premium keyword domains being developed on .org extensions (e.g. poker.org) which are obviously successful, but I think in general .org is still viewed by many as a charity domain.  I just think a .com/co.uk extension has more dominance and would resonate in our minds more.

    Secondly, you can’t have dashes in the domain, and it needs to be two words or less realistically.  CarInsurance.com or TVShows.com is fine, but TV-Shows.net or CarInsurance.org just loses a bit of the “stand out as a brand” factor.

    Lastly, exact match domains will not always be available in your niche, or they might even be out of your price range.  In this case I have no problem using a brandable domain (not that I necessarily prioritise EMDs).  To be honest, in a lot of cases I think there are ridiculous amounts being paid for EMDs, which instead could have been invested in content/design and brand marketing.

    Overall, my argument isn’t that exact match domains are better than brandable domains, but that there isn’t much of a difference between them.  You shouldn’t just write off developing exact match domains because the majority of them are linked with “thin mini-sites”.  You can do whatever you want with your website, make it stand out how YOU want it to.


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