Do exact match domains still work for SEO?

Do exact match domains still work for SEO?

Exact match domains have been used since the internet went mainstream back in the late nineties. However, they are used less and less these days and various experts and search engines have stated that they no longer have any SEO benefits.

In this post, we’ll cover the topic of exact match domain names and whether or not they still work for SEO. We’ll also briefly cover domain names and their relation to SEO in general, making sure you know exactly what to look out for when picking a new domain name.

Want to work with an experienced SEO agency to ensure your new website gets the best possible start, regardless of the domain name you’ve picked? We have a vast experience helping start-ups and scale-ups improve their performance in the search engines, and we’d love to help you launch or scale your website.

What are exact match domains?

Exact match domain names are domain names that match a specific keyword. For example, the domain name “” exactly matches the keyword “watch football free” making it an exact match domain name for this keyword.

In the early days of SEO, Google and other search engines placed a lot of emphasis on keywords, especially keywords in the domain name. So, a domain name consisting of a single keyword enjoyed an advantage over other, more standard domain names.

An example of the exact match domain “” ranking in Google.
An example of the exact match domain “” ranking in Google.

The idea behind exact match domain names is that they clearly indicates to search engines what a website is about. If the domain name consists of only the keyword, the topic and target keyword of the website is clear.

However, even though exact match domains provided a clear SEO boost in the past, it is generally accepted that they offer little to no advantage these days.

Exact match domain vs partial match domain

Partial match domains are another type of domain name that contain the keyword a website is trying to rank for. The main difference between partial match domains and exact match domains is that partial match domains also include other words, or include only part of a keyword.

For example, the domain “” is a partial match domain for the keyword “football scores.”

Do exact match domains still work?

Although exact match domains offered a solid SEO advantage in the past, this advantage is all but gone today. Since Google’s Exact Match Domain algorithm update in 2012, which was especially targeted towards manipulative uses of exact match domains, most of the advantages they offered disappeared.

That being said, exact match domains and partial match domains can still offer some advantages, the main one being a relevant URL. Since your URL is visible on your search listing, a domain name containing your website’s main topic may generate more clicks since searchers can see your website is on a specific topic.

An image of the Google search results showing the top ranking page is a partial match domain which clearly indicates to search engine users what the site is about
An image of the Google search results showing the top ranking page is a partial match domain which clearly indicates to search engine users what the site is about.

Nevertheless, a branded domain is generally considered best these days. Exact match domains don’t offer you the possibility to build a brand, which effects all of your marketing efforts. Not only will branded searches not be visible, generic domain/company names can create confusion for potential clients.

Domain names and SEO – What does matter?

Although exact match domain names don’t offer the benefits they once did, there are still many factors that do matter when it comes to domain names.

Length – Having a short domain name, ideally under 10-15 characters, makes it easier to link to and remember it.

Uniqueness – Opting for a similar domain name to other businesses in your industry will create confusion and harm your results. Make sure your domain name is unique.

Only one way of writing it – Domain names with numbers or words that could be spelled in multiple ways are difficult to remember. If there are multiple ways to spell it, traffic destined for your website will go to alternate versions.



Although you may not get the benefits you’re after if you go for an exact match domain, there are plenty of other things you should take into account when choosing a domain name. By opting for a short, brandable domain name that’s easy to remember, you can improve your overall marketing results.

If you need any help designing your website, or would like to work with an experienced SEO agency, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us. Here at Racer Marketing, we have ample experience designing and ranking websites, getting our clients the results they want online. 

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