Exact Match Domain (EMD)

An Exact Match Domain (EMD) is a URL that consists of the keyword or keyword combination which the website in question is supposed to be optimized for. For this reason, this domain type is also called a keyword domain. For a long time, exact match domains were a popular means for SEOs to rank well and fast for a specific keyword. However, the influence of such keywords on ranking has decreased after Google’s EMD (exact match domain) update.


An exact match domain appears to have many advantages at first glance because visitors will get an idea of the content that awaits them immediately when clicking on the link. For example, www.applepiewithcreme.com as a domain name immediately gives you the idea that this is a domain specializing in apple pies with cream.

As can be seen by this example, an EMD must not contain just one individual keyword, but may also consist of keyword combinations. The domain, however, should exactly match the search query.

Because keywords in the domain name used to be a significant factor in ranking for a long time, it was obvious that an exact match domain should achieve better rankings with the appropriate keyword. For this reason, many domains were traded at very high prices. In 2013, for example, the domain hanfblätter.de (hempleaves.com) changed ownership for EUR 2,500.00 according to SEDO.[1]. According to rumors, prominent keyword domains have been sold for six or even seven figure prices.

Areas of application[edit]

Exact match domains are used for different marketing purposes. In the field of SEO, EMD served for a long time to build link networks with satellite websites and thus strengthen a domain with strong content-relevant backlinks. Likewise, EMDs were configured to get as much traffic as possible for a specific keyword. The latter was the reason why many affiliate marketers have resorted to EMDs, because of their high relevance on specific subjects and they did and still are guaranteeing clicks even today. Visitors are then directed to the website being advertised for via affiliate links to purchase offers.

Another way to utilize EMDs that has been practiced for a long time is redirection to other domains. Webmasters would buy various domains with matching search terms to his own website and then redirected to his homepage. Even major portals like Amazon worked with keyword domains that were redirected by a 301-redirect to the main site for a long time. Today it is amply documented that the rerouting from EMDs to your main website no longer gives you any advantage in ranking.

Another field of application for exact match domains are advertising campaigns. Many major brands redirect their slogans onto their homepage. One example is Nike. The company owns the domain “justdoit.com.” If you enter this domain name into the address field of the browser, you will be redirected to nike.com. The advertising agency “Jung von Matt” uses an exact match domain for their purposes. On the supergeil.de website you will find agency reports.

Benefits for SEO[edit]

The benefit of EMD for search engine optimization has decreased since 2012. In September of that year, Google launched the EMD update. Since then, keyword domains with thin content are placed low in the SERPs. Thus, it is not enough for SEO purposes if a website consists only of one keyword, above all, content needs to be relevant and of high quality.

In 2013, the combination of keyword domain and TF*IDF optimization was intensively discussed in SEO circles. That EMDs are still effective, show websites like www. termlifeinsurance.com or www. bookkeepingsoftware.com which can rank well for highly competitive keywords. In addition to content, the keyword that the domain is supposed to rank well for is a major factor. The less competition there is for a keyword, the easier it should be even today to rank in top positions in the SERPs with appropriately high-quality content.


  1. Domain sales dnjournal.com Accessed on 03/01/2014

Web Links[edit]