Why You Shouldn't Use Exact Match Domains (Don't Make This SEO Mistake)
Whenever you Google terms like hotels, you may end up seeing sites like hotels.com at the top. And this may make you think that, “Hey, I need to go out there “and spend a ton of money to buy one of these “exact match domains where the exact keyword “that I want to rank for is the domain name.”
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Well, hotels.com is a little bit of an anomaly and most of us, including me, we can’t replicate that because we just don’t have enough money. If you go to hotels.com, you’ll quickly see it’s a very large corporation. They run tons and tons of caveats. They’re owned by Expedia Group, which is a multi-billion dollar publicly traded company.
So, yes, hotels.com is able to rank really well because they have the exact match domain name, but they’ve also created a brand around hotels.com. And here’s what I mean by this. If you Google for most generic terms like nurse, you’ll find that nurse.com isn’t ranking number one, it’s actually ranking number three.
You have Nursing World that’s number one, then Wikipedia, then you have nurse.com, and then Medical News Today, and the list goes on and on. What you’ll end up seeing is if someone’s Googling your domain or the keyword, which is the exact match of your domain, and you don’t get a lot of clicks, it actually can hurt your rankings.
Here’s what I mean by that. If you go look at my analytics here for neilpatel.com, I’m getting roughly 4.43 million clicks from Google in the last 28 days. One of my most popular keywords is Ubersuggest. Another one is Neil Patel. When people are Googling Ubersuggest, 81% of people are actually clicking on my website. So when people Google for terms like Ubersuggest, you’ll see I have the indented listing and then they’ll click on my listing.
But what most people don’t realize is if a lot of people skip this listing here and they went to number two or number three, what would that tell Google? It would tell Google that, “Hey, this neilpatel.com website “isn’t as relevant towards this keyword. “A lot of people are skipping over it “because they don’t like it. “They don’t want to click on it.”
So if everyone skipped over my listing, and they’re not, because as you can see here, I’m at 81%, but hypothetically imagine if everyone skipped it, it would tell Google, “Hey, this site shouldn’t rank at the top. “People don’t like it as much.” So then they’ll start pushing up the other sites higher and higher up, which can hurt your rankings.
Now, the point of me breaking this down to you and telling you this is most people are like, “I want a generic domain.” Well, unless you have the ad budgets of the Expedia’s or the hotels.com, it doesn’t work that well because you’ll end up being in the same position as nurse.com.
And if a lot of people are Googling your domain name but they’re not clicking on your listing, let’s say if only 20% of people actually clicked on your listing instead of that 70, 80%, what you’ll find is your rankings for all your other pages won’t do as well, because it’s telling Google, “Hey, this site doesn’t have strong brand loyalty. “People don’t love this brand.”
If you have a strong brand like a Nike, you’ll start ranking better for all the other terms out there like shoes and apparel and stuff like that. Just like with me on neilpatel.com, I rank for terms like SEO. You know, I may not be number one for every term, but I’m still at the top. So I’m here number four. And I also rank, or number five, Moz, Moz, Search Engine Land, Google, than me. And I also rank for many other terms, like if I go type in online marketing, you know, I’m number two.
And the reason I’m ranking for a lot of these terms is because I have strong click-through rate for many of my other pages. But if your brand, like your brand, my brand is Neil Patel and Ubersuggest, because I have a app called Ubersuggest, and my name is Neil Patel.
If people aren’t clicking through when they’re searching my brand, it tells Google that I have low brand loyalty, which hurts my rankings on my overall website.
So if you’re going to pick a domain name, don’t pick a exact match domain name.
It’s fine to have your keyword in the domain, but you don’t want your domain name to be a quote-unquote, “Generic keyword,” because it can hurt your overall rankings.
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