The Real SEO Effect of EMDs

How Much Is Your Exact Match Domain Worth?

EMDs, or Exact Match Domain names used to pack some power in the Organic SERPs (Search Engine Results Placement) back in the day. But as Google becomes more sophisticated at rooting out SERP cheaters by constantly updating algorithms, it has become clear in my SERP checks that Content is Still King.

For a low competition search query, the exact match domain (EMD) can be the difference between first and second page of organic SERP. However, over the past decade or so, web designers, webmasters and business owners have become more SEO savvy. That means you can have the best EMD, but if you don’t have the rest of the content or technical SEO in place, it probably won’t matter.

On Page SEO

We’ll use my web customer mainly because of my geographic location that Google will use to determine the best result for my “cash for cars” search query in Google (using a “clear cache” browser for some modicum of accuracy).
(Screen shot of SERP not loading – so here’s the SERP: #1, #2 and #3 could change at any minute for no particular reason)
Notice that even though “cash for cars” is in the domain name, we are still beat by “The clunker junker ” in the #1 spot.
Obviously, that didn’t help, either.
So how did get #1 SERP? That’s where some SEO spywork comes into play! Before we go on, let me briefly explain that when I started this web design business as a profession (November 2009), I had to “reverse engineer” all the websites at the top of organic serp for my keywords. That’s how I was able learn how to achieve online success for my web design customers.
I’m here to tell ya, nothing’s changed.
So how did clunkerjunker get #1 above Without an EMD?
There are three basic SEO processes-

  1. On Page SEO (keywords, code, content, blog posts etc…)
  2. Off Page SEO Backlinks, hopefully from trusted High PR websites
  3. Off Page Social Media Marketing

The SEO Spy

Business, as in warfare, runs on intelligence. The more you know, the bigger your advantage. It’s a good idea to have some spy software, so you can study your online competition, but you can start with the free SEO Quake browser plugin. That will give you intel on basic SEO parameters that have to be correct before ANY domain name has a chance in the SERPs! A more robust tool in my box would be SEO Power Suite (along with many others. Find your favorite.). is proof that good content and proper technical SEO can get top organic SERP WITHOUT a millionĀ  back links or Social media marketing.
This website ranks on content alone, or what we call “the clean code advantage“.
SEO can be best described as part art, part science and all voodoo. So it’s gotta be the “voodoo” putting cash for cars riverside in the #2 spot (for now?).

Google’s Focus on Local SERP

This is where Google’s focus on local results comes into play.
My current location is just north of Riverside county in California, so having “Riverside” in the domain name (EMD) probably helps. Otherwise known as the Inland Empire, Riverside is a major metropolitan statistical area in the Southwest California, about 60 miles east of Los Angeles (used to be home to the world famous Riverside Raceway, for all you motorheads out there).
The Clunker Junker is a company near Tampa, Florida in a town so small I don’t remember its name! So how did The Clunker Junker (TCJ) get the #1 spot? In California?
A quick bit of competitive research will show that has less than a dozen indexed pages, and TCJ has over 2600! (Pro Tip: Use the site: operator in search to get a quick count of Google indexed pages) Now that’s an excellent example of content marketing.
That, in addition to many critical technical specs, has TCJ at the top spot for cities all over the country.
And no EMDs!
But after I saw the page count, the other parameters really didn’t matter. They will soon enough, for a more in depth research, which nickswebworks (NWW) is doing now for, a new website for Derek Emery who has profited from a dozen NWW websites over the past five years, using basically the same “clean code advantage” strategy.
But it was content that won this race over other EMDs on the page.

Are EMDs Worth It?

If your chosen domain is taken by a squatter who will sell the domain to you for thousands of dollars, remember it’s going to be your entire website that gets analyzed by Google bots, so you may be able to do just as well in the SERPs with an alternative spelling or another brand name altogether.
Bottom line, you need at least the “Clean Code Advantage” as developed by NicksWebworks as part of your web design and web marketing strategy. It’s a proven web design technique that looks good, ranks high and converts. Without it, your EMD could be just another expensive bauble. Be in the know! For the lowdown on how you can get the clean code advantage for your website, contact us now and get a free web design consultation for your business.

EMDs can help in some situations, but at its root, SEO web design gets you the biggest bang for your web marketing dollar.