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Exact Match Domains-I Can’t use That–or Can I?

There’s been a lot of debate about whether or not exact match domains are viable for use.  Customers come to us all the time asking to change their domain or move their content to another domain. They believe that the issue is with the domain name and that it’s the reason for the penalty. In fact, that is probably not the case at all and moving your content as it stands to another domain is probably not the answer.

The key phrases you’ll hear from  some SEOs and SEMs is that “Google has stated that exact match domains are not working anymore.”

The question is, “did they really say that?”, or did we add our own spin to what the Spam team actually offered. Two years ago, Google Spam Guru Matt Cutts offered this comment that sent the SEO world into a spin.

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Read carefully and this time, read all of the words.. He said, low quality exact match domains, he did not say that all exact match domains aren’t viable and that you’re no longer going to be able to use them. The key here is that little qualifier and it may behoove us all to pay attention. if your exact match domain isn’t doing well, the chances are good at this point that it’s being seen as a site that has thin or poor quality content or that it’s a low quality site.

There are a lot of things that you can do to change that if that is the only problem that your site has.

Google perceives that domains that are exact match names that house very little of value were set up specifically to make money and not offer a good service, a good value or reasonable information to the public at large. As much as we’d all like to say that it’s not true about our domain, taking a closer look, it may well be true.  If you’ve got a domain that is an exact match, high money keyword and you’re offering very little that is valuable for your customers to take away, the chances are good that you got hit with a penalty for that. Tha tpenalty has nothing at all to do with your choice of a domain name but rather, what you didn’t offer to the public so far as a good experience.

The fact is that the fault for that penalty is typically not with the domain name that you’re using, but rather, with the way in which you are using it.

If you have good quality content and it is well written, offering a valuable service to the people who read it, the chances are good that you’re going to rank for it if you do some measure of promotion for it. If the content and the site design and the link building and all of the other things were as they should have been, however, the site that you have would be ranking as it stands. Before you choose to move it all to a secondary site and try it again to erase a perceived penalty, take a closer look at what you have and why it’s not working for you.

In most cases, when customers or prospective customers ask us to move a set of content and existing settings to a new domain in order to achieve a better ranking, the problem hasn’t been the domain name. It may be thin content, it could be egregious link building or it could be any number of other factors that may not be workable in today’s online climate.

Even if you do choose a new domain and decide to rebuild, don’t take your problems with you by using the same thin content or beginning the same old-school gray hat link building campaign that netted you the penalty to begin with.