I, along with everyone else, have used exact match domain names in the past, but for the most part (with some minor exceptions) I’ve abandoned them in favour of more brandable solutions. If an exact match domain and brandability coincide, then great, I’m obviously all for it.
If you’re looking for an opportunity for quicker, stickier indexing, as it stands, an exact match can carry you farther and quicker for cheaper. But for how long? When the day comes that Google blows your house of cards down, you’d better have a serious backup plan.
Losing a spot to an exact match domain often means nothing
While online marketing is in many ways different from traditional marketing, both share some common traits on the path to success, and one of them is opportunity. Another is competence.
If a competitor ranks above me with an exact match domain, but the site is garbage, it can make my compelling, well structured, usable site look that much better in comparison. If my competitor’s site isn’t garbage, maybe it deserves to be there, and I can stop looking for a scapegoat to my indexing dilemma.
In my opinion, the debate over the fairness of exact match domains is moot. It’s really a question of which exact match domains represent a brand, and which are clearly taking advantage of search engine favoritism while adding little real value to search results.
If your company’s name is New York Bus Tours, and you’ve scored the domain name, you deserve top placement. Whether people are searching for companies that provide your service, or for your actual brand, it’s clear that you should be somewhere at the top.
Until search algorithms refine their evaluation of exact match domains, let’s keep in mind that—At risk of being told to shove my quotations book up my you-know-what—often in life, it isn’t what happens to you, it’s how you react to it.
Don’t like the success of that exact match domain sitting atop your placement on page 1 of Google? You can weaken, grumbling that “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” and buy a domain with underscores instead of dashes, or something-even-more-spammy.com (no, it doesn’t exist, but give it time) OR add more value to your site, to your business, and to your longterm digital presence.