Although Google has already claimed that exact match domains are not as important as they used to be, it might not always be the case. Before the brief discussion I want to introduce you to a small example I recently discovered.
Here is an example of a Lithuanian website mokymaiimonems.lt (training for businesses). A year old exact match domain. It has no backlinks and did not have any off-site optimisation.
And it did not take a lot of effort to climb to 4th position with its core keyword. In terms of content the website does not significantly differ from its competitors and the home page (page which is ranked) has very little content,specifically related to the core keyword – mokymai imonems (eng. training for businesses).
When we compare domain mokymaiimonems.lt with other domains it outranks, we can see that the exact match domain is ranked higher than domains with better page authority and more backlinks.
So the exact match domain and title lifted the website to 4th position with (I would say) quite a little effort. Leaving above only a few way stronger and older domains.
And what does it mean?
It does not mean that if you now change your title and domain to exact match keyword your website will quickly reach TOP 5 in SERPS. I believe that it really depends on the market and competition, but there still might be some cases when exact match domain can actually play quite a big part.
Let’s put it in simple words, exact match domain will probably not help you that significantly. If the market is competitive you will definitely have to focus on way more SEO factors to achieve good results. John Mueller says that “you should choose the domain that reflects your business and don’t think specifically about the keywords. Instead focus on the great quality website that serves users well, and Google should hopefully reward you for. That said, having keywords in your domain name won’t hurt, but don’t bank on it giving you a big boost for that reason alone.” And this is probably the case for most of the times, but not all. And, as we can see, the importance of exact match domain may differ depending of the market and its competition.
Important thing to consider: if you think that exact match domain can actually help you, are you happy to sacrifice your brand for it? If people will get to know your brand off-line and will look for it online, what if you don’t rank first for it? Of course, if you re-direct your branded domain to exact match domain Google will probably figure it out and provide your website in the SERPS (hopefully in a first position), but you will still risk a little bit on this bet.
Might your country matter?
It might matter in a way that the smaller the country the less competition you might have for particular keywords. And this might be the case for my example. Although it sounds like quite a broad keyword, it does not get that many searches and, therefore, the competition for it is quite low. You would definitely not see the same kind of effect in the UK, Germany, Italy etc.
So, if you want to compete for not competitive keywords in a niche market exact match domain may actually help you in terms of SEO. However, before doing that make sure you are not loosing any opportunities in terms branding (especially when you think about the future).