Google: Exact Match Keyword Domain Does Not Mean Rankings

Oct 27, 2011 • 9:47 am | comments (27) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google Search Engine Optimization

matchingA Google Webmaster Help thread has a site owner complaining that his new site that he purchased and rebuilt doesn't rank well for it's domain.

He bought and is upset it doesn't rank for the phrase [stock tips]. He said:

We bought this domain few months back and we're struggling to rank for our own name. We completely re-designed the website, done a good job with on-page SEO, no black-hat whatsoever, what could be wrong?

In response to that, Google's JohnMu responded saying a few things:

(1) Buying the site made it appear as if it is a new site.

(2) Buying an established site and running similar content on it in the future does help you get a jump start.

(3) Exact match domains does not equal rankings for that keyword phrase.

John said:

FWIW Just to chime in -- it looks like you have a site on a domain that has been used before, and which includes keywords that you're targeting. While that can help, you basically still have a new website. Having keywords in your domain name does not automatically result in your site ranking first for those keywords -- our algorithms do much more than just look at keywords in a domain name :-).

Forum discussion at Google Webmaster Help.

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10/27/2011 02:05 pm

I thought this was common knowledge?

Michael Curtis

10/27/2011 02:29 pm

So, this guy has bought an exactmatch domain, in a competitive marketplace, thinking that it would exploit a well known loophole....and then complained on the webmaster forums when it didn't work? I love the web marketing industry. I really do. 

Dan Whitehouse

10/27/2011 02:34 pm

I buy 5 or so exact match domains per week. I would never expect it to rank #1 without work. Nothing is given without a great deal of effort behind it.


10/27/2011 03:18 pm

I'm not so sure. I had an exact match for keywords and ranked 3rd with no SEO work. Was about 6 months ago.  About 3 inbound links and duplicated content. Still is ranked, with 20 inbound links. 

Justin Howley

10/27/2011 03:45 pm

I certainly see a ton of spam out there still ranking for there d-names.


10/27/2011 03:48 pm

This guy is smart or lucky. He just got some free traffic to his site with this post.  He's wondering why he's not ranking?  No backlinks, no thought put into the transfer of the domain to save the history.  He's lucky or used a smart way to get natural traffic and social triggers.  Pick a hot topic and whine about it on Google Webmaster help and hope it gets addressed by G  and thus picked up by other media outlets.


10/27/2011 04:44 pm

Thats good to know, i liked Johns answer

Barry Schwartz

10/27/2011 05:00 pm

Yep - but always nice to have it come from a Googler.


10/27/2011 05:33 pm

No, it doesn't mean rankings, but it certainly helps. Moreso probably on less competitive keywords than "Stock tips" I bet you though if you had a domain named "" you could get ranked pretty quickly for keywords like "sock knitting" or "how to knit socks" etc.  I always try to get generic keyword domains and it has certainly served me well. 


10/27/2011 09:25 pm

Choose an highly competitive keyword for domain. Check. Buy it and completely change all content and wonder why you're not making millions. Check. Read the basic section of SEO book. Ooops!


10/27/2011 11:22 pm

Its helps but its not the only way to achieve high ranking... link building, social media etc are the other ways...


10/27/2011 11:59 pm

Important stuff  ,But the excat domain aand keyword can help in increasing traffic                  

Anh Tai

10/28/2011 03:51 am

In this Case stock tips and My site ( keyword [seo top]) We are the same.A piece of advice:Try to Increase DA metric and Wait...Trust me.

Nathaniel Bailey

10/28/2011 09:06 am

lol what a numpty, do some people really think that having a keyword rich domain is a boost these days?! Sounds like this guy could do with keeping up with the times, getting his head out of the sand, moving forward from the 90's. How many more ways can I say it? lol


10/28/2011 10:49 am

Yes good replay from Google...Only domain name not get rankings, it needs content plus back links.


10/28/2011 12:41 pm hardly has any backlinks. how can he even imagine to rank in 1st page?

Jason Walker

10/28/2011 12:49 pm

Perhaps the buyer was seduced by one of the many companies out there that promise No 1 in Google in 3 days or so! Rubbish of course, but there are people out there who buy it. they also marry people who email them, send them money, buy Viagra etc.....


10/28/2011 02:41 pm

Good ...cause this exact domain name industry has gotten out of control ...people are buying domain names for hundreds, thousands of dollars and come to find out its really not worth the money spent. Majority of exact domain names nowdays only promote fake content just so they can get some seo juice ...

Dave Fowler

10/30/2011 10:21 pm

Whilst the original question demonstrated some naivety - in the same way that I would if commentating on an area I'm not expert in, such as stock tips - this is a bit of a non-news item really. Point is, whilst many spammy or just-for-AdSense sites try to exploit exact match domains, the Google commentator is *not* stating that an exact match domain is not a ranking factor. He is merely reiterating that this is just one of many ranking factors. There is a danger that people could be discouraged from using an exact match domain, when in fact, as a support to genuinely relevant content they are worthy of consideration.

Dave Fowler

10/30/2011 10:41 pm

Nathaniel, yes, some people do still believe a keyword rich domain can provide a boost because keywords in a domain *are* still a ranking factor - check John Mu's reply that "our algorithms do much more than *just* look at keywords in a domain name" (emphasis added).  As one of a range of methods to demonstrate genuine relevance to both search engines and human users I have used them to good effect, but on sites intended to offer genuinely useful material rather than simply being a spammy ad click-through aberration. If what you're setting up is truly relevant to a competitive search term, don't overlook the exact match domain - used appropriately they still have value.


10/31/2011 06:03 am

Why would you take anything a "googler" says at face value? If Matt Cutts says do X Y and Z to rank well, I go do A B and C. The job of the goons, I mean "googlers" is to steer the sheep in the direction they want them to go. It's like a drug dealer going to the police headquarters asking what the best way to sell drugs without getting caught is. Can you really say with a straight face that EMDs don't give a ranking boost? I hope not.

Christopher Carmouche

02/18/2012 11:58 pm

Actually, what the site owner did "worked."  As of today (February 18), his site is ranked 6th in Google under the term "stock tips."  And according to, he pulled over 1500 unique visitors in January (he only got about 500 unique visitors in October when he bought the site).  That's pretty good considering (according to the Adwords Keyword tool) the EXACT search term "stock tips" only gets 9,900 Global Search Queries per month.  If the site is properly optimized for AdSense, he could probably yield $75-$100 per month on AdSense revenue.  Perhaps the site owner's problem was one of expectations.  If you're going to dominate this game, repeatability and scalability are tantamount considerations.


03/13/2012 08:29 pm

It doesn't mean top rankings, but it gives a hell of a boost. Try out KeyDomainTool to find them lol.


04/22/2012 04:35 am

Interesting. A search for stock tips on Google now ranks number one. Looks like all you geniuses giving this guy a hard time weren't as smart as you thought you were! Let the, "yeah, buts" begin...


05/05/2012 03:07 am

EMD does not guarantee you a ranking, but it definitely turns the table to your side.


07/14/2012 09:41 pm

what do you nerd who talk about link building all day think now... go look... his emd is #1. Link building is the best scam perpetuated by jokers who do not know 2012 seo...


10/04/2012 08:26 am

Not looking so peachy now though...

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