What are EMDs and PMDs, and Can They Benefit Your SEO Campaign?

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EMD and PMD are abbreviations used in the SEO and digital marketing industries. Let’s start by defining them.

EMD stands for exact match domain. So, it refers to the address (or URL) of your website and whether it is exactly the same as a commonly used keyword in Google search, i.e. a keyword that people regularly search for on Google.

EMDs and PMDs

A fictional example of a keyword that this would apply to could be “best widgets online”. A website with an exact match domain would have the URL bestwidgetsonline.com. In other words, a URL that is exactly the same as the keyword.

PMD stands for partial match domain. This is a URL made up partly of a commonly used keyword and partly of additional words. Examples using the above fictional scenario could be widgetsauckland.com, comparewidgets.com, or widgetshub.com.

We use a PMD here at Kiwi Website Design.

EMDs and PMDs in Your Business

If the name of your business matches a commonly used keyword, you may be using an EMD or PMD without knowing it. You may also decide to use an EMD or PMD as your website’s URL, even though it is not the name of your business. While the latter is not as common, it does happen.

What is the best approach and can EMDs and PMDs benefit your SEO campaign?

EMDs are the more complicated of the two, as they present both problems and opportunities.

A Brief Background to EMDs and SEO

Let’s start with the problems. They stem from how exact match domains were used by some people in the past.

EMDs became popular with people experienced in SEO and digital marketing because it used to be almost a certainty that you could get an exact match domain to a very high ranking in Google, including the number one spot. EMDs were regarded by many as being a top SEO ranking factor.

This even applied to highly competitive keywords. In many cases, the EMD website could rank in a higher position than a better-quality website simply because of the EMD boost.

As you might imagine, this quickly became recognised leading to some people taking advantage of the opportunity. They would find a keyword (usually a product or service) that people search for on Google. They would then purchase the exact match domain for that keyword before getting get a good ranking on Google through the EMD boost and a bit of SEO for their new site.

This high ranking would bring traffic to their website, which would be monetised in some way.

The approach described above started as a trickle but, as with a lot of things in SEO, it soon became exploited. 

As a result, Google started to view a lot of EMD websites as offering a poor user experience, particularly those that were highly specific, i.e. those that targeted long-tail keywords so were three or more words long.

To counteract this, Google released an update to its search algorithm to prevent these poor-quality sites from ranking well on search results pages, even though they were EMD sites.

What About Your Website?

Does this mean you can’t get a good ranking for an exact match domain name? 

The simple answer is that exact match domain names can still do very well in Google search. When all other things are equal, you may even get a boost over your competition with an EMD.

There are some things you need to think about, though.

  • The structure of the domain name – not all EMDs are the same. You will probably find it harder to get a good ranking if your domain name is more than three words long, whether it is an EMD or not. Including dashes in your domain name is also not recommended, even if it enables you to use an EMD.
  • Keyword stuffing risk – you are at greater risk of being perceived as keyword stuffing when you use an exact match domain name. Going back to our fictional example, an inner page on your website could be bestwidgetsonline.com/widgets. That’s two mentions of the keyword “widgets” in one URL, which could be problematic, particularly when the situation is replicated with other inner page URLs. It’s not just inner page URLs either, as you can also run into difficulties with anchor text. A lot of people who link to your website will use the name of your business. If this is an EMD, Google could take the view that you have over-optimised anchor text, which could hurt your rankings.
  • Different industries – it’s important to consider your industry too. In highly competitive industries, such as in the financial sector, you will probably find it difficult to rank an EMD. In less competitive industries, including industries where EMDs already rank, you will do better.
  • Ensure your website delivers a great user experience – there are no shortcuts to SEO. You should also remember when thinking about SEO that Google wants you to earn a good ranking on its search results pages. Nothing will gift you that ranking, including an EMD. So, whether you have an EMD or not, make your website as good as possible for your visitors.
  • Implement an effective SEO strategy for your Christchurch business – following on from the above point; an EMD is not an SEO silver bullet. You will still need an effective SEO strategy.

What About PMDs?

In many situations, PMDs are the better option as they solve some of the problems highlighted above.

In general, the same advice applies:

  • You can rank a website that has a PMD (our website is the perfect example)
  • Don’t expect a good ranking just because you have a PMD
  • You will still need a good website and SEO strategy
  • With those things in place, having a PMD can give you a boost

So, what’s the summary? For a start, don’t panic if you have an EMD or PMD because you have heard negative stories. You can still rank EMDs, and they can be beneficial. Also, whether you have one or not, you’ll still need SEO.

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