Emails Which Offer Exact Match Domains - Should I Buy?
by Jo Shaer, on January 6, 2014
[question ask="Jo, I've had an email asking if I want to buy MyKeywordInMyTown.co.uk - should I buy it?"]We've had a lot of questions about this recently. And the answer, as always, is 'it depends...'[/question]
What is an exact match domain?
An exact match domain (or EMD) is a website address which exactly matches your best keyword. So, for example, if we knew that the phrase "SEO Essex" was typed into Google a lot every month, then we might want to look at buying a website address which matched that. SEOEssex with .co.uk afterwards or .com
And the same would apply to a product, for example, Televisions. In the town where your shop is based. Televisions In Leigh On Sea. You might go and see if you could buy TelevisionInLeighOnSea.co.uk.
These are Exact Match Domains.
Should I buy an Exact Match Domain for my business
Two or three years ago, it was definitely worth buying exact match domain names.
Google favoured these in organic search and we saw some great results. First page rankings for words and phrases which got a lot of searches each month. This resulted in a lot of traffic and some good sales for a lot of our customers.
It also stopped their competitors from getting these valuable properties so it was worth buying them just for that reason.
However, the various algorithm updates - Panda, Penguin, Hummingbird, etc - have meant that Google has changed the equation it uses to decide which websites rank where.
In some cases, there are some glitches which mean that exact match domains still can work to your advantage. But it does not happen across all keywords. And it does depend on the strength of the competition.
I would say that, if you have a keyword that has a lot of searches each month but which not many people are going after, then it is probably worth buying the domain name from a recognised registrar - it should cost you £12 at most.
However, in order to get that Exact Match Domain to have any chance of ranking, you will have to build a website on it and keep it populated with relevant blog posts. You can't just forward the EMD to your existing website and expect magic to happen.
Many of the big gurus advise that it is far more effective to use the power of your existing website and add a new page instead.
Should I buy an Exact Match Domain that has been offered by email?
If the offer has come via an email then, in most cases, I would say 'no'.
You need to check the history of that domain. You can get an idea of this at domaintools.com - it will show you how many IP addresses have been associated with that exact match domain.
In the latest request we had from a client, the list for the domain in question showed 14 different IP addresses over 8 years. So people had clearly been trying to get it to rank and obviously not succeeding. It was an extremely competitive keyword with lots of players with large budgets.
How much should I pay for a domain being offered by email?
You also need to look at how much the existing owner is trying to charge. We had a very amusing experience just a few weeks ago. When EMDs were big, we had bought up about ten for a client around a certain keyword. As the algorithm changed, we did not renew the ones we were not using. As I said before, these cost about £10-12 per year to renew.
A few weeks later, we got an email from someone asking us if we would like to purchase one of our discarded EMDs. The price? Over £5,000!!!
The buying and selling of domains - both exact match and branded - is a well known money making scheme that has been going for many years.
You have been warned!
If I do decide to buy a domain via an email offer, what should I look out for?
Try to find out a bit about the seller before you make a purchase. Most recognised registrars do not email people offering specific domains for sale.
If it is a .uk based URL, you need to ensure that the new domain is being transferred into your name through an account with Nominet, the governing body. If you do not do this correctly, you may have paid for the domain, but you will not own it.
Of course, buying an EMD that has had several owners means that those several owners could have used all kinds of tricky attempts to get the associated website to rank. In other words, you have no control over the SEO used previously. In this instance any of the 14 previous owners could have bought dodgy links to get it to rank. You really don't want any of that to tarnish your good name!
Find out more about how SEO and Local SEO can help your business to get found online.