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Gurus Wrong Again: The TRUTH About Exact Match Domains

One thing that has been bothering me lately is this resurgence of the exact match domain topic for local search. Seriously, you usually don’t see a topic like this pop up so many times in 1 month.

I didn’t want to write this post, I’ve been working on a few big posts but felt the need to address this…especially since..

You have Rand Fishkin talking about how EMD’s don’t work.

You have another blog post on Moz about EMD’s not working.

Bright Local wrote a post on EMD’s not working.

Honestly, I find it to be quite shocking.

What made them think NOW is a good time to talk about this? EMD’s are in fact, ranking as good as they were 2 or 3, or 4 years ago. Guys… Just because Matt Cutts in 2012 said that Google prefers you to have a branded domain, doesn’t mean that exact match domains aren’t working well for SEO and particularly, local SEO.

I’m sitting here, trying to figure out the angle.

What is it?

Is it because Rand Fishkin said it, so now everybody else needs to repeat it and shout it from the mountaintops? Is it because they can’t muster up any sort of creativity to write meaningful content on their own? Are these people just stupid? Maybe they’re just lazy and don’t understand or maybe they don’t want to test their own theories.

Here’s the comment I left on the Bright Local Blog… first comment, but it might not be approved.


I’m sure they don’t want their first comment being one about why they’re wrong. I tried to be as respectful as possible, since it is their house, not mine.

So here’s the deal guys and gals. I’ve been in the St. Louis area for a long time. It’s in the show me state (missouri). I don’t know why that’s the state motto, maybe it’s because people here are hard to be bullshitted. If someone makes a claim, your typical response is “yeah? You have proof?” or “Cool, show me then”.

Unsubstantiated claims don’t fly here… at least with me and most people I know.

So I’m not going to bash these people getting it wrong on exact match domains, without showing you proof, and verifiable information you can google for yourself. Fair enough?

Proof Exact Match Domains Still Work

Before I get into the screen shots, I want to share a little theory with you. Yes, it is a theory, but my theories are usually right, or at least pretty close.

If a theory is wrong, I’ll have no problem admitting it.

The theory is that exact match domains have to ALWAYS play a role in the search results. No matter what Google does, it will be a ranking factor, UNLESS Google completely discounts the URL as a relevance signal, along with the domain name. Then imagine what it would have to do, when someone links to a specific URL in context and Google would have to discount that as well. This will never happen. It can’t happen.

What would take its’ place? If something decreases in weight, something else increases. What would it be? Heading tags? Alt tags? LOL.

Okay, enough theory… let’s show some results.

Carpet Cleaning Houston TX:


Results? #1 organic, #2 in local. The limited amount of reviews really prevents them from being #1 in local, as I mentioned before, many times reviews can carry a lot of weight in local search.

By the way, #3 organic is….but EMD’s don’t work anymore, right?

Plumber Dallas TX:

example-2 is ranking #1 in local, despite 0 reviews, and #2 in organic. It couldn’t be because Exact Match Domains work, right? Maybe plumbers are just a weak niche, weak competition, and NEVER have SEOs working on their stuff, right?

Yeah… can’t be the EMD.

Tow Truck Chicago IL

Certainly this search should give us some quality results, right? You’re in Chicago, car breaks down, you need a tow truck. These are going to be the best of the best, because Google really wants the highest quality results. Surely, a keyword domain can’t appear here, right?


For those going to those sites, my apologies on the first one. I put but it is in fact .com

Keyword domains dominating the search here in local… I guess Dark Angel is the only one that tried to brand their domain names. Maybe it’s just a weak niche.

Since we wrecked our car, or something happened to it, a shady lawyer tells us to go to a chiropractor. So while we’re stuck in Chicago, we search for:

Chiropractor Chicago IL

These outstanding professionals surely wouldn’t stoop to something so low as an exact match domain or keyword domain, right? They must have the high quality SEOs handling their stuff that know keyword domains are so outdated and no longer work. Their SEOs stay on top of EVERYTHING that Bright Local, Moz, and others write about.


Hmmm… Turns out the outstanding SEO’s were ranking on page 2 and 3. The noobs must have taken over page 1, using such an outdated tactic.

But who cares about Chicago? A small midwestern city, that isn’t competitive anyway, there’s probably only 3 chiropractors in the entire city. Crazy midwesterners and their stupid keyword domains, right?


You can search flooring Pittsburgh PA and see ranking top 3 GMB. You can search Pest Control Miami FL and see ranking #1. Or Dentist Boston MA and see and ranking.

The searches are endless.

Let’s Cut The Crap

These are just a few examples.

It didn’t take long to find them, in fact, I had over 50 examples within 30 minutes of light research. Hell, I even have an exact match domain in the legal niche in a populated city… and the site has 0 content. It’s a blank page ranking #1 organically.

How difficult is it to find these? It’s not hard, you probably have some keyword domains in your local areas. They aren’t rare… it’s not rare to find them. Yet, these people continue to say they don’t work.

This nonsense needs to stop.

I know I’ve been a bit hard on the guru bullshit lately, but it’s sickening. People with high authority outlets, are spewing this stupid, idiotic, BS without spending 30 minutes to verify what they’re saying.

I really don’t know why they keep doing this. To be fair, I think the Bright Local post was just a guest post or something. Hopefully the company itself, doesn’t agree with it. Even if they do, I guess it doesn’t matter, they have nice tools to use but that’s why they exist, they don’t exist to handle SEO for clients.

The whole keyword domain thing… that’s the biggest lie I’ve heard in a while.

The article that triggered this post, also had some other claims I believe to be highly inaccurate, but I can deal with people having their opinions and being wrong on certain things… when it comes to something as BIG as this, I can’t let it slide, and neither should you.

Final Thoughts

It’s tough being in this industry. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I really feel for you guys that are hustling, trying to learn everything you can but not knowing what information you can trust.

The misinformation in this field, is unreal. Never before has it been so awful with conflicting sources.

Do your part to help… call people out, question what they say.


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