The Incredible Value of an Exact Match Domain Name

February 9, 2009 - Written by Gyutae Park  

domain namesA domain name is literally the face of every website. It represents your brand and your address, and it could mean the difference between success and failure online.

There are a few strategies you can use when coming up with a new domain name for your site. You can try coming up with a completely new phrase for branding purposes (e.g. Google, Yahoo, Flickr, Twitter, etc), you can incorporate important keywords into catchy phrases (e.g.,, etc.), or you can try snatching up the exact match domain name for your main keyword (e.g.,,, etc.).

With the Internet gaining prominence as a solid tool for business, more and more companies are buying up domains to set up their websites. Unfortunately, this means that a lot of the good domain names (especially on the .com TLD) are already taken. However, with some luck and creativity, you can still find a few gems if you’re willing to put up the effort.

Today I want to go over exact match domain names and explain to you why they’re so valuable. In case you’re not familiar with the term, an exact match domain name is basically a domain that contains only the targeted keyword for a business. For example, and are exact match domains in the industry I blog in. Exact match domains are valuable because they have huge traffic, SEO, and branding benefits. In fact, in the recent past, sold for $2.75 million, for $7.5 million, and for $14 million.

Why are these exact match domains worth so much? Let’s explore some of the reasons why.

5 Reasons Why Exact Match Domain Names are so Valuable

1. Free type-in traffic

Although many people use Google search to navigate the web and find what they’re looking for, some less savvy Internet users are still using the address bar to find relevant sites. For example, if someone wanted to learn more about cellphones, he or she might type in into the browser address bar. is just a parked page filled with ads, but it still receives thousands of visitors every single day because of the type-in traffic.

Below is a comparison between and my site does no marketing whatsoever and it still receives nearly 20,000 visitors a month according to Compete data.

2. Huge branding benefits

Exact match domains naturally give off a sense of authority to visitors. For example, which sites would you trust more to get the information you need? or or A name counts for a lot and having an exact match domain means you have a huge advantage when it comes to branding potential. Your site is perceived as the market leader even though you might not actually have the best site or features. Building a brand that’s associated with your industry becomes much much easier.

3. Keyword-rich link anchor text

As you may already know, ranking favorably in the search engine depends on your site’s ability to gain links containing keyword-rich anchor text. For example, if you want to rank #1 in Google for “dog training”, you need a relatively high number of links pointing to your site containing that anchor text.

From my experience, I’ve noticed that most webmasters link to other sites using the site name or domain name. For example, most people link to my site here using “Winning the Web”. For sites without keywords in their name, this is less than ideal when it comes to SEO. However, for sites with exact match domains, this is another huge advantage. Every link that they get will contain the keyword that they’re looking to rank for – which helps enormously in SEO and link building efforts.

4. Boost in search engine rankings

As if the keyword-rich link anchor text wasn’t enough of a benefit, exact match domains get an additional boost in the search engine rankings. Google in particular trusts the exact match domains more than they would other sites and often ranks them higher just because of the name. What does this mean? A site with an exact match domain doesn’t need as many links or on-page optimization to rank #1 for a particular keyword. In fact, I’ve seen many cases where exact match domains outrank authority sites with a lot more links and better marketing. For example, Aaron Wall owns a 1-page site called and it ranks #1 in Google for that keyword ahead of a lot of big sites even though it has a very small link profile. Joined with easily-attainable links with keyword-rich anchor text, can you see why exact match domains have such a huge advantage in SEO?

5. Appreciating value

Finally, exact match domains are valuable because they are in high demand and will appreciate in value as the Internet continues to boom. Unlike “normal” domains that are only valuable based on the actual site or business, exact match domains are valuable in and of themselves. You can buy an exact match domain today for $50,000 and sell it in a few years for maybe double that price – all without even putting up a site on the domain.

What are your thoughts on exact match domains? Do you own any that you’re proud of in your portfolio? What kinds of trends have you seen in the domain industry? Leave your thoughts in a comment and tell us what you think.

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74 Responses to “The Incredible Value of an Exact Match Domain Name”

Frank Carr on February 9th, 2009

Here’s what I’ve found in this area.

Having a lot of incoming links anchored on a particular keyword or having considerable site authority/age (think Amazon, CNN, Wikipedia) can overcome an exact match domain name that doesn’t have links, age or authority. But, if the exact match has links and/or niche authority it will win out apparently on the basis of the name.

I think that type in traffic isn’t as common as it once was due to the way browsers have gotten better at caching previous searches and online features like Google’s auto-suggest. Anyway, it’s rare today to find a generic single word domain name at a reasonable price.

Gyutae Park on March 13th, 2009

Thanks for sharing your insights. I think that they’re putting much right on target.

Although generic single word domain names aren’t really available, that doesn’t mean you can’t go for some of the long tail keyword domain names (although you should go crazy with this).

Chung Bey Luen on February 9th, 2009

You are right. With exact match domain, you can spend less time doing optimization and you can actually concentrate to write more quality content or put more effort to grow your business.

Gennaro on February 9th, 2009

No doubt that it makes all the difference in the world. Though it’s becoming more and more difficult to get these domain names. I’m wondering if there will be a move away from .com or even .net just to get the domain name with keywords.

Gyutae Park on March 13th, 2009

New TLD’s are popping up these days.. (like the new .me domains). However, they haven’t been all that popular. I think the .com will be the domain of choice for a long time.

George on February 9th, 2009

Gyutae, What are your thoughts on exact match domains on a TLD other than .com, .net or .org? Do they get the same “preferential treatment” in Google? For example, we know that is easier to rank for the keyword “widget” in Google, but how about “”, or “”? Will they get the same preferential treatment in search?

Gyutae Park on March 13th, 2009

Hey George,
From my experience, the preferential treatment is only given to the big TLDs (.com, .net, .org). TLDs like .info and .biz are actually de-weighted by Google because they’re commonly used by spammers to set up quick sites.

Reliable Web Hosting on February 9th, 2009

Not sure if another TLD will be as prominent as .com, even 5-10 years from now. Domains will continue to be bought and sold. I think the only thing that will change this is if http is no longer around.

Gyutae Park on March 13th, 2009

Agreed. Domains are the real estate of the web. They’re going to be around for a while and will get more valuable with time.

posicionamiento en google on February 9th, 2009

There is no doubt, but it does not mean that it is not possible to position a website without also having a generic domain.

Gyutae Park on March 13th, 2009

Oh absolutely, a non-exact match domain can still do well and position itself for success, but the exact match domain will have a big head start and advantage. It’s like a bodybuilder on steroids vs one without it.

Frank Anthony on August 10th, 2009

Its nothing like that. A bodybuilder without steroids has no chance of beating a bodybuilder on steroids.

I see the same thing as you do when it comes to only the big 3 tlds getting a benefit for an exact match keyword domain. At least in Google.

Bing has more love for .info than Google does

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Kids Coats on February 9th, 2009

Good article. My experience is with developing a two word generic domain and can offer the following.

1. The CTR in paid search is very high on a generic domain as opposed to a long domain name. As such your quality score is higher and your CPC is lower. For instance, all things equal in a paid search campaign for the term “Girls Kids Coats” would you click or

2. I agree linking with one word generics is great for anchor text links, but the same inherent value is not naturally true for a multi-word generic. For instance, if the link is, then “” would be the anchor text and be distilled to “coats.” But if the link is then the link is distilled to “kidscoats.” – not a popular phrase to rank for! However, it is easy to ask a webmaster to change a recent link to you from to Kids Coats as it is just your business name.

3. Type in traffic is not as high as you would think it is. Far lower than what any business needs to sustain itself.

4. If you put in a bunch of leg work and are not afraid of a fair share of disappointment dished out by sellers, you can acquire good two word generics in the $500-5000 range. IMO, what you’ll save in CPC for paid search will pay for this in a year.

Thanks for the post.

Gyutae Park on March 13th, 2009

Wow, thanks for sharing your experiences. The PPC display URL is another advantage that I overlooked for the original list. It’ll definitely have a positive outcome on the click through rates.

Two word generics are great domain names. When I say exact match domain that includes any keyword – as long as it matches exactly.

Cheap Phone Calls on February 10th, 2009

Great advice. I always think it’s important to do your research for your domain name with great consideration. There aren’t many domains left for optimising your keywords anymore! They’ve all been bought up!

Gyutae Park on March 13th, 2009

Unfortunately, you’re right. A lot of the good generic domains are taken – which means we have to be more creative with our marketing or shell out the cash to buy them up.

Matt on February 10th, 2009

Really nice article here. Agree with what you are saying. Long gone are the days of hand-regging 1 word generic .com, nowadays its even hard to find 2 word generics.

I wrote a blog post on buying expiring domain names, a way to get your hands on quality domain names, and with PR, .gov, .edu backlinks etc. Someone might find it useful, its here ng-domains.html


Gyutae Park on March 13th, 2009

Hey Matt,
Thanks for sharing the article. I used a similar strategy using the expiring domains list on and picked up a few great domains at the standard price.

Timon Weller on February 10th, 2009

Its true, exact matching can help however even if it does not match you can still get high ranked for a competitive keyword with no keyowrd in domain name… Alot of my main sites rank higher for keywords of the same name..)

With some keywords the domain name looks so articial just for search rankings, i think the search engines will cotton onto this soon..:)

Gyutae Park on March 13th, 2009

Hey Timon,
It’s definitely to get your sites to rank for competitive keywords without the keywords appearing in your domain. However, it requires a lot more optimization and links to do so. Currently, exact match domains get a huge boost in Google and I don’t see that changing too much especially because it’s a self reinforcing cycle of good search rankings and good branding.

barber furniture on February 10th, 2009

You are totally right. Maybe sometimes is the most important thing to have good domain name.After all, you always can sell it.

Gyutae Park on March 13th, 2009

Hey Mark,
Well that’s assuming that you’re lucky enough to get the domain name in the first place…

wanna develop on February 10th, 2009

Gyutae, this is an excellent write up.

Domain names carry as much as 50% as far as natural SEO goes with both Google and Yahoo. The rest of the stuff such as link juice and relevant content far less.

Match up good keyword domains + relevant content on properly optimized pages and you got yourself a moneymaking machine.

Gyutae Park on March 13th, 2009

I wouldn’t say 50%… that’s seems like an awful lot of weight. An exact match domain gets a big boost – but that doesn’t mean it’ll rank solely based on domain name. The site still needs good relevant content and a solid number of links.

Classifieds on February 10th, 2009

Exact match domains are great because they are easy to remember and they are straight to the point but most times its already taken unless its a keyword that no one knows about. If you can find something new and purchase the domain name before it gets big, than it will be very good

Gyutae Park on March 13th, 2009

Yep, that’s pretty much the only way you can get a super competitive exact match domain these days unless you’re super lucky or you pay up. Your strategy works well for new products or new celebrities that pop up.

32 on February 10th, 2009

Nice post. Stick with the keywords….those brandable names take soooo much effort and $$ to get to stick in consumers’/web surfers’ minds.

Gyutae Park on March 13th, 2009

Either way, branding is very important and Google is giving preference to brands in its search results anyway. With an exact match domain you get the benefit of both rankings and branding. It’s pretty tough to get exact match domains these days, so a lot of times I’ll go for a branded name with a keyword in it (e.g. SEO Alley – something like that).

Michael Castello on February 11th, 2009

Your article is right on the money. My brother and I have been making money from generic domain names since 1996. Our first was and we are currently building out and among many others. A domain name is the land that you will build upon, lease or flip. Personally I believe we have an obligation to our visitors that directly type in a domain name. They are looking for something and that is an opportunity to make them happy and yourself money, so development is where we put our efforts. has thousands of paying members and most either came to the site to list their daycare or start a daycare. That is what we built the site around and it does very well. Actually building a great site on a great name is a lot of fun. It has been my full-time job since 1997 and this business just keeps getting better and bigger even during the current economic downturn. I wish the new would administration put more emphasis on this opportunity that is sitting right under our noses. It is a very efficient business model in a time where many are staying home and have time to try something new. IMHO, this is the future vision for America.

Gyutae Park on March 13th, 2009

Thanks for sharing your experiences and your vision. I admire what you’re doing and very much agree with your philosophy of “building great sites”. Some awesome domain names you have there too…

You’re truly a veteran in the industry starting full time all the way back in 1997 – good to hear from someone else that the economy isn’t affecting the industry too!

Giochi Pc on February 11th, 2009

ok this is correct but it’s no always possible that your domain name is perfectly online with the topic you want optimize for!

Gyutae Park on March 13th, 2009

True, but your site is always going to have a few high-potential keywords that it can be optimized for. Grabbing those domain names could be a very smart business move.

Jacques @ SEO Tools South Africa on February 11th, 2009

I recently sold 2x domains… and for a tidy profit, due to the exact reasons highlighted in this post.

Gyutae Park on March 13th, 2009

Very nice! Did you have anything developed on those sites or did you sell just the domains?

wisdom on February 11th, 2009

Google really does like exact match domain names. So it is very useful if you can find one that people search for that keyword frequently.

wanna develop on February 11th, 2009

Great post Michael Castello 🙂

^— there is a guy who knows what he is doing 😉

If it won’t be America to get this going, it will be India — they know their stuff when it comes to Tech.. Watch out!!



Gyutae Park on March 13th, 2009

Haha, some of the people in India definitely know their stuff about tech, but it’s mostly programming and web development. When it comes to business and content ideas for media sites, I don’t think they can keep up.

Paul on February 12th, 2009

That was a great article!
When I bought a company (10 years ago), that already had a website, I changed the corporate name to match the domain name (KYGallery) and that worked out well too.
I’ve added your blog to my RSS reader too and now I have to go back and review all your previous posts.

Gyutae Park on March 13th, 2009

Thanks Paul! I appreciate adding me to your RSS reader.

Good to hear all these stories that back up my points in the article.

Nick Stamoulis on February 13th, 2009

Unless you are a VC funded social web 2.0 site coming up with a short witty name probably will not do much for you. It will look nice but it will take a little longer. A url with a keyword tastefully located in the name will allow you to gain much better traction in the search engines.

Gyutae Park on March 13th, 2009

Hey Nick,
I completely agree with your strategy. Most of the exact match domains aren’t available anymore unless you pay up so a good alternative is to combine the keyword with a branding element (example: It’s how I come with new domain names for all of my sites and projects.

seo software on February 13th, 2009

I also find it amusing when i see new companies choose huge, long URLS for their website, such as

Gyutae Park on March 13th, 2009

Haha, ok that’s definitely taking it overboard and I wouldn’t recommend that. Unless it’s a short exact match domain, I would much rather incorporate a branding element like I mentioned in the previous comment.

Mike Huang on February 13th, 2009

Sadly, a lot of these exact match domains are taken and usually just parked there to gain revenue from parked services or hosts. You would have to wait for something big to be released to get an exact domain match.

Gyutae Park on March 13th, 2009

Yep, what a waste of all that valuable real estate. Any exact match domain is available as long as you have the cash to entice the owners to sell.

Jim on February 14th, 2009

Great write up! We own a geo-targeted portfolio of approximately 10,000 exact match or type-in domains that address specific vertical markets such as automotive, healthcare, legal, home services, etc. We are actively looking for people to partner with from either a development, sales, or JV perspective. If any of you have an idea or a thought we welcome an email.


Gyutae Park on March 13th, 2009

10,000 exact match domains.. wow. How much traffic do they all get – if you don’t mind sharing. Do you rely only on type in traffic?

Waterhog on March 23rd, 2009

10,000 !?!? man those must have cost you some money. Have you done anything with any of these yet??

tyler j. on May 28th, 2009

Gyutae – great article!! I searched a while and found yours and it totally hit the spot – concise and to the point. Thanks!

Wanted to see if you could give me some advice on the value of using multiple domain names to point to subsections of one website. What I’m getting at is that I’m developing a website that provides info specific for all 50 US states and I’m wondering if it is worth the expense of reserving domain names unique/appropriate for each of the states. Without giving away my idea, a hypothetical example would be if I wanted to provide a guide to the best nature trails in America. Say I reserve the domain name and I know that I’ll get a good number of hits based on folks searching for “nature trail reviews.” However, I would also get a lot of hits for “texas nature trails” and “florida nature trails” etc … in fact if you added up all the potential hits (based on couple of minutes at for the “[state-name] nature trails” the total would blow away “nature trail reviews” by itself. Could I/should I also reserve as many “[state-name] nature trail” domain names (ex. available and use them to point to the appropriate subsections of to get a big start up SEO advantage???

Paul Brin on May 28th, 2009

Have you considered making the domain name the landing page and then creating a sub-domain for each state?
For example the landing page at would list all the states (Keywords) leading to through

tyler j. on June 1st, 2009

Hmmm. That sounds good if, for example, was as effective as (in an SEO sense) as I think the question boils down to, does Google parse both “” and “” into “wyoming nature trail reviews”???

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Netfleet on August 4th, 2009

Thanks for the info – don’t forget to post about the Australian domain name industry – it’s really starting to take off… Thanks again

Juegos on September 3rd, 2009

Good article, i like it, i believe is normal to rank better if you have the exact match keyword. Why? because if you buy a domain like we assume that you plan to use it for a music site not to sell food. On the other hand i’m very interested to find more about the ccTLDs. Can we rank good, take the advantage of the exact match keyword using a ccTLD? for example .cc, .gs. Have a nice day.

David on September 3rd, 2009

Juegos – you certainly can!

Google et al place a lot of weight on the ccTLD as well for ‘local’ searches. In Australia 80% of the top ten searches are invariably .au domains.

So put that together with the exact match discussion above and you can do extremely well.

A good example is, a site we developed. Good content but very light on IBLs and it still pops up No1 in G for the term “debit card” in Australia.

Simon on October 30th, 2009

I’m not sure I believe that google does love exact match domain names.

We own a site “” that ranks first on yahoo [sometimes the wikipedia article on walkie talkies might rank higher] and ranks highly on bing. But is buried somewhere in the bottom of googles’ Serps pages.
We sell walkie talkies, all content is walkie talkie related and frequently updated.

Gyutae Park on November 18th, 2009

Hey Simon,
Just to clarify, Google only gives the exact match bonus to domains WITHOUT the dash, so in your case

My recommendation to you would be to continue building links, preferably with “walkie talkies” as the link anchor text. Google loves links and with enough you can take down bigger brands and the exact match domain.

If you can, it’d be nice to buy up the domain too.

Richard on November 17th, 2009

That’s becasue you don’t have an exact match domain name – you’re has a dash in it.

Gyutae, I totally agree with your post – we currently have around 12,000 live domains targetting the travel sector. All our domain names contain exact match, long-ish tail search terms, and although they don’t bring in a huge amount of traffic in their own right, the critical mass of monthly unique visitors is in the millions.

I also agree that these sites do drop away after Google’s initial push, and a certain amount of linkbuilding is required (although a lot less than a non-keyword domain) to keep it near the top of the tree.

I do have a slightly off-topic question here though, and this is something i’ve been pondering for a while. Whilst we are offering users a service that is relevent to their search query (ie a certain star rated hotel in a certain city), i’ve often wonderered whether the scale we’re doing it on maybe considered spam. For example, any user could probably find what they’re looking for, in any city, by just going on a site like and searching from within.

I still don’t see how Google can penalise smaller, 2 or 3 page sites with an exact match domain, if they are providing a service to the users of the web (and perhaps even more relevent results than a huge site like that will require further navigation)

This is where it gets tricky. We’d like to look at our stats in greater detail using some form of web analytics. I’d like your advice as to whether you think creating a google account with 12,000 domains, each with the same tracking script (to monitor combind traffic), would be a red flag to google, and even if it was flagged, is there anything they could do about it anyway, given that we are giving the users exactly what they are searching for?



Gyutae Park on November 18th, 2009

Hey Rich,
Thanks for sharing your situation. 12,000 domains… holy cow!

My focus with Internet marketing and SEO always revolves around the end user. In other words, if I’m faced with the dilemma of employing a certain strategy, I ask myself “would I do this for my visitors, even if Google didn’t exist?” If the answer is no, I usually scrap it.

By providing value, rather than relying on tricks, you’re essentially future proofing your SEO.

In your case, your business relies heavily on the exact match bonus from Google. What happens if Google made a slight tweak to its algorithm to discount this? I don’t think it’s necessarily spam, but I think the strategy is shaky – whether Google flags it or not. Plus it’s a $100,000+ yearly expense.

My suggestion to you would be to leverage those 12,000 domains to drive traffic to a branded site (i.e. something like That way, you’re reaping the benefits of your technical advantage to build a long term business and site.

Let me know what you think. Would love to discuss further with you.

Richard on November 18th, 2009

Hi Gyutae, and thanks for your reply.

I agree entirely with your comments, and this is something we’re looking at building up to. We wanted to see the amount of traffic these domains would bring before deciding what to do with the traffic afterwards.

It’s a bit of a catch 22, becasue the domains are generating substantial commisions on their own, but one flick of the algorithm switch and you’re right, it could be bye-bye forever, and we wouldnt have a main site to fall back on.

The general consensus amongst my partners is that by treating all the domains as separate entities, we’re less likely to ‘enter google’s radar’ and be penalised on a mass scale. Another opinion is that Google will never reduce the weight they give to exact match domains, as google wouldnt be doing it’s job if it didnt return the big brands for searches such as nike, reebok etc.

I have to say i’m slightly more sceptical, as i belive that Google could potentially manually review the superbrands and ensure they are ranking for their terms, and let the other websites fight it out based on quality content, structure and links.

It’s already starting to happen. search for ‘las vegas hotels’ and you will see the majority of the results are the big name hotels. Is Google doing their job? I’d say yes. People want hotels in las vegas and google has provided…..

I agree with some of the previous posts against keyword match domains. I agree it’s unfair that a site that is constantly updated and is content rich should be out-ranked by a site on the basis that the domain matches the search term.

For the sake of our business let’s just hope this doesn’t happen 😉 but i’m with you on the need to develop some sort of brand site of our own to at least fall back on.

Appreciate your thoughts.

Gyutae Park on November 21st, 2009

Hey Richard,
I can definitely see how that could be a catch 22. Why ditch something that’s working, right?

Honestly though, I wouldn’t be surprised if your strategy decreased in effectiveness over time. And Google will easily be able to see that the domains are connected (whois data, analytics, links, etc). If possible, the best idea may be to use the traffic you’re getting to promote a branded site while still making money (and investing some of it into the branded site).

Larry on November 29th, 2009

Hi, I own a sign company. I am working on a new website for the retail division of our corporation. I want to use a bunch of exact-match domain names and link them to my primary new website.
I have used to check out the monthly frequency of search words and phrases that are what I’m looking to connect with. Can you help me? Let’s say I want to try and come up on the Googol first page…if possible…..for a business man needing to buy a illuminated lightbox sign. shows monthly figures for “illuminated signs” @ 12,100; “lightbox”
@ 550,000; “business signs” @ 40,500. So I’m thinking..okay, one of my exact-match domain names will be “”. Am I thinking right?
When we say exact-match, the name can’t match my new website exactly, so I’m not sure if I’m doing this right.

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Arnie Katz on March 22nd, 2010

I believe the article is very much on target. The .com will be the gold standard of the Internet for now and in the future. With just basic optimization an exact match domain name should rank high in the search engines and will only grow in value over time. Much of our portfolio consists a exact match and near match domains.

Bud on November 3rd, 2010

Hi guys,

A very interesting subject for me. What google search volume for a particular keyword constitutes a category killer? I have recently managed to get my hands on an exact match domain that yields 650000 searches globally on google and about 64000 local to the UK. Is this deemed to be a good search volume for an exact match domain?

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