Lately there has been a lot of buzz on the forums and blogs about exact match domains in the poker and casino affiliate market. It’s obvious that exact match domains are extremely valuable for affiliates, but there is more to the story than meets the eye. This article is going to define an “exact match” domain, discuss why they are valuable, and help dispel a few myths about exact match domains.
What is an Exact Match Domain?
In my opinion, an exact match domain is any domain that contains the keyword(s), and only the keyword(s) in front of .com, .net, or .org. There cannot be any dashes, numbers, letters, or other words in the domain. The domain also cannot be any other extension unless you are targeting a regional search engine. For example, a .ca domain could be exact match if you are targeting the google.ca engine, but would not be exact match if you were targeting the google.com engine.
If you were targeting the term “poker sites”, the only exact match domains would be pokersites.com, pokersites.org, or pokersites.net. Some domains that wouldn’t be considered exact match include poker-sites.com, pokersites247.com, or pokersites.info.
Some affiliates like to debate that domains with dashes in them are just as valuable as domains without dashes, but all of my experience says that’s not true. I own numerous domains with and without dashes, and to be frank, the ones with dashes basically suck.
What are the Benefits?
The main benefit behind having an exact match domain is its power in the Google search engine. Even for a highly competitive term, an exact match domain with a few decent links pointing towards it will rank in the top ten or twenty results very quickly.
Another benefit of having an exact match domain is the ability to gain great anchor links from quality directories. Most good directories force you to use your site’s official name as the anchor text of the listing, and if you have an exact match domain you will get a very relevant link. For example, if you listed InternetCasino.org in the Yahoo directory, you would get the anchor text “Internet Casino”, which would further help you rank for the term “Internet Casino”. If your site was InternetCasinoHub.com however, your link would be “Internet Casino Hub” which wouldn’t help your ranking quite as much.
One Word vs. Two Word vs. Three or More Word Domains
Something that I haven’t seen discussed much is the value of a one word exact match domain vs. a two words or more exact match domain. In my experience, the one and two word domains work the best. Those are the ones that usually get the top ten or twenty ranking right away, and gain ground from there. Three word domains can also work, but four words are really pushing it. At that point the site starts to look spammy, and the domain will lose a little bit of its effectiveness.
One thing I really haven’t experimented much with is exact match domains with “modifiers” in them. For example, I’m curious to see if Google would give a domain like BestPokerRooms.com a boost for the search term “best poker rooms”. I suspect you would still get a boost, but not as much as if the domain was OnlinePokerRooms.com.
Buying Exact Match Domains
Another point I would like to discuss is the price of exact match domains. Nowadays you won’t find any great exact match domains available for registration fees – most of these can only be acquired in a private sale. You will most likely have to pay a premium for a big ticket exact match domain, but I highly recommend it. Even if you have to pay $10,000 for a highly prized domain, you are much better off doing that then buying a generic domain and investing $10,000 into links and content.