I’ve been putting off this post for a while because I suspect there may be some disagreement and quoting of blog posts and even of Google.

But nonetheless here’s my view of Exact Match Domains (EMDs) from the front line, in February 2013. And why they’re relevant to your SEO Copywriting endeavours.

EMDs. A potted history

What is an Exact Match Domain? And why are they so valuable?

An EMD has keywords or a key phrase the site owner wants to target. Take this site. I offer writing for SEO as a service and teach writing for seo to site owners and marketing departments. Writing For SEO is also a very relevant key phrase, and I found that the .org form was available.

So I have an Exact Match Domain because my domain name exactly matches one of the most relevant key phrases for my business. Traditionally, Google has liked EMDs so much that it actually gave a leg up to sites that used them.

Consequently, many people and businesses put up one-page micro sites, targeting just one key phrase, hoping to rank high and quickly just using the power of the EMD’s leverage.

And the web filled up with sites such as www.getrichquickschemereview.com, www.losepoundssuperfast.com and www.onlinemillionsinajiffy.com (when I checked, none of these sites existed, in case you’re wondering), which consisted of one sales letter page and nothing else.

Then Google changed its mind

Then, in September 2012, Google took action against these spammy sites. It said it was outlawing low-qualty EMDs.

Millions of sites disappeared from the first page of Google almost overnight, and many affiliate marketing businesses came to a dead halt. EMDs had become domains of mass destruction.

But there are problems with the concept of filtering EMDs. Not all of the affiliate sites are evil.

Suppose all the major brands had their websites penalised because they used a domain with their major brand name – their major keyword? That wouldn’t be to many people’s advantage.

So EMDs are dead?

Despite all the horror expressed in forums and on blogs over the past few months, EMDs aren’t dead. Far from it.

Writing For SEO has ranked on the first page of Google in the UK and US (plus other English-based Googles I’ve checked) since around six weeks after the site launched in early December 2012. That’s after Google’s EMD purge, of course.

I also see clients’ sites with EMDs continuing to rank well.

Yet micro sites, the cornerstone of affiliate marketing, have plummeted from visibility. Why is this? I think Google is well aware of the type of domains preferred by many low-quality sites and tends to filter for words like ‘review’ in domains.

The other easy factor is for Google to count how many pages there are on the site. A suspected spam EMD and just one page… What are the odds? A suspected EMD with lots of unique content, updated regularly? Almost certainly something a visitor will get something from.

How do you get the most from an EMD?

Do the right things and you can still get key word advantage from an exact match domain. Publish lots of quality, unique, keyword targeted content and Big G will soon stop worrying about your site.

Commit to your site in the long term, and you’ll be rewarded with some of the benefits of having an Exact Match Domain. Cheat, and Google will nobble you.

It’s the same story that knowledgeable SEOs have returned to year after year, and something that everyone who needs to promote a website needs to bear in mind.

Play it straight. Train hard and keep off those anabolic steroids!

Thanks to Heather Kennedy for allowing me to use her image.