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What does Exact Match Domain (EMD) mean in SEO?

There as a time when search engines like Google felt that a website called was probably about 'keyword x'. It was one of the factors that major search engines took into account when deciding if a website should rank for 'keyword x' in the search results.

This lead to a massive industry where people purchased domain names like '' and tried to sell the on to someone they thought might be trying to rank for that word or phrase.

The industry still exists as most people don't know that Exact Match Domains no longer have any value and many businesses and individuals earn a good living based on this buyer ignorance.

It's important to note that having an Exact Match Domain in itself will not result in a penalty - although many people incorrectly report that it will. It just won't help anymore.

The penalty occurs when the search engines feel your Exact Match Domain is part of a wider attempt to scam internet users. So, for example, you are pursuing the phrase "cheap TVs" and you:
  • purchase the domain
  • create lots of links around the web where the text in the link (the anchor text) is "Cheap TVs"
  • there are few, or no, other links or (genuine) social bookmarks to suggest genuine users want to link to your site

These are all fair signals to a search engine that you are up to no good and in this situation you can expect a penalty.

I'm Tim Hill, a Search Engine Optimisation and Online Marketing specialist. I created this site to help others understand that SEO is not a mysterious black art!.

If your a newbie try the Getting Started in SEO page, otherwise feel free to dig around and learn more.

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