Exact Match Domains

It seems with Google’s latest modification to its search results algorithms, if you have an “exact match domain” name, your traffic might take a hit. Exact match domains contain keywords that exactly match the search query so for example if you’re targeting the market for “fast wordpress hosting” you might have bought the domain fast-wordpress-hosting.com or fastwordpresshosting.com. With this recent Google change, if that site is really just an attempt to get a bit of traffic and make a quick buck (through affiliate links or ads), the site’s rankings will probably decrease.

Do note, none of this matters if the site has “real” content, solid backlinks, and a following of readers and visitors. This is more targeting to those looking to game the system and rank high in Google without doing the real work.

But the main reason I mention this is because I think it’s kinda funny. I’ve worked in the naming industry for about 10 years (several of those for an excellent branding shop here near San Francisco  and I’ve always been a fan of what we in the industry call “abstract” or “arbitrary” names. There are descriptive names (e.g. San Francisco WordPress Design and Development Shop) and suggestive names (e.g. Website Wonders R Us … ooh, that’s bad) and then arbitrary (e.g. Likoma).

  • Descriptive names directly describe or “convey” some meaning.
  • Suggestive names suggest meaning.
  • Arbitrary names have little or none relevant meaning (at least to someone not in the inner circle).

So why do I think this is funny? Because since I started out in the naming business, I’ve been a fan of the arbitrary end of the spectrum. If you know a few of the websites I run (especially this one: likoma.com), you’ll know I will always go for the arbitrary unless someone more, uh, marketing minded might convince me out of it. But I’m all about the back story.

If you’re at the cocktail party and you say the name of your business is “WordPress Development and Design in the Bay Area” people say, “Oh.” If you say the name of your business is, “Likoma” they do a double take, ask you to repeat it, spell it, and give you the back story.

It also get a big checkbox in the Pros column (pros and cons) for the “empty vessel” strategy. It’s a long-term strategy that allows you to expand, grow, and change your business into whatever you’d like it to be because the name of the company isn’t tied down to meaning. Likoma might become a travel agency, maybe a retail store for alligator repellent. It can become anything.

So there you have it. From the naming guy’s perspective and finally with some vindication from the SEO perspective. What’s your favorite arbitrary company and/or domain name?

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About the Author:

I've done the big corporate thing. I've done the creative writer thing. Now I'm happily in the middle. I like to help small businesses who are interested in "working their website before their website works them." I'm also interested in creating beautiful sites with powerful WordPress themes. Google+

One Comment

  1. […] So they might as well not even exist–or at least be competition. Wouldn’t they “automatically” be on the first page because they have an exact match domain? […]

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