Yesterday’s solution is now today’s conundrum.
Known in the industry as ‘Exact Match Domains’, there used to be a very affective tactic in online marketing, it was to create a website and brand based on a relevant URL that that seemed to relate to a particular keyword that you were targeting and trying to rank for in Search Engines.
Please note, I mean no offence to the below listed companies, they are just good examples of what I am talking about, chosen at random.
An even more ‘cunning’ plan seemed to be, that if you had a number of similar URL’s, you could replicate this tactic many times to try and dominate your search category. Having multiple websites appearing on the first page in Search Engines for the same keyword, would effectively give you a few more chance of gaining traffic and leads and help you cancel out your opposition.
Years ago, these tactics did seem to work, but they are now becoming redundant. Over the last 12-24 months, Google in particular have begun reducing the effectiveness of these tactics, so that their customers (that is the people who search on Google) will receive more variety, better quality and no duplication when they are searching.
How has Google started to reduce these results? How could they possibly know who or where these websites come from and decipher how they should be dealt with?
Well to put it simply, Google is a lot smarter than you think. They can tell the I.P address of the websites, they can detect similarities in the content, phone numbers, physical addresses and email addresses, images and the website template. They can easily tell if the site is a separate brand that has something unique to offer. They even released specific updates that have affected the results of Exact Match Domains, the EDM Update, Hummingbird Update and Panda Updates have all taken their toll.
So where to now for all the people who now have a number of seemingly useless URL’s that they have purchased over the years?
Do not fret, here are some ideas that you can try, but please note, you should probably seek professional advice before making any big decisions:
1. Give them their own unique selling points and branding. You may be able to have a cheap or clearance website that sits along your main brand.
2. Consolidate to make your main brand bigger and better, provided your sites have not been hit with a penalty, by merging the information and re-directing the old URL’s to your main website, you may give your main site a lot of strength and improve your results.
3. Create landing pages for promotions and campaign advertising. These exact match domains can be extremely useful with email marketing and traditional forms of advertising like TV, Radio and Print, if you have promotions and offers, you can skin these URL’s to reflect the details of the offer and send people to these URL’s through your advertising.
4.Utilise them in a Google Ad Words campaign. Similar to campaign advertising, people can see the URL address in your ads from Google Ad Words, if the URL reflects the keywords they typed in or the ad copy of your advert, it may increase your Click Through Rate (people that see the ad vs the percentage that click on the ad).
On the whole I think the changes have been for the better and it forces us to be more creative than ever with advertising techniques and promoting your brand online rather than just focusing on what keywords to rank for.
By David Pocock