Exact Match Vs Partial Match Domains

Is exact match dead?
SIA Team
July 10, 2021

Which is better when buying domains, a domain with an exact match keyword or a domain with a partial match. It has been going around that exact match keywords do not work anymore and you are better off with a partial match or branded domain. We test this out to check which is the truth. Should you go for an exact match, partial match or branded domain?

For this test, there were 500 words on the page with a keyword density of 2%. There were a total of 6 domains used, each domain only had a home page. The page contained an H1, H2, H3, and H4.


On the first test, the exact match ranked number one, while the partial match ranked number 2. For test two, the exact matched also ranked number 1 and a random page was number 2. However, for test 3, the partial match ranked number 1 while a random page was in number 2. 


Exact match domains totally work. It will beat both partial match domains and a random domain, even when all domains are equally optimized on-page for the target keyword phrase. We then took things a step further and created optimized internal pages to see if they would beat the exact match domain. The result? Nope. The exact match still wins. You can see this in the Cefogglilants in Tucson test. A second page containing the target keyword on the partial match domain was created and it loses to the exact match domain. 

Clint’s Feedback

In this video, Clint talks about this test and his insights on the use of exact match domain, partial match domain, and the downsides of using them.

This is test number 18 – Exact Match Domains vs Partial Match Domains.

This has been a thorn in the SEO community’s side for quite some time. Since 2016 people have been degrading or telling people – don’t buy exact match domains, Google doesn’t like them. They hate exact match domains. 

Every SEO blogger, every SEO guru, they all run around and say the same thing. And honestly, I think it’s kind of misleading because exact match domains, as you can see from the test results there, if you look down in the results, test number one – exact match domain, test number two – exact match domain, and if we read this test today, I would imagine that it would probably be the same way. 

Just because Google does use the domain name as a factor when talking about relevancy towards a concept. So let’s say your page is about, let’s go with wooden pipes. We talked about wooden pipes in another video, so why not wooden pipes. If I have woodenpipes.com or woodenpipesresources.com or woodedpipesshop.com. That’s an exact match and two partial match keyword domains. 

Both of those would rank higher than the competition after I got all the link building and all that stuff done and built the authority and beat them, right. The exact match domain would give me a leg up. 

The downside of exact match domains today is there is so much spam when exact matches were known to be winning that Google changed the ball the way you can actually link to them. And specifically, they changed the anchor text. So if you have an exact match domain, and you’re using exact match anchor text, and you do it too much, the algorithm will demote the page and demote the website. 

That is not unique to just exact match domains. As a matter of fact, you need to be cognizant of that when you’re building it to any web page, when you’re building links to any website – is making sure you’re not getting crazy with your exact match keywords. Exact match domains are a little bit more sensitive to that, of course. 

So with that being said, you can still buy an exact match domain, you can still buy a partial match domain, and it’ll give you a leg up in the search results. 

Downside, there is a downside to this. If you are planning on operating in multiple cities. Let’s say you’re doing wooden pipes, and then all of a sudden you want to start going into custom made titanium pipes. I don’t doubt it’s a thing, I imagine titanium would get pretty hot and start burning your hands, but let’s just say. You would have a hard time ranking for that custom made titanium pipe and you may actually send mixed signals to Google about wooden pipes and ultimately reduce the rank for the wooden pipes. So you’ve changed the scope of the website. 

Another example is Olympia SEO, OlympiaSEO.com, that used to be my old agency. I wanted to rank in Seattle, Sacramento, L.A., Vegas, all the dream SEO keywords. And I was doing great in Olympia. Low competition for one, and two is an exact match domain and didn’t have to do all that much work to rank for Olympia SEO and do pretty well for myself in that town of Olympia, Washington. City of Olympia Washington happens to be the capital of Washington, by the way. 

I had to rebrand to Digitaleer so that I can also do the same in Seattle, Bellevue, Redmond, and Vancouver, and down into Portland, and going up into Idaho and all that stuff. And it made it easier because I wasn’t confusing Google with my domain name Olympia SEO. But Olympia SEO was also in Seattle SEO. It doesn’t make any sense to me, says the Googlebot. So it worked a lot better when you switch to a brand domain. So that’s what you want to choose to.

Think about, how big am I going to go? If you’re a plumber in Miami, and your name is Bob, Bob’s Miami roofer or Bob’s Miami plumber. Bob Miami plumber would be a great partial match domain for you. Bob as your brand name, Miami plumber, Bob as Miami plumber is your brand name and Miami plumber is your keyword. Boom, you’re good. Okay, so partial match I would actually recommend you go more for, than the exact match. The exact match is there, it’s very good. If you’re going to stay in the city, go for it, why not and get the benefit from it that you can use. 

Today, exact match domains actually cost a lot of money. People know the value of them, people know that they still work. The domainers keep those prices up just significantly higher than regular domains. So that is also another factor that you need to know. But if you happen to have a whole bunch of exact match domains that people want in your domain portfolio, you might be looking to sell them, you get some money out of all those things.

Enjoyed this test? We still have more positive factors test that you could apply to your page to help give you a boost. Check out our test articles for more details.