One of the most hotly contested attributes in the SEO community is whether or not exact match domains are the way to go when searching for a medical practice domain. An Exact Match Domain, or EMD is a domain that is keyword heavy, and generally ranks well for 1-3 keywords automatically. While there are some tricks of the trade that can make a difference in search engine ranking, there is no doubt that Google has identified EMD’s as a potential problem when identifying issues preventing relevant search returns. Extremely common in the medical community, buying a domain that directly targets potential searches has altered relevant search results, and not always for the better.
“We have looked at the rankings and weights that we give to keyword domains and some people have complained that we’re giving a little too much weight for keywords in domains. And so we have been thinking about adjusting that mix a little bit and sort of turning the knob down within the algorithm so that given two different domains, it wouldn’t necessarily help you as much to have a domain with a bunch of keywords in it.– Matt Cutts- Google Engineer”
The idea behind exact match domains is that you can get ranked quickly for 1-3 good keywords immediately, without actually focusing on content or website design. While Google has rewarded this in the past, the most recent set of updates shows that they are beginning to target domains that don’t deserve higher rankings. While some SEO professionals still believe it’s worth the risk, the .6% of exact match domains that were affected by the most recent updates might say otherwise. So that begs the question, “How do you capitalize off of a great domain name and avoid search engine ranking purgatory?”
Which Exact Match Domains are Likely Affected?
As Matt Cutts explained in the above quote, it’s not the exact match domains that are specifically being punished, it’s the domains that tend to rank for keywords that they don’t particularly deserve. When compared to another site that may have more relevant content, exact match domains should be the difference-maker. A well-planned Medical Marketing strategy generally begins by getting a medical practice ranked for local searches. By targeting the immediate audience in the local area, it’s the quickest way to see results. Once the local traffic has been captured, the marketing strategy expands outward to surrounding cities, and eventually the state. For example, an exact match that targets a specific city will fare much better than a site that starts by targeting the state. Some example domains could be www.”Plastic Surgery Procedure”Denver.com versus www.”PlasticSurgeryProcedure”Colorado.com. Since Colorado will be much more competitive in search engine rankings, getting an immediate ranking in the state because of your domain name can cause a lot of controversy among the practices that are attempting the reach top ranking as well. Essentially, rewarding a practice for having a keyword friendly domain name might be in the Google cross-hairs.
Since medical practices saw an initial response, domains started getting longer and even started including dashes. If www.”PlasticSurgeryProcedure”Colorado.com was taken, the next strategy was to begin buying .net or .org domains to be able to capitalize on the benefits of EMD’s. All of a sudden, www.”Plastic-Surgery-Procedure”-Colorado.net was ranking well just because the domain was keyword friendly. This is where the battle in the SEO community heats up. If you are trying to capitalize on the 43% of users who click on the first result on a given Google search result page, learning that one of these sites may be out-ranking your much more informative site can be troubling. Let the battle begin!
While there is no doubt that a great domain name can have a significant impact on search engine ranking, choose your domain wisely, and don’t count on it being the final solution to SEO.
Were you affected by an EMD update?
While very few sites were impacted by the last EMD update, there is no doubt that Google will continue to focus on potentially bogus search results. So what do you do if your site seemed to have completely lost ranking overnight? First, take a deep breath. While any algorithm update that seems to cause your site to fall in search engine ranking seems like a punishement, take it for what it is. It’s actually Google just telling you that your original SEO strategy just isn’t good enough. Where you may have been ranking in top slots for very broad keywords, this recent update is telling you that you probably didn’t deserve the ranking to begin with. It’s time to take your medical marketing strategy to the next level. Look at the sites that are ranking well for specific keywords. Are they more informative? Are they more popular on social sites like Facebook and Twitter? Re-examine your strategy and start attacking. Any Google ranking that is worth having is worth fighting for. Start by improving your on-site SEO (Title, Description, Keywords, Internal Linking Structure), and then expand out. While the turn-around may not be immediate, and your ranking for these broad keywords may take some time to recover, re-focusing your attention on executing a successful medical marketing strategy can and will pay off.
If you currently own a site that you think may have an Exact Match Domain that could negatively impact your site, keep working on improving your Search Engine Optimization. Again, Google isn’t going after sites for having a keyword specific domain, it’s re-evaluating whether the domain name alone has delivered you search engine rankings that you perhaps weren’t ready for. As search engines grow in popularity, and more practices are taking advantage of SEO to increase their traffic, it’s tempting to do anything and everything to get to the top. Just remember, taking these risks may lead to temporary success, but they should not be considered long term marketing strategies.
If you’re not constantly improving, your probably losing
A proper Medical Marketing strategy should never rely on just one method to improve practice to the site. If you’re relying exclusively on an exact match domain to drive you more traffic, these Google Algorithm updates can be crippling to the success of your practice. If you take a step back and ask yourself, “What is the end-game for Google?”, you reach the same conclusion. No, not world-dominance. Rather, Google has made its name off of constantly evolving and improving, in order to deliver the most relevant search results. 85-90% of internet searches occur on Google for a reason. Users believe they can trust the results that are delivered by Google and continue to value the search engine as a source of relevant and ever-expanding information.
If you want to know how to improve your overall search results, keep this in mind. If you’re attacking search engine ranking from different aspects, it’s highly unlikely that any of Google’s algorithmic updates will ever cripple your site. Exact match domains are a great supplemental tool, but they should never be the only tool.
Call Omni Medical Marketing today to see if exact match domains could potentially negatively impact your practice.