Recently, I got caught up in a discussion with a couple others regarding implementing MNS’s (Micro Niche Sites) and EMD’s (Exact Match Domains) as part of our SEM and SEO strategy. This article will detail the arguments for and against and ultimately why EMDs and MNS are, in most cases, a bad idea as a supplement strategy.
Notice I said “supplement strategy”. If you’re starting a new website and your company sells “Advanced Red Widgets” then it might be in your best strategy to purchase and use a domain like “advancedredwidgets.com”. Again, I said “might”. Let me explain:
The overall search engine strategy for your business is dictated ultimately by your marketing initatives. It’s never the other way around. If you have a company named “Drexel Widgets” and that corporate named is trademarked, then it is probably in your best interest to secure and use the domain “drexel.com” or “drexelco.com” It may not make sense, again from a marketing standpoint, to have your corporate website domain “advancedredwidgets.com”. It’s all about messaging and that is for the marketing team to decide.
I recently had a lead manager for the SEM team who wanted to secure multiple exact match and micro niche domains as part of an overall SEM and PPC strategy. The logic was, that these highly targeted domains would add to the multiple and specific campaigns and enhance the PPC campaign by raising the overall quality scores of the Adwords campaigns as well as getting traffic to our main site from some of our more competitive and valuable longer tail keyword phrases.
While, in theory, this sounded like a good idea, I decided that it was in the best interest of our company not to include MNSs and EMDs in our SEM/PPC strategy.
Why did I choose to not use exact match domains as part of our strategy?
Actually, there were a number of reasons. Some of those reasons involved SEO best practices and some involved our corporate marketing strategy.
One of the things you learn from working on SEO campaigns over the course of a few years is that authoritative, aged and highly relevant websites have far and away the most value to Google.
The old adage of “Content is KING” still applies today as in the past. Now more than ever, Google wants to see websites that are highly relevant with lots of unique and valuable content. It just didn’t make sense add potentially valuable content to another domain when it could easily be setup as a page on our main website. Any sound corporate SEO strategy involves FOCUS…keeping your corporate website busy with relevant, unique and highly targeted content. It’s long been suspected that Google increasingly uses Latent Semantic Indexing to help determine how to rank websites for keyword phrases. So, the more relevant and “connected” content you can put on your main website the better.
Marketing is much more difficult to accomplish if numerous websites have to be maintained.
Lastly, I own several micro niche, exact match domain websites. Unfortunately, most have taken huge hits over the past year after Google launched their Penguin and Panda updates. These updates, in part, are designed to give much more authority and weight to websites that offer a broad range of relevant and connected content. Google no longer gives a lot of value to domains that are just a few pages, with highly focused content, all focusing on the keyword related to the domain name. Google isn’t dumb. It knows there are thousands and thousands of websites only created to capitalize on one or two specific keyword phrase searches. In most cases, Google will give more weight and authority to drexel.com/advanced-red-widgets than advancedredwidgets.com and the more content that is added to drexel.com will help that authoritative website rank for longer tail keywords…something that advancedredwidgets.com will never be able to accomplish.
So, because we want to keep as much relevant and unique content our own main corporate websites, avoid more potential Google penalties assessed from future Google updates and have tighter, greater control over web domains, the choice was made to keep all content on our main corporate website and away from websites that seem spammy and can easily be lost in the shuffle.
EMDs and MNSs just don’t carry the same weight anymore with Google. If you’re an independent marketer who is attempting to captialize on exact match domains for affiliate sales and traffic then perhaps EMDs and MNSs will still be valuable to you. However, from a corporate marketing standpoint, it’s better to keep as much content on your main, targeted websites and not rely on a strategy that involves purchasing and using many exact match micro niche related domains. The authority from keeping that content on your main corporate site will go a lot further and last a lot longer. MNSs and EMDs should never be part of a corporate strategy in most cases.