Whenever an agency tells me they have a lot of exact match domains pointed to their home page, I cringe.
People used exact match domains to improve an agency's search visibility.
Now, it can actually cause an insurance website to drop in the search engine rankings. A drop in the rankings can mean you might miss out on revenue opportunities.
What Are Exact Match Domains?
Exact match domains are website addresses that match a keyword term. Agencies have traditionally used them to rank for important keywords.
For instance, XYZ Insurance might have www.xyzinsurance.com as their main domain. They might also have the exact match domain www.contractorsinsurancememphis.com. They would point the exact match domain to their main domain.
If people were to click on the agency's exact match domain, they would end up on the homepage of the main domain. (Note: neither of these domains actually exist; this is a theoretical example.)
Why Exact Match Domains Were Once Prevalent
Exact match domains once helped agencies rank for specific keywords. In those days, search engines looked at exact keywords to determine relevance.
So in the example above, www.contractorsinsurancememphis.com would likely help XYZ Insurance appear in the search results for contractors insurance Memphis.
Why Exact Match Domains Don't Work Anymore
Search engines have changed how they test websites in recent years.
They look more at how relevant a website's content is to the topic of the search. This is despite whether the keywords match.
This shift has crippled the effectiveness of exact match domains for search engine rankings.
Furthermore, search engines have taken steps to prevent manipulation of search results.
One of these measures was Google's exact match domain update. This update penalized websites that used these domains to rank for a variety of keywords.
This update happened in 2012. Gangnam Style was the world's most popular song. President Obama was running for re-election. Yet, some insurance website owners continue to point exact match domains to their home page.
Many agencies have seen their search rankings and revenue drop as a result.
Repurposing Exact Match Domains
Exact match domains are not beneficial for search visibility efforts. But, they don't have to sit idle in your hosting account.
If you have these domains, you likely paid some money to get them. So, you'll likely want to repurpose them so you can get some value from them. Here's how to do that.
1. Think of Branding.
The authority your agency name wields can be notable. Consumers trust your agency brand as a reliable source of insurance coverage. You can use that to attract visitors from many sources.
But, your exact match domains can wield branding power too. Use them for campaigns related to the keyword phrases they represent.
2. Set Up Marketing Campaigns for Your Exact Match Domains.
Determine which types of consumers you're trying to attract. Identify the lines of business that appear in your exact match domains. For example, contractor's insurance.
Then, plan marketing campaigns to attract your target consumers for these lines.
Make sure these marketing campaigns don't involve search engines because that could harm your ranking. You can include email marketing, direct mail, referral initiatives or banner ads.
3. Build Landing Pages.
Once you have planned your campaign, create a landing page to convert your visitors. Place the page on your main domain.
An ideal landing page will include benefits of coverage tailored for your target consumers. Include a contact form so you can capture their contact information for continued marketing.
Also, set up proper lead tracking for this form. You can do so in your website analytics or agency management accounts.
4. Point the Exact Match Domains to the Landing Pages.
This step will allow you to use the exact match domain names to advertise the campaign. It will also ensure your leads are automatically routed to the appropriate landing page.
When used for SEO, exact match domains don't have much value. But, that doesn't mean they're worthless.
Don't simply point these domains to your home page. Use your existing exact match domains to drive targeted traffic with these four steps.
Got a question about exact match domains? Leave a comment below.