Branded vs EMD Domains: Which Is Better?

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Among the many types of domain names businesses can use for their SEO strategy and online credibility, branded and EMD domains

Branded Domains are unique and memorable, while Exact Match Domains (EMDs) include targeted keywords.

Confused about choosing between Branded vs. EMD domains? 

This article breaks down their differences, SEO implications, user perception, and marketing strategies. It also gives factors to consider, optimization, and more!

Understanding Branded and EMD Domains

Since SEO and online marketing are constantly changing, it can be difficult to know which type is best—choosing the right domain type can be the difference between success and failure.

Branded Domains

These are unique and easy-to-remember domain names that are not directly related to your target keywords. They are often based on your company, brand, or product name.

They’re typically easy to type and helpful for building a strong brand image. Plus, search engines like Google are less likely to penalize them.

A branded domain name is your best investment if you’re serious about building a long-term business.

An example of this type of domain name is ‘’ for Adidas’ website and ‘’ for Nike.

Exact Match Domains (EMDs)

on the other hand, are domain names that precisely match competitive keywords a domain name aims to rank for. 

Businesses specifically include a specific keyword related to their offerings or services in these domains. Such a strategy can positively influence their SEO ranking. 

This inclusion enhances visibility on Google Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) for the targeted phrase and closely related words.

For example, for a top-ranking site about tasty smoothie recipes, use ‘’ For pet-friendly vacation spots, use ‘’

Branded Domains vs EMD Domains: A Comparative Analysis

Branded and Exact Match Domain are types of domain names commonly used as a company’s marketing strategy. 

However, there are specific situations when it’s better to choose one over the other. Either option can change your websites’ focus and approach to strategy.

Here’s when to pick an Exact Match Domain (EMD), and when to choose a Branded domain name instead.

Purpose and Function

To choose the right domain for your business growth, understand its purpose and function.

Branded domains help build brand recognition, trust, and a strong online presence, while Exact Match Domains align more closely with relevant search terms.

If your business name is popular, use a branded domain. Otherwise, consider an EMD with relevant words related to your business.

EMDs can improve Google search rankings but may not establish brand identity, possibly leading to the need for domain name changes.

While suitable for short-term SEO, they are less effective for the long term and may be tagged by Google as low quality.

SEO Implications

When choosing between these two different domains, you’ll need to take into consideration technical elements. For example, different domains can change how Google sees your website.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a crucial aspect for businesses as it helps improve a website’s ranking in relevant search results.

Achieving a high rank on SERPs through SEO can attract qualified traffic. This leads to more clients, sales, and revenue.

Exact Match Domains (EMDs) incorporate multiple keywords in the domain. This strategy aims to increase click-through rates, boost search volume, and surpass other branded domains.

However, there is a risk of penalties due to search engines cracking down on keyword stuffing—often associated with low-quality, spammy, and black-hat SEO practices.

On the contrary, Branded domains are less likely to be penalized as they are viewed as more trustworthy and authoritative by Google.

User Perception and Trust

Brands must establish trust with their target audience before selling a product.

Branded domains are associated with well-known companies and brands. This gives them a built-in level of credibility and trust. 

Users are more likely to trust a website with a branded domain, as it signals an established and reputable company name or brand.

EMDs, on the other hand, can be linked to spam and low-quality offerings, as scammers often use them to create deceptive websites aiming to defraud users and extract money.

As a result, users are less likely to trust EMDs and may be hesitant to visit websites with EMDs.

So, in the trust game, branded domains have a clear advantage. 

Branding and Marketing

While branded domains focus on building enduring brand recognition, EMDs emphasize immediate keyword relevance and specific search queries.

Branded domains prioritize a unique and memorable brand. Repetition is key to branding, and incorporating a brand name in your domain strengthens the multi-platform experience for customers.

In contrast, EMDs center around incorporating exact-match words for targeted SEO and niche targeting. This makes them suitable for short-term campaigns.

Branded domains outperform EMDs in branding and marketing. They’re more memorable, easier to type, and avoid brand confusion.

Factors to Consider When Choosing Between Branded and EMD Domains

Choosing the right domain name depends on elements like the following.

  • Business goals
  • Target audience
  • Industry competition
  • Long-term strategy

Select a domain name that can fit your current needs and can grow with your business.

Business Goals and Objectives

Choosing between a Branded or Exact Match Domain should align with your business goals.

For immediate keyword relevance or appealing to specific audiences, opt for Exact Match Domains.

Branded domains are better suited for establishing a long-term business, while EMDs are more suitable for short-term niche projects.

For business owners, a branded domain is the way to go. But if you’re into passive income or domain name flipping, an EMD can be a good strategy.

Target Audience and Niche

Choose a name or TLD for your website based on your target audience and niche.

For a general audience and broader niche, go for a branded domain. For a specific audience and narrow niche, like local searches, consider an Exact Match Domain name.

Branded domains are flexible and appeal to diverse audiences. Like a Partial Match Domain name, EMDs excel in highly targeted niches or specific geographic locations.

Choose a branded domain if you plan to expand into new niches. If you plan to stay in the same niche for the long-term, consider an Exact Match Domain.

Competition Analysis

Having a branded name can help you stand out in a crowded market and create a unique identity for your brand. 

On the other hand, Exact Match Domains, which contain specific words, can compete directly for search engine rankings by closely aligning with search or web queries.

A branded website name can create the impression of high-quality content, but an EMD can also increase website reach.

Long-term Strategy

When choosing between Branded and EMDs, think about your long-term plan. 

Branded domains help build a lasting company identity. Conversely, EMDs with relevant keywords can be a quick win for certain searches but might not offer the same lasting impact. 

Consider where you want your business to be in the future. 

If you want a recognizable brand, go for a branded TLD. If you’re after quick results in a niche, an EMD may suit you better.

Real-Life Examples of Successful Branded and EMD Domains

Ever wondered how to make your website stand out?

Here are some familiar brands and brands using familiar words to employ the best domain name for each brand’s SEO tactic.

Branded Domain Examples

Look at Nike and Amazon—they’re both branded web pages. Why? Because instead of focusing on high-ranking keywords, they simply use their company names in their website addresses.

Consider Nike, the well-known sportswear brand. Its website,, is unique to the company and stands out online. This follows the traits of a branded website.

Similarly, is a noteworthy example. Its brevity, relevance to the brand, and association with a well-known company in online retail and electronic services exemplify the features of a strong branded website.

EMD Domain Examples

In the past, EMDs were used to boost search engine rankings by aligning with targeted search queries. However, with the evolving Google algorithms, their effectiveness has diminished.

Despite this, many websites focus on utilizing words that rank high for a good SEO strategy.

The search phrase bestphone is an example of an Exact Match Domain (EMD). It precisely matches the “best phones” search term, incorporating the targeted keywords directly into the website’s name.

If you look up “” on Google, it will generate many websites that have the words ‘best’ and ‘phones’—either on the URL itself, on specific content, or in an article.

Another example of a website using an EMD name is Running Warehouse. It uses as its TLD because the words running and shoes rank higher in Google searches.

A more thorough explanation of EMD domains can help explain why they’re not as effective for rankings and click-through rates anymore.

Best Practices for Optimizing Branded and EMD Domains

While both types of domains can be optimized for SEO, specific guidelines for on-page SEO, off-page SEO, and content strategy are needed to elevate your branding efforts.

Here are expert tips for optimizing Exact Match and Branded domains.

On-page SEO

On-page SEO means optimizing your website’s content and structure to help it rank higher in search engine results pages (SERPs).

This is important because it helps search engines like Google understand what your website is about and its relevance to the exact keywords that people are searching for.

Best practices for on-page SEO include the following.

  • Keyword Optimization: Use high-ranking words in page titles, meta descriptions, header tags, etc.
  • High-Quality Content: Craft informative, engaging, and audience-relevant website information.
  • Image Optimization: Provide descriptive file names and alt text for your images.
  • Mobile-Friendly Design: Ensure your website looks and functions well on smartphones.

Off-page SEO

On-page SEO deals with what’s on your website, but off-page SEO is about making your website popular and trusted on the internet.

It involves getting other websites to link to yours. It signals to Google and other search engines that your site is reliable and important.

This link-building practice can boost your website’s ranking in search results.

For Branded domains, it’s like getting respected websites to endorse your brand. With Exact Match Domains (EMD), it’s about having the correct websites spread the word about your website.

Content Strategy

Numerous pivotal decisions can make your web page get higher Google rankings. However, the one point it all boils down to is the overall quality of your content.

Here are 10 essential content strategies you can try.

  1. Keyword Placement: Position your primary keyword early in your content for search engine relevance.
  2. Regular Updates: Refresh content regularly to stay current and appealing to users and search engines like Google.
  3. Consistent Branding: Maintain a consistent brand voice and style across all content to reinforce a reliable brand value.
  4. Fast Loading Speed: Optimize site speed for an improved user experience and SERP favor.
  5. Results Tracking: Utilize DNS settings to monitor website performance and user engagement.
  6. Visual Appeal: Enhance content with visuals for increased engagement and user experience.
  7. Social Media Sharing: Share content on social media for a wider reach and improved brand visibility.
  8. Quality Content Focus: Focus on quality content, not keyword stuffing, to resonate with your audience.
  9. Backlink Building: Establish backlinks or referring domains from reputable sites to enhance your site’s credibility.
  10. User-Friendly Design: Optimize for a positive user experience through clear navigation and a mobile-compatible website.

Frequently Asked Questions

Check out this section for more info on Exact Match Domain vs. Branded domain names.

What Is the Difference Between a Branded Domain and an EMD Domain?

Branded domains are more memorable, credible, and brandable. They’re ideal for long-term branding and marketing.

Additionally, using branded domain names can help you avoid being penalized by Google.

On the other hand, Exact Match Domain names are a more viable option if you want to rank high in Google for a specific keyword.

Like Partial Match Domains, EMDs are usually designed for short-term campaigns and niche targeting rather than long-term branding and marketing.

Which Type of Domain Is Better for SEO?

Branded domains are better for SEO, particularly for long-term business growth. However, this also depends on several factors like your business goals, niche, competition, etc.

That said, domain names aren’t restricted to EMDs and Branded domains.

You can also choose between EMD or PMD domains (Partial Match Domains). A Partial Match Domain only includes part of the targeted keyword—mostly catering to a geographical or local search.

Note that your domain name (or TLD) is not the only factor affecting Google or SEO rankings. The SEO implications of domain extensions can also contribute to your brand’s visibility.

Whether using an EMD, PMD, or Branded website name, the decision rests largely on the goals of your online business.

How Do I Choose Between a Branded Domain and an EMD Domain?

If your brand name is already popular, a branded name is recommended to capitalize on brand recognition, trust, and a strong online presence.

On the other hand, if your brand is not well-known, an EMD with relevant keywords may be better to improve your Google search rankings—especially for short-term SEO goals.

Remember that while EMDs can immediately target keyword searches, they may not establish a lasting online identity. Like Partial Match Domains, they may require domain name changes.

Can I Change My Domain Type From EMD to Branded or Vice Versa?

Once a website’s name is purchased and stored in the Domain Name System (DNS) databases, it cannot be modified. However, it can be transferred to a different owner.

If you want to change your website’s name, you’ll need to purchase a new one and update your website’s DNS records to reflect the new name.

If another business uses your domain name, or vice versa, you can consider taking legal action for trademark infringement.

Are There Any Specific SEO Strategies for Optimizing Branded and EMD Domains?

It’s likely that your perfect domains have already been taken, which may seem like a massive hurdle initially.

However, you can look into buying expired domains with great SEO metrics to rank higher. You can also improve on-page and off-page SEO, and formulate a good content strategy.

On-page SEO fine-tunes content and structure with key phrases. Off-page SEO boosts credibility via anchor texts. An excellent content strategy can improve relevance and engagement.

These strategies work for both branded domains, EMDs, and Partial Match Domains for better Google rankings.


Brand image is crucial in distinguishing your business from competitors and establishing a connection with your target audience.

With search engine algorithms constantly evolving, adopting a holistic SEO approach is important to achieve sustained online success.

A well-defined branding strategy can also help you develop customer trust and loyalty.

Lastly, besides branded and EMDs, it may be worth considering a Partial Match Domain and seeing if it suits your business needs.

Odys Global Founder and CEO

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