The Differences Between EMDs, PMDs, and How They Can Help You Rank

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Choosing a unique domain name is pivotal in determining a website’s visibility and rankings on popular search engines. Two popular choices are EMDs and PMDs.

This article may help you decide whether you want an EMD, PMD, and how they differ. It also sheds light on their significant impact on rankings.

Hopefully, this article can provide insights for digital marketing specialists and website owners.

EMD vs PMD Domains: Key Differences

This segment explores the differences between EMDs and PMDs in the digital domain. We’ll also cover these domains’ impact on digital marketing strategies and tactics.

Match Type

Let’s examine the significant differences in match types between an EMD and PMD.

Exact Match Domain

When you use an Exact Match Domain, it provides a complete match to a specific search phrase in search engine queries.

It enhances user experience and can increase click-through rates and search result visibility.

Google has penalized EMD websites in the past, especially those targeting long-tail keywords for their poor user experience.

Note that using an exact match domain name may increase your risk of being flagged for keyword stuffing.

An example of an EMD for say, law firms in Austin, would be “”.

Partial Match Domain

Partial Match Domains are often combined with other words or characters. Despite having slightly less relevant keywords, PMDs can help you capture a wider market thanks to their looser branding.

It offers flexibility in domain naming. It also allows for more brand-friendly website content and a broader range without constraints.

An example of a PMD for say, law firms in Austin would be “”.

Key Differences

  • EMDs have an exact keyword match and have a limited number, while PMDs have a partial keyword match. Not all EMDs are equal, and ranking for domain names that are more than three words long may be challenging.
  • EMDs are more precise in signaling relevance to search engines for specific keywords. It’s possible to score a high ranking on Search Engines thanks to the EMD boost.
  • A Partial Match Domain (PMD) balances keyword relevance and brand identity. A PMD has similar characteristics to an EMD, but that’s closer to a branded domain.

NOTE: EMDs used to be a top SEO ranking factor because of the EMD boost. Nowadays, you can’t rank well just because you have an EMD.

Domain Length

Domain length also comes into play when you’re choosing whether to use an EMD or PMD for your website.

Exact Match Domain

EMDs are concise domain names that match target keywords. It makes them more understandable and relevant to search engines and users.

Partial Match Domain

A Partial Match Domain (PMD) is a longer, targeted domain name with additional words or characters.

It provides greater domain naming flexibility while maintaining keyword connection.

Key Differences

  • Exact Match Domain refers to a shorter name that specifically targets exact keyword matches. It is designed to be more focused on the keywords that are most relevant to the website.
  • A Partial Match Domain name is typically longer. It offers greater flexibility for incorporating additional words or branding elements.
  • EMDs can be perceived as more concise and direct, while PMDs can provide more context or information within the domain name.

GOOD TO KNOW: Branded domains are an excellent option for enhancing your brand’s permanent presence. However, branded domains are challenging to rank for. That being said, building searches and authority for branded domains can yield better results.

Keyword Placement

Here are some differences regarding how EMDs and PMDs treat the placement of keywords.

Exact Match Domain

EMDs are basically shorthand for exact keywords. They show the relevance of a specific e-commerce website to search engines and users, improving rankings for a specific domain name.

Recently, the once-vaunted EMD has become less favorable compared to a branded domain, especially for anyone who wants to rank well.

Google prioritizes websites with quality content nowadays, too.

Partial Match Domain

PMDs match specific keywords within domain names. It balances relevance with branding and descriptive elements for a broader brand identity.

Key Differences

  • EMDs have exact keyword placement, directly matching the primary keywords in the domain name.
  • PMDs feature partial keyword placement. It combines part of the target keywords with other words or characters.
  • From an SEO perspective, EMDs emphasize a strong connection to specific keywords. It can enhance keyword-specific rankings.

NOTE: Branded domains are becoming the norm. This is due to branded domains’ support, relatability, and memorable nature. It makes branded domains a crucial part of future domain names.

SEO Impact

SEO impact is important when choosing between an EMD or PMD, but the difference between what they provide is relatively small.

Exact Match Domains

Google’s 2012 Exact Match Domain update reduced the excessive influence of EMDs in SEO rankings.

It reduced their advantage due to unscrupulous actors abusing their precise keyword match capabilities.

Partial Match Domains

PMDs provide a flexible domain name with a stable SEO impact. It allows website owners to focus on excellent website content and strong backlink profiles.

You may have heard negative stories about both EMDs and PMDs, but they’re still potentially useful.

TIP: It’s essential to pay attention to the anchor text used in backlinks. It can influence the perception of domain relevance by search engines.

Key Differences

  • EMDs historically had a more significant SEO impact due to exact keyword matching, but their influence has waned over time.
  • PMDs offer a more balanced SEO impact. It combines keyword relevance with branding and descriptive elements.
  • SEO strategies for EMDs can be riskier as they are more susceptible to algorithm changes and potential penalties.

NOTE: Comparing branded vs. EMD domains requires more effort and careful consideration of the potential SEO impact. Branded domain names often emphasize a broader brand identity. In contrast, EMD domain names focus on precise keyword relevance.

The Effectiveness of EMD for SEO

This section examines the historical significance, impact, and evolving role of EMDs and PMDs in online marketing.

Historical Perspective

Exact Match Domains (EMDs) have evolved significantly in effectiveness. Let’s look at how exact match domains were used in the past.

  • Early SEO Advantage (Pre-2012): EMDs, or Exact Match Domains, were pivotal in the early stages of SEO. It signaled relevance to Google and gained popularity among businesses and website owners.
  • Algorithm Updates (2012 and Beyond): In 2012, Google introduced the “Exact Match Domain name” update. This was to mitigate the excessive influence of EMDs on search rankings and prevent spammy websites.
  • Diminished Influence (Post-2012): Since 2012, the SEO impact of Exact Match Domain names has decreased. This is due to Google’s prioritization of content, user experience, and backlinks over exact keywords.
  • Ongoing Debate: The debate on the effectiveness of EMDs in SEO continues. Some specialists argue that they still hold value in niche markets.

NOTE: Branded domain names don’t appear spammy and are far more memorable than generic keyword-based names. This helps avoid issues like brand confusion.

Current Scenario

EMDs’ SEO effectiveness has changed thanks to several search engine algorithm updates. These new Google algorithms emphasize other factors like content quality, user experience, and backlinks.

While their direct SEO impact has decreased, they still provide keyword relevance in niche markets. Website owners must balance these benefits against potential risks like a smaller potential audience.

Developing a high-ranking website with just a few pages with one or more keywords in your domains can be used to bring traffic to your website.

However, remember not to overuse them.

Best Practices for Using EMDs

Maximizing the effectiveness of using an EMD is crucial. To make the most of this tool, here are some recommended best practices to keep in mind.

  • Balance the target keyword with more descriptive elements in the Exact Match Domain name. This will help maintain keyword relevance when creating a domain name.
  • EMDs target niche topics or low-competition search queries. They enhance keyword relevance and make them a valuable tool for SEO.
  • To enhance your SEO strategy, it’s crucial to get quality backlinks from authoritative EMD websites. These backlinks can help you score a good ranking.
  • Regardless of how many domains you have, each particular website should offer a positive user experience. This includes fast loading times, mobile-friendliness, and easy navigation. These factors contribute to SEO success.

NOTE: Businesses may use an EMD or PMD without their business name for their website’s URL, even if it’s not their name.

Google EMD Update: What You Need to Know

The article delves into the Google Exact Match Domain Name Update.

Overview of the Google EMD Update

The Google Exact Match Domain (EMD) Update in 2012 aimed to reduce the influence of EMDs in rankings and improve the quality of search results.

It penalized low-quality websites using EMDs as their primary SEO strategy. Nowadays, an EMD alone won’t guarantee a good ranking.

Nowadays, you’ll need to take a more all-encompassing approach. Focusing on factors like quality, relevant content, and user interaction is essential for success.

Impact on EMDs in Search Results

Thanks to the Google Exact Match Domain (EMD) Update, exact match domain names are no longer the golden ticket they used to be.

The update prioritized content quality, user interaction, and relevance, weeding out low-quality sites.

Strategies to Adapt to the EMD Update

Here are some strategies to consider when adjusting to the Exact Match Domain Update.

  • Diversify your keyword strategy by incorporating long-tail keywords in your high-quality content. Use search engine optimization or branding efforts to expand your reach and appeal to a wider audience.
  • Create high-quality, relevant, and valuable content. This is to improve good ranking and provide value to your audience to rank higher.
  • A user-centric approach prioritizes user interaction and engagement. It ensures websites that rank well or have higher rankings in search results are rewarded by Google.
  • Get high-quality backlinks from other sites in your industry or niche to enhance your site’s authority and impact rankings.

Frequently Asked Questions

Read these FAQs if you need more help choosing between EMDs and PMDs for SEO.

What Is an EMD Domain?

An EMD is a domain name that matches the primary keywords or a search phrase target for a website. It creates an exact word-for-word match between the domain name and the desired keywords.

For example, someone practicing family law may benefit from the domain “”

For this guide, we won’t be providing a detailed explanation on EMD domains for brevity. It has exact keyword matches and has influenced search engine rankings.

What Is a PMD Domain?

A PMD is a name that includes some keywords related to the website’s content but doesn’t exactly match the primary target keyword.

For example, let’s say you’re a family lawyer with contacts who specialize in different areas of law. You and your contacts may prefer the domain name “” instead of “”.

What Is the Difference Between EMD and PMD Domains?

The primary difference between EMDs and PMDs is in the extent of the keyword match.

EMDs exactly match target keywords. PMDs include part of the keywords alongside other words or characters.

It ensures a balanced approach between keyword relevance and branding.

Are EMDs Still Effective for SEO?

EMDs (Exact Match Domains) are less effective for Search Engine Optimization than they were in the past.

They can still offer some keyword-related benefits, but their direct influence on search engine rankings has diminished due to algorithm updates. An effective SEO strategy is now more crucial for success.

How Did the Google EMD Update Affect EMDs?

The Google EMD (Exact Match Domain) Update, implemented in 2012, aimed to reduce the influence of EMDs in search rankings.

It penalized low-quality websites using an EMD for ranking manipulation. It promoted higher content and user interaction standards in search results.

Many low-quality EMDs saw a decline in rankings following the update.


Choosing between Exact Match Domains and Partial Match Domains is crucial. This is especially true for website owners and digital marketers.

EMDs once held a distinct advantage, but their direct impact has diminished, mainly thanks to the Google EMD Update.

EMDs improve keyword relevance when combined with an effective SEO strategy. Remember to prioritize excellent content, optimization plans, and more for long-term search engine success.

Odys Global Founder and CEO

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