How to Start a Blog: Exact Match Domains? Brand Domains?

Getting over the first hurdle of starting a business blog.

When you are starting a blog with the intention to make it a business, choosing a domain name is often the first hurdle. It can be confusing and frustrating. Worse, you could start your business and some time down the track realize you got the domain name wrong. It is worth examining this choice first: exact match or brand domain?

What Is an exact match domain?

Let’s first examine how exact, phrase and broad match keywords work in keyword research. Exact match, relates to how many people are searching for a specific phrase without other words and in the exact order such as, ‘alternative health’.

Selecting phrase match for ‘alternative health’, will present you with results for how many people are searching for the term containing the keywords in the specific word order, but perhaps containing other words, or within a phrase. For example:

Alternative health

Alternative health treatment

Practitioner of alternative health

Luxury alternative health resort and spa

Broad match will show search engine results that have similar phrases, and even relevant variations to the search term used, with the keyword presented in any word order along with additional words. So using the keyword phrase ‘alternative health’, might show:

Alternative health

Alternative health remedies

Alternative remedies for your health

Your health and alternative treatments

Alternative treatment luxury health spa

Usually there will be a significant difference in the number of searches for the three, with fewer for exact and the greater for broad. The number of searches in the broad match will help you assess the long term traffic potential for your site. This is important to ensure that your time and effort is warranted for your website idea.

Back to exact match domain names

An exact match domain name is one that contains the exact match keyword and perhaps a ‘modifier’. A modifier is a word that adds to the exact match keyword, preferably after it, such as news, or info or today. So the perfect exact match keyword for alternative health would be ‘Alternativehealth.com’ (.org. net etc). If a modifier was added, it might be ‘alternativehealthnews.com, or alternativehealthtoday.com

Until recently, opinion was in favour of an exact match keyword in your niche. They are however, increasingly hard to come by today.

Judging by what Matt Cutts from Google has to say in a You Tube video, dated march 2011, it would seem that Google is now prepared to tweak their algorithms, so as to not disadvantage a good content website in a niche that does not have an exact match keyword domain, against one that does.

How does this help your decision making process about purchasing a domain name? Here are some questions you need to ask yourself first.

1. Are you planning your site as a long term investment of your time and effort?

2. Are you planning to become an authority?

3. Does your service or product lend itself to a name that may become a brand?

4. Who is your audience? Do they fit into a well-defined niche, or do they come from a broader base?

5. What are you offering? Does it fit into a tight niche or is it a range of services or products?

6. Do you already have a business with a domain name and if so, can you leverage of that?

Answering these questions will go some way to helping you make the decision as to how important it will be to try to find an exact match domain, or whether you can afford to choose a name that will become a brand in its own right.

What is a brand domain name?

Branding is the process by which a name becomes identifiable with the product or service it represents over a period of significant exposure. Some brands are so pervasive they become doing words, such as ‘to Google something’ or ‘to hoover the carpet’.

A brand domain name is one that does not necessarily contain any keyword at all, or if it does, it may not be an exact match keyword. None the less, it becomes well known and ranks in the search engines. In some cases, a brand domain name does not describe the offer at all. Amazon, Google and Yahoo dot com are well known examples of that.

The point here is significant exposure. For a website to become a brand name, it will have created sufficient value for its targeted visitors over a period of time. In doing so, it is likely to rank well in the search engines. Together with activities all over the Internet, and often in conjunction with an offline presence as well, the domain name becomes a brand.

Two good examples in related internet marketing fields, where the domain has developed into its own brand, are Kristi Hines’ website, kikolani.com and Ann Smarty’s seosmarty.com. Both offer valuable information in all things to do with social media and SEO respectively, and while Ann’s domain name has the term SEO in it, SEO smarty would not be search term a person would use to seek advice on SEO. However, both websites have developed a sizeable following and attract a great deal of interactivity, judging by the volume of comments both receive.

Knit-a-square.com is another example. This websites’ primary audience is people knitting for charity and its goal is to warm children made vulnerable and orphaned as a result HIV/AIDS in South Africa. While knit a square was a limited keyword search term, after a few years, the site became a brand and a search for the term ‘knit a square’ in Google reveals 21,800,000 searches. It occupies most of the page one results for this term.

What is the right choice?

Do you want to become an authority in your niche? Do you want to talk to a broad based audience? Are you prepared to put in a deal of effort over a long time? If so, then an exact match domain name becomes less important. No

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