Random musings on startups, coding, SEO, and everything in between


The Power of Micro Niche Sites with Exact Match Domain Names

This is a topic that I’m actually planning on exploring in some case studies very very soon, but there was a post on Hacker News a few days ago that served as a great example of this topic so I figured why the hell not, let’s start there.

What I’m going to go over here is how truly effective an exact match keyword domain name can be when used on simple micro niche sites. I guess I’ll first go into what both of those concepts mean, then I’ll jump into the subject of this analysis.

What is an Exact Match Domain Name?

This is simply a domain name that has the EXACT keyword that you want to target in it. That’s it. No extras “the” or “at” or extra words at the beginning or end of it. Simply the exact keyword someone would type in at Google to come to your site, without the spaces. Technically, hyphens don’t count either, but sometimes domains with them can work out well.

So if you wanted to rank for “sunflower seeds”, having the domain www.sunflowerseeds.com, .org, or .net would be the exact match domain name. Something like www.sunflowerseedsstore.com wouldn’t cut it.

You might have seen people talk about the advantages of an exact match domain name around different forums and blog posts before, so this might not come as a surprise, but having your exact keywords in your domain name can give you a HUGE boost in the SERPS. Google eats up sites like this, and in low to moderate competition niches, you can pretty easily rank on the front page with minimal backlinking. Additionally, if you see an exact match domain name in the top ten, you better be prepared to really beat them in terms of linkbuilding and on page SEO, because they will have an inherent advantage over you because of the keywords in their domain.

What is a Micro Niche Site?

The best way to describe a micro niche site is that it is a site that is targeting a market with moderate monthly searches, super low allintitle competition,low to medium front page competition, and generally long tail keywords. These sites will often be very small, sometimes just 1-4 pages, and are usually about just a single product/list/offer.

You generally don’t need an active blog or a bunch of content on these kinds of sites, as the competition is so low that it doesn’t take much to rank for the keywords. The real trick to these types of sites is that they are somewhat hard to find. Often times, long tail keywords won’t have enough monthly searches to really be worth pursuing with a site. So you really have to dig in there and find a few keywords that have low enough competition coupled with enough monthly searches to convert to a point that’s worth your time.

Here are some rough numbers I look for when I research micro niches:

  • allintitle competition of less than 10-30,000
  • Front Page Competition with average PR of 3 or less
  • Low backlinks (<3-500 max) for each front page site
  • At least 5000 searches a month
  • Exact match domain name available for .com, .org. or .net

Now, techie readers will realise that that all of those things can be found out basically automatically with the right keyword lists and some know how. But that will be something I probably won’t go into too much here at least :-)

Analysis of Micro Niche Site

So recently, this interview was posted to Hacker News. In the interview, Patrick McKenzie, the creator of Bingo Card Creator, goes into some pretty great details about what I consider “active white hat SEO”. He’s not doing anything shady, or actively building any links for that matter, but he is paying attention to his SEO and encouraging others to build links to his sites. Additionally, he’s utilising micro niche sites with exact match domains to promote his seasonal bingo cards, with a bit of success it seems. He says in the interview:

I don’t want to say that microsites are the right solution for everyone.  The problem with microsites is that they cause you to split your domain equity and link equity.  The basic idea behind PageRank (the core of Google’s original search ranking algorithm) is that any link to a page is a vote that that page and site is trusted and should appear higher in the search engine rankings.  Separate from PageRank is what is called the exact match domain bonus — if your domain (.net, .com, .org, or country-level TLD like .co.uk if the searcher is in the UK) exactly matches — and I mean character-for-character match when you strip out the spaces — you get a super bonus.

For example, if you registered patricksfunnydomain.com , and tried to rank for [Easter Bingo Cards], you might need hundreds of links or dozens of links until you’re competitive for that search result.  f I was putting it on Bingo Card Creator, which has hundreds of links, it would probably rank on the top page but near the bottom of it, until I built a significant amount of links directly to that page.  The exact match bonus causes easterbingocards.com to rank in the top three with a handful of links in a matter of weeks — a link from my blog, a few from directories, that is all it takes really.

There’s a lot of gems in what he’s saying right there. Let’s go into one of his micro sites.

Examination of a Micro Site

Here’s one of Patrick’s micro sites that has an exact match domain:

Really basic site, has a theme that matches the topic, a few content pages (home + 4 subpages) and a hell of a lot of links to his money site (bingocardcreator.com). The entire point of this site is to act simply as a landing page, capturing visitors who were searching for “halloween bingo cards”, and sending them to his actual bingo card site to get them to buy cards.

What he’s doing here though is leveraging the fact that he owns www.halloweenbingocards.net and because of that ranks #1 for that keyword. So he’s getting a bunch of clicks without doing much of anything. Some simple linkbuilding and that domain name, and he made it to the top.

I want to go over some of the numbers behind his site to show you what I mean in terms of a micro site and how effective the exact match domain name can be in terms of ranking. Here’s the keyword research data (I know, I haven’t gone over this topic yet for Market Samurai, I will next week probably):

About 120 searches a day, with an allintitle (SEOTC) competition of just 1,930. Those search numbers are a little low, but they are averaged out throughout the year. Searches in Halloween time would probably be significantly higher (I believe he said he got somewhere around 30,000 visitors during that week).

Next is the front page competition data:

This is where you can truly see how effective an exact match domain name is. As you can see, his site is firmly at #1, while his stats are pretty much terrible compared to his competitors. He has the lowest domain backlinks of everyone, pretty weak page backlinks, moderate Page Rank, and doesn’t even have his keyword in his meta description.

But none of that matters because he has an exact match keyword domain name. This is a perfect example of why these sites work so well. Just look at the PR spread of his backlinks (all 57 of them):

He only has 25 PR 1 or greater backlinks and yet is rock solid at the number 1 spot. You could sneeze and get that many backlinks in a day.

His on page setup is good, take a look:

You can see his halloween bingo cards keyword in each of his header tags as well as his meta title (not description though). He has a few subpages, but honestly, he probably doesn’t even need those.

Finishing Up

So nothing truly earth shattering here, just a really good example of how to leverage your exact match domain name to rank high and fast. I have a few plans to further pursue this topic, both from the research side of things as well as from the case study side, so I’ll try and keep this topic fresh as we move forward.

I’m planning on launching a one page (well technically, it will have About, Privacy, and Contact pages) site over the weekend to sell a little info product (not a bullshit make money online ebook, something that has nothing to do with the web and that is well written and pretty useful to people who care). I have an exact match .org domain and the site design/lander ready, and am now just finishing up the content.

My plan is to pretty thoroughly document the linkbuilding I do and the rankings that follow from them. I’m going to be using a mix of a few popular techniques so it should be interesting.I’ll try and be as candid as possible without giving away the niche. I also might (I stress the might here) do a bit of Facebook Advertising for this site as there is a specific demographic I’m targeting that I can pretty cheaply it there.

I’m going to start with organic traffic though.

Stay tuned.

D

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31 Responses to The Power of Micro Niche Sites with Exact Match Domain Names

  1. mattseh says:

    yes, yes, YES! *loads up google.py in editor*

  2. Interesting read. I am toying with a few ‘exact match’ dopmains myself. The only bit i am am unfamilliar with is the tool you are using for your data, could you point me in the right direction? Is it wordtracker?? I think i need to upgrade my toolbox!

  3. vilesyntax says:

    awesome write up man… going to purchasing a few domains with exact key word matches and build them up to see if i can get some of that traffic out there.

    i read the original article you posted on WF and now this…. had to share it with a friend as well!

    greyhat — i believe he was using market samurai :)

  4. Tipjar says:

    Yup, I’ve personally seen the power of exact domains in my ranking efforts as well…powerful stuff.

  5. kanehood says:

    Would love to see a follow up post on your personal criteria or methodology for finding exact match domains in your niche and deciding what search levels justify the purchase.

    • admin says:

      Would love to see a follow up post on your personal criteria or methodology for finding exact match domains in

      Coming up very soon :-)

  6. greyhat says:

    “Would love to see a follow up post on your personal criteria or methodology for finding exact match domains in”

    Me too!!!!

  7. Mike says:

    Would you ever try to monetize one of these sites with adsense, or would you always want there to be some sort of product?

    • admin says:

      Would you ever try to monetize one of these sites with adsense, or would you always want there…

      Adsense is certainly a viable option as well, but offering products, especially your own, is a much more ideal situation in my mind. Selling a $10 to $20 product versus getting a $1-2 click is a no brainer to me

      • Mike says:

        Thats very true. I really like this idea. I have been doing research on this all day and I think I might have a few possibilities. I am going to try and narrow it down to the best one, buy the domain and give it a shot. Thanks for the info.

  8. Dido says:

    Seems to work very well with .com .net and .org but does someone have an idea with .info ?

  9. Ok this was pretty fun to read but I got lost about 1/2-way through. Suppose I shouldn’t drunkenly google but ah well.

  10. JasonT says:

    Really good post. EMD’s are powerful little suckers and I concur that they work if the SEO competition is low in the niche. Laser-focussed on-page SEO + BL + EMD + SEOC = very good opportunity. You pretty much use the same research tactics as me.

    Btw, I see you’re using Market Samurai…it’s awesome for keyword research.

  11. wahid polin says:

    Thnx for this post.I have been doing micro niche site marketing my entire life.although every time some crazy guru pops up and tells me to do some crazy other staff i always stick with this method.I have been thinking about something for a while,i have mailed you with a thought.

  12. maria says:

    HI,

    I just came across your page when I’m searching for exact match domain name articles.
    As you know that mostly the exact match domain name almost have already taken, and it’s not easy to get bargain with the owner of domain due to the high price of course.

    So if the last alternative is, I put suffix or prefix on the exact match name, it means I have to work harder doing backlinks,produce contents,On page SEO,etc. Do my assumption is correct?

    And maybe it’s better to look at top 10 google, if there’s exact match domain competitor,so better I off look another niche?

    Thanks

  13. Hy, man! Im from Brasil, and im starting my work on seo to micronicho sites, but in portuguese, very few competition i have to say. I subscribed your feed. very good text. The best about the issue: exactly keywords on domain. Big hug! ands thanks for sharing your thoughts with us.

    ps: sorry my bad english ;-)

  14. Gordon says:

    Thanks for the guide. I use the same keyword research method you mentioned but also found some tips for improving the vetting process.

  15. Jon says:

    Did you ever do your follow up? Just bought an exact matcher myself and your follow up would be magic.

    Big hug
    Jon

  16. Ted says:

    I think an over looked aspect of ranking is also the anchor text. lots of those site do not have “optimized” anchors for the kw.

  17. marckolius says:

    Thank you for the information. I was wondering about larger niche sites and using the / to create exact match. For example if my key word was “exotic wood tables” , and I purchased domain named “exotic wood” and later added a folder named “table” so it looked like http://www.exoticwood.com/table , would this be of value in terms of SEO? All opinions and experiences with this greatly appreciated.

    • admin says:

      It’s not *exactly* the same but it’s damn close. On big, long term site builds, your domain becomes less and less important as other factors like links and on page optimization take over. I prefer to build sites with a generic exact match domain (as opposed to something offer specific for instance) and then target exact keywords in my urls.

      So my urls look like http://www.generickeyword.com/my-exact-keyword

      It works very well :)

      PS: This would be a great question to ask over at http://www.seoloudmouths.com if you’re interested

  18. CIM says:

    OK just saw this, this IS the way to go!
    JK

  19. Yasmin says:

    I have been developing a site that sells t-shirts, and I’ve been toiling over what domain to purchase. I’m glad I didn’t commit to anything yet — this seems like the way to go.

  20. Peni Gardner says:

    “The best way to describe a micro niche site is that it is a site that is targeting a market with moderate monthly searches, super low allintitle competition,low to medium front page competition, and generally long tail keywords. These sites will often be very small, sometimes just 1-4 pages, and are usually about just a single product/list/offer.”

    What tools do you use when you analyze this micro niche? I use MArket Samuria.

  21. Can you explain more why “unnecessary” letters or words should not be added when a domain name with the exact keywords have been purchased by another. Is it ok to add hypen? For instance, online-marketer for onlinemarketer?

  22. simon says:

    This is an absolute gem of an article. Fair play for sharing it with us, greatly appreciated. I’m literally sick to my teeth of listening people yab on about niche marketing on youtube, with their final goal of trying to flog you a product. Annoys me!

  23. Seb says:

    I have just discovered your website. I have been really struggling to get ranked and to make money with my 7 websites.I came into this with not much understanding of what I was getting involved in. Just building a site was a tremendous breakthrough for someone who could only get email before. I have searched all over the place and read many blogs and participated in several forums. I have Market Samurai, but I have to tell you the I have found your blog to be the most informative, helpful and educational internet & website oriented blog out there. Your descriptions and explanations are so clear that even I can understand them Thanks.

  24. Hey there Deborah,

    I guess it is better NOT to add words to your keywords for the domain name. Just settle for having hyphen.

    Lara

  25. LukeP says:

    Too ironic, dchuck!

    I’m a SerpIQ free member but do you know the reason why I haven’t upgraded and started tracking all my main KWs?

    Because I have over 1,000 main kws… Because all my sites are MN sites like this one!

    SerpIQ is really overkill for this need… Pricing aside, it’s just 9000% more tools than is needed. The initial KW discovery is of course important for each site you make, but for ongoing tracking I’ve only found that I need a simple RankTracker service like MsM’s on the top 1-5 KWs per site.

    Ironically, if you find success in that test site you’re going to make more and more of them (it becomes an addiction) and you will eventually find your own service overkill for these things! ;)

    D’oh!

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