Exact match domains - lower value for seo, now higher value for PPC?

Back in the day, ranking for a long tail keyword was pretty simple.  Buy a domain name which was www.mylongtailkeyword.com, stick some related content on it and get some links in and hey presto, page 1 rankings every time.  OK, maybe not every time but you get the idea.

This worked for two reasons - firstly, the search engines liked the fact that the keywords were in the domain.  I mean, you must be about 'blue widget software' if your domain name is 'www.bluewidgetsoftware.com', right?  Secondly, most (natural) incoming links to a website will use your company or website name - so if your company or website name is nice and keyword rich, then you get nice keyword rich anchor text linking to your site.

Exact match domains do still does work to a certain extent - Bing is particularly susceptible to it in our tests - but back in March, Matt Cutts posted a video which hinted at Google's approach to actively devaluing the importance given to exact match domains.  He looked at whether it was better to have a keyword domain, or a brandable domain.  As well as saying he personally preferred brandable domains, as they gave a point of differentiation, he noted that people had complained Google was giving too much weight to keyword rich domains.  Google has been "thinking about adjusting that mix" and "turning the knob down within the algorithm" for the weight given to keywords within the domain.

Now we have the new piped domain names appearing on the end of top slot Google AdWords adverts.

ppc results for compare car insurance

Because keywords are emboldened in Adwords adverts, and Google is appending domain names to the end of the title (and in some cases promoting one of the description lines to the headline, depending on line length), does this mean that exact match domains will now find favour for PPC as the keywords in the domain will be emboldened?  

Answer: possibly.  It looks like Google isn't doing partial matches in the domain name.  In the example below "go compare" doesn't match the word 'compare' in comparethemarket.com - though it does in the actual title of the advert - but does match 'gocompare' in gocompare.com.

ppc results go compare

So maybe don't go splashing the cash around on new domains just yet...

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