Exact Match Business Names are the New Exact Match Domains Names
The History of Exact Match Domain Names
Several years ago optimizing an “exact match domain” or domain name that matched popular search queries exactly was a powerful way of improving search engine rankings and driving organic traffic. For example, the domain name CarInsurance.com exactly matches the popular search query “car insurance” which receives over 300,00o monthly searches on Google. Several years ago, simply owning this domain and doing a little search optimization could position that website near the top of search engines for the popular keyword that matched the domain name. Popular exact match domains like this sold for millions of dollars because of the immediate ranking and branding value they received on Google.
List of Most Expensive Exact Match Domain Names
|Domain Name||Purchase Price||Monthly Searches|
Over the years Google put less ranking value into exact match domains, instead shifting more ranking value to different indicators like quality content and authority. The shift in more value to different ranking indicators has given the upper hand to big businesses with large natural backlink portfolios and content initiatives. For example, the big car insurance players like Geico, Progressive and All State easily outrank CarInsurance.com for the keyword “Car Insurance”. Simply put, it is no longer valuable to have an exact match domain to help you easily improve your rankings. Now you must have a much more comprehensive approach to your SEO with strong content and authority building initiatives, particularly in competitive industries with high search volume.
The Rise of Google My Business Listings
Over the years Google has included a variety of result types on its homepage or primary SERP (Search Engine Results Page). These results types include images, videos, shopping results, map listings, knowledge snippets and more. One of the most recognizable and frequent result types added to Google’s primary SERP is Google My Business listings.
Google My Business listings are often referred to as Google Map listings, local listings or the Google 3 Pack. They are referred to as the Google 3 Pack because 3 organic Google My Business listings are usually shown for local queries (4 if an ad is shown above the 3 organic listings). Google has been collecting business data and mapping data since it launched Google Maps in February of 2005. In the more recent years Google has pulled that business data from Google Maps and integrated it into their primary SERP, which is by far the most popular page on Google for search. Google has had several names for its tools that collect business data. The most recent, Google My Business was officially launched in November 2018 and is the primary tool for businesses to add and edit their business and map data on Google.
The Importance of Google My Business Listings
Google My Business listings have become a very important part of SEO for local businesses because almost every search query on the homepage of Google that warrants a local business will be served 3 Google My Business listings. This is extremely valuable for a few reasons. First, the Google My Business listings are usually at the top of the page in the most important 1, 2 and 3 positions. Second, the Google My Business listings include additional information like directions, reviews, address, phone number and store hours. This additional business information improves the CTR (click through rate) of the Google My Business listings.
This inclusion of Google My Business listings for almost all localized search queries has given local businesses the upper hand when it comes to ranking. For example the search query “car insurance” first yields 3 local Google My Business listings, then the major car insurance players like Geico, Progressive, All State, etc.
Exact Match Business Names
Google has moved away from giving much ranking value to exact match domain names, but exact match business names are a big ranking factor for local business and getting Google My Business listings ranked on the home page. So why would Google move away from giving ranking value to exact match domains, but give lots of ranking value to exact match business names? Branded search and relevancy is the reason why exact match business names are a big ranking factor. Google’s goal has always been to serve your search results that are the most relevant to your search query. Thus, any business name you search — Google will likely rank that business near the top of the results to simply give you what you were searching. Most business names are creative and simply and are not chosen or designed for search engine optimization.
Google is really good and serving up results for branded searches or company searches. For example, if I search “Geico” Google will show me Geico results first. If I search “Progressive” google will show me Progressive results first. If I search any company name Google is usually really good and serving up results for that company first.
Business Names or General Keywords
Most people tend to search a business name or general keywords if they do not know the specific business or website they are searching. For example, if I search “Jiffy Lube”, Google is going to serve up results for Jiffy Lube first. That is a branded or business search. If I search, “oil change” Google is going to serve up a variety of business that offer oil changes.
What if my business name was Johnny’s Oil Change? If I search for the general keyword “oil change” should Johnny’s Oil Change outrank Jiffy Lube? This is the exact match business name quandary.
The Exact Match Business Name Quandary
If a business name includes a general popular search query, Google may assume its a branded or company search. For example if we search “oil change”, Google may assume we are looking for the company called Johnny’s Oil Change vs. any company that offers oil changes like Jiffy Lube.
Example #1. – Auto Insurance Dallas
Doing a search for “auto insurance dallas” yields mostly 2 company Google My Business listings
- Baja Auto Insurance
- A-Max Auto Insurance
Despite there being thousands of auto insurance companies in Dallas, these two companies that include the popular keyword in their business name dominate the map.
Example #2 – Dumpster Rental Atlanta
Doing a search for “dumpster rental altanta” yields companies with the dumpster rental or dumpster in there business name first.
- Budget Dumpster Rental
- M & M Waste Dumpsters
- White Gloves Junk Removal & Dumpster Rental
Dozens of waste management companies in Atlanta offer dumpster rental, but companies that include the popular keyword “dumpster rental” in there business name ranking higher.
The Positives & Negatives of Exact Match Business Names
It’s clear Google gives lots of ranking weight to exact match business names within its local business rankings. This is a big positive to business that have a narrow set of services and include the keywords to those services in there business name. However, having specific popular keywords in your business name may reduce your chances of driving organic traffic to other services your business provides. For example, if your business provides a variety of insurances like auto, home, business, liability, etc and your business name is AAA Auto Insurance, your business name may repel customers looking for home, business other insurances outside of auto.
Google’s Official Business Name Guidelines
Your name should reflect your business’ real-world name, as used consistently on your storefront, website, stationery, and as known to customers. Accurately representing your business name helps customers find your business online.
Throughout the examples below, names or parts of names in italics would not be permitted.
Your name must not include:
- Marketing taglines.
- Not acceptable: “TD Bank, America’s Most Convenient Bank“, “GNC Live Well*”.
- Acceptable: “TD Bank”, “GNC”
- Store codes.
- Not acceptable: “The UPS Store – 2872“
- Acceptable: “The UPS Store”
- Trademark/registered signs.
- Not acceptable: “Burger King®“
- Acceptable: “Burger King”
- Fully capitalized words (with the exception of acronyms) or unnecessary spaces.
- Not acceptable: “SUBWAY“
- Acceptable: “Subway”, “KFC”, “IHOP”, “JCPenney”
- Business hours information, including closed/open status.
- Not acceptable: “Regal Pizzeria Open 24 hours“, “Sears Outlet (Closed)“
- Acceptable: “Regal Pizzeria”, “Sears Outlet”
- Phone numbers or website URLs, unless they reflect your business’s consistently used and recognized real world representation.
- Not acceptable: “Airport Direct 1-888-557-8953“, “webuyanycar.com“
- Acceptable: “Airport Direct”, “1-800-Got-Junk”
- Special characters (e.g. %&$@/”) or irrelevant legal terms unless they are part of your business’s real world representation
- Not Acceptable: “Shell Pay@Pump“, “Re/Max, LLC“, “LAZ Parking Ltd“
- Acceptable: “Shell”, “Re/Max”, “LAZ Parking”, “Toys ’’R’’ Us”, “H&M”, “T.J.Maxx”
- Service or product information about your business, unless this information is part of its real world representation or this information is needed to identify a department within a business). Service information is best represented by categories.
- Not acceptable: “Verizon Wireless 4G LTE“, “Midas Auto Service Experts“
- Acceptable: “Verizon Wireless”, “Midas”, “Best Buy Mobile”, “Advance Auto Parts”, “JCPenney Portrait Studios”
- Location information, such as neighborhood, city, or street name, unless it is part of your business’s consistently-used and recognized real-world representation. Your name must not include street address or direction information.
- Not acceptable: “Holiday Inn (I-93 at Exit 2)“, “U.S. Bank ATM – 7th & Pike – Parking Garage Lobby near Elevator“, “Equinox near SOHO”
- Acceptable: “Holiday Inn Salem”, “U.S. Bank ATM”, “Equinox SOHO”, “University of California Berkeley”
- Containment information indicating that your business is located inside another business (whether or not the businesses are part of the same organization).
- Not acceptable: “Chase ATM (in Duane Reade)“, “Apple Store at Stanford Shopping Center“, “Benefit Brow Bar – Bloomingdales“, “Sam’s Club Tire & Battery (part of Sam’s Club)“, “Geek Squad (inside Best Buy)“
- Acceptable: “Chase ATM”, “Apple Store”, “Benefit Brow Bar”, “Sam’s Club Tire & Battery”, “Geek Squad”
After reading this article about the value of exact match business names you may be tempted to pop into your Google My Business page and change your business name to include popular keywords. Our advice, don’t. Your business name in your Google My Business listing needs to match your actual business name, or as Google puts it, your “real-world” name, otherwise your listing my be suspended. If an exact match business name is an important part of your SEO strategy and you have consulted with an SEO professional on all the implications, you can legally change your business name or file a DBA (Doing Business As) or Trade Name with the secretary of state to make your business name change legal and a “real-world representation”.