Exact Match Keyterms in The Domain. Are They Valuable for SEO?
There are many people that might easily confuse a domain’s value to be tied to whether it has keyterms in the domain or not.
It is a common misconception that owning a domain that has keyterms in it will benefit your online visibility.
Domain sellers like GoDaddy will actually give you “estimated” values on the domains that they list for you to buy. If you inspect the domains that they are valuating, you can check for site traffic and organic rankings. These don’t correlate with the values that the seller provides, instead, they are suggesting that the domains have more value simply because of the number of keyterms or closeness to an exact match. However, having keyterms in the domain has not improved SEO rankings for many years now. This was a very primitive way for the search engine to understand what the given website was about. At this point, there are many different ways that the Googlebot will analyze pages it is crawling. This means that you are not going to suddenly become relevant for a keyterm just because you have those same keyterms in your domain. Also, you certainly will not have an easier time ranking for your target search queries by using a keyterm-based domain.
Domain SEO is based on misled assumptions.
The problem with creating SEO studies is that many will choose to make assumptions outside of the context of the study. There are many studies out there where people analyze the top-ranked sites for a set of keyterms, and they count how many of them have keyterms in it. Causation doesn’t equal correlation, and in this case, people are then taking that reading and assuming that it must improve SEO rankings without understanding exactly how the algorithm could interpret it that way. If conducting an experiment to see if these keyterms can possibly make a domain instantly relevant for that topic, you have to use a variety of different situations with varying levels of competition to really see its true effect. Otherwise, if you use a nonsense word, you end up providing Google with the only instance it has of that said word. Meaning that it would be very understandable as to why the algorithm would make that page more prioritized for that search query, considering it is the only source online that has provided content for it.
Some may argue that it provides instant relevancy for the keyterm since it is being very specific about the topic of the domain. However, there are many different ways that a domain can now be analyzed, and that would undermine the various other efforts made to better understand a page’s content.
What about Keyterms in the TLD
I would say that the same rules apply here. It doesn’t make too much sense for the algorithm to be giving a benefit to domains just because they have some keyterms in any part of their domain. Here is what Google has said on their Webmaster Central Blog.