Google Has Changed How It Treats EMDs
Once upon a time, EMDs (exact match domains) were king. This precedes Google, to a time when Yahoo! was merely a stand-alone directory, and that tradition carried on to Google. Having an EMD meant you would enjoy prominent rankings by the simple virtue of the fact that your URL had the particular keyword you were targeting in it. So if your targeted keyword was XYZ, and your site lived on the domain XYZ.com, you would be raking it in (or something close to that). Of course, that fell by the wayside when Google lessened the weight EMDs carried. The prices of such exact match domains, which go on sale on various forums and domain marketplaces, reflected that change. However, just recently, we started to notice that EMDs were popping up all over the SERPs; in a variety of different industries that we are watching for our clients.
It is important to note that Google updates its ranking algorithm all the time. Sometimes they just test things for a while and change their algorithm to some previous version they were using. So don’t go out and spend ridiculous amounts of money trying to buy an EMD.
Here is what we think happened. Instead of having a flat algorithm that disregards, or almost disregards the keyword’s existence in a domain, Google via Hummingbird decided to weigh other factors about that domain, and if those factors were okay, then they added points to the fact that the domain is an exact match domain. So, yes, if you own a quality site that is user friendly and has white-hat SEO only (no excessive forum, blog, press releases, and/or article backlinks), then you should be seeing a bump in your organic search engine traffic.
We initially noticed the difference in the ranking algorithm yesterday, 12/16/13. So if you own an EMD, check your Google Analytics. Do you see a bump in the organic search engine traffic? If yes, congratulate yourself for being wise enough to register a domain that had your targeted keyword in it.