Why Exact Match Search Volume and CPC Metrics Matter

Why Exact Match Search Volume and CPC Metrics Matter

Why Exact Match Search Volume and CPC Metrics Matter

By Michael Cyger, Founder of DomainSherpa & Publisher of DNAcademy

Published: April 16, 2019

Today I want to talk about two characteristics of domain names that help determine value. They are: exact match search volume and cost per click.

Exact match search volume is defined as the number of searches for an exact phrase and it’s quantity is given per month.

So, for example, searching for “bread maker” on Google would be an exact match search phrase – which is likely the phrase correlated to someone interested in buying a bread maker.

Whereas searching for “bread maker mixes” or “bread maker recipes” would be phrase match, because they include the phrase “bread maker” in a larger search. Broad match search volume doesn’t necessarily indicate interest in buying a bread maker — but more so in operating a bread machine.

So to be crystal clear, I’m not referring to broad match search volume and I’m not referring to phrase search volume, both of which are helpful metrics in pay-per-click advertising campaigns. I’m referring to exact match search volume.

As a quick aside, there may be phrases that better match consumer intent to purchase, like “best bread maker” or “buy bread maker,” but those phrases tend to have less search volume.

Why does exact match search volume matter?

Because if you own the exact match domain name for the exact match search volume phrase, you can benefit for four main reasons:

Number 1. It shows you are trustworthy because you own the best domain name possible for the matching exact match search phrase.

How could you own domain names like Mortgage.com or Cancer.org if you weren’t around for years or didn’t spend a lot of money to acquire them?

Number 2. Some exact match domain names receive type-in traffic, either because people expect there to be something at the domain name related to the phrase or because the phrase is an upgrade for another domain name.

For example, people might type in GreenHouse.com thinking they’re going to GreenHouseSupplies.com or GreenHouseArizona.com.

Number 3. A good exact match domain name can reduce an advertiser’s cost per click in a pay-per-click advertising campaign.

According to a 2011 study by Edwin Hayward of Memorable Domains, having an exact match domain can double your number of clicks in a PPC campaign. A link to that study is dnacademy.com/emdstudy.

Some will quickly disregard this study from 2011 because of it’s age, but I am not so quick to do so because consumer habits don’t change that often.


Number 4. If an owner builds an authoritative website on an exact match domain name with proper SEO they can get it ranked in organic search results, increasing their reach and – or reducing their need to buy PPC advertising.

So exact match search volume is a useful metric.

200,000 exact match searches per month is awesome, whereas 100 exact match searches per month is not worth your time. Everything else in the middle is a grey area.

There can be domain names with high exact match search volume that are worthless like the name of an incurable disease that affects people.

Fragile X, for example, is a genetic disorder with no cure. It affects affects approximately 1 in 6000 people. And it has an exact match search volume of about 10,000 per month.

And there can be domain names with lower exact match search volume that are very valuable, like some financial products that very few people need.

For example, I have no idea what variable annuities are, but people buy them. They just don’t have much search volume.

But exact match search volume by itself is not the whole story. We need to couple exact match search volume with one other characteristic to get the full picture.

The other characteristic is cost per click, or CPC, which is the average cost active advertisers are paying per click on ads that display above and below organic results on search engines.

Why does CPC matter?

CPC matters for two reasons:

Number 1. It’s an indication that there are real companies paying real money to reach people who have indicated interest in a keyword phrase.


Number 2. Companies who have advertising budgets are more likely to look for ways to optimize their spend, and are more willing to consider other, better ways to spend their advertising budget…like buying an exact match domain name.

When you couple exact match search volume with CPC, it’s a powerful “one-two punch” for a domain name, indicating both buyers’ intent from exact match search volume and advertisers who are paying money to advertise products and services to them.

So what are the best tools for determining exact match search volume and CPC?

For finding the exact match search volume, I think both SearchVolume.io — what Josh Reason suggested last week — and Estibot.com are both accurate.

In my data analysis, I thought KWFinder.com’s search volume was high because I think they might be grouping together exact match search volume with misspellings and related phrases.

However, for cost per click data, KWFinder.com is my go to source.

SearchVolume.io doesn’t provide CPC information, so it’s a tool you need to use with something else.

Estibot.com’s data is unique and smart. They understand what’s going on at Google with Google in 2019 trying to “dumb down” the advertisers’ experience and at the same time trying to boost search volumes by grouping together similar phrases — or what they think are similar phrases — to make more revenue.

For example, when you look at the CPC of “lawn mowing” on Estibot, you won’t get grouped results for “grass cutting,” a phrase that Google will lump in with your search volume even if you didn’t specify you wanted it. So technically Estibot is more accurate with respect to the CPC of a domain name, but I do prefer to see the grouped CPC of KWFinder as an indication of the broader interest by advertisers.

Are there any rules for exact match search volume and CPC that we can rely on?

Some domain name investors used to recommend buying exact match domain names with at least 1,000 exact match search volume *AND* $1 CPC. They don’t any longer because they just aren’t sellable at that range.

I own a domain name with 135,000 exact match searches per month — which sounds great. And the CPC is 42 cents, but if you actually go to Google or other search engines to verify advertiser usage, you will not find a single advertisement.

So is my domain name a valuable or worthless domain name? It depends.

There are six types of domain names:
Generic, like Apple.com or Rose.com
Exact Match, like CloudComputing.com or OfficeSupplies.com
Brandable, like Google.com or Spotify.com
Acronym, like Z.com or DATL.com
Numeric, like 123.com or 8855.com, and
Alphanumeric, like X3.com or 66G.com

Every single domain name in the world fits into these six buckets.

All six types may have search volume, but ONLY exact match domain names have both exact match search volume and CPC in order to make them valuable.

The other five types of domain names are valuable because of other characteristics, which we won’t go into today.

Thanks again to the Joshes and Luc for their assistance in helping me think through this discussion topic.

So that’s it. Any questions about exact match search volume and CPC that I can answer for you or open up to the group?

Please subscribe to the DNAcademy podcast.

Comments 10

  1. I scanned this writing…

    An exact search is very important. Since the fall of PPC, EMD domains aren’t regarded so highly anymore. I believe nTLD EMD creates a perception of authority, in some cases. A 1 word .com is fine, but a connection spanning the dot (nTLD) DOES spark curiosity. I have a few sites, build on nTLD EMD, where the CTR is much higher than .com.

    I am not looking for a fight, or even to *prove* I’m right. I know for myself. I am saying this for you, take it or leave it. That said, I reiterate, all things equal, the nTLD will get about a 100% higher CTR (lots of dynamics though…just, in general). CTR is a ‘getting the foot in the door’ metric. CTR is just like a surface finish. It won’t help you rank in the long run if the website isn’t above and beyond. CTR can be useless if your site doesn’t retain and convert. A domain and website are like what the right hand is to the left. If everyone turns right around after setting foot in your store, Google realizes it…Suddenly CTR (and search vol.) doesn’t mean a HOOT since you aren’t going to be listed high in the results…in that case, however many searches your domain gets doesn’t matter! You need to be aware that Google is MORE aware, and you aren’t fooling them anymore. Enduser needs to provide, and the domain is just their FIRST step, no matter the intrinsics.

    So far: search volume to CTR…

    Truly, though, a website execution isn’t the domains/domainers problem…SELLING the domain, however, is. A little ‘authority’ yourself makes all the difence. Every domainer would benefit from making their own site, and explaining some of these technicalities in the open…don’t be ‘fly by night’ (if you’re serious). Domaining outbound is no better than spam. You are leaving an email – no website, just as every other spammer does. All I see are a lot of hypocrites – talk the talk, but don’t walk the walk. A lot more could be said, I digress.

    You need to be able to explain to some ‘end-users’, perhaps, WHY/WHAT (any given) domain *can* do for their business. Many ‘end-users’ haven’t a clue…just a dream. Some of them are keener to have you work *with them* than buying your particular domain! If you are prepared to provide guidance, they are inclined to buy. Think: customer service.

    Domainers who like making predictions should be building websites. Understand the search engines. Understand the Search volume and the CTR for any given domain. Understand that it’s only like a can of paint, waiting to be applied. We are moving from a ‘big brand buying’ perception to a, ‘wow, cool experience’ one.

    Bear with me…this is all closely related. It ties together.

    If you manage a beautiful site, what’s the next thing to look at? Conversions. Almost every site has *something to sell*, directly or indirectly. Your ‘authority domain’ got their foot in the door, and the inside needs to look as good as the outside to convert. When it comes to actual ‘execution’, CTR and Volume dammed, it’s all about conversion rate – having people to click what you want (internally).

    Conversion is the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. You 1) got their foot in the door 2) convinced them with your execution. Now, 3) sell it.

    The KEY to doing this successfully is a combination of all 3. If you’re converting higher than comp, you can outbid them for *EVERY KEYWORD*, if you choose to advertise (recommend). Since you have the 3 keys: Search volume, CTR, conversion, you absolutely dominate everyone on the margin.

    To wrap it up, call this a *gut feeling*, since I talk vaguely…but if you dig, empirically, Google IS and WILL continue to give more weight to EMD domains! The evidence is EMPIRICAL! Perceptions change. My evidence points to EMD becoming MORE weighty. I am looking at hard data. The only argument .com’rs, ‘ride or die’ crowd, have (that I can’t dismiss off the top of my head), is ‘perception’. Perceptions change…

    All resources equal, nTLD outrank – I’m not saying so just to say so. It’s a topic here – Search volume. EMD exists on nTLD too. You may apply all these principles to them and get *better* results. I am only saying out of *actual* experience: .com is not getting any favors. .com is a perception…many ‘im faithful’ arguments within this the industry IS the MONKEY on your back!

    Google is ALWAYS changing…except they are ALWAYS self-serving. “Nobody knows how engines work” is pure propaganda to avoid *actual facts*. Don’t be a fool, hard, evidence data IS factual. I DON’T NEED Google to tell me something, for it to be true.

    Just about every BLOG won’t allow me to say these things. None put any up *real-provable* challenges to my ‘facts and opinions’. They only show what they want you to SEE. I am bitter, really TBH. I am not spoon-feeding anyone. If someone wants to dispute what I say *in actual* practice, they are always welcome. Never happens though. All bark, no bite.

    This is it, the end. I am not going to open my books to those who shut me out all along. It’s disgusting the way domainers teamed up and ridiculed my mental integrity for having opposing views. This industry is so tied up in itself, with a reach nowhere NEAR what they believe it to be.

    1. Post

      Thanks for posting your thoughts.

      I hope someday you’ll feel comfortable posting under your own name, rather than a handle or domain name, so that we can get to know each other as people.

      I also hope you’ll consider joining our socials in person (if you haven’t) so we can interact and discuss topics like this in person.

      Be well.

    2. I don’t agree that nTLD get more CTR for an EMD than .com just because people trust .com more. Especially older people. I’m looking at my own stats to verify it on my end.
      nTLD will also loose traffic to the .com simply because people assume that they use a .com
      I have been in the business for over 10 years now and have owned a few word.com and other extensions. nTLD will also not get that kind of type-ins that you see on .coms
      If you want to be the leader in the business you should own a category.com like finance.com

    1. Post

      You need to look at more than just two characteristics of a domain name to determine value.

  2. This article is informative and incisive. Thank you. My question is, “Where is the place of “exact match search volume” domain name followed by a descriptive suffix? For example, GreenHouseHub.com

    1. Post

      I don’t follow your question. Can you restate it, please?

      GreenHouseHub is an invented type of brandable domain name. There is typically no EMSV on an invented brandable domain name.

      1. Hi Boss,
        To restate my question. I’m asking if EMSV followed by a descriptive word (e.g. GreenHouseHub-com) has any value in the marketplace?” I’m asking because the EMSV is part of the domain name and I’m expecting any entrepreneur who cannot buy GreenHouse-com to have recourse to GreenHouseHub-com as the best alternative.

  3. I wish to join this forum for me acquire more knowledge and dicharge what i know about domain.

    1. Post

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