Every year I’m interested to see which domain names make it above-the-fold for competitive terms like Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Christmas. Now with a day to go before Christmas I found the following three sites in my top three on Google when searching for the word christmas:
Yes, Christmas.com wasn’t anywhere to be found on the first page, neither was MerryChristmas.com, instead in the #3 spot is Merry-Christmas.com. It has been known for a long time but this is another great example of how a dash doesn’t hurt you at all and at the end of the day good SEO can beat an exact-match name any day.
According to SEOMoz’s Open Site Explorer the site has roughly 1,500 backlinks coming from 393 different root domains.
Compare this to Christmas.com which has 4,372 links but only 546 backlinks which means a few sites are sending a massive amount of links…which Google isn’t crazy about. So even with more backlinks it doesn’t beat out Merry-Christmas.com which has higher quality backlinks, not by a lot, but by enough to make the difference.
As you can see, in the end Merry-Christmas.com ends-up with a page authority only two higher than Christmas.com but their SEO around the word Christmas coupled with higher quality backlinks seems to have made the difference.
I finally found Christmas.com on page 5 of Google below santa.net. So if you thought buying an exact-match domain meant nice juicy ranking advantages, think again. Take Christmas.com a six maybe seven-figure domain and compare it to Merry-Christmas.com which was most-likely hand-registered. Yet Merry-Christmas.com is #3 in Google and Christmas.com is buried on page 5.
Of course I still love exact-match domains but it’s always important to remember that it’s what you do with the domain that really matters.