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How Direct Navigation and Exact Brand Match (EBM) Domains Combat Google’s Growing Influence
By Tsani Gramatikova access_time 7 min read

The Impact of Google’s Recent Updates 

After months of testing, Google has officially launched its AI-powered overview in search engine results pages (SERPs), now known as Search Generative Experiences (SGE). The AI-generated overviews, powered by the new Gemini model customised for search, have been integrated directly into US search results. The expansion aims to revolutionise how users discover and consume information.

The rollout has not gone smoothly. Searches for terms like ‘how to turn off Google AI results’ have surged in the past week, indicating widespread dissatisfaction among users. This discontent has led to a noticeable increase in the use of alternative search engines as users seek ways to counter the issue. The Search Generative Experience (SGE) answers users’ queries directly on Google’s platform, diminishing the visibility and relevance of individual websites. 

Source: Google Trends

Google’s AI-powered search enhancement follows closely on the heels of the controversial March 2024 core update. According to Google, this core update aims to ‘enhance Search so you see more helpful information and fewer results that feel made for search engines’ and is expected to remove approximately 40% of what is considered low-quality.

The March 2024 update specifically targets the improvement of search results’ relevance and usefulness, filtering out content that is overly optimised for search engines rather than actual users. Google asserts that the goal of these updates is to provide users with more valuable information and to reduce the prevalence of results designed solely for SEO purposes.

Sites heavily relying on AI-generated content without sufficient human oversight and thought leadership are particularly vulnerable. Many have seen dramatic decreases in organic traffic, and some have even been de-indexed for violating Google’s guidelines against spammy and unhelpful content.

Google’s strategy of offering answers directly through its ‘walled garden’ and its latest updates reflects a broader shift towards retaining users within its ecosystem. This approach significantly reduces traffic flow to external websites, impacting web publishers by decreasing their visibility, organic traffic, and advertising revenue.

The Contrarian Approach: Leveraging Direct Navigation and EBM Domains

The best response to the evolving challenges posed by search engine updates and AI enhancements is to adopt a contrarian yet viable strategy: prioritising direct navigation and Exact Brand Match (EBM) domains.

Embracing Direct Navigation

Direct navigation, or Type-in Traffic, refers to users directly typing a website’s URL into their browser, bypassing search engines entirely. This approach ensures traffic is driven straight to a website without interference from Google’s algorithms or AI-generated answers. A key driver of direct traffic is strong brand recognition and customer loyalty. Established brands with a robust online presence often experience a significant portion of their traffic coming directly. Users familiar with a brand and its offerings are more likely to type the website’s URL directly into their browser when seeking information or making a purchase. 

The Power of Exact Brand Match Domains

To effectively implement a strategy that maximises the benefits of direct navigation, businesses should consider EBM domains as their primary tool. These domains can serve as a powerful weapon for brand independence and autonomy, by enhancing direct user access. Their simplicity and memorability, coupled with the trust and credibility they convey lead to customers accessing the brand’s website directly rather than through a search engine. Investing in an EBM domain simplifies the user experience and directly affects major key metrics like customer acquisition cost, lifetime value and more.

Benefits of Direct Navigation and EBM Domains

  • Traffic Control: Businesses maintain complete control over their website traffic by utilising direct navigation, reducing their dependence on the unpredictability of search engines, which frequently update and change.
  • Brand Recognition: EBM domains significantly enhance brand identity. A distinctive and direct domain name makes it easier for users to recall and revisit the site, boosting user engagement and fostering brand loyalty.
  • Consistent Revenue: Businesses can stabilise their revenue streams by diminishing reliance on search-driven traffic. Direct navigation reduces the impact of search engine ranking fluctuations on traffic and sales, leading to more predictable financial outcomes.

Case Studies

Alex Vetter, co-founder and CEO of, highlights the advantage of their straightforward domain name, which drives significant direct and organic traffic. This allows them to invest more in product innovation rather than in continuous marketing, reducing their reliance on search engines to attract traffic, a contrast to their competitors who must constantly invest in marketing to stay relevant. is a pretty easy domain name to type in. We get a majority of our traffic directly and organically, which allows us to really invest in other things, which to us is product innovation as opposed to what a lot of our peers have to do is, is they have to keep spending marketing every dollar every day just to stay relevant.

Alex Vetter, co-founder and CEO of

Robert Pacelli, CEO of JM Bullion, underscores the strategic acquisition of the domain to enhance their direct-to-consumer growth. This prominent single-word domain enables customers to easily access their site directly, thereby increasing site traffic and enhancing brand recognition effectively.

The acquisition of the domain represents a significant investment in our direct-to-consumer growth strategy. The domain carries broad global appeal and is an extremely versatile asset that will be incorporated into our long term strategy. Prominent, single word domains are in high demand due to their scarcity, and benefits of such domains include instant brand recognition and enhanced marketability.

Robert Pacelli, CEO of JM Bullion

Michael Santiago, founder of, highlights the transformative impact of securing a premium domain for direct-to-consumer engagement and brand growth.

The rebrand to was a game-changer. Revenue jumped from $891K in 2015 to over $3.6M in 2017, eventually reaching $8.2M in 2020. The power of a premium domain is undeniable!

Michael Santiago, Founder of (,

Brandon Arvanaghi, CEO of, notes that acquiring the EBM domain has dramatically eased forming partnerships and receiving inbound inquiries. He emphasises that using an EBM domain like has had a profound impact, significantly enhancing the company’s visibility and appeal.

It’s wild that this is true, but since acquiring the dot com for Meow, partnerships and even inbounds have been night and day easier to come by. Acquiring the exact brand match has a profound impact on a company.

Brandon Arvanaghi, CEO of

Find out how domain owners use premium domain names to increase direct navigation and enhance marketing strategies by reading What do owners of premium domain names say?.

Final Thoughts

As search engines like Google continue to evolve, the importance of direct navigation and Exact Brand Match (EBM) domains cannot be overstated. In line with the insights from Smart Branding’s article on brand autonomy, adopting these strategies empowers businesses to thrive beyond the constraints of third-party platforms, ensuring a resilient and robust online presence and offering the opportunity to maintain independence and control over their web traffic.

A premium domain name is a valuable asset that can help your business stand out from the competition. Contact us today to learn more about premium domain names and how they can help your business succeed.

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