If you’ve ever done SEO outside the English speaking part of the world you’ve ran into Internationalized Domain Names for sure. It might not be 100% clear how the get handled by Google though so I thought I’d sort things out for you.
IDN:s didn’t work out very good in the beginning when they were launched. Most browsers couldn’t handle them well for a long time and Google didn’t really treat them with respect. Having the exact domain – as in the case with my name magnusbråth.se didn’t actually give you any benefits over the more international magnusbrath (As you can see I’m gifted with the Swedish letter Å in my name). Google treated the domain as: xn--magnusbrth-85a.se
This is all rather reasonable, we had gotten used to exchanging the Swedish letters Å, Ä and Ö for A, A and O back when we first found out about the internet.
This has changed today. Google nowadays give you the full benefit of having the exact match domain, even though they have lowered the impact of EMD:s. This actually means that Google opened up for a whole new range of EMD:s, a large chunk of all Scandinavian words use these special characters. I’m not sure how large the part is in other languages but in Sweden this meant a whole lot of brand new EMD:s.
When doing keyword research
I know about the pains doing keyword research in a language you don’t fully master and doing it with characters you can’t even type on your keyboard is even worse. If you do it though, do check for exact match internationalized domains. More than you think are still available to register.