A strong domain name strategy is a key component of any business’s overall digital plan. Whether you are registering a new domain name, or have used your current domain name for as long as you’ve had a website for your business, there are critical things to keep in mind in order to protect your brand and in some instances, capture lost revenue.
When looking at your domain strategy, keep these 5 things in mind:
Typos, Misspellings, Plural & Singular versions:
It’s getting harder and harder to find information among the various websites, social media assets and mobile apps out there competing for clicks… and it’s easy for your clients and prospects to get lost on their way to finding your website, even if they have the URL. 10% of search phrases and manually typed URLs include typos and that number increases dramatically if your domain name includes any of these commonly misspelled words and phrases.
Help your clients and prospects find your website more easily by investing in a few additional domain names, park them and point them to your website. It’s a user-friendly way to help your audience find your website quickly without getting an error page, a search recommendation page or in some instances on your competitor’s website.
That’s right, there are companies out there that will grab domains that are close to yours and send them to their own websites. (see protect your turf below). The same thought pertains to singular and plural uses of your domain name; i.e. if SmithBrothersRemodeling.com was your primary domain name, it would also make sense to register SmithBrotherRemodeling.com as well.
Protect your Turf:
Most companies are ethical enough not to use this strategy but there are those outside of your industry that aren’t. This goes beyond a competitor stealing leads. There are companies that are “Typo-squatting” and registering names that are close enough for consumers to be mis-lead into clicking into phishing sites and other scam related endeavors.
Take a look at your domain name and protect your turf by registering, parking and pointing some domains to your main website… Grab “.com”, “.net” and “.org” for these variants, but don’t go crazy… domains fees are small but can add up quickly.
Long Domains and the “Dreaded Hyphen”:
Clearly, shorter domains are the goal here but tough to find after nearly 30 years of grabbing and registering names. In some instances entrepreneurs have named companies based solely on domain availability. Avoid using hyphens if at all possible. If you are faced with a long domain name, get creative.
Let’s use our friends at Smith Brothers Remodeling above as an example… More than likely that domain would be available but it’s cumbersome for clients and prospects to remember and then type in, not only to reach a website, but to send e-mail as well. I would search “SmithBros.com” or perhaps throw in a geographical reference if needed “SmithBrosNC.com” if say they were focused on doing business in North Carolina.
Keep an eye on domain expiration dates & policies:
There are two separate billing issues at hand, the fee to register & keep the domain and then the fee to host the parked domain… typically they can be handled by the same firm (i.e. GoDaddy, Network Solutions, etc.) but not always.
If you are going to invest in additional domains for your business, make sure you keep track of expiration and billing dates. Most providers offer an auto-renew option, which is great however if you are using a domain for a seasonal or marketing campaign and no longer need it, allowing it to expire without renewing and paying for it again is optimal.
As you are probably aware, 385 new top-level domain name extensions (.com, .net, .org) became available a few years ago and there are 280 more being released at some point in the near future. I refer to them as “vanity URLs” and while these are tempting to grab and use, especially the “.Builders”, “.Design” and “.Construction” extensions, keep a few things in mind:
- They have been available for 3+ years and “.com” is still king.. really from a usage and SEO standpoint there is no benefit to use these new extensions.
- Keep your target audience in mind… If you are marketing to the baby boomers that so many remodeling companies are going after, expecting your audience to recognize and understand these new domain name extensions is risky at best. More than likely they are going to throw their own “.com” on the end and get an error message.
- If you must use them, be smart. Use them for a landing page or fun campaign of some sort. Don’t replace your well-established domain name for one of these and re-brand everything.
- As with the tips covered above, if you grab some of these just don’t go crazy and keep track of renewal and billing dates.
- One extension that you SHOULD grab is the controversial “.sucks” extension that rolls out “soon” according to GoDaddy… Can you imagine the damage that could be done to your business if the control of that domain were in the wrong hands?
Many of you already have a domain name in place so you are not faced with the daunting task of establishing a new one… but are you making hard for prospects to find you and more importantly are there others out there capturing your audience with similar domains?
Take a look at your website’s analytics and see where your traffic is coming from, type in some misspelled URLs and search phrases and see what comes up in the results, take a few minutes to make sure you are protecting your brand and explore a few ways to grab additional search traffic. And finally, grab the “.sucks” domain extension when that rolls out!