How Important are Domains to Your Online Strategy?

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

WebProNews had a couple of interesting conversations about domains at the Search Marketing Expo – one with Moniker Founder and President Monte Cahn, and one with Senior Vice President, Client Services at Performics, Michael Kahn.

Do you use domains to drive traffic?

Cahn talked specifically about how your domain relates to your brand, and the importance of making sure the right one is available when coming up with a name for you brand. Products have their own brands, and this way of thinking can be applied to those in many cases. Cahn noted that even the big companies make mistakes in this area. For example, you would expect Apple to own iPad.com, but someone else has that domain.

He also talked about the importance of covering your brand in terms of domain names. This means getting all variations possible. Get typos, different extensions and country codes, etc. Use 301 redirects on misspells of key brands (including singular/plural versions). However, when it comes to domain names for different products, he says it’s best to build sub-sites around those with their own content, which can help drive link juice, SEO value, and traffic.

Kahn talked more about the fact that people are still going directly to domains through direct navigation.
“Direct nav and domaining is one of the oldest practices you can have in the Internet and web space,” he said. “I think it’s been forgotten with all that’s happening in search and social, but this is the strategy where you are going out and buying domain names that can be feeder sources of traffic into your main site or because of consumer use of those domains and then typing those into the browser box, you can set up content, and use those to drive consumer engagement with your brand through other means besides your own primary URL.”

“Someone could build out a hundred domains driving towards their main domain, in many instances you might do a 301 redirect, if it’s a small domain, with not a lot of traffic,” he said. “With the bigger ones, let’s say you’re in the insurance category, and you’re Allstate Insurance Company, and you end up with freeinsurancequotes.com as a domain you want to have, you’re probably going to want to build out content on that, optimize that for both paid search and SEO, and use it as a traffic driver that also ends up with traffic back for Allstate.”

The video of the discussion with Kahn had a couple of good comments:

“Simplifying the name in the domain will help people remember your brand is a positive thing.”

“Generic domain names especially command a huge amount of traffic, both directly in type-in traffic and indirectly in the huge SEO benefit an exact term matching generic domain grants for the search term.”

It’s a good idea for businesses to keep in mind that domains should be easy to remember, not too long, easy to spell, relevant to the brand, and avoid complicating characters such as hyphens. Though there are exceptions, simplicity is key.

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