We saw this quick rambling by Shane Cultra of DomainShane that we wanted to share. Shane is an offline businessman first and foremost, but owns a good collection of domains mostly in areas that he knows well (i.e., plant and garden-related). He asserts…
“When you own a category killer domain, a person that enters that site is making an assumption that the owner must be one of the leaders in that category. They haven’t a clue that many of the owners are clueless about their products or the industry in general. In my opinion, new customers won’t feel as comfortable going to Jones’ Mattress Factory as they would Mattress.com. Jones’ may have been around for 80 years and Mattress.com only 3 years (made up numbers) but Mattress.com gets a big head start. This doesn’t mean that Jones can’t become the largest seller on the net, but the road will be longer and actually could be more expensive than the mattress.com road with the advertising budget needed. The Internet is still young but major keyword domains feel older, more experienced. People feel like they’ve been to the site even though it was most likely some other generic type site. That familiarity helps them sell…”
Will the name make you an overnight success? Hardly. If you fail to deliver on customer expectations within the business itself (e.g., if Importers.com could not gain the trust of its users through its actions), then the name doesn’t matter.
The impact that “Trust” has with customers, and the ability for a domain to influence this trust, is directly attributable to the brand positioning that we’ve established for Importers.com. This category killer and brand is all about “Trusted Global Trade.” We’ve been working since the brand’s launch to reflect this intrinsic trust of the domain name, back out in any of our marketing messages.
Launching and running a business is hard. There are bumps, twists, headaches all along the route. One second things are going well, then the next you are scrambling to reconfigure a merchant account so as to not miss out on any online orders. But when things are running properly and all things are equal: in our opinion (and Shane’s too) the ability for your customers to trust you over your competitor does give you an unfair advantage.
Part of what we do at Left of the Dot is allow small businesses as represented by the category killer domain name is to leverage this trust bestowed on the domain as sub-domains. In a way, having a marketing name is kind of like a celebrity endorsement from someone you trust. Everyone trusts Tom Hanks, so if you have your product next to Tom, some of that trust rubs off on your products too.
What do you think … do category killer domain names give you an unfair advantage?
•on March 5th, 2012
I was reading this article over at Owen Frager’s blog over the weekend, exploring the power of conversion words when combined with core concepts (e.g., VisitStockholm.com) … which is an interesting read for anyone who is interested in its own right … but a paragraph contained within the article really caught my eye:
…”Don’t forget the sub-domain factor,” counsels Turkel. “I know of dozens of large cities ramping up their budgets to reach the Dual Income No Kids (DINKs) recession-immune audiences.” This might help move domain negotiations that previously lacked justification or sense of urgency to buy. Sub-domains extend the reach of the domain by enabling you to present different faces to different demographic groups…
The Turkel being quoted is Bruce Turkel of TURKEL, an agency focussed on travel and tourism marketing, branding and advertising.
What he is alluding to of course is using sub-domains to segment your audience into silos, providing each with content and an experience relevant to the whole. If you have Oahu.com, you could just as easily have HeliTours.Oahu.com or KidFriendly.Oahu.com. While each of these could support the overall brand experience of the main domain and borrow the trust associated with the primary brand, they could stand alone and speak to the target audience.
It is no wonder then that the major search engines still treat sub-domains as separate websites… because they are. However, an effective sub-domain strategy can allow large brand holders to sculpt the end user’s experience so that they see content that is relevant to them. The domain “Helitours.Oahu.com” can deliver on the brand promise that the name implies: visitors (and search engines) would expect that this sub-domain is, well, about Helitours in Oahu.
Our approach at Left of the Dot is to allow the brand holder to create these sub-domains easily, allowing either the natural community to build out sub-domains to their “best fit and use”, or the brand holder to build their own network underneath.
We’ve been working on a video to better explain our Marketing Names… what do you think?
Marketing Names – by Left Of The Dot from leftofthedot on Vimeo.
The impact of sub-domains and SEO took an interesting turn in recent weeks with coverage in the Wall Street Journal about how HubPages has had a material improvement in their organic rankings by leveraging a sub-domain strategy. Of course, they had been hit hard by the Panda search algorithm update, so any sign of improvement must have been welcome news to them and their shareholders.
It has been interesting to read some of the comments and thoughts of those in the SEO space about what this means, but I think that Aaron Wall of SEO Book wrote is probably the most accurate: we will soon see millions of people pour into sub-domains as a way to get ahead of Google (Read: Google Says “Let a TRILLION Subdomains Bloom“).
But we believe the reality is that Google hasn’t changed their position: sub-domains are still treated as separate websites, each being able to rank independently with good or bad content. Ian Lurie over at Conversation Marketing has described this well…
Panda considers the quality of all content on a subdomain when making ranking decisions. If you’re, say, HubPages, and 50% of the content on www.hubpages.com is basically brain snot, that hurts the ability of every page on your site to rank. So the other 50% of content—the arguably decent stuff—gets zapped out of the rankings. The bad content becomes an anchor, dragging everything down.
That’s why subdomains helped HubPages. They used subdomains to separate the crappy stuff from the good stuff: crappy.hubpages.com versus good.hubpages.com. I made those up, by the way. But you get the idea. With subdomains, HubPages was able to move the bad content ‘anchor’ to a whole other site. That helped the good stuff move back up, because Google doesn’t let subdomains directly pass ranking factors back-and-forth.
This is not a change
What HubPages describes is exactly how Google has always treated subdomains. It’s not a change in their algorithm. It’s why I’ve always said putting your blog on a subdomain is a bad idea: Subdomain authority and relevance doesn’t directly transfer to other subdomains.
Apparently, the same holds true for quality.
What it comes down to is that you have to have good content on your website. Will the other factors like having the exact match concept influence your ranking? We believe so… but not if your website has nothing original or relevant on it to attract Google’s eyes in the meantime.