At the heart of online marketing is the goal of attracting visitors to Web sites and engaging with them in ways that deliver lasting and memorable impressions. There are a variety of elements that go into an effective online marketing campaign, including search engine marketing but also radio, print, outdoor, and TV offline to drive impressions online. Often, companies direct a small portion of their efforts and budgets to domain names and search engine strategies like search engine optimization (SEO).
Search engine strategies like SEO function best when paired with strong keyword domain names. It’s well known that Google and Bing reward developed keyword domains that have “search love”—in other words, Google and Bing give higher ranks to domain names that contain terms consistent with the search terms entered by Internet users—and for this reason a brand can achieve a higher page rank using keyword domain names. Try a search for “meals” in Google sometime and you’re likely to find Nestlé in the first position with their meals.com site. However, if you Google “sauce,” you won’t see a Unilever brand on page one of Google’s search results. Yet, Unilever owns sauce.com and points it to the Ragú Web site. Why does Meals.com rank so highly while Sauce.com does not? Domain names that are set up as simple redirects will not be indexed separately by search engines. This is why meals.com is on page one for “meals” while sauce.com is not on page one for “sauce” – Nestlé built a stand alone site on meals.com while Ragú pointed sauce.com to another site. For a brand owner to take full advantage of a keyword domain name’s ability to capture both direct (type-in) and search traffic, the domain name must be utilized as a standalone site. Keyword domains that are properly developed will capture organic traffic on a reoccurring basis at nearly no cost.
There are other ways to drive up traffic numbers by adjusting domain name strategy. By reviewing and making small adjustments to its domain name portfolio, Verizon was able to generate 24 million unique visitors to its Web sites in a 12-month period. That increase in traffic was achieved without any additional search engine marketing tactics; Verizon simply redirected carefully selected names it owned and recovered valuable domain names that receive type-in traffic and pointed them to branded content, and ultimately drove millions of consumers to its sites – without the incremental costs associated with paid search clicks. An updated case study on the effects of Verizon’s domain name strategy will be coming soon.
In many instances, businesses do not set aside a portion of their marketing budgets to maximize the benefits from very active domain management because they are not aware of the benefits it can provide in terms of lead generation and cost savings.
However, consider how domain name typos are one area where companies often lose valuable traffic – if Internet users mistype the domain of a company’s Web site into the address bar, they can be led to sites containing Pay-Per-Click ads, malware, or in some cases, even to the Web site of the company’s competitor. It is often surprising how much traffic businesses are losing to typos—we recently uncovered 47 million initial impressions one company was losing annually due to typos of its name. Imagine a scenario where the top typos for a brand receive 5 million (about 1/10 of the prior example) unique visitors per year. Considering the fact that on average, businesses are willing to pay approximately $2.00 per impression, unregistered typo domains cost the company in question $10 million per year, or more than $833,000 per month in lost marketing benefit.
When you look at the hard numbers, it becomes obvious that search engine tactics alone cannot generate the maximum number of online leads. Instead, SEO, SEM and domain strategies must be combined to optimize results.
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