Often I get people turning up on my doorstep who have already purchased their domain names. I sit there with clenched teeth waiting for their announcement and rarely do they get my stamp of approval.
Let’s get technical for a second. Domain Names are used to identify one or more IP addresses, a URL (Uniform Resource Locator) used to identify particular web pages. Instead of having an Internet Protocol (IP) number like 202.263.156.672 we have these nice looking nick names for our websites and web pages.
Before I start a new job I find a good domain, hopefully one that represents the brand i.e my company Elite6 Business Networking. I have elite6.co.nz and elite6.com. I only have a simple redirect on elite6.com as I don’t want to tell the search engines I am a Company of America when I am a Company of New Zealand, however if I sell my company and someone wants to take it International, having the .com will be an asset.
Having a good domain name can help, but it’s not the key to it all. I always encourage my client to have a short name ending in .co.nz, all the other prefixes like .nz and .kiwi are a total waste of money and will not give you ANY advantage when it comes to search engine optimisation. The days of having multiple domain names all pointing to one site are gone. For years I have been telling my clients “Market what you do not who you are” meaning if you can’t get your brand name, try to get a domain that tells the search engines what you do!
If I wasn’t fortunate enough to get my own brand name as my domain, an alternative could be businessnetworking.co.nz or even better business-networking.co.nz, however there would be no point having both!!
When trying to maximise your search engine results and you are building your website around a phrase, having it hyphenated can help. I would never use more than two words with a hyphenated domain and you may be surprised how many people don’t know what a hyphen (-) is. It’s mainly for search engines so they know it means there is a space between each word and it does not all run together as one word.
Do you own your own domain name?
If you have commissioned your website development company to purchase your domain(s) name make sure your name is the on the “Registrant Name”. There are still many companies out there today that will register a domain name and put their name down as the legal owner, they may hold you to ransom if you wish to stop using their Internet services.
Let me give you two examples of appalling practices by two local Internet companies
I was talking with a friend of mine who is a real estate agent for Harcourts Gold her name is Debbie Gordon. I thoroughly recommend her services, she’s an absolutely brilliant agent and I was gobsmacked when she told me her website address for her new website, debbiegordonharcourtsgold.co.nz. Jesus could you a get longer name I said, there’s absolutely no competitive advantage having a name that is long and if you don’t hyphenate it, it’s not going to help. This means if somebody searched google for “debbiegordonharcourtsgold” it may help the site come up number one, however people don’t search like that, they would search “Debbie Gordon Harcourts Gold’. Therefore a better domain name, if you were trying to capitalise on that phrase, would be debbie-gordon-harcourts-gold.co.nz but there’s no point as no one is going to search for a name that long. I recommended that she got debbiegordon.co.nz instead, however when I went to see if the name was available it was already registered and the owner of it was “Rebecca Tavete” owner of socialWEB the Internet company that developed the website, I couldn’t believe it.
Another example is a friend of mine Helen who is a talented lifestyle photographer. Helen did a $5000 advertising campaign for selling Adobe Lightroom Presets and products with Hairy Lemon that only resulted in a handful of sales. I will blog about paid advertising exploitation soon. I’m assuming they suggested that they registered two domain names modedeviephotos.com and modedeviephotos.co.nz so they could run their advertising through those domain names and track the results. In my opinion this is an ineffective marketing practice because as soon as Helen stopped her advertising all the traffic stopped dead in the water. I later found out that she got recommended to get the .com domain name so they could tap into the American market, what a load of rubbish. Helen already owned modedevie.co.nz so there was no need for additional domain names and it’s all about building up the strength of one domain name, search engines do not like being tricked and redirected.
Wait there’s more she got a bill for $85 for each of the domain names for the renewal fees, when I looked up whose name was on the registrar they were owned by Hairy Lemon. I suggested she didn’t need the names as I couldn’t see any advantage having them. Helen contacted Hairy Lemon and she got a reply saying that they had already renewed the domain names and she had to pay their accounts. This infuriated me and I phoned them and asked them why they had put these two domain names in their names and why they were charging so much to renew these domains when the actual cost is $25! They did say it was a simple mistake and they would happily put them in her name, what another load of rubbish it should have never have happened in the first place.
Why do Internet companies want to control your domain name?
There are a few good reasons, the first one that comes to mind is that people forget to pay the annual fee for the domain names. If you let a .com domain name expire it goes back to the pool and anybody could re-register that name, that means it’s no longer yours, you would lose it and you would need to start over!! However, with New Zealand domain names we are a little bit more fortunate, there’s a three-month period before your domain name goes back into the pool.
The other reason is setup/editing the DNS records. It is so much easier having them all in one place, you can give control and still be the legal owner of the domain name. If you ever have any problems with your developer, you go back to the domain name registrar and request they release the Unique Domain Authentication Identifier (UDAI) code and you can move it away at any time. However, if you are not the legal owner you cannot do this.
Do multiple domain names work?
Marketing somebody’s brand is easy, getting somebody to search for that brand is hard, brand awareness can cost you thousands. Having a domain name that markets what you do means you’re relying on a phrase to market your website. You will also be competing with paid advertisers who may outrank you. I recommend staying focused and own that one phrase, don’t be greedy remember having a good domain in not everything it just helps, content is king.
Once upon a time in the Internet Wild West I used to have multiple domain names reserved for rental car companies. I looked after rentalcars.co.nz (Pegasus Rental Cars) and carrentals.co.nz (Kiwi Car Rentals) both these websites flew in the search engines simply because it was the phrase people were searching for and the whole website was optimised around that phrase.
So when I construct a website having a one word domain name is paramount. This means having one word to my name is better than having a phrase, danny.co.nz is ideal for my own self-promotion. One day I’d like to be a public speaker so I’ve got the domain name talks.co.nz. I will set up a brand to talk about dyslexia. So how I will endeavour to dominate the search engines is by the structure of the website, not just by using a short domain name.
If you’re just starting your business and don’t the time or budget to set up a website, you could simply go to 1stdomains.co.nz register your own domain name and under their management services set up a redirection to point to your Facebook page. This means you could do your business cards and brochures, set up your matching email address and only spend $25 for the registration fees. Then you can focus on the website at a later date.
My next blog will be about the importance of having good category structure with your website.