November 3rd, 2011 by Elan Sherbill
In recent posts, we’ve focused on how e-commerce managers can use inbound marketing techniques to guide traffic to their shopping carts. This post will focus on enticing visitors to your site by building a strategic domain name portfolio.
I’m referring to the practice of identifying, registering, and using domain names that relate to your business for SEO and improving type-in traffic. A good portfolio also prevents competitors from poaching your potential customers.
What Kind Of Domain Names Do I Need?
Your domain name will either be geared toward “brandability or discoverability.” A domain name geared toward branding is one like zappos.com, whose brand and domain name is catchy and memorable, but doesn’t really describe the product or service being offered.
Compare that type of brand and domain name with one like shoebuy.com which basically tells you what you’re going to find on the site. Even though shoebuy.com may not have the same brand recognition as Zappos, since they target the relevant keywords of the shoe market, they turn up pretty high in search engine results related to buying shoes.
The first thing you want to do is identify which keywords are leading to your business. Then see if you can pick up some of that traffic by registering those domain names and tying it into site.
Companies with a strong brand name should invest in domain names that combine your brand with discoverability. For example, Zappos also owns zapposshoes.com and zapposhoes.com, which ties right back into zappos.com when you navigate there directly.
Although part of the strategy behind acquiring these types of domain names is to keep them out of the hands of Zappos’ competitors and cybersquatters, Zappos’ search engine rankings benefit from the keywords these domain names target.
Capitalize On Type-In Traffic…
E-commerce merchants can capitalize on the fact that many people search for products by typing keywords followed by a top level domain into the address bar of their browser. A good example is Lavasoft, a global leader in anti-spyware software.
Even though their homepage URL is geared toward highlighting their brand, they wisely chose to invest in the domain name adaware.com. This way, any consumer using this popular keyword with the world’s most common generic top level domain (gTLD) for direct navigation, lands on Lavasoft’s highly relevant page.
Consider the opposite situation. The domain name excel.com was not registered by Microsoft, although office.com and powerpoint.com were. So now, those who are searching for the Microsoft Excel program, may very likely end up looking at a company that specializes in voice and data services.
As an e-commerce professional, the last thing you want is your branded product being confused with something else.
When building your portfolio, don’t forget the traffic you can get from country code top level domains (ccTLDs). Companies that engage in global e-commerce should identify their top regional markets and register the country specific domain name.
TuneUp Software, for example, is able to direct American customers to tune-up.com and German customers to tuneup.de, where each site presents a localised shopping experience.
Another way of targeting inbound customers while protecting your brand is to register common misspellings of your domain names. Yahoo ties yhaoo.com and yaho.com to its home page so as not to lose out on any potential visitors, but it also prevents squatters from diverting their traffic.
Someone Else Already Registered The Name You Want
Let’s say that you’ve taken our advice and strategically considered all the different keywords, misspellings, and popular regions you want to target with a domain name. You may find that your desired name is already registered by someone else.
If the keyword is valuable, consider buying it from the registrant. If the registrant is merely parking the domain, but not willing to part with it, you can also consider entering into an affiliate relationship with them.
Keystone: Targeting direct traffic and keywords through a strategic domain name portfolio is an excellent inbound marketing tactic. You can expand the number of searching customers who find your website, bring in traffic you might have otherwise missed through users’ typos, and protect yourself against domain squatters.