The algorithm and the game have changed for domain names of a website in the recent times. Unlike before, search engines do not rank according to the name but the brand that matched the search queries instead. This can be complicated. Ken gives his take on the topic as well as some tips on how to choose your own. Know the three types of domains out there and what is the most desirable among them. Google prefers domains that are branded, so learn some things you need to work on with your marketing and advertising.
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Domain Name Value
Someone emailed in if I would I do a podcast on the value of a domain name? I’m going to do an episode on domain names, a general podcast on my take on the domain name. I believe the question was, “How particular do we need to be when picking the domain name of a website, especially if there’s an existing business already running?” If we go back, Google unleashed PMD and EMD. That stood for the Partial Match Domain algorithm update and the Exact Match Domain algorithm update.
Back in the days, if you owned the website RealEstateValueInChicago.com, you would probably rank very high when people typed in the phrase, “Real estate values in Chicago.” These would be outside of Illinois investors looking for real estate prices in Chicago, a very valuable phrase. A lot of people, especially domain buyers, were buying every exact match domain phrase possible and then selling them for a premium. They call these premium domains. A couple of years ago, Google started readjusting their algorithm where they used to give preferential treatment for an exact match domain. I’m not going to say they penalize you now, I’ll say it this way. If you build a website name specifically because it has two to three phrases or two to three words in a row followed by .com, you’re not going to rank any higher than any other website that had a domain name that needed to be branded.The search engines prefer domains that need to be branded. Click To Tweet
I’ll give you an example of domain names that needed to be branded. Google, Amazon, Yahoo, on the surface, when these were first launched, search engines had no idea what these things meant or stood for. Even Facebook, it two words combined. When it first launched, there was no way that search engines were able to determine out of the gate what Facebook stood for, what it was all about. The concept is when it comes to domain names, there are three types. There’s an exact match. That would be things like ChicagoRealEstate.com, that’s one. StLouisGrocery.com, that’s another. NewYorkTaekwondo.com, those are exact match domains. The partial match might be NewYorkTae for New York Taekwondo. Do you get the idea? Do you follow me? ChicagoRE for real estate, that’s a partial match.
The third category is brandable domain names. That means on the surface, if you read the domain and there was no ancillary material, there was no backdrop, there was no visual, you would have no idea what that meant. Like Google, Yahoo, even the word color. Color.com is a very fast-growing company and website. Color.com is a cancer-based website. You’d never know that on the surface. Nobody would be able to say, “Color.com must be owned by Crayola Crayons. You don’t know.
Here’s the key. This is my opinion. I have no proof from Google or other search engines. My guess is from what we see, the search engines prefer domains that need to be branded. It’s because it forces us to create new and additional content to substantiate the brand. I want to bring a couple terms into play when you’re working with your domain name person, your advertising company, or your marketing consultant. The first phrase is a 301 redirect. The second phrase is a canonical tag.
Let’s talk about a 301 redirect first. Many companies, I would say over a million have a website, but then life and time passed by and the company needed to change or the company got bought out or this or that. A second website was launched, or more importantly and much more apropos to this podcast, a new facelift was put on the existing company, thus needing a new name. As an example, you might see companies that merged with another company. They’ve got to determine, “If we’re going to merge, which of our two websites, the company we bought or the company doing the buying are we going to go with long-term?” Let’s say after a year of getting to know each other, they’re going to finally merge management, merge payroll, and merge the books, the typical earn out phase of buying a new business. Everything checks out. You can’t confuse the world and or search engines. You’ve got to melt into one.
What most companies will do is they’ll determine which of the two websites they’re going to keep. That means all the other content in the other one, at least temporarily, has to get turned off. What they do is they 301 redirect the other website name to now point to the other website. If you’re the buyer, if you’re ABC.com, and you bought DEF.com, it’s in a similar industry but separate audiences, separate everything. Let’s say it’s determined that over time, everybody on both sides of the house agree, ABC.com has better penetration, better content, and more evergreen information. They’re going to roll with that one. What’s going to happen is to all the customers that were used to going to DEF.com, that have DEF.com saved to favorites and bookmarked, they keep that, but they take down the website DEF.com.
They take down the guts of the website, but they forward DEF.com using what is called a 301 redirect. They forward that website name to now call it to open up ABC.com. You might have to draw that out on paper. The bottom line is if ABC.com purchases DEF.com, they don’t want to lose the equity of the name, the brand, or the audience that has saved that site to favorites and has known that site for decades. What they do is they forward that with what’s called a 301 redirect. Let’s talk about something that I seldom hear about but is crucial to a larger business, even a smaller company that has to play on different platforms. Let’s say that you have to, you must have the exact same piece of content on multiple websites and you happen to own all the other websites.
Use us, for example. In the old days, we were a traditional growth consulting company. We could grow people in the landscaping industry. We could grow companies in the painting industry. We could grow companies in the carpet industry. You name it. I could grow any company in any industry at any time. I might want to launch different websites with different domain names that appeal to the target audience of those industry verticals. I might want LandscapeConsulting.com. I might want CarpetConsulting.com. I might want PaintingConsulting.com. I might want to write one or two pieces of content. There are core principles or core values, what we stand on, and I don’t want to rewrite it 25 different ways on 25 websites. Google will allow me to put that exact piece of content on 25 other sites if I use a canonical tag, which means when I put the piece of content in the website, LandscapeConsultant.com, I put a canonical tag on the back end of the website saying, “Google, I recognize that this is the exact same post that I previously put on PaintingConsulting.com, CarpetLayingConsulting.com, or even my core, IncomeStore.com website.”
What I’m saying to Google with a canonical tag is, “I acknowledge this as duplicate content. Do not source this in your search engines. Do not occupy any of your servers hosting this page. Give all the credit to the single site that we put it on first, IncomeStore.com.” Many companies don’t realize they are killing their search engine optimization because they’ve got the same couple of paragraphs on three to four to five websites and they wonder why their stuff is not ranking. A lot of times you’re not ranking because you simply don’t know what you don’t know. You have allowed other marketers or other people to put the same press release, the same piece of content.
If you have three or more paragraphs that are identical and they’re on different websites, even if you own all of them, you cannot do that. It goes against Google’s policies. They think you are gaming their system. They think you’re trying to get your information via different domain names in as many domain names as possible and they don’t like that. With that, where do I place a value on a domain name? I’m partnered with Ross Halleck, the famous vintner. If you’ve never had a Halleck wine, go to Halleck.com and buy some. It’s expensive, but he’s the only man to ever receive the award the Perfect Pinot. You’ll understand when you try his 2007 to 2009 Russian River Valley Pinot.A lot of times, you’re not ranking because you just simply don’t know what you don’t know. Click To Tweet
Ross and I, together, have a website called Wine.net. In its hay day, that one single domain was appraised at $275,000. Now the same company that would appraise it would appraise it at $16,000 for the domain because the exact match domain and the partial match domain algorithms have taken effect. From a branding standpoint, Wine.net is an awesome name. We have great content. Ross has written tremendous content. It’s a worldwide website.
I do think there is a lot of value in a domain, but what we look for in a domain name is two things. Number one, can you come up with a name that is memorable because of the words or phrases in the domain name? Facebook, when you combine face and book, you get a picture that, “This might be a yearbook.” It creates a memory. It helps to anchor the concept of the business. Amazon was meant to be, “The world is a jungle out there. Here’s going to be a jungle of products.” I love brandable and memorable domain name. I hope this helps. Take care.