Domain Names and SEO

There are many factors effecting search engine optimization and ultimately placement in the search engine results pages. One of the most overlooked factors is the domain name. Too many businesses don’t spend the necessary time and resources to research the best possible domain for their business. This is a very important step since the domain name is the identity of the business or company. A website may undergo a number of changes and redesigns over the life of the business but a domain name will stay the same. It should because changing a domain name will impact any SEO gains, at least in the short term, or permanently, if the switch is not done correctly. Here are some factors to keep in mind when choosing a domain name:

1. Age of the domain name

It is a very well known fact that an aged domain name, or a domain name that has been registered for a number of years, will be treated very differently than a brand new freshly registered domain. Due to the fact that so many domains are registered for a year and then dropped, many by squatters and spammers, Google keeps domains that are less than a year old in what is referred to as a “sandbox”. That is, way down in the search results and of low importance. The older the domain name, the more credibility it will have with Google.

The question then is, how do you acquire an aged domain name? There are many options available. You can hire a domain broker to research best possible options for you in the aftermarket. A domain aftermarket is where domain owners put up their registered domains for sale. If you find a domain that would be a perfect fit for your business and it is not being fully utilized (or has a for sale sign), you can reach out to the owner. However, be warned that aftermarket domains are not cheap. Your best option again would be a domain broker to negotiate the best possible deal for you.

2. Length of domain registration

Domains that are registered one year at a time and renewed one year at a time are treated with caution by Google since there is a strong possibility that the domain is registered for short term and may be dropped or forgotten to be renewed. Domains that are registered for multiple years at a time demonstrate that the owners are serious about building a brand around the domain and it will be around for a long period of time. Again, this builds credibility. Any website built on a domain that has a renewal period of 5 years, for example, will be taken more seriously by Google than one that will expire in 1 year.

3. Length of domain name

If you are an established company, then the choice of the domain name is pretty clear: it should match the name of your company. What if there are other companies that have the same name operating in different parts of the country or the world? In this case, you can add ‘inc’, ‘ltd, ‘int’ or ‘group’ or something else that makes sense. You can also look at other extensions such as .net or your country’s extension (i.e. country code).

Another option is to choose a domain the exactly matches the description of your services. For example, if your business name is PV Estates and you sell real estate in Puerto Vallarta but the PVEstates.com domain is taken by a realty in another part of the world. You may opt to acquire PuertoVallartaEstates.com as a descriptive name that would make the perfect choice.

The caution here is to choose as short as possible domain name. Ideal is exact match of your company name or exact match of your services. Do not exceed more than 3 words in the domain.

4. Extension of the domain name

It is clear that .com is still the king of domain extensions. The original three extensions, .com .net and .org, still have the most value in search rankings. If you do business mainly in your country’s area then a country code extension for your country would be on top of your list of options. It is yet unclear how Google will view the new alternative extensions such as .guide, .services, .club, .agency, etc. If you decide to register a domain name with one of the new extensions be sure that the right of the dot matches a word in your company name or description of your business. For example, if your name is Global Ventures, then it makes sense to acquire Global.Ventures as your domain. But GlobalVentures.tips would not make sense. If your business is financial services, then it makes sense to acquire Financial.Services but not FinancialServices.club.

Conclusion:

It is important to note that the domain name is only one factor of many. A domain name alone will not guarantee good search engine positioning. It can help however. At the same time, a poorly chosen domain name does not spell poor search engine positioning either if SEO is done very well.

If you are looking for the perfect domain name for your business then Search Ops can research for you the best possible options.

Dot Com Has Reached 30 Years. Will It Last Another 30?

Exactly 30 years ago last Sunday (March 15th, 1985) was registered the very first dot com domain: Symbolics. It was registered by a computer tech company that has since long gone bankrupt and today it is owned by XF.com investments. They have built the site into kind of an Internet nostalgia website. CNN.com has published an article on the 30th anniversary of .com. It highlights how the Internet went from being so obscure in the early to mid 1990’s to a household name today propelled by the popularity of the .com domain extension, or suffix. Only some five other domains joined symbolics.com in 1985. By 1987 just 100 .com domains were registered. During the so-called “dot-com bubble” between 1995 and 2000 registrations sky-rocketed from 9,005 to over 20 million. Today, the Internet impacts global economy into the trillions of dollars, mainly led by the dot com.

The dot com domains continue to go up in the price and sell at premium while other extensions trail far behind. However, the CNN article raises the question whether the release of many new extensions into the market such as .club, .guide, .media, .money, etc., etc., spell the slowing of the .com popularity eventually leaving it behind in favor of the newcomers. The domain news blogging website, TheDomains.com, even posted an article quoting the CNN piece with the title: Will .Com Even Be A Thing in 50 Years? Our title here kind of blends the titles of the two articles mentioned. Then an article at Telegraph.co.uk asks: Will the world’s best-know web domain soon be obsolete? Here is why .com will never fade into obscurity, or become obsolete, but rather will continue to be more popular than ever.

Do you remember Internet catch-words that defined certain eras in the history of the World Wide Web? Words like “virtual reality”, “web-sticky”, “cyberspace”, “chat room”, or “information superhighway” have had their day but were short-lived and become obsolete. BBS, or bulletin-board system, that was so popular in the 1980’s and early 90’s, only lasted about 18 years until the Internet made that system obsolete. Then too were other extensions released after .com but that never took off, such as .mobi, .name and .us. The fact that .com has continued to not only maintain it’s position as KING of domain extensions but continues growing in popularity for over 30 years is a true statement to its durability and staying power. In addition to the test of time, .com has also survived the crisis of the dot-com bubble bust and has risen out of the ashes, as it were, stronger than ever.

30 years later, extensions are as important as ever in connecting the offline and online worlds together. So important, in fact, that the internet industry regulator ICANN (The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) is in the process of accepting applications and granting rights to certain organization to operate new TLD’s (top-level domains or extensions) numbering in the thousands, to account for future growth. Many are available today for the public to register, such as .club, .guide, .media, .luxury, .photography, .pub, .solutions, .technology, .restaurant, .today, .guru, .tips, .estate, .zone, to name just a few. However, .com continues to be the leader and best known suffix with no signs of slowing down.

When Should You Consider a Website Redesign

A well built and designed website should last and be an agent of profit to a company for years. Now, whether this is few or many years really depends on the company itself and the changing winds of its goals, market needs, competition, offerings, etc. However, there are times when a redesign should be considered imminently. Here are top 5 reasons why a company should consider a redesign of their website.

Reason #1: Cheap Web design or DIY service was used

This one is quite obvious and happens too many times. A cheaply done website feels just that: cheap. It is usually boxy, has poor color, layout, minimal content, to name just a few things. Above all, these websites get very little results on the search engines. When a company opts to use a DIY (or Do-It-Yourself) service, the resulting site is usually bare in content and looks like it was built on a cheap or free template. Furthermore, such a company likely has zero knowledge of SEO (Search Engine Optimization), so traffic from search engines will be non-existent or extremely low and non-targeted at best. If this was your first option, then having a website redesigned by a professional can have monumental benefits to your business: search engine traffic, professional design across all platforms, much higher conversion rate, project an image you can be proud off.

Reason #2: Your website is too difficult to navigate

Sometimes websites are so rushed to completion or built back when user experience took a back seat to page prettiness. The result is that content has been placed in a non-coherent or non-logical manner that makes it very difficult for visitors to find the information they are looking for. Additionally, years ago the prevalent practice was to make text and navigation elements small resulting in making these very difficult to read, especially on smaller screens such as tablets that are in popular usage today. Another problem is with outdated code on navigation that makes it difficult to click on drop-down menus, etc. If any of this is the case with your website, then updating the design, content, and navigation will make sense and result in greater conversion rate as well as better search engine indexing.

Reason #3: Your website is too difficult to update

If your website is a static design then updating the content is difficult and expensive because you need to call your Web designer every time you want to update your site. Today content is more important than ever and should be updated on a regular basis to keep the website fresh and climbing on the search engine results pages. For example, you may want to have a blog section on your website that you can update weekly or daily even, you may want to update the website with most recent products or customer testimonials. In such a case, it makes sense to redesign your website and having it built on a content management system (CMS). A CMS will allow you to access your site and edit the content without effecting the design elements. This also will make the site less costly to redesign in the future, if you wish, since all the content will be preserved as it will be kept separate from the design aspects.

Reason #4: Your website has old code and error pages

Was your website designed back when Web standards were weak and not followed very often? Have some pages been removed over time due to them being irrelevant and no longer needed while the links have not been updated? Has some of the code stopped working because the server side language has been updated many times over the years (i.e. your contact form)? If this is true in your case then a complete redesign makes sense. You can take this opportunity to build a fully functional website that is Web standards compliant and has code that is compatible with today’s much more secure sever side code.

Reason #5: Your website was hacked

This may be a complete hack where your website has been totally defaced or, it may be the more common hack where code has been injected into your site or unwanted links placed to unsavory websites (such as pornographic or gambling sites). If this is the case then your website is very outdated and has very poor security. Strong measures must be taken, which should include redesign consideration.

Conclusion:

These are just 5 reasons where website redesign should be considered. There obviously are more but these are the 5 we feel are major reasons and probably most common ones. The final decision lies with you whether redesign is right for you. Timing and your marketing strategy will have a lot of weight on your decision. As in anything in life, the old adage is also true in Web design, “You get what you pay for”, so a thorough research should be taken of any company considered to redesign your website. You need to ask yourself: “Would I prefer to burn $300 or invest $3000?”

Why Monthly SEO is Important

There are over 1 billion searches performed a day on Google and an overwhelming 94 percent of these click on organic search results. With Google changing their algorithm on a daily basis and competitors doing regular on-going SEO, agencies have a challenge to keep their clients on top of the results with limited budgets and limited time frames. It is important for clients to understand that monthly SEO is critical to their short and long term success.

There is a reason why the organic search results are called just that, organic. Because like organic things in the real world will wither and die if they are not fed regularly, so too will any organic search results gains wither into nothingness if they are not fed with a consistent and significant SEO program. Some or many companies like to keep their website’s search ranking on constant life-support by doing SEO once or twice a year. However, the reality is that the first results served by the search engines such as Google and Bing are the most trusted by searchers and receive the majority of business from these search engines. These are the results that will make or break a business, that will separate the successful company from their struggling competition.

What is included in the monthly SEO?

  • Ranking report
  • Analytics report
  • Traffic audits (keyword vs conversion tracking, counter measures, etc.)
  • Building high-quality incoming links/removing low-quality links
  • Building social media presence (growing likes/links/followers/etc.)
  • Competition monitoring (is competition moving up/down, taking counter measures, etc.)
  • Content SEO (checking bounce rates, tuning on-page SEO, implementing needed changes, keeping content fresh, etc.)
  • Countering changes to search engine algorithms

The monthly SEO should be aggressively constant until the number 1 position is reached. However to ensure continued success, at the very least, monthly reporting and traffic auditing should be made and any counter measures implemented right away as a result.

When you consider the cost of reaching the size of audience you can find online to other forms of media, such as print or television, SEO and organic search results is by far the most cost effective and most valuable marketing option. As a business owner and advertiser, you simply could not and should not ignore this fact. If you are not fully taking advantage of this venue then you are spending way too much on advertising for the results you’re getting or you are not making much money with your website.

Cost of a 30 Second Commercial

Each year Ad Age does a survey of the cost of a 30 second ad for all prime time shows on the major networks and below are the prices for this fall’s prime time show advertising slot. This should put in perspective the pricing related to online organic and pay-per-click search marketing. The overall average for a 30 second commercial is $142,000. Relatively speaking SEO and PPC can have the same or greater reach but with much lower investment and much more accurate and real-time measurement of results. Also are you considering to purchase a domain with direct type-in traffic? Imagine how much you would spend for equivalent TV advertising over the course of 1, 2, 3 or more years. Here is the list:

Show Cost
Sunday Night Football $512,000
American Idol $502,000
The X-Factor $321,000
Glee $267,000
Family Guy $265,000
The Simpsons $254,000
Two and a Half Men $252,500
Modern Family $249,000
Dancing With the Stars $233,500
The Voice $206,500
Grey’s Anatomy $203,000
Big Bang Theory $198,000
Mike & Molly $196,500
House $184,000
The Office $179,000
The Bachelor $177,500
Person of Interest $174,500
Terra Nova $168,000
How I Met Your Mother $167,000
2 Broke Girl $167,000
Alcatraz $160,000
NCIS $155,000
The Mentalist $155,000
Hate My Teenage Daughter $151,000
American Dad $150,000
Desperate Housewives $149,000
Bones $145,700
Survivor $144,500
Cleveland Show $143,500
The Good Wife $137,500
Criminal Minds $137,500
CSI $133,500
NCIS: Los Angeles $133,000
30 Rock $133,000
Unforgettable $132,000
Hawaii Five-0 $130,500
Happy Endings $130,000
Private Practice $129,000
The Middle $127,500
Suburgatory $127,500
New Girl $125,500
Raising Hope $125,500
The Amazing Race $124,000
60 Minutes $122,000
Castle $122,000
Man Up $122,000
Whitney $120,500
Awake $117,500
Last Man Standing $117,000
Parks and Recreation $117,000
The Biggest Loser $106,000
The Firm $104,500
L&O: SVU $104,500
Cougar Town $104,000
CSI Miami $98,000
Parenthood $96,000
Community $93,500
Football Night in America $93,000
Prime Suspect $93,000
Up All Night $82,500
College Football Sat $82,500
The Sing-Off $81,500
America’s Funniest Home Videos $80,000
Extreme Makeover $73,000
CSI NY $72,000
Shark Tank $67,000
20/20 $67,000
Harry’s Law $64,000
A Gifted Man $63,800
America’s Next Top Model $61,000
Fringe $57,500
Vampire Diaries $54,000
Gossip Girl $50,000
Chuck $50,000
Hart of Dixie $47,500
48 Hours Mystery $43,400
Dateline $39,600
90210 $38,500

And Here’s the same list in alphabetical order by show
Show Cost
90210 $38,500
20/20 $67,000
Private Practice $129,000
2 Broke Girl $167,000
30 Rock $133,000
48 Hours Mystery $43,400
60 Minutes $122,000
A Gifted Man $63,800
Alcatraz $160,000
America’s Funniest Home Videos $80,000
America’s Next Top Model $61,000
American Dad $150,000
American Idol $502,000
Awake $117,500
Big Bang Theory $198,000
Bones $145,700
Castle $122,000
Chuck $50,000
Cleveland Show $143,500
College Football Sat $82,500
Community $93,500
Cougar Town $104,000
Criminal Minds $137,500
CSI $133,500
CSI Miami $98,000
CSI NY $72,000
Dancing With the Stars $233,500
Dateline $39,600
Desperate Housewives $149,000
Extreme Makeover $73,000
Family Guy $265,000
Football Night in America $93,000
Fringe $57,500
Glee $267,000
Gossip Girl $50,000
Grey’s Anatomy $203,000
Happy Endings $130,000
Harry’s Law $64,000
Hart of Dixie $47,500
Hate My Teenage Daughter $151,000
Hawaii Five-0 $130,500
House $184,000
How I Met Your Mother $167,000
L&O: SVU $104,500
Last Man Standing $117,000
Man Up $122,000
Mike & Molly $196,500
Modern Family $249,000
NCIS $155,000
NCIS: Los Angeles $133,000
New Girl $125,500
Parenthood $96,000
Parks and Recreation $117,000
Person of Interest $174,500
Prime Suspect $93,000
Raising Hope $125,500
Shark Tank $67,000
Suburgatory $127,500
Sunday Night Football $512,000
Survivor $144,500
Terra Nova $168,000
The Amazing Race $124,000
The Bachelor $177,500
The Biggest Loser $106,000
The Firm $104,500
The Good Wife $137,500
The Mentalist $155,000
The Middle $127,500
The Office $179,000
The Simpsons $254,000
The Sing-Off $81,500
The Voice $206,500
The X-Factor $321,000
Two and a Half Men $252,500
Unforgettable $132,000
Up All Night $82,500
Vampire Diaries $54,000
Whitney $120,500

Source: Ad Age

Tips for Starting an E-business

Before starting an e-business project, you need to decide what it is that you will be selling. How will you monetize your online business?

How will your site be monetized?

Advertising (Get-Paid-Per-Click)

The easiest form of monetization is the selling of pay-per-click advertising. Programs such as the Google Adsense program has made this a virtual no-brainer. They supply the advertising inventory and place ads on your site relevant to your site’s content. All you do is place a snippet of code in logical areas of your site and get a percentage of the advertisers’ per-click payment. If your site (or sites) gets a significant amount of targeted traffic then this can translate into a lucrative business. The hard part is that you need a website with original quality content (either written by you or a hired writer) and which is updated on a regular basis (daily is best but weekly or semi-weekly will work as well but take longer.)

There are other pay-per-click networks that share their revenue with website publishers and offer unique features.

As your site grows in popularity you can start receiving requests for direct advertising. You can offer this at a rate you decide and can base this on advertising rates on similar sites.

Selling others’ products and services

This is also referred to as affiliate marketing. The most popular affiliate program is Amazon.com Associates. Although they pioneered affiliate marketing, the are by no means the only affiliate program available. From flowers to travel, you can find an affiliate program for almost any niche and topic. There are also affiliate programs for selling digital products such as ClickBank. Affiliate marketing works best if you can add your own point of view and recommendations on products you will be promoting.

Just like with get-paid-per-click advertising, you copy-and-paste code snippets of products. These snippets include your unique affiliate id so that if someone makes a purchase as a result of following a link from your website, you can credit a certain percentage of the sale.

The advantage of affiliate marketing is that you can start selling right away after being approved (which can take 24hrs to a few business days). Also, you don’t need to stock inventory and don’t need to worry about delivery. Additionally, promoting affiliate products or services on your e-business site can also be a smart idea while you build your own inventory of products.

Domain name prospecting and development

Quality domain names are sought after as they are the backbone of online advertising and marketing. They can be registered at a very low cost (around $9-$20 per year) and resold at high profit. Generic domains can also be developed into niche portals. For example, if you own the domain BuyAlligatorBoots.com, you can develop it into a mini niche site selling alligator boots from Amazon or another affiliate. Or if you own DietNutritionPlans.com, you can sell nutrition books and e-books via Amazon.com, ClickBank, eBay, etc. Another example is say if you own TravelToToronto.com, you can sell Toronto travel books, maps, t-shirts, etc., from a quality affiliate program. You can mix and match products from different affiliates, as well as add your own articles and place advertising. If you can’t find a domain available in your topic, you can always browse domain aftermarkets and even contact directly a domain owner to see if they would negotiate a selling price.

There really is no limit to how many generic domains you can register and develop.

Selling your own products

Do you make your own items (i.e. gifts, clothing, decorations, etc.)? Have you written a book or an e-book? Are you a musician and make your own music? Do you create anything that is tangible or can be downloaded? Then why not build your e-business around this? Selling your own products or services is more work but you get to keep 100% of the profits. A product can even be your expertise, as in consulting services. In most cases, you will need an e-commerce site that is capable of taking orders and payments, and you will be responsible for the delivery of any product or service ordered.

What will you sell or promote?

This may be a tough question to answer for some and very obvious to others. You may already know what your site will be about after reading the above sub-heading. If you are still wondering then here is a principle to bear in mind: keep a balance between your passion and others’ needs or wants. For example, if you are passionate about something that others need or want then there is an ideal subject for your e-business site. If you are not sure, then talk to some experienced friends or family. The most important thing is that you embark on something you will be motivated to stick with. The successful e-business entrepreneurs are the ones that endured the ups and downs, mostly downs, before they became successful. The Internet is not an overnight money-maker as some may have you believe. It takes work as in any business to succeed and learn from your mistakes. But the rewards can be well worth it.

Here are some ideas to get your started:

  • Online directory for businesses in your local area. You can visit personally the businesses and offer them a monthly or annual subscription to be promoted on your website.
  • Start a blog on something you are interested in or know a lot about (i.e. photography, music, pets, art, movies, food, etc.) As your site grows, you can add advertising and affiliate links to start making money.
  • Write a book or an e-book on a topic you know well and others can benefit from, then build a website to sell it and get paid. Some hot topics are: how to lose weight, cheap travel, promoting yourself to employers, do-it-yourself (from fixing your car or home, to self-care), etc.