A few months ago I collated and wrote a blog post about the use of new top level domains (TLDs) entitled Does It Matter if You’re a .coffee Rather Than a .com? In it, I canvassed the opinions of seven SEO professionals in my network on the relative merits of new style TLDs over traditional domain extensions. Among the several conclusions were that although Google treats all domain extensions as equal, new TLDs are more difficult to rank due to less trust from internet users.
So the views of Maris Callahan caught my eye. In the very interesting article below, Maris cites examples where creative use of new TLDs can increase marketing reach, word of mouth and lead generation. It’s an approach I very much like. Leave a comment to let me know what you think.
This is a guest post from Maris Callahan, Director of Public Relations for Donuts Inc. and name.kitchen.
One of the most frequently asked questions about the hundreds of new and differentiated domain name extensions (eg., samplename.life, samplename.world, etc.) that have recently launched to the public is: “what if I already have a website domain that I like?”
That doesn’t mean every business should drop whatever it’s doing to change the name of its website.
While some businesses, brands, and individuals are creating great website names for their primary businesses (Upshot’s www.upshot.agency, Purina’s www.beneful.dog and Amazon’s www.aws.training), other businesses are using new domain name extensions in their marketing.
Whether you specialise in brand strategy, web design or development, social media, marketing or public relations, there are some creative uses for new domain name extensions that reach beyond the URL of your client’s home page.
Yes, there are lots of great extensions for marketers to use on their own websites: .agency, .digital, .group, .marketing and .media, to name a few but think of the benefits to being the first to tell your clients about the latest Internet trend.
Presenting new domain name choices helps you show your clients that you’re creative and staying ahead of digital trends. This, in turn, can increase the reach of their marketing campaigns and lead gen efforts, resulting in great word of mouth for you.
Market to a Niche Audience
If you’ve been charged with helping a company reach a specific audience, then a hyper-specific domain name should be a tool in your toolbox.
Let’s say you work with a brand that sells clothing, shoes, and jewellery – call it, say, ‘Uptown’ – and they already have a legacy URL at newuptownfashions.com. Instead of letting potential customers weed through your website, use domains that point customers to exactly what they are looking for and point those domain names to the respective pages.
For example, for the apparel line, use uptown.clothing. Use www.uptown.shoes to market the company’s shoe line, and use uptown.jewelry to market accessories.
Amazon is doing this with many of their domain names: www.amazon.dog redirects to its pet supplies, www.amazon.clothing to its apparel shop and www.amazon.jewelry will take you directly to the diamonds.
If you have a strong analytics system in place, the use of multiple domain names that all point to your primary website will help you track what more of your customers are interested in so you can allocate your marketing budget accordingly.
Help Your Search Ranking
Web developers and SEO experts are excited about the possibilities that new domains open up too. If you’ve been charged with helping a client increase their search engine ranking, a new domain might be part of the solution.
In fact, Google recently went on the record saying so: “New domain endings are not treated any differently than traditional domain name endings like .com or .org. Domain names with new endings are shown in search just like any other domain name.”
If Google is using new domains, then you know they must be onto something. Its parent company, Alphabet, uses www.abc.xyz, while their domain registrar business’ URL is www.domains.google. Even Google’s company blog is on a current and hyper-specific domain: www.google.blog.
“When it comes to search engine results, your website URL matters,” said SEO expert Bill Hartzer. “When web surfers see your URL, they usually make a decision whether or not to click through to your website within seconds, or even faster. Having a great domain name helps encourages search engine visitors to click. A long, confusing, hard-to-read domain name? Not so much.”
While a domain is only one small piece of the SEO puzzle, a keyword rich domain name like .marketing, .photography, .catering or .restaurant can also help searchers find your business more quickly.
Splash Pages, Contests and Promotions
When brands run contests and promotions, they typically tend to be significant investments for companies – they’re exciting opportunities to raise awareness and increase lead generation. And there is nothing that will kill that buzz faster than having that promo live on a URL that no one can pronounce.
Brands that run contests and promotions can make good use of clever domain extensions in online marketing. Doesn’t yourbaby.photos sound cleaner than a long and difficult to pronounce option like www.yourbrand.com/baby-photos-2017-holiday-contest?
In 2015, Petfinder Foundation used www.myrescue.dog for a contest to benefit no-kill shelters and rescues across the country, while Cesar’s and Pedigree posted a collaboration on www.mixmania.dog in 2016. Some other domains that lend inspiration to online promotions are .community, .media, .digital, .photos and .vote.
If you’re running an online recipe contest, there are better choices out there than something cumbersome and impossible to spell out, like www.yourbrand.com/recipe-submit-273927293. Look to some of the culinary choices: .kitchen, .recipes, and even hyper-specific ones like .pizza and .wine are great options.
Short, succinct domain names are easier and cleaner to promote via social media when there are character limits and they sound better in offline marketing like TV, radio or podcast. Mazda has used www.mazda.lease in its advertising, while BMW uses its own branded domain name, www.next100.bmw to promote its vision for the brand and the automobile industry’s next 10 years.
As an added bonus, because these domain names are still new, they may garner some significant buzz on their own that increases your word of mouth marketing too. So the next time you’re looking for some extra spark for your next client project proposal, think about what a new domain name extension could help you bring to the table.
Maris Callahan is the director of public relations for Donuts Inc. and name.kitchen, where she does media relations, content marketing, and social media. She lives in Chicago with Brad, her significant other, and their chihuahua Henry. You can find her on Twitter and LinkedIn.