The worlds of buying domains, SEO, and development are beginning to clash. Domainers need good development and marketing while SEOs need a good domain (maybe they don’t necessarily need one, but a good domain makes it easier).

I have been in the domain, development and affiliate industry for years and I think new times are upon us. What is happening now more than ever is the disconnection from buying a domain and developing a site and/or software that needs to be marketed. It could even be the other way around where you have a site, but buy a domain that needs  to modified for the business rules for that market in order to attract an additional audience.

Here are the golden keys to the kingdom – all this takes is research, a careful plan, capital investment and execution with a continuous analysis.

Now why is it that few can rarely get this right? Let’s examine.

It takes a lot to build a popular, profitable site. If you have a great domain that people can say, spell and more importantly remember – you’re on the right track. Landing pages for organic results are just not converting the way they use to, users are becoming more internet savvy. This has led domainers to realize that they must invest money into development to have a site completely ready to rank and convert traffic over that results in revenue.

How do we value a domain or a website to see if it is really worth investing in as a whole? There are a lot of newer tools that have been developed, many free that answer our prayers. Aaron Wall’s FireFox SEO Toolbar (godsend for myself), SEMRush, SpyFu and other demographic measurements from Compete and Quantcast are great. Utilizing these, we are able to reach into a ballpark of traffic value to quantify a potential investment. Here we see more domainers and those with a great portfolio for a supportive business reaching out to developers like TM to figure out what is all involved.

As of late we have 6 large projects in house that are well funded and are hovering around the simplicity and popularity of a domain name. Some were brought to the table at first and the others were already in the client’s portfolio.

So let’s displace some of the myths involved in marketing a domain online with the development and marketing needed from my perspective. Here is my personal top 10 list of things I consider when we are approached to build out or purchase a domain:

  1. Does it fit? Will the name fit? Is it right for the project or site software? Obviously without external advertising and branding some sites gain popularity. Facebook did through viral components, Mozy was through sponsorship of a famous blogger and TV commercials.
  2. .Com / .Net / .Org and other tier extensions.
  3. Does the domain have keywords in it? Are they relevant and easy for our product / site?
  4. Search term value (what will it / has it historically yielded over time in cost per click?)
  5. Exact match search term value (you sell beef and BuyBeef.com is what you bought)
  6. Query diversity – are there long tail keywords that are available?
  7. Type-in traffic potential
  8. Ease of future development – can this easily be built out or expanded upon?
  9. Monetize – is the market already packed like Herbal or is there room to take a piece of the pie?
  10. Legal – is there anything to be aware of or infringement precautions we need to take?

Myth #1 – Building a company is simple!

I see it time and time again. You want to go in to business for yourself or you have a brick and mortar, which should just be taken to the web. Listen, you’re not the exception, Murphy’s Law does apply to you too. You hear the success stories about how this company was purchased by Google for $40 million and how a start-up is in the second round of funding. What you didn’t hear about was the 99 other companies that failed.

Eyes bigger than the stomach?- “I want it all – fast.”

Shopping when you are hungry? – “This all looks exciting and seems easy!”

No. You. Can’t. It’s. Not.

Myth #2 – My domain is going to draw type-in traffic!

Most domains parked at GoDaddy, Sedo, Moniker, etc do not receive more than a few visits from type-in traffic. My recommendation on the strategy here is to place specific micro sites or landing pages that can forward that traffic from a typed-in domain over to your main bread and butter site. You have to factor in the cost of the domain plus the landing page / micro site when you estimate that you’ll get 100 visitors a month, thousands if your domain is that good from type-in traffic.

Myth #3 – I got a single word domain!

So you got Beef.com? Just because it is generic does not mean it is good. You state that the word has branding capabilities, but that still does not make it an instant brand. Creating a brand is a large and costly undertaking. Almost as large as building out the site and software to run that website. Point: you need a good domain, a good plan and a good development schedule. (Funding for all usually helps tremendously as well)

Myth #4 – Buy 14 million domain names around a topic!

We come across this one a lot. I have two opinions on this. First you need to consider what is the branded terms that you want? If you want to be known for “Beef” then go and use the Beef.com domain. Remember that there will be others with the term “beef” that will be competing with you and selling the same product. Second, you need consider do you really need all the domains? This is two-part because at times I find myself contradicting myself. Yes, I’ll pay the $10/year for a domain just to have it forward over to the main domain or within the site on a specific section. I may use it in the future; money well spent. However, I will focus on the one domain as my brand and kill all the other .info, .mobi (yeah, a lot of us got screwed on these waiting for the mobile market) and maybe some .nets as well. I don’t need them, unless it is to deeply secure my marketplace by not allowing a competitor to have them. More-so see Myth #7.

I recommend going and hunting for a 3,4 or 5 letter domain. There are many available and with a small investment of a few to $10K, plus you will have a good name, good brand, usability for your consumer and advertising. Remember, they are not making any more 3,4 or 5 letter domain names. If you can get some at a reasonable cost then I advise to buy them and place them in your asset line.

Myth #5 – Buy a ton of category domain names – dominate!

There is way too much underestimating the lack of financing to develop, brand, market and grow a good category domain that comes across my desk. You can understand how to do it and believe that you can do it, but you are probably more than half underestimating the amount of work, time and $ it will take to make it happen. So if “TarjetaDeCrédito.com” becomes available and you want to buy it (means Credit Card in Spanish) think about how you will finance and set a time to plan, build, test, market, and monetize it. The whole process is an undertaking.

Myth #6 – You got an awesome domain, find a development company and do a revenue share!

We are courted on a regular basis with this question “Let’s become partners – I own the domain and you develop (vice versa) and we’ll split the revenue 50/50. No wait, I meant 60 me, 40 you.”

First of all, there is not enough time in the day. Second of all, the domain accounts for my staff in the office must be over 3,000 domains alone. We don’t have the time to develop every single domain. If we deeply had the interest we would be developing every single one of our own projects.

There isn’t enough time and there are too many good ideas and domains out there. It is too difficult to draft these rev-share agreements and the expectations out, both sides are rarely level. Start with a smaller project and build the relationship from there. Otherwise you are wasting your time and money, not to mention holding back your potential success.

Myth #7 – Buy more domains and Inter-Link Domains to grow ranking!

OK, it is not as easy as it seems and you will probably end up calling us because you got Google pissed and they deep-six’ed you. Unless you are a billion dollar company and can devote divisions of staff and $ to properly develop this out you are doing nothing more than inter-linking sites. This will do little good and could cause you to be labeled as a network, which will do you harm. This is Old SEO, stop it.

Myth #8 – Spend $$$ on the domain, Craigslist for the developer!

You spend how much money on a domain name and will not spend how much on development, branding and marketing? Not to mention the roll-out phase and ongoing enhancements.

You get what you pay for. Nuff said.

Myth #9 – No problem, I just buy my competitors name/product/model domain name and redirect!

Online infringement is real and there are many cases for even dumb attorneys to reference and follow. Trademark and Copyright infringement suits are real killers and usually (as the story goes) the one with the most money to litigate wins.

I was recently told a story by a client (Let’s call him Al) that made a lot of sense, even though how wrong it really is. Al developed a product and secured a domain name. Once launched Al found great success and started to turn a profit. Then a competitor (Let’s call Them ACME) came knocking – actually their legal team. Stating that their product name and domain was infringing on their brand mark. Al’s legal team said no, you have this secured and locked down, its a winning case. So Al called a meeting with ACME and his lawyers. Once ACME was presented with their findings and proof they agreed that yes, they could win the case proving there was no infringement.

It was at that time that the lead ACME attorney stood up, closed his briefcase and stated “Yes, you could win. But can you afford to prove that you’re the winner?”

Always do your research and use a legal team that is experienced in online IP. If you need references please contact me.

In closing….

I think you get the points made here, and before I say a lil’ too much let me finish with this simple summary:

  • Do your homework. Research. Read. Hire a consultant. (like TM)
  • Start in a small competitive corner of the marketplace and prove that you can make money
  • Build a business model
  • Allocate proper funding
  • Invest in a good domain after research
  • Invest in a good development & marketing firm after research
  • Spend more money on engineering and good development than hype and potential
  • In the end remember, there are another 99 like you trying to be the 1 that makes the successful, profitable product
  • Cut your losses on a project that is heading south

Remember, You get what you pay for.

One Response to Buying Domains & Building a Website: Truths and Myths

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