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How To Put a Great Domain to Work - Inexpensively

This week I had a number of calls with car dealers asking about Wordpress microsites. They heard that microsites could be an effective marketing option for their business to create "first party" sales leads. The conversation always comes down to one question: "What domain should I buy?"
Since there is a great deal of confusion about buying domain names, I thought I would share by thoughts. Domian names are very important. A domain name can make or break your marketing budget. The domain name of this site: www.automotivedigitalmarketing.com was chosen to capture searches on anything related to automotive marketing. Since the domain has those words and contains tons of content on the subject, the domain and this NINg site are an effective marketing tool.

A few assumptions have to be made before we discuss domain names for car dealers.

Assumption #1 - You are not building a multi-million dollar project that will be a national brand that has a HUGE marketing budget. An example would be Uggs and the domain www.uggs.com. No one was typing that word into Google before the brand launched. This is both good and bad. The good part is that the name had little competition once the word got out. The bad part is that it costs money to get the word out.

Short Term Marketing Projects

Assumption #2 - You don’t need an immediate blast of visitor traffic or the website is for a short term sale. If you need an immediate blast of sales or traffic that means you will most likely need to use paid advertising campaigns. Think Google Adwords or Yahoo Search Marketing.

In this case, you might not be concerned that your domain name is search friendly. Examples of this could be a short term promotion or sale that you don’t need organic rankings to develop over time. In this case you could pick a domain name like www.cars100.com if you were selling 100 cars over a weekend and were using radio, print and web to drive people to the event.

So, with those two cases put aside let’s make sure we consider all our options before we purchase a domain name. I will attempt to condense years of testing into a few points of guidance. Time to put on your search engine optimization learning caps.

Exact Matching Domain Names

If you can purchase a domain name that is an exact match on the services you offer you are giving yourself the greatest chance of increasing your search visibility, if the phrase is commonly used in search.

A medical malpractice lawyer in New Jersey, owning www.medicalmalpractice-nj.com is a much better choice than www.cerussilawfirm.com. Use free keyword research tools to decide if “medical malpractice attorney” or “medical malpractice lawyer” get more monthly search traffic to help guide decisions. Search traffic is not the only tool to consider but it is important.

Buying a .NET Domain is GREAT if the .COM is parked

If you have a search phrases you want to target and the .com is taken the .NET may be just as good. A “parked” domain is one that has no website. If a .com domain is parked or forwarding to another website, that is actually GREAT for you. Forwarded domains will never be in a search result. So, if you wanted www.bostonnissan.com and it was parked or forwarded and you could buy www.bostonnissan.net , purchase it immediately and setup a microsite.

A good example of this is www.bmwusedcars.net which is #1 in the USA for the same phrase and the .COM is parked.

Domains with Dashes Are OK

If have a website called www.dealer-seo.com and it is #1 in the USA for searches on “automotive SEO” and “car dealer SEO” and the domain has a dash. Following our previous example, if www.bostonnissan.com and www.bostonnissan.net were taken, see if you could buy www.boston-nissan.com. If you can, purchase it and start your microsite strategy.

Does Length Matter?

It seems that size is not as important as the words in the domain name. If you are in the business of precision metal casting and you purchased www.precisionmetalcasting.com you would not be penalized that you domain is long. The focus should be on the search phrases you want to attack and since you can put up microsites very inexpensively using Wordpress, you could in fact have multiple microsites placed on long tail keywords.

Content Content Content

Keep in mind that any site you create should have good content and should have over 10 pages of content as a starting base. There are no sustainable shortcuts to top Google rankings without good content.

Using WordPress as a Microsite Development Platform

The nice things about WordPress microsites is that they are easy to maintain, self-publishing and they have SEO marketing plug-ins that be installed. WordPress combined with an effective domain marketing strategy can yield amazing results. Here are some examples of taking this domain strategy in conjunction with WordPress to market:

The term “salon lights” and “salon lighting” is searched in Google approximately 2,000 times a month and a WordPress microsite placed on www.salonlights.com is on Google Page one for both terms.

The term “house painting nj” is searched about 400 times a month and related search phrases “house painting Somerset County”, “house painting Hunterdon County” represent smaller but targeted potential clients. A WordPress microsite on www.housepaintingnj.com is on Google Page one for these search phrases.

The term “mass bmw” or “bmw mass” is searched over 5,000 times a month and a WordPress microsite placed on www.massbmw.com is on Google Page One.

I hope this motivates that most passionate Internet Sales Managers to take action and carve out some marketing dollars to get your first microsite up next month.

Views: 14

Tags: domains, wordpress

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Comment by Brian Pasch on May 30, 2009 at 4:30pm
The microsite is net yet completed and the Linking and SEO tweaks are done last when the content development is done. I'll ping you when it is done so you can let me know if you have any additional thoughts. As you stated, the links from these microsites to your other dealer owned assets is key. In many cases, we link each car model page to the dealer.com inventory page and thus in Analytics we see the microsites as one of the top referrers. The form on the right is a form handler we built to provide leads in ASCI and ADF so that they can go to the dealer's CRM package as an ADF and anyone can be copied in normal ASCII text. We were thinking of offering this as a service to dealers using WordPress, NING or other social portals since the integration is very simple.
Comment by Ralph Paglia on May 30, 2009 at 2:36pm
By the way, my first comment contains typos because I am a klutz and I was using my iPhone from inside a commercial jetliner... For example, I meant to say "...article on a TOPIC near and dear to me...". And, my domain referenced was meant to be: www.MicrositeKing.com. Anyways, the Wordpress site you are working on for Joel is very impressive. I am curious, how did you build the form on the right side of the home page?
Comment by Ralph Paglia on May 30, 2009 at 2:33pm
Why are there no links to other Joel Sporn related websites, such as his Dealer.com sites and the www.MyJeepCommunity.com site? One of the most tangible benefits I have seen and received from a network of microsites is the links to other properties sponsored by the same owners, and then seeing all the traffic generated show up on various Omniture or Google Analytics reports. By having all the owner's various properties providing easy access to each other for consumers, the synergy benefits of a network of primary and specialized microsites is better realized...
Comment by Brian Pasch on May 29, 2009 at 3:44pm
Thank you for adding your comments on the URL length. I have always though shorter is better for many reasons but lately some testing has shown that the rules may be changing AGAIN.

Targeted microsites, in my opinion, are one of the most cost effective tools for car dealers and now we have easy tools like WordPress and NING to allow car dealer staff to become web content publishers. I want to thank you for connecting me with Joel in New York. We are building him four WordPress sites. They are just about done, here is one to check out: www.gardencityjeepchryslerdodge.com
Comment by Ralph Paglia on May 29, 2009 at 3:33pm
Brian, thank you for a great article on a next near and dear to me. For the past ten years I have been using keyword optimized domains attached to specific topic microsites loaded with high value indexable content to generate organic leads, phone calls and showroom traffic. Let me add some color commentary to your article, please... First, the length of the domain name without the www. but with the .com, .net, .org, .us or any other extension is most effective if no more than 25 character spaces in total. This allows themarketing benefits from use of that domain in a Search Advertising campaign to be accessible within the Google Adwords sponsored link constraints. Secondly, if you can get the desired domain name in both the hyphenated and no-dash versions, then you have the best possible domain acquisition, if it meets the requirements you outlined, and are BOTH less than 25 characters in length with the extension. For several years, and milions of dollars worth of search advertising I have observed a consistent pattern of greater performance and ROI when using the hyphenated version of a keyword enriched domain. I have spent thousands of dollars buying over 2,000 domains to save tens of thousands of dollars by raising campaign quality scores. Lastly check micrositeking.com!

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