Building a Network | DomainInvesting.com
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Building a Network

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A couple of weeks ago, I received an email from Rob Grant who has been following the development of Lowell.com on my blog. Having read about Rob and his accomplishments, I was excited to speak with him. After a brief email exchange, Rob and I spoke via telephone and had a great discussion about geodomain strategy. One strategic initiative I learned about was using targeted keyword domain names to build a Lowell.com network, all of which would support the main Lowell.com site.

An example of this can be seen in Rob’s network of websites. In addition to Adirondacks.com, Rob and his team have built a huge network of supporting sites such as AdirondackHotels.com and AdirondackSkiing.com. This network of sites helps expand the reach of the main brand and can also help the search engine optimization of the main site, since each site has its own unique content. Needless to say, I purchased many Lowell-related keyword domain names, and am in the process of slowly building each. An example of a mini-site I just started can be found at LowellPharmacies.com. It’s going to take me a while to build each site, but Rome wasn’t built over night!

During my conversation with Rob, I mentioned that a well-known Lowell resident contacted me via the Lowell.com contact form asking me if I needed a sales representative on the ground in Lowell. While I declined this offer at first, after speaking with Rob, I will get back in touch with him later this week. Not only does he have many business contacts in the city of Lowell, he will also be able to give me invaluable information about the city. While I wanted to do all of the sales myself, it doesn’t necessarily make sense since I am in New York, and I don’t have a ton of local contacts yet (although I am a member of the Chamber of Commerce!)

As I learned in my 2 years as a Direct Marketing Manager at AIG, when you might not have the ability to do something as professionally as it needs to be done (or should spend the time focusing on other things), you should hire the best of breed to do it for you. In this case, it would make sense to work with someone who is known in the city and can close deals. I can worry about the development of the site (and my other business interests), and he can worry about generating revenue. Even though it will cost me a % of each sale, I would rather pay a percentage of a large number than no percentage of a smaller number. The sales rep will also be able to give me feedback about what improvements are needed on the site to make it more beneficial for the advertisers.

This post was going to be entirely about building the Lowell.com network of sites, and as I was writing it and thinking it out, the post began to change shape, and there is a double meaning to “building a network.” Having a support network is advantageous in both the literal and figurative senses. Just as the main website can benefit from well-built supporting websites, I have been building a network of friends and colleagues in all areas of development.

I have been lucky enough to receive great advice from people like Rob Grant, David and Michael Castello, Jessica Bookstaff, Brad Epstein, Richard Douglas, Dan Pulcrano, Gordon Brott, and many others who have been down the path of development, marketing, hosting, and search engine optimization, and they know how difficult it is. There are literally thousands of ways to build a successful business on a website, and I have been lucky enough to receive advice from many people who have already been down the path I am traveling.

While Lowell.com is taking a while to build, I am not in any rush to generate revenue. I am fortunate to have done well enough in the domain industry over the past few years to slowly build Lowell.com and it’s supporting network without having to worry about the small revenue it is currently generating in its infancy. When I start selling the Lowell.com product to potential advertisers, I want to make sure everything works as I vision it to work. Lowell.com and it’s supporting network of websites are going to be as strong as possible.  Along the way to developing Lowell.com, I have been building an even stronger network of friends and colleagues, all of whom are supporting me.


About The Author: Elliot Silver is an Internet entrepreneur and publisher of DomainInvesting.com. Elliot is also the founder and President of Top Notch Domains, LLC, a company that has sold seven figures worth of domain names in the last five years. Please read the DomainInvesting.com Terms of Use page for additional information about the publisher, website comment policy, disclosures, and conflicts of interest.


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Comments (10)

    Bahamas Hosting

    Elliot, building a network of sites is an excellent plan! Stick with it and you will see great rewards in traffic and search engine ranking. You should put blog.lowell.com back online as well. :-)

    – Richard

    May 5th, 2008 at 3:58 pm

    Gordon

    This is a very important decision, and I would take some time thinking about it.

    There are some things that have been done SEO-wise that I would not recommend to a new site like yours.

    From an SEO perspective, I don’t think creating Lowellpharmacies.com is going to do anything for you. The only way that site will get any respect from google is by getting incoming links from good sites – both Lowell sites and pharmacy sites. So that means you are going to have to go out and get links to Lowellpharmacies.com. If you link to it from Lowell.com, the link that lowellpharmacies.com gives back to Lowell.com will have little help since it will be seen as reciprocal. Do you really want to spend time getting links to lowellpharmacies.com when your main focus is Lowell.com? Also don’t forget that Google is a registrar and knows all the domains you own unless you are registering them under different aliases. They will quickly know all of those sites are a part of the same network run by the same person. Also – Rob built his sites years ago and a lot of older sites like that can almost do no wrong in the eyes of Google since they were built years ago and are trusted today.

    It is also a branding issue – do you want to explain to people that you own “Lowell.com, Lowellpharmacies.com, etc. etc. and then explain that they can buy advertising on Lowell.com, or also on 2 sites, prices vary etc. etc”. If you build up Lowell.com and get really good links and become an authority in google’s eyes – you will rank for every Lowell related term that you want anyway.

    I can see the logic if you really want to create a different style of site with different branding and a different angle, but fishing is different than pharmacies. I personally would not create new sites for things that would be a natural part of your main site. If they are more offshoots then I think it could be a good idea.

    May 5th, 2008 at 4:29 pm

    Josh

    I think it’s a smart move to have your sales person be someone who lives in Lowell.
    As long as they are good at what they do, they are likely to get a better response from the local businesses and community than someone who doesn’t live there.

    If they drum up enough business, you’ve just facilitated the creation of a part time or full time job for someone in Lowell. That’s a darn good thing, on many levels.

    May 5th, 2008 at 4:52 pm

    Eugene Krassnoff

    I completely agree, building a network allows you to share knowledge with other professionals. It brings together people from different backgrounds who have love for domain industry and are interested in building business relationships, while learning and sharing with each other.

    May 5th, 2008 at 5:02 pm

    Bahamas Hosting

    @Gordon

    You are right about the new site issue – google will sandbox LowellPharmacies.com for 6-12 months before giving rank or link juice on it.

    A better plan would be to set up pharmacies.lowell.com to start, build your content on it, and link to it from http://www.lowell.com from your pharmacies page. google will follow the link from lowell.com since it already ranks and then a few weeks after pharmacies.lowell.com is indexed by google, 301 redirect the pharmacies.lowell.com to lowellpharmacies.com and then google will spider the site, rank it and skip the sandbox.

    – Richard

    May 5th, 2008 at 5:42 pm

    Greg Nelson

    Gordon & Richard are very correct on the SEO here. The domain, lowellpharmacies.com may in time (and most likely a bunch of it) rank well for “lowell pharmacies” but if the content was the same as lowell.com/pharmacies or pharmacies.lowell.com you would be in no better position. In fact, lowell.com may suffer. It would help you rank better on Yahoo (lowellpharmacies.com) and in less time, but again not sure the benefit.

    Your biggest benefit would be in having your local sales guy “sell” this as valuable as people will buy into the theory. Moreover, I do like having domains that link into various CNAME (subdomains) like pharmacies.lowell.com liked via lowellpharmacies.com but I would consider that as part of the sales & marketing plan versus SEO plan.

    Elliot, we are not nearly as far along as you on Geo development so take it for what its worth, but the SEO basics that Gordon states are true today and are the current state of SEO – on Google at least. (Oh I yearn for the old years of AltaVista).

    Last note – domain registration date is a great SEO factor. I love old reg’d domains for new SEO based marketing initiatives we launch. LowellPharmacies.com would have a tough time outranking a much older reg’d lowell name using a subdomain, at least on Google.

    May 5th, 2008 at 6:23 pm

    vmedianet

    As a “very new” domainer (3 mos.) I may not have enough clout to comment on this but I enjoy reading your posts and this one enlightened me a whole bunch. As I read I clicked over to the Adirondacks sites and the Lowell sites to help me make a connection to what you were saying. I have bought several domains with the intent of creating a network much like you’re planning with Lowell.com and reading the comments from Gordon, Richard and Greg seem to me to be worthy advice. Thanks, Elliot. Keep up the good work!

    May 5th, 2008 at 8:04 pm

    Frank Rudner

    Great steps Elliot!
    And building a newtork as you have is awesome.
    And yes have a well known local in Lowell pounding the pavement is a definite asset!
    Hope to see you on Steve’s new site.

    May 5th, 2008 at 9:07 pm

    Greg Nelson

    Elliot,
    I have one other thought as you build out your supporting sites…with 3 nice GEOs, lowell, salinas and burbank, and knowing how difficult development is – content takes time, unique content atleast – it may be a better use of your skills to develop the 3 majors before venturing into minors.

    It is important to note to domainers who read that I think all developing say it is hard for simply the content reason. Frankly, we can design and code a site even with a CMS and data functions on the backend (duplicating some earlier efforts often) in a day. It is the content (and then sales) that take time. Learning how to get unique content that is valuable to the end reader is what makes development difficult.

    Over time too it is this unique content that is valuable to the end user that stands the test of SEO time.

    May 5th, 2008 at 10:44 pm

    bklyn5

    Elliot,

    I completely DISAGREE with the posts above. I think using those keyword focused micro sites is a very effective way to enhance Lowell.com. I think LowellPharmacies.com would be fairly easy to optimize for related search terms, as this would not be a very competitive space. If you have many sites like this for different categories, they could drive alot of traffic to Lowell.com. You will also get the benefit of the link from a “related” website to Lowell.com. Even though the mircosites will not have good page rank, they will still have relevance to “Lowell” (Google will look favorably upon this). I have used this strategy effectively before for myself and my clients.
    You can always make your WHOIS info private if you want, however, I do not think it is necessary. I would only suggest that you use one way linking only (to Lowell.com), and that all sites that link are on different servers.
    Just my 2 cents.

    May 6th, 2008 at 5:39 pm

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