Why a Generic Domain Name is Important | DomainInvesting.com
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Why a Generic Domain Name is Important

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Most companies and their brand managers prefer their brand name over a generic domain name, after all, they are called BRAND MANAGERS!  The brand helps them stand out from their competitors, and they know (well, hope) their customers will remember the brand name when walking the aisles at Walmart or searching the shelves at Best Buy, or some other retail shop.

Many of the world’s large brands can afford to spend billions or millions on marketing to ensure everyone remembers their company name. They buy television commercials, sponsor the biggest sporting and other televised events, pay for stadium and building naming rights, send billions of direct mail pieces, rent billboards along the highway, have extensive Internet marketing campaigns, and do a whole host of other things to make sure customers and potential customers know who they are – maybe even more than what they actually do.

When a company chooses a unique brand name over a generic domain name, they are missing a big piece of the puzzle – Google/Bing/Yahoo/Ask searches. Sure, a company can pay for search engine marketing campaigns, but organic search results are much less expensive, and they don’t require the same amount of money for constant upkeep, although a great website is costly. SEM costs a lot of money, and if you stop, the traffic will stop coming as well.

Keyword domain names generally perform better than non-keyword domain names when it comes to search engine results for the searched keyword, especially with Bing. When people search for a specific product, and they either don’t know the brand they want or simply want a comparison of brands, they would probably type the product name in Google or search engine of choice.

In fact, have a look at some Google search comparisons of brands names vs the generic name (Global Monthly Search Volume, exact match). You’ll see that although the brands sometimes to get more search volume, there is still a significant number of people that don’t look for brands – they look for products.

Candy: 1,220,000
Hershey: 90,500

Cell Phones: 1,500,000
Verizon Wireless: 3,350,000

Mountain Bikes: 301,000
Trek: 368,000

Vodka: 368,000
Grey Goose: 74,000

This isn’t scientific at all, but it shows that many people either aren’t satisfied with a particular brand or they would like to see some sort of comparison, to get an idea of their options (ie Bing is “the decision engine”). If a generic domain name is well-developed, it will rank right up there organically, allowing the company to capture a significant amount of that search traffic (at no incremental cost). They can compete with the big brands at much less ongoing cost, aside from website upkeep.

With Lowell.com, about 20% of my traffic is type-in traffic. I am sure this percentage is much higher on an established brand like Verizon or Apple. However, there will always be a significant percentage of people who find the website via Google, and many of them are searching for generic search terms, as witnessed above. If a company owns top rankings for a well-searched generic term, they might not need to spend millions on brand marketing, since the consumer might find what they want simply by seeing the meta tags and trusting the generic brand.

If a company owns the generic term, they can build a site on that domain name ala Toys.com, and either brand the generic domain name or make sure there is easy access to get to the main brand. Doing this can help both websites rank for the generic term, rather than just taking one out of commission by forwarding the type in traffic, since a forward rather than a stand alone website will probably remove it from Google and other search engines.

In my opinion, when it comes to Internet marketing, a generic domain name can handily beat a known brand at a fraction of the cost.


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 (8)

    Matthieu Dejardins

    Very important and nice subject. You are absolutely right about the importance of the domain name. Even in SEM, having a generic name containing top keywords will increase your quality score :)

    August 20th, 2009 at 3:10 pm

    Lisa

    A generic keyword is everything. ToysRus caught on, but some companies are just slow I guess. I have to admit, I am VERY pleased with the new Google algorithm. I have a premium generic domain under a WordPress blog with only a few posts. Before the change, my site was nowhere to be seen on Google. After the change, my domain ranks number two on a keyword that gets over 2 million searches a month!

    August 20th, 2009 at 3:11 pm

    Lee H.

    I don’t think you could have articulated that any better. The only addition I would make is that by purchasing and developing a generic term domain they are getting something that is equitable. Their business will have another asset on the books as opposed to running a massive paid search program that serves little long-term value, aside from repeat customers that they acquire.

    August 20th, 2009 at 4:26 pm

    Todd Mintz

    It’s a huge SEO advantage to have a generic term as your exact match dot com domain.

    August 20th, 2009 at 4:30 pm

    stephen Douglas

    Yo El

    Nice article about branding! I understood the complexity of this problem when dealing with large corporations, large enough to pay big amounts for your domains that deal with their generic prodservs.

    I ran into the same type of confusion and roadblocks that the logical “assumption” of the executive’s “title” of “brand manager” or even “marketing director” threw at me.

    Most corporate brand managers and marketing directors are actually frightened of a category killing domain name. Their jobs are at stake!!

    One domain name can establish an online stream of new users doing outstanding name direction (or if you prefer the old style term “direct navigation”) on domain names that match the company’s prodservs. Why spend $10 mill on creating a marketing campaign, based on lots of intra-company departmental research and analysis, when one domain name, for $1.5 million, can forever bring in results online that the company never dreamed of.

    So, to soothe the Brand Managers and Marketing Directors, I created the term “BACKBRANDING.COM” (shameless plug, as pointed out by Dub-A). So this gives these executives a handle they can grasp when the logic of getting a generic domain name hits them, and they need to “describe it” to the BOD.

    “Hi, I discovered that backbranding our company’s products and services would be a great investment, spearheaded by a significant purchase of a “category killing” domain name, such as XXXXXXX.com . This domain, which is “back branding” our brand, will allow us to secure “back” the generic searches and categorization of our prodservs, and the domain name investment doesn’t lose value, but gains value over the years as we build it up.”

    Hmmm… I’d like to be a fly on the wall in a BOD meeting like this, wouldn’t you?

    August 21st, 2009 at 8:05 am

    Stephen Douglas

    @ Lee H. That picture rocks.
    @ Todd Mintz – You’re my SEO rockstar

    August 21st, 2009 at 8:07 am

    C. Hall

    What about the newly opened up ccTLD’s? Will these domains be just as valuable as dotcom names?

    August 24th, 2009 at 4:05 pm

    Ivo

    Hi Elliot!

    After working in a seo company for a while I came to the same conclusion as you. But.. now I want to start a webshop in fashion, to be precise: (high end) scarves

    I own sjaals.net (Dutch for scarves)… Now I wonder how to present this name in combination with a fashionable, exclusive look and feel of the site, and avoiding a somewhat “corny’ impression because of using a generic domainname. And perhaps even benefit from some of the branding principles.

    Fashion and generic domain names… How can I make it work? I’ve considered a subname as in: Sjaals.net by Valentine (example).. Or I consider asking 10 women to write the domain in their most beautiful handwriting and select the most fashionable one as a basis for a logo…

    This where I am now… What do you think? Does anybody know some best practice examples in this matter?

    The one with the best suggestion get’s a handwoven Pashmina scarve for free! :-)

    Cheers!

    Ivo

    June 10th, 2010 at 10:25 am

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