Why a Generic Domain Name is Important
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.
Cell Phones: 1,500,000
Verizon Wireless: 3,350,000
Mountain Bikes: 301,000
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.