A study by Searchmetrics recently analyzed over 100,000 domain names and revealed that only 11% of the web is actually visible. One quarter of links go back to .com domains, which are widely the most visible top-level domains (TDLs) in a keyword search and the most coveted from a search engine optimization (SEO) perspective.
It’s imperative that businesses have websites compatible with Google’s search engine, given the company’s 1.17 billion users. According to a recent article in Forbes Magazine, “Google rewards companies that build brands, and brands are usually built on .coms…Using a .com is the most authoritative way of guaranteeing your site will be found, along with providing other useful content around your brand.”
So-called “cybersquatters” have even taking to purchasing these valuable URLs with the sole intention of later selling them to someone else at a significant profit. Websites such as Godaddy.com facilitate such transactions.
Generic domain names can be bought for as little as $5 and can be sold to companies for thousands or even millions of dollars, according to the Forbes article. One or two word domain names warrant a premium and can go for over $10,000. Insurance.com was the most expensive domain name ever sold, for $35.6 million. Premium .com domain names have intrinsic value as appreciated assets that companies should recognize should they ever be acquired.
Unfortunately for small business owners, this means that they may only be able to afford sub-optimal domains such as .co, .net, or .biz. If they can afford a .com URL, it’s often awkward and lengthy. However, for certain organizations, other domain names (such as .gov for a government agency or .edu for a school) are more appropriate.
What does this mean for marketers? If your company isn’t using a .com TLD, now is the time to transition for SEO benefits. Other ways to improve SEO include developing mobile or adaptive platforms, as more people are using mobile phones than desktops as of 2014 and 80% of search is now on mobile devises.
From a marketing management perspective, here are some questions to consider:
- If you were the CMO for a small firm or start up company, what few areas would you allocate the company’s limited budget to and why?
- What else can you do to maximize SEO and develop a user-friendly website?
- Outside of the tech space, how can you drive consumers to your website?