Choosing a Domain for a Brand
Motivated to Start a New Authority, Brand Sports Site
Ever since I started AffiliateFYI.com last January, my brain’s become more and more brand obsessed.
It’s not secret that Google and SEO is moving strongly in favor of sites with lots of original, well-researched content and social metrics. While I don’t think the future of SEO is just to “build brands”, I do think that a lot of the changes in recent updates have given me more reasons to create brands and rely less on exact match domains.
Why it’s good to diversify with Brands
Basically, while I think exact match domains will still hold a lot of value ranking for lucrative keywords, the relative value will drop based on the number of pages you add to a site.
If you’re going to invest in hundreds of very high quality pages, then you’re going to get so much more traffic in long tails that your domain keyword won’t even matter that much (unless it’s literally bringing in thousands of extra visitors per month or generic enough to build an entire site around, like PokerSoftware.com).
Look at the likes of PocketFives.com or TwoPlusTwo.com. The domain itself doesn’t make much difference to the site; all of the value and traffic comes from its authority and the internal pages and forum threads.
I feel like my sites such as MobileBetting.net and MobileGambling.net are just limited in how big they can become. Eventually, the only room left for revenue growth is to brand your site and increase traffic through email list building, social media or expanding the site into other niches, which starts to make the domain look redundant. A perfect example is the success and followers I’ve had with AffiliateFYI.com so far. I doubt it would be nearly as successful with a boring domain like AffiliateBlog.com.
I still agree you can brand short EMD domains (e.g. CheapFlights.co.uk), but there’s a limited market for these and you won’t always find what you’re looking for.
Changing Landscape of SEO in the Future
I think there’s going to be some subtle changes in SEO this year. I’ve already seen a few of these myself. It mainly involves Google pushing up sites with very strong content, and filtering more links from low quality sites.
Basically, I don’t think “buying” keyword rankings for your internal pages will be as easy anymore. I think more and more affiliates will have to settle for quality long tail traffic to their inner pages (based on the authority of their site) rather then making a ton of traffic for managing specific keyword rankings.
This would also reduce the value of EMDs for inner page rankings, which is why I think it’s definitely worth diversifying with brands in your portfolio.
Choosing a Domain for my new Sports Betting Site
I’ve spent the last 4 weeks trying to find a suitable domain for a new sports betting site I’m eager to launch in Spring 2012.
I enjoy sports (football/tennis) more then any other activity in gambling, which is why I’d like to build something big in this niche and be able to blog on it and get legitimate followers reading my articles (like I do at AffiliateFYI.com).
The problem with finding a domain for a brand is that most of the good generic brand domains are almost as expensive as premium, exact match domains. Domains such as ProBet.com, SportsReport.com, BetManager.com, SportsPro.com will all cost $x,xxx up to mid $xx,xxx. I was also really interested in 247Betting.com at one point for $2k. The most annoying thing is that all the .net extensions are available, but finding one with the .com extension is nearly impossible. (Remember the same thing happened when I was looking for brand domains in Forex).
With that said, I had to start thinking outside the box for a sports betting domain. I looked at the PocketFives.com brand and tried thinking of the equivalent for that in sports – to no avail. I then started thinking about having odds in the domain, and then finally decided on buying OddsWinner.com (I also registered OddsCoverage.com). It’s brandable, unique, and allows me to develop an odds script on it down the line if I want to provide some more value.
My line of thinking is that if you’re going to build a big site, you don’t really need the main keywords in the domain. Of course it helps, but then again with so many generic “xxxsports.com” or “betxxxx”websites on the Internet these can be ineffective in being memorable. Just look at how easy it is to forget a site like 188Bet.com with 888Bet.com and Bet365.com already in the market.
In addition, the domain price isn’t that important if you do have big plans for the site, and there aren’t that many keyword exact-match domains in sports betting asides from the obvious ones.
What Makes a Good Domain for an Online Brand?
When you have successful brands like TwoPlusTwo.com, PocketFives.com and WilliamHill.com in gaming, it’s easy to argue the actual domain isn’t all that important.
To some extent I would agree, however here’s a few things I’ve concluded about buying a domain for an affiliate brand:
- Overall, it’s bad to have numbers in the domain. There’s something about 247Betting.com, which doesn’t look right.
- Avoid dashes in the domain and stick to a .com extension.
- Avoid Building domains which are too similar too an existing brand (e.g. developing InsideSports.co.uk when InsideSports.com is already big).
- Try to make it two generic but somehow related keywords. For example, PocketFives.com makes sense but PocketChips.com doesn’t.
- Make sure the domain actually looks good when you type it and rolls off the tongue. For example, I think AffiliateFYI.com rolls of the tongue extremely well, and OddsWiner.com is easy to say too.
- The shorter, the better. Long domains make poor brands full stop.
- Finally, get lots of people’s opinions. You’re never going to get everyone to love your domain (I’ve got one person on my Skype who disliked AffiliateFYI.com while another guy couldn’t believe I bought it at reg fee). Just try to make sure at least 75% of people you ask give it thumbs up. It’s great seeing first time responses from people and their immediate reactions.
Finally, when buying domains through Sedo.com by clicking the “Make an Offer” button, I tend to just offer $100 for each domain knowing full well that all of them will get back to me with a serious counter-offer or their BIN. If you start making serious offers of $500-$1,000 for lots of different domains simultaneously then they could all get accepted and you’re stuck buying too many domains at once.
In addition, making the first offer is a sucker’s move. I like to wait for the seller to make me an offer and then I’ll aim for 50% of that. If you make the first offer, he’s just going to inflate that by 20-50% knowing that you’ll probably be willing to pay more. Mike wrote a great post for tips on buying premium domains here.