Launching, sustaining, and growing your small business
I recently was invited to an Entrepreneur Summit sessions held in Round Rock, Texas by a close friend and business partner.
I always find it an intriguing challenge to hear from business owners looking for ways to launch, sustain and grow their businesses.
Having had a chance to address a small group of entrepreneurs about how to grow their businesses as it relates to SEO and domain names, at the table was a photographer, baker, imports/exports operator, and an online retailer.
I didn’t learn much about the online retailer as he wasn’t too forthcoming with his business or business model.
However, I thoroughly enjoyed answering internet marketing and business strategy questions about the photographer, baker and imports/exports operator.
We talked about and discussed many aspects of launching, sustaining and growing their businesses. I’ll attempt to highlight some of the questions asked and addressed in our short time together.
How do I get my business to the front page of search engines?
This is by far a very complicated and complex question to answer. There are many moving pieces when it comes to search engine optimization and trying to optimize and rank one’s website to be ranking on page one across major search engines.
Not to mention that certain SEO strategies will work flawlessly for certain types of businesses when soundly executed, while not moving the needle for others.
However, my recommendation was to ensure that they focused their efforts for growing their businesses locally. Too many times, i find businesses that are inadvertently boiling the ocean when it comes to growing their business.
Put the focus to grow your business in your own backyard first by obtaining a city+keyword domain name, creating a search-friendly site architecture, and consistently developing high-quality content shared by brand ambassadors, customers, family and friends.
Ranking your website on the first page across major search engines is much less of a challenge at a local level than at a national or global level. There is much less competition in terms of the number of ranked pages, and you’re more likely to find an untapped niche to grow your business and customer base.
Plus, you can easily test assumptions and hypothesis much more easy than you could otherwise. And this is just the tip of the iceberg for inside tips to ranking your website on the first page across major search engines.
Should I use a brandable domain or a keyword-rich domain for my business?
Let me start by saying that anyone can build a profitable business with or without a brandable or keyword-rich domain.
The difference between the two different types of domains is how much money you’ll have to invest in marketing and advertising to grow your business and customer base.
Brandable domains tend to be very catchy and creative in nature. They can contain some sort of misspelling, removal of vowels, and tend to be very short in length. Most brandable domains are non dictionary words that are not very descriptive of the business in general or the service or product offering by the business.
Brandables take a lot of time and marketing dollars to tell the story and build general awareness of what it is the business offers, unlike keyword-rich domain.
Examples of brandable domains: Fiverr.com, Google.com, Yahoo.com, Facebook.com, Tumblr.com and the list goes on.
Keyword-rich domains, also known as exact match domains, tend to contain keywords specific to a line of business, or keywords as used and searched by customers. Therefore, because keyword-rich domains are made up of customer keywords, these domains are more likely to rank higher across major search engines than brandable domains.
In comparison to brandable domains, keyword-rich domains, although Google created an algorithm to keep people and businesses from manipulating search rankings using such domains, reduce the amount of marketing and advertising spend it takes to create general awareness about your business.
When potential customers are search using keywords that are contained in your domain, they are more likely to remember your domain. This leads to potential customers becoming lifetime customers and creating referral and word-of-mouth opportunities, increasing your business and customer base substantially.
Examples of keyword-rich domains: Pillows.com, Barstools.com, ElectricChippers.net, Diapers.com, and Toys.com to name a few.
Again, it’s not to say that keyword-rich domains are the answer for every business, but they do have their place. It’s not a choose one or the other, but it’s more of a take inventory of your line of business and industry for which type, if not both types, of domain will work the best for your business.
There are businesses that use both brandable and keyword-rich domains to generate customer and revenue growth. Some use a brandable as their primary website and use keyword-rich domains as secondary or satellite websites.
For instance, KickstartCommerce.com is my brandable website where I focus on building a brand around a name while PracticalSEOGuide.com is my keyword-rich domain that i use to find customers in search of a practical SEO guide.
There have also been companies that started out using keyword-rich domains that arrived at using a brandable domain. One such company is Wayfair.com. They started out as CSN Stores and operated 200 separate niche websites that sold one product and its accessories. Over the years, they consolidated websites into broader categories and now operate a billionaire multi-national ecommerce business.
Should my business consider the new domain extensions?
There are nearly 1400 different domain name extensions being introduced into a so called saturated .com domain industry. Instead of future domains having .com at the end, now individuals and businesses have a variety of keywords to the right of the dot.
Some of the newest domain name extensions hitting the market in a variety of industries are .plumbing, .condos, .glass, .marketing, .coffee, .tips, .email, .expert, .ninja and .services to name a few. Now truth be told, many individuals and businesses have not a clue that the new domain extensions are in existence or why they are even being introduced.
Personally, I think new domain extensions will change the landscape of SEO and search rankings. We’ll start seeing a multitude of new domain extensions appear in search rankings across all search engines. No longer will .com domains “domainate” search rankings when this happens. For this to happen, means that search engines have to change to include new domain extensions.
And not only do search engines have to change, but even our web browsers and devices with the friendly .com buttons will have to change to include .whatever domain name extensions. This monumental coming of the future is not a light switch change by any means, but it also does not mean for us to blindly ignore our possible future for how the Internet will change in regards to domain names.
Personally, my advice is to investigate the new domain extensions and make a sound investment based on your findings. In addition, ask your family, friends, employees, customers what they think of new domain extensions. This will help guide you and your decision of whether the “general public” is not only aware of new domain extensions, but they understand new domain extensions.
In addition, try to figure out if your competitors are using new domain extensions. Remember, websites don’t have to be developed on new domain extensions to be considered a value-add. Sometimes competitors will register domain names to keep them out of your possession, which is called a defensive domain name registration.
Therefore, where and when you can grab the virtual land of domain names first, you’ll win by not allowing your competition to stake claim to value-add virtual land and separate yourself from the pack should you use the domain.
Think back to when the Internet first came into being. Most people didn’t understand it, or what a domain name was and how valuable they would become in doing business. But over the last 10 to 15 years, many individuals and businesses wish they would have invested in .com domain names when they were free. Yes, .com domain names were once free.
As a matter of fact, my personal domain, AlvinBrown.com, was free when I first registered it and then it went to $100, from $100 to $35, and now it’s roughly $8 a year to renew.
However, with the new domain name extensions, I’m not sure it’ll take as many years for them to become mainstream as did the .com domain names. Best guess says that it will take a mere 5-10 years for the new domain extensions to become mainstream and the new normal.
And remember that not all domain extensions will become mainstream, but those domain extensions that make sense with the general public will rise to the top while others fall away.