The majorsearch engines now give less “weight” to keywords on your index page’s keyword meta tags. This is good news for those who have quality content, first-rate incoming and outgoing links and for those with thoughtful, effective URLs and excellent metatags in general. Here is how choosing the right domain names can make a big difference in your Web visitor count.
For those relying on heavily on the keyword metatag, those still stuffing location names
into links on the index page, and those still cooperating with “link farms”… the day of
reckoning (and loss of ranking) is probably already upon you.
However, keywords in your domain name and in your title meta tag still carry a great deal of “umph” with the search engine crowd. So…
If you are rethinking your focus…
If you are concentrating on your best services in a busy real estate office…
If you are targeting your ideal client type…
If you are planning to accomplish your 2006 goals with your website…
…you should carefully consider the URL you plan to use.
Selecting a New Business URL (and what it will accomplish)
It should be memorable (Create Sticky Marketing)
It should target the group you want to attract (Secure Your Ideal Client)
It should describe the services or the locations you offer (Carve Your Niche)
It should contain your main keyword or keywords (Demonstrate Online Savvy)
Evaluating a Current URL
Is it a “no-brainer”? (It should make sense for what you do)
Is it fairly short and/or extremely easy to remember? (Good!)
Is it easy to spell? (Avoid terms with multiple spellings — like for/four/4)
Does it use dashes or anything you have to explain? (It shouldn’t)
When Is a URL More Than a URL?
If you are opening your own business (or you are an independent agent or
broker) be sure to legally register your business name as a .com. This means when you get
quoted, when you are listed in directories, etc… your URL will be automatically available.
NOTE: My business name is WickedWordCraft.com because even when I get interviewed in places that can’t offer a link back, readers still have the ability to easily find my website. It also means that my marketing materials always have my URL, even if there is only room for my logo. When I sponsor a program or do something locally or nationally, my URL is my logo and my contact info is readily available to anyone with an Internet connection.
Should I Use My Own Name As My Primary URL?
Probably not. The search engines won’t associate your own name with your specialized services — unless your adoring public is so familiar with you that they will search for you by name alone. Even if this is true, it would only help you on a local level, would not help you with general searches or relocation prospects. These will most likely search on terms less specific than your name.
NOTE: You may already own your own name as a domain. If so, that’s great! If you don’t… it may not be available. If it is… lucky you! GET IT! (If it’s not available, you should consider placing a backorder on it so you have a shot at securing it should it ever become available.)
If I Won’t Use My Name-Based URL, Why Get It?
You don’t want someone else to use your name, do you? I have one client that shares a name with a rather infamous XXX entertainment king. Since my client is known by name in his town, he really doesn’t want HIS name to redirect to the other guy’s “racy” sites. He would prefer to use the name-based URL he secured to direct potential clients to his
niche website for real estate. Do you blame him?
Secure your name-based domain and place a permanent forward to direct it to your niche site. If someone knows your name and takes a shot at finding you, they will. If potential clients need to find information about the niche you offer the search engines will deliver up your niche domain.
NOTE: Do not submit (or allow others to submit) website domains forwarded to your
primary account. You may use other domain names (although using only one is best for branding) or even your own name as a domain on your printed materials, but submit one and only one domain – the one that is going to benefit you the most online. Submitting more than one can get you banned.
Changing Your URL
What if you already have a domain name and you want to change it – but your domain name has been submitted to the search engines?
Contact your hosting company (or your registrar) and put a PERMANENT forward or
PERMANENT redirect on it. You want to avoid any appearance that you are double submitting or using “doorway URLs or pages.” The search engines frown on the submission of two URLs for the same site.
NOTE: You may need a 301 redirect for a well-established domain name with quite a few quality, incoming links – this requires you to keep a hosting account open to do the redirect without search engine penalty. If, however, you are changing over a fairly new site or one that’s not performed well, you can save the cost and simply do a domain forward. Check with your website host or Internet marketing expert to evaluate
the best option for your particular situation.
Should I Make My URL a Private Registration?
No. Why would you pay extra to market yourself less? The reason you are on the web is
to advertise who you are, what you do, and encourage people to contact you. The only reason you should sign up for a private domain name is to keep actions clandestine when you are planning a delicate or “big bash” project, but aren’t yet ready to announce it. The second you announce, you should remove the private domain registration and provide contact information for everyone to see.
NOTE: You may want to use an easy-to-change or temporary email address, however. This will help keep spam under control.
Want to give a Cool Gift?
If you are a broker and you want to give a cool and appreciated gift to your agents… purchase the agent’s domain name as a gift. The annual cost comes in well below the tax
guidelines and it’s a nice, valuable and personalized gift.
www.GoDaddy.com is a great, inexpensive registrar.
NOTE: Ask the agent to point the gift domain to the main office URL, if they don’t have their own site. If you purchase and maintain name URLs for your agents, be sure to transfer all control to the agent if/when they leave your agency. (It’s the right thing to do.)
Expired Real Estate Domains
You should check for expired domains in your key areas. About 2-3 years ago there was a huge push to buy and resell hot domain names. Since that time, when the huge bucks didn’t materialize, many of the domains have been returned to the general pool. They
have expired and are now available again.
Add the fact that Real Estate has an incredible turn-over rate (over 20% per year) and the fact that these agents often let their domains expire… you can sometimes successfully “pan” for a golden real estate domain name.
I picked up some incredibly good ones last week and suggested some great ones to my existing clients. If you can use your location name AND a keyword, you get advantages
for standard searches and get improved positioning in local searches.
For instance, “LexingtonKentuckyHomeForSale.com” is a great way to capture the “home for sale” search and the “Lexington, Kentucky” locale. Adding a title meta tag that includes the abbreviation for Kentucky, the words “real estate agent,” a defined region, a specialization for luxury horses farms and estates — and the plural “homes” makes it even juicer…
“LexingtonKentuckyHomeForSale.com: Your Real Estate Agent for Central KY Luxury Homes,Horse Farms and Rural Estates”
Now, the URL is a bit long,but it’s easy to remember and would perform beautifully in a targeted search.
NOTE: In our mobile society, relocation is becoming a popular niche, and the demand for excellent, comprehensive help for the process is expanding. Imagine capturing URLs like –
www.NewYorkRelocationServices.com – one of my clients just did. Or, www.GeorgiaRelocationExpert.com – secured by another client near Atlanta. You may want to check on such names for your own area.
What’s in a name? —a whole lot of dollars if it’s the right one!