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Make your domain name work for you

WE read your article on the importance of securing Internet domain names in WA Business News (January 30 2003) and concur that picking a good domain name is important – and once you have built a presence, keeping that domain name is vital. But we disagree with the assertion that a business needs to have as many domain names as you can.

We note that www.yourbusinessnoun.com is a really great thing to have, because it will pick up opportunist people surfing for your service or product. The example in the article www.jackandsons.com is fine, www.jackandsonsbricklaying.com is also fine, but neither of them is anywhere near as likely to generate as much traffic as www.bricklaying.com

Once a web site is built and functioning, driving traffic to it is vital to developing it as an income generator. To lose a domain name, and therefore have to change an address, is a loss of possibly immeasurable proportions. The article covers that and is quite correct in that point.

To make the Internet a profitable place to do business for small and micro businesses every expenditure has to pay its own way. An appropriate domain name and a range of other promotions to ensure that people visit your site are all good, and then the only thing you have to figure out is whether the people who visit are using the site in the way you intended. Are they buying?  Are they changing their opinion on your industry? In short is your web site worth having?

It is commonly claimed that visitors to a web site who came through a search engine are much more likely to convert to sales, as their process for finding your site was more deliberate than surfing. Our own experience bears this out. Deliberate seekers are more likely to buy than browsers.

Comments made within the article suggests that “you can’t have too many domain names”, which we believe is only true if you have resources to keep maintaining multiple separate sites. But we suggest that one site that consistently does the business is going to be more than enough for many traders. In our opinion, if you have 20 domain names, by definition you have to have 20 web sites or, as we explain below, they are useless. If you have 20 web sites you’ll be constantly writing content and ensuring that the web site is doing its job, analysing its traffic, ensuring that the product offerings are up to date etc.

The question clearly arises as to whether one web site can be as effective as 20. We believe there are times when multiple sites are a good tactic but suggest that for most small businesses the focus on one site that really works for the customers and is well resourced (with good content), well written (with appropriate programming for ecommerce and databases) and well promoted, will pay dividends.

Our real concern is that the article does not mention that search engines specifically penalise people who duplicate web site content.

For some of our clients this mistake has led to very serious disadvantage, and our first act has been to de-list one domain and the site on it.

Google is now the biggest search engine in the world. To illustrate our concerns we submit the following, a reference on the Google site to multiple domains, which is taken from its page www.google.com.au/webmasters/guidelines.html, where they say (among other things) “Don’t create multiple pages, subdomains, or domains with substantially duplicate content”. They later refer to that kind of thing as “deceptive or manipulative behavior”.

In the case where a company was merely squatting, that is they did not host or use the other domain, there is no penalty by the search engines. Is it worth it?  Some people think so and others think that it’s a negative tactic and the money spent on a couple of dozen domain names would be better spent on positive action to draw customers to the site.

This brings us to the point where we now work with businesses that do not have significant resources available to write and maintain multiple sites. We have worked with those clients and we believe that you can have too many domain names. For many businesses this is when you have as few as two. By ensuring that the client is gaining the greatest value from one well presented, well publicised site, we see significant improvements to their business practice, allowing them either more cash or a better lifestyle, or both.

Graeme Olsen, Akita Olsen,

Dave Roberts.

South West e Commerce Strategies

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