IMPORTANT CHOICES FOR DOMAIN NAMES

Now that just about everyone realizes the importance of owning and controlling their own domain name for business purposes, the dialog within business has shifted to focus on what exactly your domain name should be.

As it applies to the real estate business, that's the wrong question!

The real questions brokers and agents should be asking themselves now are:

  1. How many domain names do I need?
  2. Which domains should I use in my marketing?

The correct answers to these questions depends upon your personal business plans and the market or niche that you work within.

That said, I can confidently advise that professionals who take their Internet marketing seriously probably need more than one domain name, and possibly even several of them.

For example, what good is having the domain: www.YourCity-RealEstate.com if you relocate to a different city or state in the future?

And, while condominiums may be hot properties in your area now, www.YourCityCondos.com may not be of much value to you if you sign a lucrative contract to exclusively represent a commercial developer next year.

Finally, the simplicity of www.YourName.com won't help the average real estate agent trying to attract relocation buyers to his or her website as your name might not carry much recognition outside of your immediate area.

However, owning all three of the above domains, and having each of them point to the same website offers great value for the web savvy.

If you relocate, www.YourName.com still retains a great deal of importance for you.

If you change your business focus from condos to commercial leasing, both www.YourName.com and www.YourCity-RealEstate.com can continue to drive useful traffic to your site.

And, if your name changes, then www.YourCity-RealEstate.com and www.YourCityCondos.com are still going to generate business for you.

Some readers may have thought ahead and concluded that if your name, marketplace and business focus all change, then none of the three examples provided continue to be relevant.

So, I'll admit that while no strategy is foolproof, owning multiple domains certainly is going to help most of the agents most of the time.

Let me also make it clear that these examples don't cover every possible scenario. Brokerages themselves also have names that are subject to change. This would likely occur when there's a change in ownership or franchise affiliation.

So, the question of how many domain names you should control has no fixed answer. For most agents, two or three are probably adequate.

Others may choose to own as many as six or seven, keeping in mind the complexity and cost increases as you register more domains and that there's a point of diminishing returns that is likely in the low single-digits for most of us.

However many domains you eventually purchase and point to the same web site, how you market them is of equal importance.

The answer is again unique to the individual, but here are a few thoughts to consider.

  1. If you're a dominant leader in your area, then www.YourName.com should probably be used in local advertising.
  2. When you're advertising in a medium that is seen by prospects who are primarily outside of your area (on national sites for instance) then www.YourCity-RealEstate.com is likely a better choice for inclusion.
  3. However, if your advertising in a venue that will attract buyers with common interests, (whether it be condos, golfing, boating, skiing, etc.) then using a domain name that's specific to that interest will likely bring many more visitors to your site than other domains you own.

The only marketing strategy I would avoid is listing all of your domain names in the same advertisement or marketing piece. While using more than one domain in any single advertisement might have benefits, be careful and thoughtful in doing so.

If a reader gets the impression that they have to visit eight web sites just to find out about the real estate that your market, they might become overwhelmed and choose to go to a competitor's site instead.

Finally, while new domain extensions have become available, realize that we still live in a "dot-com" world. When someone suggests that you should visit Ebay, Yahoo, Amazon, or Canale's web site, most will automatically type in Canale.com out of sheer habit.

Your consumers will likely do the same for some time to come, so while registering alternative domain names might be a good idea in planning for the long-term, your marketing for the next several years should focus on promoting just your domains that are true dot-coms.

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Copyrighted with all rights reserved by Stephen M. Canale