A couple of years ago when my partner and I got into the expired domains business we initially bought a domain which we started to build our business around. The domain in question was called www.digyourdomain.com , it was cute we had some fun with the logo and branding playing off the “dig” part of the name, with a little JCB digger in the title.
The domain had positives and negatives about it, the biggest positive was that it was a .com TLD and however cheesy the marketing was we could build a brand around it. The main negative was that a three word domain is always going to be a mouthful, not to mention easy to mistype and maybe even forgettable… Another major drawback to this domain was it really had no history and the SERPS were poor, if my memory serves me correctly we were down on page 12 on all major search engine results, for our targeted keyword expired domains. All of this was despite rich content being added on a daily basis.
Languishing down on page 12 we had some decisions to make, my partner was keen to find an exact match domain to our targeted keyword and find a domain which had some existing traffic, whilst I on the other hand liked our cheesy domain name and wanted to stick with it for longer. It is worth mentioning that at the time maintaining a database with expired domains was really just a hobby for both of us and we really were not actively working on any SE0 techniques. In the end as this really was my partner’s baby at the time, he won the battle of wills and we bought a new domain name – www.expired-domains.co.
Within days the digger was gone, the digyourdomain traffic was redirected to our shiny new website. My partner insisted the .co was the new .com (until he changed his mind later on!) I on the other hand was ambivalent to this aspect of the domain. I see many non .com domains doing well these days, including ironically my own, but my belief is this is because of sheer hard work and nothing to do with the extension. In the beginning the biggest problem I had with the domain was the hyphen, you go to retype it, you forget the damn hyphen, bam you give up and go to a competitor. The hyphen is a problem always has been, always will be simple as.
The good thing about the domain was it was an EMD or for those who don’t know what that means an exact match domain. Everything I was told, read and researched informed me that Google once loved these and after the first release of Panda had downgraded their affection to liked a lot, remember we are talking 2012/2013 here. So what happened – well we got better at what we did, the data was richer, the functionality was vastly improved so yes we slowly started to move up the SERP, until we hit what appeared to be our ceiling PAGE 5!
Page 5 turned into a place of nightmares for us, so near but so far, even more frustrating was the horrible outdated content that was ranking above us. Google, Google you boast about your awesome algorithms filtering out bad non relevant content, so why do blog entries from 5 years ago that were barely relevant to our targeted keyword back then let alone now rank so much higher than our website, where the content was literally being refreshed daily! Did I mention I was frustrated!!
Being annoyed at Google gets you nowhere though, you just have to suck it up and learn how to play the game better, which is exactly what I did. Yes our content was being refreshed daily but it was data, data about domains and upon reflection I realized we werent really hitting any of our target keywords with our content, so I started blogging and I blogged hard. Pretty quickly we started to see results, in less than 3 months we jumped 2 pages in the SERP and within 6 months we were a permanent fixture on page 2. Once people started seeing we were out there the traffic to our site increased and we had a steady and healthy stream of repeat customers – now that is what I call success.
Fast forward another six months and we are doing pretty darn well, we consistently appear in the middle of page 1 and we have a wonderful set of loyal customers that we see day after day. So what is my biggest problem with my domain now www.expired-domains.co well when we were down on page 5, amongst crappy non relevant blogs being an EMD was not a bad thing at all, our website jumped out at you, it was ovbious that we were highly applicable to the keyword and I am sure those few adventurous domainers out there willing to go to page 5 to find new domains landed on our site because of the name.
This becomes a whole different story when you are lucky enough to get to page 1, being an EMD rather than having a brand definitely has its downsides…. I never thought I would say this but having a domain the same as your keyword can put your customers off. With many competitors having similar names it is perceived your service/ data is not original and is even stale and I firmly believe we get skipped over by potential visitors for this reason.
Another aspect I did not consider was as your business grows your services expand, through blogging and working on Search Optimization for my website, I have become well versed in SEO techniques and online and social media marketing, to such an extent I feel that I am in a position to add this as a service to clients to assist in online marketing strategies for their own respective businesses. The ideal and smart thing to do if we had a brand would be to umbrella this under our existing service – “Find a domain through us and we will help to make that domain work for you” or something like that…. Without a brand though adding additional services and marketing as standalone enterprise is near impossible.
Ok so we don’t have a true brand but what we do have now is a successful website, that is different in many many ways to our competitors. Our service is entirely free, no subscription necessary and our interface is completely unique and 100% mobile friendly. We are constantly working on updates to the site and have a vision for our business that will keep us on page 1 for a long time to come. Our aim is to be number 1, I think we will get there and maybe just maybe i will stop whining to my partner about branding then! Come see us we have millions of domains expired-domains.co