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What’s in a domain name?

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Extensions ending in .com or .ca are extremely popular, and chances are a company will do better with a .com or .ca name, both in terms of memorability and search engine rankings.

By Todd Bairstow

In many ways, finding a website address for a pool and spa company seems like one of the easiest and most obvious things a business owner could do. However, can one address be better for one particular business over another? Yes. In fact, a web address can make a difference with Google and other search engines, even if the reasons why are not always obvious.

What is a domain name?

A domain name is a website address (e.g. www.mycompanywebsite.com), which can be purchased from any of several different registrars found all over the web (e.g. Network Solutions, GoDaddy, Register.com). Domain names can be registered for as little as one or as long as 10 years; depending on the registrar, and can cost anywhere from $8 to $40 per year.

Unfortunately, many popular and obvious domain names for the pool and spa industry have already been taken. For example, poolsupplies.com has been gone for a long time. A private company is actively promoting its website and retail products through this domain name. A company offering similar services or products may have to get a little creative if it wants a unique domain name of its own.

Existing names vs. starting over

In the pool and spa industry, there are two camps when it comes to a domain name. The first comprises companies that already have a web address. These companies have likely had a site up for years and have put some time and effort into promoting their online addresses. Unwittingly, they have also developed a ‘history’ of sorts with various search engines, which also adds value to the domain name.

The second camp is made up of businesses that do not have a website yet, or are looking to start a web presence from scratch. It is important to understand the difference, because search engines certainly will.

Keeping an existing domain

A company with an existing domain name has likely built some brand equity into its web address. Its customer base likely knows how to find the business via its website, or know they can search for the company’s name and the site will instantly appear.

At the same time, Google and other search engines have been keeping track of the website and domain name for as long as it has been up and running. This history is important to search engines, as the longer the website has been active, the more credibility the site will have. Better history does not necessarily mean better search engine rankings; however, it definitely helps and often explains why somewhat basic or antiquated sites outrank new sites with all the latest bells and whistles.

Too often, advertising agencies and marketing consultants go into a small or regional retailer and make all sorts of changes to a company’s website. Sometimes they recommend changing the domain name without considering how much value it holds. The agency will often say, “It’s easier to start over!” This may be true for the agency, but it is not necessarily the right thing for the company’s website search engine rankings.

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