A 25-year-old physiotherapy chain has snapped up hundreds of custom domain names in a potentially risky investment designed to draw in more customers and increase its online presence.
LifeCare Physiotherapy has recently registered more than 300 suburb-based .physio domain names in order to target the areas its practices are located in.
The bid follows an increasing awareness around digital assets and the rollout of domains such as .melbourne and .sydney.
Cameron Tweedie, state manager for LifeCare Physiotherapy Western Australia, told SmartCompany the ability for customers to find a service close to them is increasingly important as people turn to Google to as their first port of call.
“LifeCare has been proving physiotherapy services at centres around Australia for almost 25 years now and what we find is often it is difficult for clients to find local services and to know how to get that information,” Tweedie says.
“Physiotherapy covers so many areas of health that people don’t really know necessarily when a physiotherapist may help them and then how to locate them. The online information really helps clients better understand if physiotherapy may help them and then locate the appropriate physiotherapist. Physiotherapy often needs ongoing exercise programs so you don’t want to travel too far.”
Tweedie says scooping up the custom domain names such as “Croydon.physio” for Melbourne and “Cottesloe.physio” in Perth raised a few eyebrows in the office.
“No one in the world knows how these new URL names are going to work,” he says.
“And it’s not just .physio, there are a whole range of them. So we’ve had a wide variety of opinions and feedback and some lengthy discussions. It could be a very, very good move or not such a good move.”
However, Tweedie says he would recommend other businesses – particularly health professionals – consider purchasing a custom domain name to attract customers who are searching for local services on the web.
But Nick Grinberg, digital strategist and co-founder of Smart50 finalist GMG Search Engine Optimisation, told SmartCompany it is probably not a good idea to purchase a custom domain name based on a suburb unless your business operates there.
“Google wants to match the most relevant answer to a user’s question,” Grinberg says.
“If someone is typing ‘physio Ultimo’ and someone has just bought .physio but they are 20 minutes away, ultimately that is a bad strategy because in the long term you are just trying to manipulate Google. For now, .com.au and to a lesser extent .com are more favoured rather than these random domain extensions.”
Jeremy Ebbels, general manager of registry services at ARI Registry Services, told SmartCompany it is relatively easy to purchase a custom domain name.
“You just go and find a register that sells those names,” Ebbels says.
“.physio will have a number of registrars that are accredited to sell those names and you just search their website to see if they are available.”
Ebbels says he thinks small business owners should take advantage of domain names that help them stand out from the crowd.
“You could potentially own that vertical so you are generating additional eyeballs to bring customers to your business,” he says.
“There’s an automatic generation of trust with that top level of domain. There’s also the thinking if someone searches for a service in a suburb I can own that suburb if I service a general region. I think what we’ll see in the next five to 10 years is the way people will use the internet will change, and .com won’t be the go-to… it doesn’t really tell me anything.”