What’s in a domain name? Only everything. Analysing aspects of your name gives Google a starting point in ranking you.
The name’s the thing
Did you know Google checks out your domain name details when it’s figuring out where to rank you?
Back in March 2005, Google released a patent, explaining the mechanisms it used to decide rankings. As with most patents, it’s not exactly relaxing bedtime reading, but it does give us an interesting insight into all sorts of factors Google takes into account when ranking websites.
One of the more interesting sections relates to domain names. Google looks at the length of your domain name registration, so if yours is only registered one or two years in advance, extend it for the next 10 years!
Why? Because it “tells” Google you’re pretty serious about your website and that you intend to stick around for a while. It’s one of the first things I tell my new clients to do. It may also help you get out of the dreaded Google sandbox.
Another issue that came across my desk this week was a domain squatter sitting on a domain for a potential client. The squatter was using this high-profile domain name to earn income from affiliate links and Google AdSense. The client had attempted to get the domain back by lodging a complaint with www.auDA.org.au – but (unbelievably) failed in its application.
The lesson to be learnt from the whole sorry saga is to buy up lots of domain names relating to your business to protect your IP. It’s a lot easier to register them now, than to try and get them back later in a lengthy appeals process where the outcome is uncertain.
The last option you have is to lodge a lawsuit through the courts. If you have a trademark and someone who owns a domain that uses your trademark in their domain name can be perceived as “passing off”. In other words, they’re using your good reputation to further their own commercial interests. But please, get further advice from a suitable lawyer to make sure you have a strong chance of winning the action!
Over the years I’ve seen hundreds of domain squatters (and typo squatters – those who register domain names with slight spelling mistakes) to gain free traffic. A classic example I remember from my days at Lonely Planet was a guy who registered www.lonleyplanet.com.
Analysing the webtrends weblogs revealed the key-phrase “lonley planet” was responsible for tens of thousands of visits a month through search engines. This meant the guy was undoubtedly receiving similar amounts of traffic from people directly typing in the misspelled domain name.
Finally, please remember that you’re not allowed to offer to “buy” or “sell” Australian domains (those with .au extensions). If a domain squatter happens to put an offer in writing, you may have a better chance of getting your domain name back when you appeal to the auDa due to their breach of the rules.
Chris Thomas heads Reseo a search engine marketing company which specialises in setting up and maintaining Google AdWords campaigns, Affiliate Programs and Search Engine Optimisation campaigns for a range of corporate clients.
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