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Registering Domain Names for SEO

top-level domains (TLDs)Sometimes a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. The moment a CMO truly discovers search they go on a domain name buying spree with the desire to buy every domain name available with the keywords they associate with their products and services. This isn’t a bad idea, but not for the reason they assume; also, if you do buy up all the domains, aliasing, forwarding, and 301 or 302 redirecting the domain to your main company page isn’t the way to game Google. If you do decide to forward your new domains to your current site, make sure they drill down directly to your unique product and service pages. It’s a great shortcut for your sales and marketing team–but not even that will help with SEO.

What Works with Domain Name Keyword SEO

There are two ways you can get hella juice out of a keyword-optimized or topic-optimized domain names that have tons of keyword-SEO, grandfathered link juice, and link through juice:

  1. Create a bespoke, unique, product- or service-specific and SEO and Google-optimized landing page that lives on its own, is on a fast server, is optimized for Google PageSpeed, and is mobile-friendly, mobile-optimized, reactive, or mobile-native.
  2. Revive an old, almost-dead domain name that you’ve owned forever or are willing to buy that has history in your space and is professionally relevant to the products and services that you sell, marketing, and on which you consult–don’t cheat here. Google hates cheating.

Create a Bespoke SEO and Google-Optimized Landing Page

I keep on buying domain names I don’t do this for and I kick myself. I own some rockstar domains and it kills me that I know for sure that I’ll never do this, ever. I don’t know why. It’s pretty easy, after all is said and done. You should do it with all those keyword-rich domains that your CMO–or you–have greedily registered for that small recurring annual fortune. Do this:

  1. Google AnalyticsMake sure you don’t cheat and just point that domain to an already-existing page on your site. Make the landing page separate: Google will discover the content first through it’s indexy spiders and bots and then will see what the default domain address is that’s associated with that unique content (it should be unique–don’t be lazy and just copy-paste shit from your site!) It goes for Google-optimized content first — that content sitting on a fast server, that content optimized for Google, and then and only then, “OK, this stuff is cool,” says the the visiting Google bot, “what domain is this? Oh, look! The domain name has relevant keywords that are consistent with the content of this page! Cool! I’ll prioritize this page for people who search for so and so search term!”
  2. Hook your bespoke and Google-pandering landing page to all the services: Google AdWords, Google Webmaster Tools/Google Search Console; Bing Webmaster tools and Yandex Webmaster tools. Even though your landing page might only have 1 page, give Google a Sitemap; also, the best way to optimize speed is to create your landing page in static HTML and maybe even consider placing it behind a free version of CloudFlare, a free version of their popular content delivery network (CDN). Do anything for speed and Google-compliance–maybe even try out Google’s new Google’s Wed Designer app to build your landing page (couldn’t hurt).  The deeper you embed your page with Google and its tools, especially Analytics and Webmaster Tools, the more real-life attention you’ll get from Google on a daily basis. Embrace the Borg!
  3. Google Webmaster ToolsMake sure you keep your landing page content focused on just the keywords relevant to your campaign mission: very specific, very relevant, very useful, very informational, completely salient to the subject you’re designing and writing the landing page for. The more gracious and generous your content is–and useful–instead of just sell, sell, sell, sell! the better. You definitely can sell and market, but please don’t turn the landing page into a shameful sandwich board for your company.  Spend 80% of the landing page a resource and then allow the remaining 20% to be a solution–and that solution is you!
  4. Make the landing page infinitely social media-, email-, and community-shareable! Either code your own share me buttons. Or, you can just sign up for embeddable solutions like Share this!, AddThis, AddToAny to allow your visitors to share your page and your content via social media, etc, or something really jazzy like ClicktoTweet that allows you to actually give your visitors the ability to directly tweet out 140- or 280- quotes directly from your own text content. In addition, you can add links and hashtags to those content-tweets.  Don’t overlook this. Google does care about social shares and engagement in addition to link popularity and search popularity.

Revive An Old Domain Name That Has Some Link Juice Left

memes.org memespaceOver the course of my life I have collected some major sites and domain names: memes.org and marketingconversation.com. The first one was a huge popularity powerhouse from like 1999 until around 2004 when it went dark.  I just had it forwarded since then at gerriscorp.com but that didn’t work because nothing there is germane to the topic of memetics. So, recently, I created a directory on my Chris Abraham site about memetics, chrisabraham.com/memetics and have set up a 302 redirect into my Nameserver/DNS records to make sure that anyone who clicks through on memes.org content goes instead to my content directory on my own personal website that features information on the art and science of memetics.  To supply all the content people are clicking through to enjoy, I and been and will be going through archive.org–the Wayback Machine— to see if I can’t mine a bunch of good content to deliver to all the folks who have discovered links that are over a decade old–to appease them while still drawing their traffic and attention. My site also doesn’t just displace a 404 if the link is old or incompatible, it automatically suggests pages that are similar to the search or the target content or URL keywords of the incoming link: coolest! (thanks Plone/Zope)

The same thing goes for Marketing Conversation. It was my corporate blog for Abraham Harrison, my previous company, and there were thousands of posts. So much juice and so many links around the web that were linking in to marketingconversation.com. So, again, since I have been mining old MarCon articles from the WayBack machine, I decided to 302 redirect the domain to my personal Chris Abraham blogchrisabraham.com/blog–where all the content is 80% salient and mostly relevant to the content found on Marketing Conversation all those years ago now. While maybe it would have been better to direct them to gerr.is/blog instead, I want to engage with any incoming visitors as a face they may remember versus my corporate coveralls.

What Doesn’t Work with Domain Name Keyword SEO

White Hat SEO Black Hat SEOJust buying a load of keyword-rich domain names and aliasing/forwarding/301-redirecting/302-redirecting them to your home site’s top Default Index page–Home–or even to a sub page or sub-directory, doesn’t work. Google’s too smart for this any more. Unless you intend to replace your company-named domain name with this keyword-rich SEO domain, this is not a strategy that Google endorses. It actually either ignores it or it considers it as intentional (or guileless) black hat SEO behavior. Naughty, naughty (blocky, blocky).

Do as you will but this comes from the benefit of my own experience. If you simply want to register those domain names as a copyright hedge or in order to keep them out of the hands of your competition, that’s fair–I totally get it. Otherwise, dust those domains off and make then work for their living. Good luck!

SEO sales and marketing Sandwich Board the end is nigh


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Chris Abraham

About Chris Abraham

A pioneer in online social networks and publishing, with a natural facility for anticipating the next big thing, Chris is an Internet analyst, web strategy consultant and advisor to the industries' leading firms. He specializes in Web 2.0 technologies, including content syndication; organize search engine optimization (SEO), online reputation management (ORM), content marketing, online collaboration, blogging, and consumer generated media.

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