Branding : Changing Your Domain Name

Updated in 2014

If you are a Cleveland Cavaliers fan you are probably aware LeBron James is requesting his number change in the 2010-2011 season from #23 to #6. This will likely cause fans to shell out some cash if they want fresh threads of their star player. What does this have to do with online marketing you might ask? When a company decides to change their domain name they are essentially changing their jersey number, or brand on the web.

Most companies think the logo at the top of each web page is what people and search engines see as their company brand. For people this is partly true, we recognize the brand of a company once we visit a website and see the logo at the top. If a visitor is entering a website from search engine results, the first brand they see is the company domain name and web page title.

Changing Your Domain Name?

When changing your domain name, there are a few things to consider:

  1. Do you have a strong brand name with a very old domain that has been live for many years? If so, you may not want to change your domain name. In the eyes of search engines this is almost like starting over, even if you redirect your old domain to the new one.
  2. Does your domain name contain keywords relevant to your search engine optimization efforts? If so, consider keeping, if not consider buying a domain that includes your brand plus a keyword or two.
  3. How easy is your domain name to remember or tell your potential clients? Choose a domain name that is easy to remember.
  4. Try to get a .COM domain since they tend to have higher value to search engines. Careful with .NET and .INFO domains since still have a negative weight in the eyes of search engines.

Brand Confusion

What do you do when you have multiple brand named domains with different objectives?

“Time Warner” is a typical search when you are looking to find the Time Warner Cable. In this case the corporate site comes up as the #1 and #2 result, with the cable division ranking #3 (Time Warner search result has since flip flopped to their cable division as of this writing in 2014).

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Time Warner has millions of cable and internet service subscribers who access their website searching for account information. For many searchers this is a very confusing search engine user experience. I first went to the main looking for access to my account only to go back to the results page to find the correct site. A better search user experience would be to land potential traffic on a decision page with the cable site as an option. The ultimate search experience would be to channel link authority to the cable site with the goal of outranking the corporate website long term.

What would your SEO domain solution be for Time Warner?

How would you position this brand on the web for a better user experience?