Does Your Domain Name Make A Difference?

By
Education & Training with Summit Web Design and Long & Foster Realtors
Does the ending of your domain name (.com, .net, .biz, etc.) make a difference to your visitors? It sure can!

Recently, Rich Brooks of Flyte New Media decided to setup a survey at SurveyMonkey trying to gauge people's feelings and impressions on the top-level domains such as .com, .net., .biz and so on. While this survey was informal, it was interesting to see how people responded.

Question 1: Imagine you visit a new site. Please rank the following top-level domains on the overall impression they give you of the site and company. (One answer per domain, please.)

"There weren't any surprises in the answers. Like a diagonal line through a chart, respondents ordered the domains as .com, .org, .net, .biz, .info and .name. The .com had the best ranking, with .name having the worst ranking." Rick reported.

Question 2: For each top-level domain name, please enter your initial thoughts on what they represent.

Rick went on to say, "This was an open-ended question, so I'll just share some of the results with you."

.com

  • business
  • established/well-established
  • standard
  • official
  • commercial

.org

  • charity
  • non-profit organization
  • trustworthy, non profit
  • not a business (interesting)
  • government (?!?)

.net

  • internet related
  • a business
  • tech
  • 2nd rate site
  • second choice/first was taken

.biz

  • business
  • business selling online
  • rip off
  • not familiar with web at all. amateur (ouch!)
  • couldn't get .com
  • something new/entrepreneurial

.info

  • info business/info/informational
  • garbage
  • last resort
  • people actually buy these?

.name

  • personal
  • loosers
  • if own name, classy
  • non-business
  • amateurish
  • never heard it/never seen it

We all have had it pounded into our memory banks to go to "a site dot COM" for well over a decade now! "Visit us at Microsoft.com... Apple.com... MSNBC.com... CNN.com!", etc. So by habit now, we almost always type in someone's domain name and then type - .com - when trying to go right to that site.

By the way, humans don't think in hypens or dashes, "-", either when you verbally tell someone your web site address. If they loose your business card or your brochure, will they remember to include the hypens or dashes when typing your domain name? Not very likely. "Oh, just go to www dot houston, dash texas, dash real, dash estate, dot com." Ha! So stay away from those too.

With many great .com domain names still available, you just don't have to resort to ".net", ".biz" or ".info" yet, or domain names with dashes. By being a little creative and taking a few extra minutes of searching, you can find a perfectly wonderful .com domain name that is easy to remember and will work to get your web site easily found!

If you need any help, just email me and I'll be happy to brainstorm a good name with you.

Comments (36)

John Rogers
Century 21 APD - El Paso, TX

My first domain was a .net and people kept on typing .com and not finding me. I also diagree with not using your name. Instead of having my name on name riders i have johnrogershomes.com. The response has been great since i started doing this. I suggest using  a domain with your name for local use and having a second for the search engines.

 

Feb 23, 2007 07:01 AM
Christy Powers
Keller Williams Coastal Area Partners - Pooler, GA
Pooler, Savannah Real Estate Agent
That's pretty much what I was thinking when looking for a domain name. Everyone remembers .com right now.
Feb 23, 2007 07:22 AM
Win Singleton
Summit Web Design and Long & Foster Realtors - Falls Church, VA
Web Designer & Associate Broker

Hi John - I agree with you - that you can certainly use your name in the domain name - as long as it is easy to spell. John Rogers is pretty straightforward. Then add something like "homes" or "houses", etc. after your name. Unfortunately for some, their first name or last name is easily misspelled... and if the visitor makes a typo, it defeats the goal of getting people to your web site and not to someone else's. 

By the way, I hope you have it on your name riders as JohnRogersHomes.com (using upper and lower case). I've found that at 25 mph, all lowercase letters on the name rider can be very hard to read, understand or memorize.

Hi George - I couldn't agree with you more! Merely having your own name without qualifying what you do can be confusing. JohnSmith.com - now who is he? Is he a doctor? Is he an attorney? Is he some kind of consultant?

I know there are 2 schools of thought out there. One that says what's better than your own name? But the other says you should have something about real estate in your domain name, so it is easy for them to figure out, "Gee, I'll bet that is a real estate web site!"

Hi Elaine - Buying up the other extensions can be good as a blocking move, but since we live in a ".Com World", the possiblity of someone going to the .net version or the .biz version and missing your site are pretty slim. Of course GoDaddy, Network Solutions, etc. would just love to sell you all of those because they just make more money. Ha!

Feb 23, 2007 07:57 AM
David A. Podgursky PA
THE PODGURSKY GROUP @ Re/Max Direct - Boynton Beach, FL
THE PODGURSKY GROUP - Make the Right Move!
I think it matters because even Internet savvy habitually just think .COM ... if someone else owns the .COM domain, you just lost a client
Feb 23, 2007 10:14 AM
Hector Lopez
Hector Lopez - Concho Valley, AZ

"Websites, Schmebsites" ! Anyone can build or create a website but try getting a "custom" domain name and you enter the world of "Digital" Real Estate. It's the "Domain Name" that Rules !! (eg: EBay. Ditech, Starucks, Amazon, etc. etc.) and that's why ... the most valuable Real Estate a Realtor own's is their own first name with "Call..." in front of it.

Here's the quote from the company website that tracks this very "Elite Community" of Realtor's,  at: http://www.CallUs4RE.com

"Call... Domain Name's are very powerful because the Action to The Call To Action  is the actual Call... Domain Name ~~ and that's what Magically connects all the Offline Marketing to the Online Marketing and vice versa"
 
'Small is Huge', on the internet. And, the smaller your Domain Name ~ the better 
 
 
Feb 23, 2007 10:33 AM
Mark Eibner
Metro Brokers Realty Oasis - Littleton, CO
CRS, ePro,GRI

Hey Win-

 

Great Post...I am blown away by how many brokers still don't even own their own names.com...or their last name or their kids names or kids to come names.com......just like Real Estaet they are not making any more .com's.

At the least, having your family name and personal name is a basic requirement in the new transparent world.  

.com is where it's at   

Feb 23, 2007 11:20 AM
Jim Crawford
Maximum One Executive REALTORS® - Atlanta, GA
Jim Crawford Atlanta Best Listing Agents & REALTOR
Great post! Also very good talking to you on the phone this evening!  I am very grateful to the Active Rain that I am meeting so many STELLAR PERSONS here!  Talk to you soon!
Feb 23, 2007 11:25 AM
Sue Argue
Staged First Impressions - Hampton, NH
NH Home Stager

Whew.com

I did something right.com! 

Feb 23, 2007 12:06 PM
Joan Whitebook
BHG The Masiello Group - Nashua, NH
Consumer Focused Real Estate Services

Thanks for bringing this information to our attention.  This is very interesting.  I was unaware there was such a big difference in how people perceive the .com, net. etc.

Feb 23, 2007 12:28 PM
Darleen March
Adirondack Country Homes Realty - Glens Falls, NY

Interesting concepts from all writers. 

I just wanted to interject another thought.  We have purchased up to 48 domain sites to insure our competition doesn't butt in (yes, some .net and .biz that are domain forwarded to .com); we even purchased our our own personal names, and telephone number (only for security, but the are not live; we just own them so our competiton doesn't).  We've long gotten rid of our ego thoughts in naming our web sites by company name, and purchased names that would help our search crawlers and prospects easily find us.  Realizing most folks just want to look at homes in a specific area region, we capitalized on that and named most of our sites by the territory our branch office is located in.  And yes, we've included dashes - when the name was already taken.  We enjoy competing close to our colleagues; example, like the business of restaurants, and malls, they are all grouped together.  Eventually the customer will check out all of us.  If we are better at customer service, then we get the job. 

If we elected to be on a long side street by ourselves, or into ego of our names, I doubt we be located in 9 office locations by now, and covering the vast territory we do.  Ego should not be one of the driving forces of naming a web site.  Also, we have a responsibility to be a collective group.  The threats of banking doing real estate is very real.  Real estate at Walmat???  Let's not!  There is something to be said in the strength of groups.  Our individual MLS is one fine example.  I applaud our state-wide MLS, and hope one day there is a USA wide effective MLS>  Even the smallest of real estate companies can be successful utilizing the web effectively, the MLS and good rapport with their colleages.

Thanks for the survey on .net, .biz, .info.  All good points, and the cost of a domain name is inexpensive, so I suggest using more than .com (before your competition does), and targeting that name by target area verses personalize agency names.  Back this up with good service, and call yourself succesful. 

Darleen R. March, Broker, Adirondack Country Homes Realty Inc.

 

Feb 23, 2007 12:59 PM
Michael J. JJ
Tucson, AZ
Great thought provoking post.
Feb 23, 2007 02:53 PM
Thomas Frankito
Bank of America Home Loans - Mentor, OH
Thanks for the ".info"  just a little pun there.  I was almost going to buy a .net domain.  I think I will pass on that becuase of this post.  thanks again.
Feb 23, 2007 04:32 PM
Win Singleton
Summit Web Design and Long & Foster Realtors - Falls Church, VA
Web Designer & Associate Broker

Hi Darleen - You wrote that you had purchased up to 48 domain names. Wow! Here I am going to disagree with the usefulness of having all of those. A common misconception by real estate agents is "more is better" - the more domain names I have, the better all of this will work. This is counter to making a web site search engine friendly.

From Ross Dunn, CEO of Step Forth Placement in August, 2006 - http://news.stepforth.com/2006-news/Ross-Dunn-Answers-SEO-Questions.shtml

------------------ 
1. Question: Does a domain name play a part in SEO?
From: anonymous

Ross: Yes it can help but only marginally. If your domain name includes the primary keyphrase that you want rankings for it will help boost the perceived relevance of your website. I generally consider keywords in a domain to be a 1-5% advantage in the rankings war. The simple fact is that before keyword domains really help rankings your site must be well optimized. Theoretically if you were head to head with your competitor and both sites were equal in optimization and online popularity but only site #2 had keywords in their domain they would get a better ranking.

In short, domains play a role in rankings under only the most competitive of terms where every percentage of advantage is a welcome edge.

-----------------

So if what Ross is saying is true, then why waste the money? Get one GREAT domain name and invest instead in good search engine optimization techniques to get your site found!

Furthermore, the top search engines keep threatening to start banning web sites that have multiple domain names pointing to them. They really want every site listed in their search results to have it's own unique content. Why? Because search engines are there to help the visitor - not you, the site owner - (and of course to sell pay per click ads). They feel the consumer is being "faked out" if they keep seeing listings in the search results, but when they click on these, they keep going to the same site over and over, now just showing up under a different domain name. They feel this is skewing the results to the detriment of their visitor. And if a visitor keeps seeing the same site over and over, just under different domain names, the visitor might think that this search engine's rankings are all screwy and they will leave to use another search engine. Thus, this search engine looses ad revenue due to a loss of visitors using it. So Google, Yahoo and MSN/Live are not necessarily trying to be the "domain police" - they are just looking after their own interests of providing a positive experience to their visitors so they can sell more advertising.

 

 

Feb 23, 2007 10:57 PM
Darryl Glade
RE/MAX N.O. Properties - New Orleans, LA
New Orleans Real Estate
I have to admit, the comments were almost more helpful than the post here! Thank you Win for maintaining such great dialogue after you posted the blog. This has been most informative.
Feb 24, 2007 03:16 AM
David A. Podgursky PA
THE PODGURSKY GROUP @ Re/Max Direct - Boynton Beach, FL
THE PODGURSKY GROUP - Make the Right Move!

I was at a networking event last year and there was a jack of all trades there.... he was pushing his hosting company (holds a real estate license, mortgage license, drives hot freight, works graveyard at dennys and whittles cat statues for sale at flea markets... I made all of it up after mortgage license just to be funny and it is too late not to be)...

he took all the business cards at the table and read off

"Look, a realtor advertising for Bellsouth

A Chiropractor advertising for Adelphia

A Banker advertising for the bank - good job!

A Florist advertising for yahoo!...

and so on

He said for as little as $5.99 a month he could have all their emails advertising for THEM!

interesting angle.

Pappacio... Considering the difference in Whitehouse.com and Whitehouse.gov ... then there is one with Motorola.com and a slightly different spelling... if your site registers a lot of hits, it is fodder for the porn industry to steal just like it is a good chance that your competitors would steal it!

 

Feb 24, 2007 02:32 PM
John Rogers
Century 21 APD - El Paso, TX
That's funny David. A friend of mine lost his mortgage domain to a porn site. Lets just say he ran an ad in the paper a week before and still had the domain listed.
Feb 25, 2007 11:16 AM
Brian Papaccio
Wells Fargo Home Loans - Newark, DE

I started a new blog, I am trying to get opinions for domain names I should use.

What should my new domain name be?

Feb 28, 2007 03:15 AM
Aziz Abdur-Raoof
RE/MAX Rewards - Columbia, MD
Howard Co. Real Estate Scoop
Win
I am thinking about a .com name for myself
Thank you -- i look forward to further talks and reading more of your excellent posts.
Mar 05, 2007 03:09 PM
Suzanne Martin & Chris Knappett
Suzanne Martin, Broker & Bus Mgr Coastal Property Inspections - Laguna Niguel, CA
Thorough, High Tech, Friendly Home inspections!

Thanks for the tips.  I'm now trying to figure out a crafty blog domain name.  This one seems to be a little trickier. 

 

Jun 29, 2011 04:14 AM
austin ellis
David Ellis Real Estate - Dallas, TX

Working on my site now...  Farmsforsale.com....  Its been around since 1997, any good?

Jun 11, 2012 05:55 AM