Programming Blog

Jeremy Morgan

Mostly Coherent Ramblings of a Silicon Forest Software Developer

The Skinny on Domain Names - 5 Things You Should Never Do

By: Jeremy Morgan

What’s the perfect domain name for your site? Chances are it’s already been taken. The great domain names were taken up in the 90s, and a few gold mines were found in the last 10 years, but not many. So people have all kinds of silly domain name ideas, and I’m going to offer some quick advice on it.

1.  A long keyword loaded domain

A long hyphenated domain is so 2001. I did it too, I think at some point every marketing professional gets the idea and tries it. So they come up with something like

Awesome name, you think to yourself as you plunk down 10 bucks. You have visions and dreams of nailing every keyword in it, and getting thousands of people a day calling you up. But in reality, this rarely happens, if ever. Have you ever searched for a really popular term and found a domain like this? Of course not. In fact, when I search for “portland real estate” I find, which has none of the keywords in it.

_Why you shouldn’t do it: _

Domain names like this look really tacky. - Nobody sees a domain like this and takes it seriously. It doesn’t work - The keyword in a domain thing works from time to time, but it’s not often enough to bank on. It’s not memorable - People won’t remember it to type it in later, and they won’t tell their friends. It could get you banned - while there is no general rule that bans these domains I have seen it happen.

2.  Buying 100 domain names and pointing them to a single site.

I see this one constantly. It’s a pretty safe bet that most of the customers I come across end up doing this, with poor results. Many SEO firms even encourage it. Stop doing this!! While logically it seems like a great idea, it never works.

Why you shouldn’t do it:

1.  It will get you banned. Fast. - Doorway pages as they are called have been outlawed by Google years ago. This worked for a very short time in the early 2000s, but it doesn’t work now. There are severe duplicate content penalties, and they’ll result in these domains being blocked, as well as your “main domain” if you do it. It looks tacky. - See above, it doesn’t look very good for your company to be using tactics that appear desperate. It’s confusing. - While this may sound silly, it confuses people when they find multiple sites that contain the same thing, it even makes them angry. An angry customer won’t waste their time finding out who you really are.

3.  A rip off of another popular domain name or misspelling

This one kind of goes without saying. Most reputable businesses would never try this, but you’d be surprised at the ones who do.

Why you shouldn’t do it:

Come on, it’s super tacky - no question about this. It could open you up for a lawsuit - Many companies find these domains, and take legal action. Misdirected customers are worthless - If people are looking for something else and find you they will quickly leave. More details below.

4.  Domain names with popular culture terms in them or other misrepresentation

If you register for your kitchen faucet business, you’re doing far more harm than good. You MIGHT catch some traffic from these keywords but chances are 13 year old girls looking for Justin Bieber videos aren’t going to buy a new stainless sink for their kitchen.

_Why you shouldn’t do it: _

Tacky (again) You aren’t targeting any new customers. - Just because you get traffic doesn’t mean you’ll make any sales or earn new readers to your blog. It’s a waste of time This makes your business look really bad. - Old school businesspeople tend to fall into a trap where they think the internet is a huge anonymous place, and it really isn’t. Online reputation management is far more important than offline reputation these days, because they tie together directly. And when someone searches for your online, you want to attempt to control what they find.

5.  .Biz, .Info, .whatever domains

Though this is #5, and kind of a small one, it’s the one I’ll get the most emails about I’m sure. I usually tell my clients to snatch up the .biz and .info domains, then use them to put a single link to their website, or use a 301 redirect to it. That way you don’t get penalized by Google. You don’t want domain squatters or porno sites using your name with a .biz at the end. Personally, I don’t care to manage them all so there are other jeremymorgan.x domains out there, but if you have a brand to protect you want to do it.

Don’t use it as your main domain name, and don’t buy 150 of them just because they’re $1.99 a piece.

Why you shouldn’t do it:

Duplicate content penalties still apply - Even though it’s a different extension, it still applies as duplicate content if you have the same site on both domains. It looks tacky and people associate it with bad things - Most people associate .biz and .info domains with Porn, Viagra, dating sites, MLM scams and the like. When is the last time you saw a high quality, relevant and well designed .biz page? Google practically ignores them - Likely due to the reasons above, they don’t do well with Google. I don’t have solid evidence of this claim, but my experience over time has shown that domains rarely do well with these extensions.