Domain names are vital to businesses, brands, marketing and so much more! One thing that so many companies fail to understand is the extreme power generic domain names hold.

Let me try to lay this out as clear as the blue sky, yet go into detail why!

Brand Name VS Generic

A companies brand name is a term that is taught (via marketing) and not always commonly known to individuals. A generic term is something that is already commonly known to somebody. For a real life example, Fandango is a brand that offers movie tickets.

  • Brand Name: Fandango
  • Generic Term: Movie Tickets

So why is a generic domain name like MovieTickets.com so important? So valuable?

People naturally go to a search engine and type “movie tickets” when they are interested in them. It’s a familiar term to them, easily remembered and relates to what they are looking for. The term “fandango” is not something naturally known/typed, unless the brand is known due to advertisement in some fashion.

Consider a common term, like Movie Tickets, as a domain name, MovieTickets.com as FREE ADVERTISING. Similar to word of mouth. It is also Fandangos job to get its website to rank well for terms relating to what the business offers. People naturally search for Movie Tickets, not always a brand name like Fandango. Search engines love generic, aged, .com domain names offering relevant content to them.

So what ranks #1 on Google for the search term movie tickets? MovieTickets.com Followed #2 by its matching Twitter account @movietickets. Keywords folks, that is how the internet is run. You search for the keywords Movie Tickets, a search engines job is to return relevant results to it. MovieTickets.com also back the #1 top tier ranking by doing an Adwords campaign. So MovieTickets.com hold the top 3 spots for a term that is searched millions of time per month! Where do the clicks go? SearchEngineWatch.com did the research:

  • Position #1 gets 33% of the click
  • Position # 2 gets 17.6%
  • Position # 3 gets 11.4%

Fandango does a good job at ranking well for the generic term Movie Tickets, but is below the fold at the #3 spot and likely only getting a mere 11.4% of the millions of search clicks, where MovieTickets.com is grabbing nearly 50% of them!

MovieTickets.com is the clear winner here and it’s because of the premium generic .com domain name MovieTickets.com! This generic domain name is simply priceless to them.

Winning

Competition

Now Fandango and MovieTickets.com are not the only two companies offering movie tickets. Consider a new 2016 startup called Atom. They are heavily funded at $50 million and backed by huge companies like Warner Bros, Walt Disney, Lionsgate and more.

The problem for Atom? They do not rank on the web at all for the term movie tickets. To be fair to Atom, who uses AtomTickets.com as its main domain name, they offer a “movie going experience” and not just tickets but that is a main attractant.

How does Atom Tickets relate to a generic term already known by the masses? It doesn’t. Would it be better for them to own Atom.com? Yes, but they do not and it’s not likely that Viacom (a partner in MovieTickets.com) is going to sell them the domain. How about Movies.com? Another important term to Atom. Nope, Comcast is not going to sell them that domain name either. They rank #1 on google with Movies.com for the very popular, natural term movies!

Branding is vital, so Atom being something than they really are on the web, AtomTickets.com is a big problem. The other big problem, they are going to spend big on ads, day in and day out to have a presence for important search terms like Movie Tickets, Movies and more relating, naturally searched for terms.

The More The Merrier

It is important for a brand to be a brand. Atom as they call themselves should REALLY own and use the matching .com domain name.  It is also important for brands to own and use generic terms that relate to product and services they offer. There is no “rule” that a company can not use more than 1 domain name or 1 website. The more used, the better IMO!

Just like soda brand A&W uses RootBeer.com. Just like DS Services Of America owns and uses Water.com! Just like how Royal Bobbles owns and uses Bobbleheads.com. Just like how Salesforce owns a slew of premium domain names like Data.com, Desk.com, IQ.com, Einstein.com and many more! Melville Candy Company spent $3 Million to purchase Candy.com and went from a relatively unknown candy company to a world wide recognized brand.

Although I have expressed a lot above, the key factor here is this: People naturally search and know common, generic terms. If they are interested in fabric, it is likely they will visit Fabric.com or go to Google and search, fabric. Fabric.com ranks #1 for the Fabric search term and is owned by Amazon. The term is very easy to remember, because it’s a commonly existent term in a persons memory. It simply makes sense!

Generic .com domain names make great brand names and are simply powerful tools to use to help promote your products, services and more.

About Jamie Zoch

Jamie Zoch is a domain investor, dad and dedicated husband who founded DotWeekly.com in 2008 to bring unique and helpful views on domain names. Jamie is very passionate about domain names and helping others learn and prosper.

10 Responses to The Extreme Power Of Generic Domain Names
  1. Thanks for sharing and it’s worth applying for any serious business who lacks in their quality of domain name. But there are many stupid business owners who don’t want to understand right now and in long term it’s their loss IMO. They will have to pay and pay a lot more than right now!

  2. You get it.

    Most concentrate on the declining SEO value (which was fairly predictable; search engines want paid clicks not give away free clicks) and fail to understand the real value of a high traffic exact match, generic domain in paid advertising.

    This was true back in 1999 and is still true in 2016, perhaps 10X’s more important. Any marketing technique that increases CTR or CVR in a non transient manner gives a material competitive advantage in paid advertising over the long run.

    The problem lies in the fact that the larger companies that typically spend the most money on ads do not want to go to the granularity of a keyword domain strategy. Their online advertising is typically outsourced to a company that doesn’t eat, drink, and sleep their business, or is in house and too lazy. And that gives opportunity to smaller competitors who are savvy and willing to invest in a keyword domain strategy.

  3. Extremely well said, especially the important conclusion that “[g]eneric .com domain names make great brand names” themselves no less, so they even represent the best of both worlds in marketing.

    If you were forming the relevant company today you would want and take “Loans.com” any day of the week as the brand name foundation over ones like “Bank of America” or “Wells Fargo,” etc.

  4. Great piece – thanks

  5. Completely different results for Australian Google search, to have the cctld is the key I think

    • @DnVre,
      Yes, Google will display different results based on location and many more factors. That is why it’s important to own and use more than 1 domain as mentioned in the article. Sometimes this may include a ccTLD if a specific country is important to your business, product or service. .com is the leading TLD and the best place to start with though IMO. .com.au and others are decisions to be made based on specific country factors for each company. I have seen companies start on a .com.au and switch to .com, so it works in different ways as well. Local start, global expansion etc. In Control Pty Ltd is one example of a company starting on incontrol.com.au and now having switched to InControl.com. They may still be .com.au for you in Australia but they are .com for me in the US.

      • ur article is what the world should be but the world ain’t what it suppose to be… Google killed domain names for sure..

  6. Agree with most of what you’re saying here, particularly in regard to the performance of keyword domains achieving higher than average CTR and conversion rates for matching or near matching phrases.

    Good brand names in themselves? – not in as much (in Europe at least) that you can’t get any formal trade mark protection on a generic phrase when applied to it’s literal meaning, but then there’s nothing to stop you using a generic address and then display branded content – win win?

  7. Another great write-up, thanks JZ.

    This is the exact reason why we’ve spent a fortune to acquire Lyrics.com a couple weeks ago. Not only the search engine love, but the immediate authority recognition, and address so easy to remember to trigger additional future visits.

    Just compare it to LyricsMode.com, LyricsMania.com, LyricsFreak and even Genius.com — we’re obviously not objective but do strongly believe Lyrics.com stands way out of the crowd.

    • @STANDS4,
      Great purchase! If you want to share the story, your thinking and justification of the purchase, I’d love to hear it.


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