Is a TLD Important if You Rely on Links?Mike Sullivan
Brian Blum, Founder & President of Maverick Solutions IT, Inc, providing all types of technology consulting & support, including computer networks, surveillance systems, telephone/voicemail systems, intercom/access systems, burglar & fire alarm systems, and online services. They are a Microsoft Registered Partner and Small Business Specialist and are considered the economic alternative to keeping an in-house IT staff. They work primarily with schools, NFPs, and SO/HOs in the New York metro area, helping them get more value from their technology budgets. Brian runs his business on a dot Biz domain at MaverickSolutions.biz.
Mike: Tell me what elements led to you decision to register the .biz name for your business?
Brian: That’s easy – the .com version was already reserved, and as a small startup, we weren’t in a position to shell out thousands of dollars to acquire it. We considered various other combinations of hyphens, dots, and TLDs (.us, .ms, .info, etc), but thought this would be the easiest for our clients and prospects to remember.
Mike: Do you own any other domains or have you in the past?
Brian: Having nothing to do with Maverick Solutions, I personally have registered MaverickStructures.com for my real estate investing, rental, and management business. We’re also domain name registration resellers and DDNS hosts, so we’re registered over two dozen domains for clients of ours, mostly .orgs.
Mike: Have you experienced any challenges going with a .biz over .com or .net? Do customers ever mistype “.com” by default?
Brian: Not really. I’m sure clients and prospects have accidentally used .com in trying to reach us, but for our business model, it’s not a big deal. Most of our business is long-term client relationships, rather than one-time customers, so our clients constantly receive mail and email with links to our correct URL, and many have set up favorites, shortcuts, and email address book entries for us so they don’t have to actively remember our address. When prospects find us, it’s usually by a link rather than by a name search.
Mike: Do you have any marketing strategies for your site? SEO, PPC, offline marketing, etc?
Brian: Certainly! (As every business should!) We use Website grading tools to track our SEO rankings and frequently make changes and upgrades to improve that score. We blog (although probably not as frequently as we should), we publish articles to help establish ourselves as experts in our field (as well as for the inbound links), and we change up the Website content from time to time to keep it “current” as far as the last-update dates go.
We’ve tried PPC marketing on Yahoo, Google, and Facebook, but felt that burning our money would get us more attention, so we stopped. We may reevaluate that decision in the future, but for now, we’re making the investment of time and effort in improving our SEO rather than our SEM. We also offer SEO consulting as part of our services offerings, so we’ve taken the time and trouble to become pretty good at it.
We also still do offline marketing, too – we send out quarterly snail-mail campaigns to prospects and clients to try to highlight services we can provide. We made an investment in a good printer, folding machine, semi-automatic postage meter with sealer attachment, and bulk-rate mail permit early on in our game plan, so it’s relatively inexpensive for us to continue our postal mailing campaigns. Even so, we’re giving more serious thought to adding (or eventually transitioning to) email marketing in the near future … but we hate spam, and are reluctant to become offenders ourselves.
Mike: Are you aware of any Search Engine result ranking for key words for your site?
Brian: We have looked at these numbers from time to time, and are aware of (and pleased with) the direction in which we’re heading, but I couldn’t quote the exact index or ranking numbers to you.
Mike: Can you share the visitation statistics?
Brian: We check on these from time to time, too, and are pleased with the direction we’re headed there, as well, but again, I couldn’t quote exact numbers for you. Our ISP provides these stats, and we also use free Google analytics tools to track our visitors.
Mike: What advice would you give a fellow business owner when it comes to domain selection for business?
Brian: I can’t speak for all businesses, however, if you’ve got the sort of business where one-time customers are going to find your links via a search engine or where you’ve got recurring clients rather than one-time customers, don’t get too hung up on the domain name, because it’s not going to be a big factor in them finding you. Take an address that reads nicely (without dashes or dots), and then spend your efforts on SEO to put your links in front of your prospects.
Mike: Anything else you would like to share?
Brian: If you’re a well-established business with excellent national or regional brand name recognition, it’s probably worth ponying up the cash to get YourName.com, but for the rest of us small- to medium-sized companies, if your preferred name is already taken, don’t lose sleep over it – just move on with plan B.