Michael Wood, General Manager at Ottawa Special Events comes from a music industry background. He started out as a guitar player in a rock band (Circuit) discovered by Casey Kasem and released a record through Top Sail/WEA in 2006 called (Eau De Humanity). He’s have written a book on the music industry called “You’ve Got A Friend In The ‘Biz”, won a 40 Under 40 in Ottawa last year and was named one of the city’s most influential people. He is voting member for the Grammy Awards, a music industry analyst for Canada AM and been the American Idol Insider for a variety of Fox television affiliates.
Mike Sullivan: What are some of the generic and geo business domain names you own?
Michael Wood: We actually own quite a few generic names with cities attached. For example we own OttawaEventPlanners.com, OttawaAudioVisual.com, OttawaConferencePlann.com and about 150 others. We also own similar types of domain names for other industries including virtual assistants for other business we are going to be setting up in the future. For example TorontoVirtualAssistant.com, CateringServicesOttawa.com as well as simple generic names such as OnlineUniversityLearning.com.
Mike Sullivan: How has including the city name in the domain been helpful to your company? Has it presented any challenges?
Michael Wood: Having the name attached to the domain was a strategic decision for marketing tools such as Google Places. Unless you are McDonald’s, Wal-Mart or other very well know companies, people are generally search for “what you do” in city “x”. This has taken us to the top of Google Places listings for a variety of services that we offer. The only challenge that we have faced so far is being able to answer all of the phone calls 😉
Mike Sullivan: What marketing strategies do you follow to promote the businesses (Google Ad Words, SEO, Offline Marketing)
Michael Wood: We have tried different types of marketing. That is my background as I come from the music industry and the marketing side of it for that matter. We have had some success with doing our own SEO for many years. Most of the sites that we do have reached the top three in Google under the organic search if not number one. We have used Google Adwords and Facebook ads but have found nothing more valuable to us than Google Places. For the most part we are consistently running at capacity and therefore, have not really even expanded into any offline marketing as opposed to trailer and vehicle decals, business cards and logos on all printed materials. We did join our local chamber of commerce under the “Ottawa Special Events” brand for networking purposes and at the same time have contacted potential clients like hotels and so forth directly for meetings.
Mike Sullivan: Were these all names that you were able to register or did you have to purchase them on the aftermarket?
Michael Wood: We were fortunate enough to be able to register all of the names and not purchase them through an aftermarket service.
Mike Sullivan: Would you care to share visitation statistics of any of your domains (how much traffic they receive)?
Michael Wood: Unfortunately this is not information we can disclose.
Mike Sullivan: Do you have advice for businesses that may be in the process of searching for the right name for their niche? Do you recommend going with a geo domain?
Michael Wood: I think you nailed it when you said “search for the right name for their niche”. When you are able to carve out a niche for yourself, you stand a far better chance of having far more calls as opposed to operating under a very broad name. I strongly feel that our success as a company has come strictly from geo domains and would recommend it to anyone. I think you are starting to see more companies come up with a name that is “Google friendly” as opposed to some creative. There used to be the idea of, shorter the domain name the better. I think naming your company and domain should be exactly what you do regardless of how long. If you sell boxes – it should be boxesatlanta.com and so on. My partner and I have long wondered as well, do people search Boxes Atlanta or Atlanta Boxes. It would not hurt to grab both!
Mike Sullivan: Any other information you’d like to share?
Michael Wood: I think the idea is make sure you name tells people what it is you do. Back in the 50’s before the Internet McDonald’s was another name. If McDonald’s happen to be a new company in 2010 would anyone think to Google it or would they look up Hamburgers, Ottawa?