OpticsPlanet, Inc. is one of the world’s leading online retailers, operating targeted stores specializing in sport optics, tactical and military gear, binoculars, scientific products, microscopes, telescopes, rifle scopes and eyewear. Founded in 1999, OpticsPlanet, Inc. has been recognized by both Inc. Magazine and Internet Retailer Magazine as a leading E-commerce company. As one of the fastest growing retailers on the Internet, OpticsPlanet, Inc. has a state-of-the-art customer service and fulfillment center located just outside of Chicago in Northbrook, Illinois. Alessandro Minnocci gave me a sneak peek into the company.
Mike: Can you give a little background on the company?
Alessandro: Our parent company, OpticsPlanet ( just celebrated our 10th Anniversary. Our sister stores have been online anywhere from seven years to just a few months. Across all stores, we employ almost 300 people at our offices in Northbrook, IL which is about 20 miles north of Chicago.
Mike: OpticsPlanet has some great keyword domains such as microscopes.com, rangefinders.com, and radarguns.com. Did you purchase these names from others or are you the original registrant? If you purchased them, can you share the process you went through? Will you share the price you paid?
Alessandro: We acquired the domains you mentioned, along with a few others. Due to the contracts involved, I can’t share information on the process or the price paid unfortunately. We have also registered domains ourselves, and will definitely continue to do so in the future when prudent. Here is a press release from when we acquired rangefinders.com.
Mike: Does OpticsPlanet partner with domain owners to develop sites, or is the company’s interest in developing its own names?
Alessandro: We primarily develop our own names and stores, but we have partnered with domain owners before. Our in-house consulting firm, USIQ, offers a service called Fulfillment by eCentria (FBE) where we handle all the ecommerce aspects of running the online enterprise, including designing and running the website, fulfillment of orders, customer service and more. USIQ is also extremely flexible, in that it is willing to offer services to meet the needs of any domain owner: marketing, development, operations, or any combination of the above.
Mike: Has the company ever sold any domains or developed sites?
Alessandro: We only buy domains. We have never sold a domain or a developed site.
Mike: What is the volume of traffic that your sites receive? Do you know what percentage comes from direct (type-in) navigation?
Alessandro: Across our exact-match domain properties, we bring in over 100,000 visits a month, and each site brings in 10-20% of its traffic through direct navigation.
Mike: What type of marketing do you do for your sites?
Alessandro: We engage in extensive SEO efforts, both on-site optimization and off-site link building. We also engage in limited PPC campaigns for the sites from time to time, and are now expanding into social media (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube) for each of the sites. One of the major benefits of owning an exact match domain is how Google treats exact match domains in their SERPs, but Google changes its algorithm constantly. Our SEO efforts are designed to ensure each site ranks well even if there is any change to the search algorithms.
Mike: What advice do you have for individuals or businesses on choosing the right domain name?
Alessandro: If you can get an exact match domain matching a search query with significant volume at an affordable price, I highly recommend it. It doesn’t make sense for every person because the costs of acquiring one of those domains can be steep, but with the introduction of .co domains more are available than ever. Having a domain without any keyword in it, in my opinion, is a bad decision for most people. If you can’t acquire widgets.com, look at bestwidgets.com or buywidgets.com or widgetstore.com, or even acmewidgets.com. It not only helps you rank in SERPs, but it also helps people recall your site.
Mike: Any other information you’d like to share?
Alessandro: We of course don’t limit ourselves to only exact match domains. Our flagship store is OpticsPlanet.com, and we also run stores on the domains TacticalStore.com, EyewearPlanet.com, LabPlanet.com and more stores that utilize a keyword in the domain name but aren’t exact match. We also recently launched an invitation-only shopping site called Dvor.com. Dvor isn’t a keyword in and of itself, but there’s always value in short, memorable domain names (contrary to my above advice!) For sure though, not having an exact match domain makes all your other marketing efforts more important as you lose some ranking benefits in Google and obviously don’t pick up as much type-in traffic.
Thank you for taking the time to interview me Mike, and I look forward to speaking with you again!