When I thought of a single key word domains that I would like to own, Chocolate.com came to mind even before I ever visited the site. It made me curious so I jumped over to check it out. The web designer in me feels compelled to comment on the web site itself. I really liked the simple, clean, and classy design. As for the domain, Mark McInnis, CEO of Chocolate.com, LLC, was kind enough to share some information on his company’s domain and business.
Mike: How long has Chocolate.com been operating?
Mark: Our chocolate gift marketplace has been active since late 2007.
Mike: You’ve got an excellent key word domain. How has owning the domain served you?
Mark: The domain has helped with brand recognition and natural search. Our product catalog encompasses all types of chocolate, from world-class chocolate shops around the globe. So, the broad category domain matches our business model.
Mike: Do you have any other online marketing strategies that you follow (google ads, seo, banners on other sites, etc.?) What results have you seen from these?
Mark: Affiliates have worked well for us. People love chocolate and love to publish information about the topic. We have seen good results from PPC on our uncommon items such as chocolate covered bacon, fair trade chocolate, and vegan chocolate.Do you have other premium keyword domains?
Mike: How many affiliates would you say you have at this point?
Mark: We have 5,000 affiliates to date. Some more active than others. Affiliates represent about 10% of our business.
Mike: Do you own any other premium domain names?
Mark: No, but we are affiliated with Internet Real Estate Group who does. See InternetRealEstate.com.
Mike: What is the main source of traffic to your site?
Mark: Google Search is definitely the main source. This accounts for about 60% of our traffic.
Mike: What type of growth have you seen in traffic to the site, sales, etc.
Mark: Our growth has been approximately 60-100% YTY over the last 2.5 years.
Mike: What do your competitors think of your domain? What do your customers think?
Mark: We don’t have many competitors who are building a global network of chocolate shops. We have many shops in our network who also sell through their own websites. They appreciate our service and the simplicity of our domain. They also enjoy seeing their brand represented on a site that covers the entire industry. The domain carries authority, and we have found that people like to be affiliated with it.
Mike: Do you think you would be willing to sell your domain at any point? Have you ever received any unsolicited offers? What were the offers?
Mark: We have received many offers but at the moment we are more interested in growing our network to cover the USA, and the European Union. We believe our unique service and local delivery network will far exceed the value of our domain.
Mike: Any advice for the rest of us on choosing the right domain name?
Mark: If you are going to offer a variety of products and content, choose a broad domain. If not, choose a narrow domain because this will give you an upper-hand in competing for natural search results. For example, if you want to provide news about active volcanoes, you should try to acquire ActiveVolcanoes.com. If your goal is to optimize for search, think in terms of matching the most commonly searched phrase that matches your offering. If your goal is to create something new and different, then don’t be afraid of a unique domain that is memorable but not related to your content (see monster.com).
Thanks to Mark McInnis for sharing his thoughts and perspectives.