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50,000 Unique Visitors a Month on a Hyphenated Domain

by Mike Sullivan

Don Cole is the owner of Shower-Curtains.com.  A solid keyword, hyphenated domain.  He has been working in ecommerce for over 10 years.  A programmer at heart, Don actually got into ecommerce because of a connection with a vendor and because “back in 1999 anyone who worked with computers was supposed to be making money on the Internet.”  He’s worked with databases and programming since the early 1980’s and found moving into ecommerce an easy transition as it was more about the programming than marketing.  Since 1999, he’s owned a few websites and sold off a couple of them.  He also started Your Store Wizards which is a company that helps out Yahoo! Stores with programming and marketing (primarily for comparison shopping engines).

I’d also like to mention that Don is the proud father of newborn  triplet boys 🙂

Mike:  Can you give a little background on your business?  How long you’ve been in business, number of employees, how long you’ve had your site online, etc.

Don:  Shower-curtains.com, previously BuyBathware.com, was started back at the end of 1999 and has always been an online business only.  We’ve never had a retail location and don’t care to.  It started as many ecommerce sites do, with a drop ship arrangement with a vendor.  As the business grew we moved away from drop shipping to warehousing almost all our inventory.  Through the years we’ve fluctuated in what we carry (Buybathware.com carried more full lines of accessories versus Shower-curtains.com carring primarily shower curtains) and moved our locations and adjusted employees accordingly, but we’ve survived well.

Mike:  Can you share the volume of traffic that shower-curtains.com receives?

Don:  For traffic, obviously as rankings vary, so does traffic.  We’ve done really well overall and get about 50,000 unique visitors a month.  We don’t do a lot of pay per click marketing as we’ve found a lot of it simply doesn’t pay off.  We do have some we run on different comparison shopping engines and we closely monitor what items and terms convert.  We also make sure to list ourselves on the free comparison shopping engines as well.

Mike:  I’ve said in the past that Google doesn’t seem to discriminate against hyphenated names.  Have you found this to be true with shower-curtains.com?  You come up in the third position for the keyword search.  Is this due to the name or did you put a lot of effort behind it?

Don:  I’ve found that Google definitely doesn’t discriminate against hyphenated names.  We’ve actually ranked better for “Shower Curtains” in the past as ranking 3rd is actually lower than we’ve normally been in the past.  I believe this is due to a number of factors including the domain, links to our site, and some internal seo work.  Our site is LONG due for an overhaul and so should be getting one in this next year and we hope between that and some more marketing efforts we can get some of the rankings back up.

Mike:  You mentioned the site began on buybathware.com, what made you decide to change the domain?  Has it paid off?

Don:  BuyBathware.com originally started due to an industry connection with a vendor and we carried full lines of everything we carried (shower curtain, towels, accessories, etc.).  Due to a few changes and issues we decided to start up shower-curtains.com to try out just carrying the shower curtains and limited accessories.  It was originally going to be just a niche site connected to the main, but then it was doing so well and we ran into issues with inventory on the accessories that we decided to simply run with the niche site entirely.  It’s definitely worked out as the niche site has grown to doing more business than the larger site and with a lot less headache. We’re not huge, but continue to expand and grow as we find our way into some really niche markets.

Mike:  Did you purchase the name from someone else that owned it?  If so, what was the process you went through?  Will you share what you paid for the name?

Don:  Actually the domain was available for registering when we started.  We had bounced around a number of domain ideas but decided to go with the generic since it was exactly what we were focusing on.

Mike:  Any advice for start ups, small business, or business of any size for that matter on choosing the right domain name?

Don:  I think for domains there are certainly a number of factors that come into play.  Since I’ve had shower-curtains.com it’s really pointed out to me how a keyword rich domain can help with rankings and clarity on what you do, but I wouldn’t make that the only factor when choosing a domain.  I’ve seen domain names that were keyword rich but about 80 characters or more long and people will never be able to type that in correctly.  You want to make sure it’s both memorable, particularly if you’re using a non generic name, and short enough for people to type or remember.

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nr November 11, 2010 - 8:03 pm

interesting interview. i might have to start buying some product .com domains with hyphens.

Michael Hallisey November 12, 2010 - 1:49 am

Why not buy ShowerCurtains.com that would definitely make you number one and know its already a good business idea!

Tim Davids November 11, 2010 - 8:10 pm

As the owner of a few nice hyphen names I gotta say “nice”. Also shows someone willing to do some work can get into domaining and create a nice business.

Mike Sullivan November 11, 2010 - 8:46 pm

It’s inspiring, to say the least.

Anthony Hanner November 11, 2010 - 9:09 pm

A great interview. A very nice example of what many just don’t get…hyphen domains are solid avenues to build a business.

Don’t brush off a good hyphen domain…it can yield dividends.

Uzoma November 11, 2010 - 10:52 pm

I would have liked to know what he thought about losing business business to the “non-hyphenated” name itself: showercurtins.com

How come you didn’t ask that?

The only reason people stay away from hyphen is the bleeding of business to the alternative site, no?

Mike Sullivan November 11, 2010 - 10:54 pm

@Uzoma – Great point, I have asked that in the past and didn’t think of it this time. Maybe Don will answer that in the comments.

Don Cole November 12, 2010 - 3:27 pm

Personally I would have loved to have had the non hyphenated and of course I debated for a while because I don’t like the idea of someone mistyping it and not finding us. But I figured the hyphenated was worth it and it’s turned out well.

It also helped that the non hyphenated isn’t a store or live site so as much as we’d lose if they typed it in wrong, we weren’t fighting against another retailer who might get it.

domainer November 12, 2010 - 1:04 am

Good interview mike. He looks like he knows what he is doing but will say this. I don’t classify this as a generic domain name. Showercurtains.com. The term is generic

Business wise, running a business and growing. Congratulations to him.

Failed in domain names and end user dosent get it imo.

Just My 2 cents

Tim Davids November 12, 2010 - 7:14 am

Bleed is overrated. A business like this isn’t built on type-in traffic in the first place. You build links, email marketing and social.

domainer November 13, 2010 - 1:13 am

Agree Tim but also disagree. Reminds me of these hard core seo developers that don’t get domain names and especially the .com. Ex if the .Net is developed the .com is parked I see my ppc income go up and in 2 cases the .net owners were clueless. Wasn’t asking a lot for my .com names either

Notice owner commented after my first post. Interesting thought process. He knows what he is doing as a business owner view point. No question and I’m sure this area carries some hefty margin as well.

Congratulations in being a success and building an online business! Still wish you had better version of name lol.

tommy November 14, 2010 - 4:34 am

Interesting post. Thannks

What if you have more than 1 dash in your domian name?

Is it still not discriminated by google?

Mike Sullivan November 14, 2010 - 1:47 pm

@tommy, I’m not certain but I believe multiple dash are alright. For example, multiple-word-domain-name.com.

Ken November 14, 2010 - 7:25 pm

Nice post. Helps back up the idea that Google doesn’t really discriminate on hyphenated domains and that it’s a good choice if you got the proper keywords placed. Quite a booster for people (like me :P) with hyphens in their portfolio. Nice post, Mike.

roddy November 14, 2010 - 8:12 pm

Maybe some hope for my black-dress/com ?

I must admit my first thought was i would be aiming at owing both non hyphen and hyphen versions , to the point i would still be trying to achieve that if it was me , but i guess if your winning the pressure is off, anyway thanks for the inspiration to all us hyphen owners 🙂


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