A dangerous SEO adventure

When you have a lot of traffic, there can be some big risks in changing SEO strategies.

We recently tested redirecting all our SEO link building power at a single domain name, www.websitebuilder.world, and away from www.websitebuilder.nz, with a hope that we might increase traffic internationally, without losing too much from NZ, with all else being equal. eg similar link strategies, all aimed at the one new primary URL. 

Although the majority of our traffic remained consistent, from existing users, links, adwords etc, we noted a sharp decrease in "new visitors" and a similar drop off in "signups".  

The change from websitebuilder.nz to websitebuilder.world, dropped us 3 positions in google rank (for nz), below our competitors. Given that all of us have similar wording in our google search results, its hard for new customers to know the difference between them. The market dominance we enjoy in NZ, is largely because of the keyword rich, and geographically positioned .nz domain name delivers us a lot of signups from complete strangers. 

We will always have existing customers recommend new customers to us, but the percentage of stranger signups is dominant. Internationally, our link building ability is not as good as the dominant international players in our industry, and therefore, our primary options are to pay for adwords in those markets. 

A branding issue we face is that everyone uses our generic name in their keyword rich SEO strategies. It's hard for us to spread the word of our service, as our service doesn't really have a unique name. So if a customer recommends a friend to use our service, and they search for "website builder" they will likely find the "wrong website builder".

We have therefore decided to return our link building strategy to websitebuilder.nz, so that we can maintain number one position in NZ for anyone who knows of our great service by the name "website builder" or who are merely searching for that sort of service. And we will now introduce a new brand name of "website.world" so that when someone searches for us by that name, we won't have so many competitors in that name space. 

Some very hard lessons we have learned regarding domain name SEO strategy that others might like to consider.

  • Keyword rich domains are powerful at capturing strangers based simply on a generic search term, not specifically looking for your business by name. 
  • Geographical suffix domains are very important for domestic rank. If you want to be #1 in a country, you need to focus on your geographical domain, at a cost to international sales. Same rule applies in all countries. 
  • If you want to focus on international sales, it appears that .com has more power than an equivalent generic international suffix. This is because Google knows that good .com domain names are hard won, or very expensive to buy. And therefore, it makes sense to preference a .com domain over a generic suffix domain of the same wording, with all other link building factors being equal. 

Posted: Sunday 26 July 2015

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