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I have been helping car dealers fine tune their Internet marketing strategy through my blogs and lately I have been getting a number of emails on Microsites. The focus of these inquiries: How can I use microsites for lead generation? Eventually the conversation always includes one important question: "What domain name should I use?"
The focus of this article is to help you with that decision making process. Domain names can make or break your marketing budget. A few assumptions have to be made for this discussion to be meaningful.
Mega Bucks Projects
The first assumption is that you are not building a multi-million dollar project that will be a national brand that has a HUGE marketing budget. An example would be Uggs and the domain www.uggs.com. No one was typing that word into Google before the brand launched. This is both good and bad. The good part is that the name had little competition once the word got out. The bad part is that it costs money to get the word out.
Short Term Goals
The second assumption is that you don't need an immediate blast of visitor traffic or the website is for a short term sale. If you need an immediate blast of sales or traffic that means you will most likely need to use paid advertising campaigns. Think Google AdWords or Yahoo Search Marketing.
In this case, you might not be concerned that your domain name is search friendly. Examples of this could be a short term promotion or sale that you don't need organic rankings to develop over time. In this case you could pick a domain name like www.cars100.com if you were selling 100 cars over a weekend and were using radio, print and web to drive people to the event. A domain name like www.cars100.com is something that could be easily remembered from a radio spot.
So, with those two cases put aside let's make sure we consider all our options before we purchase a domain name. I will attempt to condense years of testing into a few points of guidance. Time to put on your search engine optimization learning caps.
Look For Exact Matches
For most cases, an exact match on the services you offer will results in the most visibility. So, if you are a divorce lawyer in New Jersey, owning www.njdivorceattorney.com is a much better choice that www.charlesschwartzmcfeen.com. Use free keyword research tools to decide if "divorce attorney" or "divorce lawyer" get more monthly search traffic to help guide decisions. Search traffic is not the only tool to consider but it is important.
Buy the .NET if the .COM is parked
If you have a search phrases you want to target and the .com is taken the .NET may be just as good. A "parked" domain is one that has no website. If a .com domain is parked or forwarding to another website, that is actually GREAT for you. Forwarded domains will never be in a search result. So, if you wanted www.bostonnissan.com and it was parked or forwarded and you could buy www.bostonnissan.net , purchase it immediately and setup a microsite.
Dashes Are OK
If have a website called www.dealer-seo.com and it is #1 in the USA for searches on "automotive SEO" and "car dealer SEO" and the domain has a dash. Following our previous example, if www.bostonnissan.com and www.bostonnissan.net were taken, see if you could buy www.boston-nissan.com. If you can, purchase it and start your microsite strategy.
Does Size Matter?
It seems that size is not as important as the words in the domain name. If you are in the business of precision metal casting and you purchased www.precisionmetalcasting.com you would not be penalized that you domain is long. The focus should be on the search phrases you want to attack and since you can put up microsites very inexpensively using Wordpress, you could in fact have multiple microsites placed on long tail keywords.
Content is King
Keep in mind that any site you create should have good content and should have over 10 pages of content as a starting base. There are no sustainable shortcuts to top Google rankings without good content.
WordPress as a Microsite Tool
WordPress microsites are easy to maintain, self-publishing and they have SEO marketing plug-ins that be installed. WordPress combined with an effective domain marketing strategy can yield amazing results. Here are some examples of taking this domain strategy in conjunction with WordPress to market:
The point is that regardless of traffic as little as 1,000 hits a month, if that search phrase it resulting in good leads and sales, that is all that matters. A WordPress microsite can pay itself back with one car sale. You should always addd Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools to your WordPress sites to track the visitors and usage of the microsites just like you would on your main dealer website.
A good microsite strategy gives you many benefits: