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Getting our industry to take a good look at new domain names (also known as TLDs or top level domains) comes with its challenges, including the “business as usual” resistance: “My website works just fine as is – and I’ve spent a good amount of marketing dollars towards it!” While it’s true that many dealers have worked hard to build and market their .com websites, new auto-specific TLDs (.Cars / .Car / .Auto) are opening up the doors to a wide range of opportunities to improve online marketing in this ever evolving internet landscape.
Other industries, including legal, entertainment and finance are already seeing positive benefits from new TLDs like .Attorney, .Movie, .Bank. Think of it this way: If you were a real estate developer, would you ignore an opportunity to buy a prime piece of property in a great neighborhood?
Not surprisingly, one of the biggest concerns from dealers is the potential impact a new TLD could have on Google search: “My website already appears at the top of Google search results – why should I switch?”
It’s worth looking at a recent case study, conducted by independent SEO experts, Globe Runner, which looked at a St. Louis car dealership’s move from STLMotorcars.com to STL.Cars. Some of the ‘before’ and ‘after’ data that was analyzed consisted of engagement, organic search traffic, website rankings in Google, and whether or not visitors were confused by the move. The study found an improvement in over 50% of keywords that were tested, an increase in conversions from organic search, an increase in new sessions by nearly 8%, and a 34% increase in referral traffic.
Not only will the new STL.Cars url be easier for customers to remember and type into their mobile device, but it also helps solidify the STL brand on an authoritative, industry-specific domain.
Another example is a website from Scholfield Automotive, who moved from wichitacars.com (a 15-year-old domain) to Wichita.Cars. Wichita.Cars now ranks number one for the search term “wichita cars” everywhere in the world: see for yourself – visit google.de and search for “wichita cars” - you’ll see the site as the top result.
Once you start looking at the opportunities around the new TLDs – from shortening your current URL making it more mobile-friendly to establishing regional URLs to expand your marketing reach – I think you’ll find that this worldwide web thing is just getting started!