In this episode, Barbara and Paul discuss:
- What makes a good domain name.
- Branding on domain name extensions and what makes a domain name valuable.
- The role of domain names in SEO
- If you choose an extension other than .com, it needs to be part of your brand.
- If a domain name is not available in the .com, and it’s the spelling you like, you should try to acquire it from the owner or look until you find something that is uniquely yours.
- Once you get the domain name, it’s all about the content of your website.
“You need to have that anchor on the internet. That one spot that is your presence, identity.” — Paul Nicks
Barbara: Welcome to another episode of Marketing Tips for Doctors. I’m your host, Dr. Barbara Hales.
We have with us today Paul Nicks. He is the vice president and general manager of GoDaddy’s Domains Aftermarket and has been a leader in that space since 2013. Paul holds more than 10 domain-related patents and is here today to talk to us about the role that domains can play in a physician’s overall digital marketing strategy. Welcome Paul.
Paul: Thanks Dr. Hales. I appreciate you having me on.
Barbara: Well, it’s our pleasure. Tell us, what makes a good domain name?
Paul: You know, what makes a good domain name is that it’s memorable. I can think of domain names that are short, easy to spell. We have a bit of a terminology or a term that we use, the radio test or the billboard test. And it’s very simple. For a good domain name, if you can hear it on the radio or see it when you’re driving 60 miles an hour beyond the billboard and then recall that later on when you’re at your desktop or at your phone and you’re ready to browse and find whatever information you want, that makes a good domain name. So it is —
Barbara: Yeah. That’s excellent advice. There is a billboard that is recurrent with different funny pictures on it from 100 miles out going from south to north for a place called South of the Border which is between North Carolina and South Carolina. I don’t know if you’re familiar with it. But there is nobody that makes that route that does not know about South of the Border. It’s a great domain name and everybody knows about it.
Paul: Absolutely. If it’s memorable, it only makes the advertising that much more permanent. You really need to — If you have a subpar domain name, something that you have to spell out for somebody, it takes away a little bit of time, a little bit of effort on making sure that somebody goes to that specific domain name rather than just having it flow right off your tongue and be something that’s easy and recognizable and memorable.
Barbara: I’d like to mention the fact that they’re trying to find you and they might not.
Paul: That’s absolutely correct.
Barbara: With social media like Facebook and Yelp, is your own domain and website even important anymore?
Paul: You know, I think if we had this conversation 10 years ago I think the conversation would have been, with social media like MySpace and AOL available, do you even need a website? And you can kind of understand, yes, absolutely because companies that were viable and had their own domain name 10 years ago, pre-Facebook, pre-Yelp, pre-Twitter are still going strong today because they own their own spot on the internet. It is something that is 100% within their control. And they own the content. They own everything about it. So absolutely, you need to have that anchor on the internet, that one spot that is your presence, identity. And from there, if you wanted to, you can certainly link off to the various other aspects. You know, a little research prior to this, your own website allows you as a visitor to go off to your Facebook, your LinkedIn, your Twitter, your Amazon store. And that’s a perfect usage of a domain name and a website because you then control the message that you’re going out to. You control where folks are going to. And you don’t have to wait for somebody else to launch a new feature or you don’t have to worry about whether or not Facebook shuts you down for something or does not allow you to link to another website for some reason. So absolutely, you need your own website, your own presence that you control on the internet.
Barbara: That is absolutely true. And now, a word from our sponsor.
Hello everyone. This is Dr. Barbara Hales from themedicalstrategist.com. I wanted to interrupt this episode just for a moment to bring you a message. Interested in finding out ways to leverage your content and brand, to keep your current patients and attract prospective ones? Schedule your free discovery call at themedicalstrategist.as.me/discoverycall.
That’s themedicalstrategist.as.me/discoverycall. And now, back to the program.
Welcome back. We’re sitting here with Paul Nicks.
Barbara: There are a lot of domain name extensions. Is one better than the other?
Paul: The gist is that dot com is the known domain extension. I think when you talk about domain names to somebody that doesn’t live on the internet all day long, dot com is the default. There are many other extensions that are available. Some play in certain niches. Technology companies are starting up on .ai and .io because they have some sort of tech advances to them. But one thing that’s very important to understand is that when you are branding on a domain name, if you’re not using the dot com, then you need to put the extension, if you’re using an alternate extension, put the extension in the name as your brand.
I’ll give you an example. So, when I think about a good domain name, from a company that’s been founded recently, I think of Calm. So, Calm is an app especially these times in the world where it’s great to have a sort of relaxation app. They use calm.com. If they were branding on something like a .io or a .ai or perhaps a country code like a .uk or a .ca, they wouldn’t be able to necessarily brand themselves as Calm. They would really want to be branded as calm.ai, calm.io, calm.ca. The extension needs to be part of the brand because the default in everyone’s head is to go to the dot com. So, if you’re starting out and let’s say you have a dentist facility in Phoenix, Arizona. You can be phoenixdentists and have an air of authority. The domain name alone gives you the authority that you are, that is who you are, that is where you are. But if you brand on a dot health, that needs to be a part of your brand. Otherwise, people will go to the dot com and you’ll lose traffic to the dot com.
Barbara: Do you suggest then that when you’re getting the domain name that you buy all of the extensions so that your competitors can’t use them?
Paul: I suggest you certainly buy the dot com. As far as the other extensions go, you’re looking for the organic traffic. And the best way to put this, if you think of domain names in the vein of real estate, a good placement is location, location, location, right? A good placement of real estate will get you foot traffic, will get you natural traffic of people that weren’t necessarily looking for you but were looking for stores on that street.
Now, take that to a domain name. And then you can say a great domain name — I’ll go back to phoenixdentists. It’s two words, dot com, easy to say, passes the radio test. And you will get organic traffic. You will get people who are looking for Phoenix dentists to go to your website without any further marketing. And so somebody who is a dentist in Phoenix, I keep hammering on that one domain name and I don’t know who the owner is so sorry if it’s somebody else, but somebody going to that website will go right in. And potentially, the owner of that domain name would have had to pay surcharge in the marketing or some other marketing fees to get that same person in the door.
When you’re thinking about what makes a good name, the extensions, then certainly you’re going to want to think about the organic traffic going to the dot com. You will want to protect your name with other TLDs if you think that other TLDs may get organic traffic as well. I think the country code TLD of whatever country you reside in is important. I think some of the top TLDs, the dot co, the dot net, the dot org, potentially are all very valuable to have because you may find folks that are going there organically. As you get to the longer ones, it’s not so much a protection strategy at that point. You’re just hedging against other folks buying it up. It’s not as important as really gathering in the organic business. It’s all about getting foot traffic. Yeah.
Barbara: If you have a name that is set in your heart that you want but you can’t get the dot com, rather than buying a different extension, do you suggest changing the name?
Paul: You know, it depends on whether you can get it or not and whether or not the person who owns the dot com is in your space. I think if you use a more generic term and — I can’t think of a good — Well, I’ll go back to Calm as we used that earlier. Calm could certainly be what it is today. If I were to run something — Let’s say that Calm was a sunglasses manufacturer, just a generic name and I wanted to build a wellness app on that. I’d be pretty comfortable using Calm as the terminology on an alternate extension, the .io, .ai, .co, something like that because I could differentiate myself from who has the dot com. But if the person who has the dot com, the company who has the dot com is in your general space, absolutely, you will lose traffic to them if you don’t choose an alternative or buy it from them.
Barbara: Now, when SEO which is search engine optimization first started out and people were getting domains, it was a rule, if not an unwritten rule, that you could not get an extension for a location where you are not actually located. Is that still true? Or have they relaxed that?
Paul: So that’s not so much an SEO rule. There are some restrictions on the extensions for countries. So for instance, dot us is a good example. There are residency restrictions or have been residency restrictions in the past on making sure that you live in the United States to get a dot us. Other countries also have some restrictions. Not every country does. It’ll be up to the person or the company that you register your domain name through like a GoDaddy as a registrar to verify that you are meeting the restrictions for the TLDs that require the restrictions.
Barbara: So that still holds true?
Paul: For some TLDs. For some extensions in countries, that does hold true, yes.
Barbara: You work in the Aftermarket. What does that mean? When I saw that, I wasn’t quite sure myself.
Paul: Yeah. The Aftermarket is an interesting space. Think of domain names. We talked about domain names potentially having value and talked a little bit about domain names being purchased from other folks. Like if you have your heart set on a particular domain name, potentially you can buy it from the owner.
There are folks who invest in domain names. And this is much like real estate. It actually operates in many of the same directions as real estate or potentially art or wine collectors, things of that nature where you’re going and you’re looking at the properties of a domain name, assigning a value to the domain name based off of those various properties that we talked about earlier, shortness, radio test, etc. and then selling those domain names to folks that are starting businesses in order to properly maximize the value of the digital real estate you’re using.
Barbara: What makes a domain valuable?
Paul: Yeah. So that’s the fun part. All the things that make a domain name good for a company and good for a brand are what makes a domain name valuable. Again, it goes back to organic traffic. Think 100% on how much does it cost you to find one new customer and then associate a domain name and say that domain name organically can bring you 200 customers in a year. I’m just throwing out numbers. But if every customer, if every new acquisition for you is worth $1000 and you get 200 a year just by owning a domain name, well then that domain name may be worth $200,000. Or if you look a little bit further, three years’ worth of advertising will give you $600,000. So, domain names based on how much traffic, how valuable they are to your brand, it is really how much you can pay for them. There are extreme examples. We sold via GoDaddy voice.com last year. And it sold in the summer of 2019 for $30 million.
Paul: That was the single largest sale in the Aftermarket published. And you know, certainly the buyer and the seller both understood the value of that domain name. They were able to come to a price that they were both happy. And on a smaller scale, these things happen every day where somebody who owns the domain name had the forethought to register a domain name in a certain field or with certain characteristics came to a value price with a buyer who saw the value in that particular domain name, understands that they can brand themselves on that name and move forward. So that is the entirety of the Aftermarket. It’s two parties coming together on an agreement of a domain’s intrinsic value.
Barbara: Gosh! If only I had registered that one.
Paul: Yeah. We all thought that. We all thought that.
Barbara: Why would somebody pay for a domain that’s already been registered by someone else rather than registering a domain themselves?
Paul: It’s all on supply. The thing about domain names is that they are each unique. There’s only one domain name that itself matches exactly what you’re looking for in the exact extension with the exact spelling and keywords. Only one at a time. So, if you are looking to promote yourself on the internet to have that immediate authority, then you will need to get a specific domain.
Once you go into the world of adding things like dashes, alternate extensions, etc., you’re going to have to work harder to market yourself to make sure that your potential customers understand that your domain name, your presence on the internet has the dashes and the alternate extensions again by putting it as part of the branding itself. So, if it’s not available in the dot com and the spelling you like, certainly I would suggest trying to acquire it from the owner or looking until you find something that is uniquely yours.
Barbara: If they own the name and they are not really currently using it, how likely are they to part with that name? Or does it just come down to money?
Paul: It always comes down to money. Most of the folks that own domain names — The great thing about the professional investors is that they’re far more willing to let go of a domain name because it’s an asset. It’s a digital asset. To them, you acquire — You know, if you come together on a price, you can get that name. And it can move quickly. And oftentimes, they’ll help you identify alternates or variants you may want to acquire as well around that name. A very helpful group.
When you’re talking about somebody that potentially registered that domain name because they had a grand idea on something to do with it, then you have a more emotional aspect. If somebody has held a domain name for 10 years and paid $20 a year to keep renewing it, sometimes it’s a little bit harder to get it out of their hands because of the emotional attachment to it regardless of whether they’re actually using it today or not. They always have that well, I will use it tomorrow. We do have professional brokers that you can hire that get right along, know the calls, know the lingo, know how to communicate with somebody like that. So that’s typically what we suggest. If you’re having a hard time wrangling a domain name away from somebody, it’s probably time to start bringing in a professional broker in and talking about getting around the emotional aspect of the ownership of it.
Barbara: What role do domains play in SEO which is search engine optimization?
Paul: Yes, search engine optimization. Google being those guys will tell you it’s all about content on your website. But we certainly have seen studies where the keywords in a domain name do improve your positioning via search engine optimization. Google understands the concept of authority of a domain name as well as a person looking at it via their eyeballs. So, if I can see that something is an exact match — I’ll go back to phoenixdentists.com. They have a much easier position and much easier time positioning themselves in search engine ranking than thebestphoenix-dentists.org. It’s much easier. You’ve got the keyword in there. You’ve got the authority. And therefore, the search engines will treat you better. Now, you still need to have good content. You can’t do anything on search engine without good content for the search engine users. But the domain name is a big part of that.
Barbara: Why would anyone want multiple domain names?
Paul: Sure. Multiple domain names is really around how easy it is to get to you and protecting yourself from potentially phishing attacks and things of that nature that I’ll get to in a second and how you want to use your brand, use your marketing. So, a lot of different ways. You can see that — I’ll use you. I’m sorry. So, if we say Dr. Hales or Dr. Barbara Hales is your Twitter handle and you go and try to find say drbarbarahales.com.
Barbara: It is actually.
Paul: It’s available in the register. I know actually from what I saw. It could be drbarbarahales.com or doctorbarbarahales.com. And then getting back to the radio test, what people hear may not be what they remember. You would want multiple domain names around the word doctor. Just make sure that you’ve got both spellings, the abbreviation and the spelling. You want to make sure that you’ve got multiple ways of spelling Barbara perhaps, you know. Yours has three A’s in it. Some people spell it without the middle A. There are a lot of ways of spelling potentially your last name.
Variants of those things are important. And once you get beyond the variants and then potentially the alternate TLDs like registering the dot org and the dot net, the dot co, the dot info, then you also have things that you can do that are really interesting in domain names like call to action domain names. You can think of a web advertiser, even a TV advertiser. Large companies will sometimes use things like consultadoctor.com that will then route you to some large doctors’ office main webpage. Buyaticket or something along those lines. It’s a call to action. It’s easy to remember. It doesn’t necessarily mention the brand because that call to action is meant for a one-time use for an ad campaign then routes you back to your main website where you can tell the user everything about you. So it’s really useful for marketing agencies and marketing campaigns to have this call to action.
Not everyone uses them that way but certainly that would be another angle you could take on registering multiple domain names. For us, we typically just really recommend the various misspellings, the typos of your domain name. We certainly don’t want a bad player getting a variant of your domain name that kind of looks like your name so like using a zero instead of an O in the word doctor perhaps and then sending out emails off of that domain name that are bad for the user experience, that don’t treat the end user however you would want them and how you want your brand shown.
Barbara: Well, I love that idea of having a domain name that’s a call to action. I think that’s brilliant.
Paul: It’s used quite a bit. In large companies, they are doing a lot with that. Next year, next cycle on TV when you’re watching the adverts, it’s interesting to see how they’re using domain names anymore.
Barbara: Do you suggest having a different domain for every product or landing page that you have on your site that then points back to your site?
Paul: You certainly can. I think that it is a good idea if you think of maybe a Hershey’s, a conglomerate, a Johnson & Johnson, somebody like that that has many, many different products. Their entire strategy may be built around every product has its own suite of domain names, call to actions and the misspellings and the variants. And then somebody like a Johnson & Johnson actually has been pretty famous for registering generic domains.
So, think of baby.com. It would go to a Johnson & Johnson page to advertise their diapers. Or diapers.com. They’re using generic terms that are not necessarily brand-able or branded for them but again it’s trying to find where people are walking on the internet. What’s the foot traffic going to be like? Can you get more of those people routed to where you want them to be? So yes, you want to register as many domain names that you think will gather the foot traffic on the internet and funnel them to your main site so you can talk to them directly after they’ve gotten there.
Barbara: Again, brilliant. So you know, there’s a big science to deciding on your domain name for those people that thought it was just easy and you registered one name and that’s it.
Paul: That’s right.
Barbara: Once you have a good domain name, then what?
Paul: Well then, it’s about your website from there. Having the domain name only gets people to your door. To get them to come in and to get them to really engage and stay on to your website, you have to have engaging content. Most importantly, in your position, I would want to make sure I have access for folks to, maybe not you, specifically for doctors, fill out a form if you’re a new client. How to get to us.
What’s your physical brick and mortar location? What’s your phone number? What are your hours of operation? All these things that people may come to your website to find out are what you want to have on there. And then if you are branding yourself, if you’re selling services, if you’re selling books, having the ability for folks to take there and link directly to a shopping cart experience, that’s very important. So you want to make sure that your website has all the content well organized in a way that a user comes to it, they can see exactly what they’re looking for, exactly what they need and go directly there. And organizing and content on website is its own science of course. But you know, having good content is absolutely the imperative.
Barbara: Absolutely. Well, it’s been great having you on the show today. We really enjoyed speaking with you. It’s been a lot of fun.
Paul: Thank you, Dr. Hales.
Barbara: Can our listeners reach you if they’d like to speak to you further?
Paul: Absolutely. I think that I’m fairly, fairly active on Twitter @PaulENicks. So you can find me there. And certainly reach out, DM me if you’re there.
Barbara: Okay. And for those people that are now fired up to get a new domain, that’s www.godaddy, with no spaces, dot com.
Paul: That’s correct.
Barbara: Well, thanks Paul.
Paul: Thank you, Dr. Hales. I appreciate it your time.
Barbara: Take care.
Connect with Paul Nicks:
LinkedIn: Paul Nicks
Connect with Barbara Hales:
Show website: www.MarketingTipsForDoctors.com