Domain Name Nightmares

Domain Name Nightmares

Web Browser iconsI’ve just started listening to the phone-in shows on London Broadcasting Company [LBC] on DAB, many of which make for interesting listening.

Of course, this means that I have to listen to the adverts, by far the majority of which are targeted specifically at LBC’s London audience. Although I tend to tune-out, two in particular caught my attention – although not for the reasons that the advertisers would like. They reminded me of issues associated with the importance of choosing the right domain name for your business, issues that I thought had been put to bed years ago.

In my experience, most organisations choose their domain name based on their business name – – the sector they trade in – – and/or based on a product they sell or a service they deliver –, for example.

The choice of name would be either discussed or shared by email, very rarely were domain names discussed and shared in print and this must be why some absolute howlers were registered. The problem being that something that looks good or “cool” in print can be a nightmare to communicate verbally and a domain name that sounds good could send totally the wrong message when viewed in print.

Take phones4you – as a company name it “does what it says on the tin” – sells mobile phones for you, although the “for” was replaced by ”4” to shorten the domain and imitate “text speak”. Phones4You were lucky to be backed by an expensive TV and print campaign. Imagine, as a small business with a small marketing budget trying to convey the web address in a phone call, “its,”that’s’ phones 4 – the digit 4 not the word – you dot com”.

There were others too – such as – a London based video production agency, the domain name sounds fine when spoken but has an issue when written down.

Then there’s the Italian power generating company, PowerGen Italia, sounds fine when spoken but looks less good in writing, imagine receiving an email from [although this was later proven to be a spoof], unlike pen supplier Pen Island whose domain – is more “Carry On” than they probably would like.

It’s OK having a giggle at some of these but the reality is that many of these websites may not be visible to their target audience, especially where  the businesses they are targeting use web-filtering devices to ensure that their personal can only access appropriate websites.

Domain names like this also cause SEO confusion because the search engines have to guess the words from the alphabet-soup of letters and yet the solution is simple, use a hyphen or two, and the intention is immediately visible, and for example.

So, back to LBC and the two adverts that set me thinking, one is for a London based Cloud Service  provider called Xara Cloud. The voiceover had to enunciate each letter – X, A, R, A Cloud to make sure that potential clients did not confuse the X with Z and the second was for Buy2let cars – where the voiceover tried to emphasize the 2 but totally failed to communicate whether it was Buy2LetCars, BuyToLetCars or BuyTooLetCars.

The moral of this is simple – when thinking of a domain name, make sure that it looks good in print and is easy to communicate verbally – if it’s not, then go back to the drawing board.

I might not be able to undo any domain names that you have registered but I can certainly help with the majority of internet marketing issues that you have, so why not give me a call on 01793 238020 or drop me a line, for an informal and free chat about your issues and how I may be able to help.

How much is a Page 1 position on Google really worth?

search Engine OptimisationAlmost every week I am approached by clients who need more traffic to their website from the major search engines.

Quite often they have been approached by (or have approached)  consultants offering to this but have baulked at the fees. Now, I know that the fundamentals are pretty east to achieve if you have the knowledge, experience, inclination and time but many small businesses rarely have any of these and yet some many feel that good search engine optimisation [SEO] can be delivered quickly and cheaply.

Let’s look at this scientifically, around 49m people use the web in the UK (77% of the population apparently). Of these about 80% use search engines to find what they are looking for – which equates to 39.2m people and approximately 95% of them use Google as their search engine of choice – 37.2m people.

Now, let me ask the question – how much is it worth to expose your brand to a potential audience of this size?

Lets look at TV first. There is the cost associated with the production of the advert, script writing, casting, production, filming and editing. According to the Televisual magazine, the average cost of producing a 30 second advert for TV is around £140,000. Then there is the cost of your “slot”. This will vary based on your target channel, whether you want a regional or national ad,  the time of day, the product to be advertised and the show (s) that are on either side of the ad break targeted so something at 9pm is going to cost much much more than a slot at 2am when the audiences will be far lower.

For a 30 second national ad on ITV1 between 7pm and 10pm a 30 second slot will cost from £60,000 and £75,000 rising to £250,000 for peak time Saturday and Sunday evenings [think X-Factor and Downton Abbey] and this is likely to reach between 5m and 9m viewers depending on the popularity of the show.

Too much? Then think about radio or the print media – both of which have lower costs (both production and media costs) but also have significantly lower audience figures.

In all of these cases, the costs will be for a “one off” and most people with any experience of advertising know that one-off adverts simply do not work, so you have to pay for a campaign.

All of a sudden fees quoted by Search Engine Optimisers actually begin to actually look like pretty good value for money bearing in mind that if they succeed, then your site will be in front of the largest possible audience 24 hours a day and 7 days a week.

To understand how effective search engine optimisation can help your business please give me a call on 01793 238020 or drop me an email to

Posted in SEO

New Domain Name Dilemas

Are new domains worth it for businesses?

Domain name dilemasMore than 1,000 new domain names could soon be available.

I was watching TV the other night when up popped an advert for a large and well know web hosting company advertising the forthcoming availability of more than 700 new domain name extensions, known as gTLDs or global Top Level Domains.

Most of us are familiar with the likes of .com, and, you’re probably familiar with .info, .net and .eu but ICAAN, the association charged with managing domain names, is currently evaluating over 1,000 new options - how does .accountant, .book or even .zip strike you? They are just 3 under consideration – have a look at the complete list over on my website.

When visiting websites it will mean that we will all have to pay more attention to domain extensions to make sure we get to the sites we want, the search engines will face a challenge to deal with this potential explosion in domain extensions whilst domain registration agencies, ruthless marketing companies, consultancies and cybersquatters may feel that their .ship is about to sail in because it’s unlikely that these new gTLDs will be policed.

Very few are – for example .org was always meant to be used by charities and not-for-profit organisations but was quickly hijacked by businesses when the more common .com and options had already been registered although .ltd or .gov can only be registered if you are a Limited company or a genuine government department but these controlled domains are in the minority.

Businesses may be sold more domains than they actually need by being told they need to protect their brand and to prevent cybersquatting whilst cybersquatters may jump on the opportunity to make a quick buck by registering the domain names of well-known companies in the hope of holding them to ransom, expecting a large payoff to sell the domains on to them.

Although legislation was passed to outlaw some of the more ruthless scams it’s not actively policed and this explosion in new domains may make Cybersquatting too tempting to resist and could bring the Cybersquatters back in droves as they look to capitalise on these new opportunities and confusion.

To protect your business against cybersquatting you need to make sure your company name is properly registered and trademarked. This will mean that you can use the law to claim what is yours should you fall victim to cybersquatting but it still leaves one question unanswered – which domain names should you register?

Simply put and .com are the ones uppermost in people minds so you should always register these and then choose carefully from the new ones and only register those that are really relevant to your business and sector that you trade in.

If you want to talk more help with domain names, websites and online marketing in more detail please email me, or give me a call on 01793 238020