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Choosing a domain name - or
March 22, 2014 9:11 PM   Subscribe

I give regular classes/workshops in my specialty. When I set up my project and the related website last year, I wanted a very straight forward domain name but it wasn't available as a .com so I got .info instead. My SEO is good if you google for it but real people tend to assume that everything is .com so they have trouble remembering/typing in the url. I've picked out a more evocative name that is nicer as a business name but I'm worried that it will be harder for people to find me on the internet. What is the smart thing to do? If I do switch (or try to use both) what is the best way to do that?

So lets' assume I teach balkan dancing. When I started out, I couldn't get the equivalent of so I went with My SEO is good - if you google "balkan dance" my website and another page which links to mine are in the top 5.

The problem is that regular people who have seen my flyer or heard about the workshops have trouble finding my website. Most don't notice the .info or forget to type it in. Fortunately, the .com version (called it is a go-daddy placeholder with no real content. At that point, I hope that people will google it then and find me.

So, I've been thinking about switching to a new domain where I can have the .com. I have really good evocative name picked out (equivalent to When I've asked participant which name they like better the vote was 5:2 in favor of the evocative name but those folks don't really know anything about SEO and internet marketing.

1. How much does it help my SEO to have the best descriptor in the url?
2. I'm pretty small time here (less than a dozen people come to my monthly classes) but I do want more people to be able to find me on the internet. How is easy is to rebuild my SEO with a new website, assuming that this is a relatively esoteric specialty?
3. If I do want to switch, what is the best way to do it? Should I keep both ( as my main website and as a one page portal? If it makes a difference, the actual website is a free weekly site.
4. GoDaddy is happy to help me make an offer for the domain but (a) don't want to reward someone for sitting on it and (b) I don't make enough from sideline to spend any real money on it. I might consider it for <$100 but I assume that the minute I ask the other party will smell $$$$ and ask for much more. Is that assumption right?
posted by metahawk to Computers & Internet (5 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I don’t really know much about internet marketing, but I have several variations of my web address that resolve to the main one. I know companies do that when they take over another company.
posted by bongo_x at 10:56 PM on March 22 [1 favorite]

Buy em' both. Post on Craigslist. Post on bulletin boards in coffee shops and grocery stores. Put ads on the radio. Diversify.
posted by oceanjesse at 12:48 AM on March 23

According to the Internets, doing a 301-Moved Permanently redirect (301 refers to the status code the client receives when it asks the server for a web page) causes Google to update its index and transfer the Page Rank score to the destination site. My suggestion is to buy the .com, transfer your content to it, then set up a bulk permanent redirect from the .info to the .com. Having your search keywords in the URL used to be a Very Big Thing but the advent of people buying domains like have diminished that usefulness.

There's another type of redirect, 302-Moved Temporarily, that doesn't appear to help with what you're after. Your ability to put in these types of changes will depend on how much control you have through your web host.
posted by fireoyster at 1:56 AM on March 23 [2 favorites]

The resolving thing mentioned above is called a 'canonical url'. You have as many domains as you want, they all point to the same website, but resolve to the specific domain you choose. This is best practice. I would do this rather than have a separate landing page for each domain.

On Apache you do this with the .htaccess file. On IIS you can use the URL Rewrite module.

4. The price asked will be in the thousands probably. I had to go through this with a project I was working on recently. It wasn't a particularly good .com domain, but the owner wanted $4,000 for it, so was respectfully declined! I'm sure you could haggle the price down though.
posted by derbs at 3:32 AM on March 23 [1 favorite]

I'm no expert but I believe that the words in the domain name no longer have that much impact on your SEO, though things used to be different in the past.

If you have, to continue your example, lots of content about Balkan Dancing, are linked to from other notable Balkan Dancing sites, and there aren't a lot of other sites that cover the topic of Balkan Dancing better than you do, that is probably what drives your search rankings more than the domain name per se.

People who know more about these things than me seem to suggest that if you feel like you really want Balkan Dancing in the name, you should riff on that til you come up with a .com that is available. Maybe BalkanDancing, BalkanDancer,TheBalkanDancer, BalkanStudio, BalkanGrace or whatever works and is available.
posted by philipy at 6:59 AM on March 23

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