Registering and using multiple domains names was strategy used by many as a great tool for building your business and creating a bigger online presence. Because of the higher costs and strict controls placed on .com.au domain names many agents chose to collect .com domains which are cheap and easy to get.Collecting multiple domains were promoted as a way :
- Keep your competition from registering a domain name that draws visitors to them instead of you.
- Increase your exposure in the search engines provide customers more ways to find you when searching the Internet which drives more traffic to your Web sites.
- Create distinct advertising and promotion strategies that target different markets.
- Protect your brand and online identity from those who may have unsavoury purpose
I know plenty of agents with up to 20 domain names registered and some with even more. Most people just had these extra domain names pointed to the main website which meant they in effect created duplicates of their primary website with different web addresses.
This worked for a while but the problem with this practice was that search engines began filling up with an endless amount of duplicate websites. The search engines fought back and adjusted their algorithms to penalise duplicate content which meant that these duplicates dropped in the search engine results which reduced their traffic. Still they were cheap and easy to implement and were still producing some traffic.
At around the same time search engines looked at improving their service to visitors by giving preference to websites that are local to the visitor as a way to make the search results more meaningful. So when you search on most major search engines today, local sites often fill the majority of results along with high ranking and popular results from elsewhere around the world. In addition to giving extra credence to Australian websites to Australians searching we were also given the option to show just “pages from Australia” which removed all non-Australian sites totally.
Search engines classified .com.au domains as being an Australian website which left all Top Level Domains (TLD) like .com .net .org considered to be non-australian. Overnight the extra traffic generated by these .com domains which had recently suffered duplicate penalities reduced to a trickle because of the introduction of localisation.
Around the world many people have invested in .com domains for localised use and the drop in traffic now meant there needed to be a way to allocate a specific domain to a specific audience in Australia, New Zealand, United Kingdom, China or other countries or regions.
It comes as no surprise that Google has come to the rescue. Very late last year Google added the ability to allocate any domain name to target a specific geographic area such as a country, state, city or even a particular suburb. This ability was added into the tools area of Google Webmaster Central at http://www.google.com/webmasters/.
Allocating a domain name to Australia or an area inside Australia does not work instantly as it takes a little while for it to fully propagate through but the results are worth the wait. Changes applied in the first few days of this tool being released have only recently been rolled out although I would expect future updates to be a little quicker. The good news is that the traffic to the .com domains that I updated returned almost overnight. I expect the other search engines to follow Google’s lead.
If you have any TLD domains lying around not generating you traffic it may be well worth the investment in time (or money if you have to get somebody else to do the work) . To make the most of it you should have each domain pointing to unique content as well. With cheap overseas unlimited hosting and low cost .com domain names you could set up 10 domains and have them hosted for around $200 per year. All you need to do is make a unique site for each which will cost a little more unless you have the skills in house.
Proactive agents will take this even further as using this tool also allows you to target a specific audience as well. Grab a .com domain and build a website to specifically target it to a New Zealand, the United Kingdom or even a US audience.