Dust off those old dotcom domains

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 :

  1. Keep your competition from registering a domain name that draws visitors to them instead of you.
  2. 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.
  3. Create distinct advertising and promotion strategies that target different markets.
  4. 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.

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About Glenn Batten

Glenn Batten is the General Manager at First National Real Estate Nerang and Principal at the First National Real Estate Upper Coomera office and has over 20 years real estate experience and a passion for technology. Glenn has been writing from an agents perspective on industry issues and covering a range of topics on Business2 since 2007.

3 Responses to Dust off those old dotcom domains

  1. Peter Ricci April 15, 2008 at 9:58 am #

    I do know many agents that have registered domains and just point them at their main website, thinking this may actually help in search engines. Unless their is content under a domain name it will not appear.

  2. Greg Vincent April 15, 2008 at 7:44 pm #

    Glenn, I read an article on March 30th SUN-HERALD by Reid Sexton that quoted “the auDA chief Chris Disspain saying that the Australian Domain Name Administrator (auDA), the governing body for all domains ending in “dot au”, will lift a ban on the sale of dot au domains in June, opening an expected thriving market in their sale.”
    See article http://www.smh.com.au/news/technology/the-big-internet-land-grab/2008/03/29/1206207491203.html

    This could make things very interesting for a lot of international companies wanting to appear as local businesses without having to have a physical presence within Australia. Currently they have to register a business within Australia to register the .com.au domain name. The implications of this move could open up a massive can of worms for Australian businesses.

    In relation to real estate, this could mean that any staff member or member of the public will have the opportunity to register whatever real estate related .com.au domain name they find available.

    This decision won’t just have some damaging ramifications to Australian Business but it could make things very interesting for the real estate industry too.

  3. Glenn Batten April 16, 2008 at 9:41 am #

    Greg,

    The purpose of this article was to remind people that if they have some .com domains lying around doing nothing, they can revive them for very little work. As you have pointed out, if .com.au domains become simple to get, as long as money is not an issue if you are looking to buy a new domain, the .com.au will be the one to get because all search engines will instantly recognise it as being Australian unlike a .com which has to be manually targeted through Google Only.

    Google opened the floodgates by allowing any TLD domain to be appointed to a specific geographic area. Any run on .com.au domains will only increase the problem that already exists.

    When things like this happen we all have to live by the same rules so the winners will always be the people who rise above it and make the rules work for them whilst it impedes everyone else.

    As I mentioned in the article a proactive agent in lets say Sydney will be able to create a dedicated website just to target New Zealand, plus more to target other areas like London, UK, New York, Los Angeles, US, South Africa. For a good web designer they could easily create unique content for each of these targets all the while building on your current website framework to minmise the cost and complexity.

    But the sad thing is that the company that will probably do it is somebody like REA who have the skills nouse and inhouse talent to throw at it for a week and create a huge collection of sites specifically targeted to different cities and countries around the world.. Then they will just sell us the leads!!!

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