Part 3: How vanity URLs & a .brand TLD could supercharge your SEO

Part 3: How vanity URLs & a .brand TLD could supercharge your SEO

vanity URLs SEO dotbrands

How vanity URLs & a .brand TLD could supercharge your SEO
(Part 3)

In this exclusive MakeWay.World guest series, Major League Baseball’s Matt Dorville shares his perspective on how to use vanity URLs within your .brand TLD to really drive your SEO ranking. Read the previous article of the series here.

Matt is Major League Baseball Advanced Media’s Content and SEO Strategist. He is widely regarded as a leading global SEO expert and develops SEO strategies for MLB.com, NHL.com, and all 61 ball clubs within MLB as well as for Major League Baseball Advanced Media’s partners both domestic and internationally.

 

So far this series has looked at vanity URLs and how they’re treated by Google, as well as how vanity URLs can boost amplification and strengthen SEO, while satisfying the needs of marketers, SEO managers and developers simultaneously. You can read part two of this series here.

Why does a vanity URL strategy for .brands make so much sense? In today’s world, customers want to find the content they’re looking for as quickly and easily as possible. Let’s take a look at a few of the reasons why a vanity URL strategy for .brand owners could work 

Five ways .brands can take advantage of vanity URLs

Direct navigation for customers

Big companies have historically purchased their .brand TLDs as a precautionary measure but they could be a valuable asset in SEO and marketing campaigns.

For example, iphone.apple or iphone7.apple would be a simple vanity to direct the user to a collection of phones or the specific product by Apple. Similarly, my.apple would definitely be an easier route for signing up for the offers and contests – or potentially one’s iTunes account – than the bottlenecking that would ensue from telling users to go to the homepage and then sign in.

vanity URLs SEO dotbrands

Flexibility

If there’s an issue with a product – for instance, what happened to Samsung in 2016 – Samsung could set up the vanity URL help.samsung to get its customers to the right place. These vanity destinations could also be changed in almost real time to reflect the business needs of the company.

Also, say you have galaxy.samsung and you redirect it to samsung.com/phones/deals to promote the new Galaxy. Later, when there’s no deal associated with the galaxy you can change the redirect to samsung.com/phones/galaxy and then if the website changes location it could be changed as well.

This sort of flexibility is invaluable in today’s world for big companies.

In today’s world, customers want to find the content they’re looking for as quickly and easily as possible.

vanity URLs SEO dotbrands

Vanity URLs create global benefits

As any SEO manager will tell you, multiple hops with redirects can lead to a reduction in search performance, but a .brand redirect can be done to reflect language or the country (or state) that the person is in, which is a really powerful marketing tool.

As most people will know, basketball is very big in China. In fact, it’s one of the country’s most searched queries in sports, with stars like LeBron still being searched for a huge amount each day. Let’s say that Nike is about to launch a new LeBron sneaker and it chooses to activate this in its campaign at the lebron.nike vanity URL.

Nike is still translated as ‘Nike’ in Baidu, the leading search engine in China (here’s a recent search to that effect) and of course ‘LeBron’ is still ‘LeBron’. So when doing a marketing campaign Nike could use lebron.nike to redirect people in China to the Chinese site and to redirect people in the US to the US site, all from the same vanity URL. Even better, this would help ranking on both search engines (Baidu and Google) with the vanity passing its ranking through to the existing content published by Nike.

In effect these become global URLs, so people should be able to type in lebron.nike and get the content that is most relevant and regional to them – which is pretty powerful from a marketing perspective.

No more availability issues

Even with new TLDs currently available, most marketers would probably still prefer to get the domain they want in .com. But with the lack of availability of keyword domains and the time and expense needed to acquire them in the aftermarket, the ability to find the perfect .com URL for your campaign is often not realistic for many marketers.

One advantage of the .brand TLDs for the .brand owners themselves is the ability to register whenever you want without fear that the name is taken. For many large brands, the ability to avoid domain registration panic when releasing new products or campaigns is significant.

So, if BMW wanted to launch the new X6 vehicle, it could immediately register x6.bmw and utilize it as a vanity URL for any campaign it wanted to do globally. Better still, the domain would help BMW overcome the inconsistency and poor customer experience that currently occurs at either of the bmwx6.com or x6bmw.com URLs.

vanity URLs SEO dotbrands

Focus on the product/campaign

Another major benefit of a vanity URL strategy for your .brand is the great direct method to promote and broadcast products and campaigns. The beauty of this type of vanity URL is that it keeps the consumer focused on the message. If you develop a marketing campaign that uses your homepage as a call to action rather than deeper content in your site, it increases the chance that the consumer could do a great amount of things that marketer doesn’t want them to do including getting lost, distracted or simply frustrated. The vanity URL keeps the consumer connected to the product, or type of product, and the brand, sending the user directly to the landing page or microsite.

GoDaddy acquired Neustar's registry business as of August 3, 2020.

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Part 3: How vanity URLs & a .brand TLD could supercharge your SEO

Part 2: How vanity URLs & a .brand TLD could supercharge your SEO

How vanity URLs & a .brand TLD could supercharge your SEO
(Part 2)

In this exclusive MakeWay.World guest series, Major League Baseball’s Matt Dorville shares his perspective on how to use vanity URLs within your .brand TLD to really drive your SEO ranking.

Matt is Major League Baseball Advanced Media’s Content and SEO Strategist. He is widely regarded as a leading global SEO expert and develops SEO strategies for MLB.com, NHL.com, and all 61 ball clubs within MLB as well as for Major League Baseball Advanced Media’s partners both domestic and internationally.

 

In the first part of my blog, we discussed vanity URLs – how they benefit brands and how Google has adapted its treatment of them in recent months to remove the penalty for redirecting domains. You can read part one of this series here and part three here.

It’s all about amplification 

In addition to the ease of use for customers trying to access the exact landing page or part of a site that they’re looking for, vanity URLs are also an excellent way of establishing a social connection with the customer and generating links.

With Twitter feeds now showing up in SERPs and social now an excellent and widely understood method of amplifying content and links, vanity URLs provide a wonderful opportunity to spur social involvement, amplify and extend reach for links, and build traffic and discoverability around a marketing campaign.

Whilst it is true that social links don’t affect ranking in the same way as traditional links, the diversity and power of social media does increase the amplification of those links, allowing customers to know about the campaign and post in ways that do affect ranking (on their own sites for example).

vanity urls seo brand TLDs

Broadcasting links on social media leads to serious amplification of campaigns, which then turns into backlinks as those links either hit a news source or possibly blogs that write content about the campaign. These backlinks in turn help SEO and strengthen the landing page as well as the site itself through the quality links generated by the campaign. 

For example, the domain bigmac.com is owned by McDonald’s, and while they currently don’t utilize this as a vanity URL, a redirect from bigmac.com to their recent promotion of the Big Mac, located at https://www.mcdonalds.com/us/en-us/new-big-mac.html seems like an easy marketing win to create online attention as well as links to the page. The URL bigmac.com is both direct and easy to remember. The reader simply assumes that bigmac.com ‘must be’ a McDonald’s property – thus engendering trust.

In using this type of vanity URL, McDonald’s should ensure that bigmac.com takes the user to content about the Big Mac, not about McDonald’s in general or a McDonald’s homepage. By not utilizing the vanity in this type of campaign, McDonald’s are missing out on both an SEO and direct traffic opportunity.

“Whenever an organization does a marketing campaign, it really should pair itself with a great SEO campaign. You want them to work together.”

vanity urls seo brand TLDs

What does this all mean? 

The number of microsites utilizing .brand URLs in the last year or so has been steadily growing. But for some, the ability to move the existing home page content is a really significant process.

Vanity URLs using .brands are a simple and highly effective method of getting your customers to where they want to go, as well as giving your SEO a boost that won’t be easily replicated by your competitors.

Of course, it’s possible to do a subdomain or subfolder, for example bigmac.mcdonalds.com or mcdonalds.com/bigmac, but that doesn’t have the simplicity that bigmac.com or bigmac.mcdonalds has and most likely when broadcasting it, a lack of simplicity will lead to a lack of amplification.

Whenever an organization does a marketing campaign, it really should pair itself with a great SEO campaign. You want them to work together. But it’s often difficult to achieve your goals from a marketing standpoint as well as a SEO standpoint.

That’s where vanity URLs open doors.

Using vanity URLs with your .brand allows: 

– the marketing team to get the URL with the product name they want,
– the development team to avoid a lot of work getting the consumers there, and
– SEO to gain strength both on the landing page for the campaign as well as use the link building to strengthen the entire site.

The recent change in 301 redirection is significant news and a vanity URL within a .brand domain should provide excellent benefits in broadcasting on social as well as generating links to the domain through amplification.  The simplicity of the vanity domain, most times pairing up the product, action, or campaign with .brand should be able to tie in with marketing to increase SEO strength on both the landing page and the entire site, and generate traffic through organic and social channels.

Looking further ahead, as the biggest brands in the world fight to re-establish direct relationships with their customers wherever possible, the ability to use a vanity URL strategy to allow customers to type in <anything>.brand vanity URLs to find the content they’re seeking is a very interesting one.

Consumers will still rely on search to navigate the ever expanding amount of content on the web. However, the use of vanity URLs within .brand TLDs in the coming years is going to be a significant opportunity to garner excellent growth in both long term and short term SEO as well as increasing highly valuable direct type-in traffic in the future.

Part 3 of Matt’s guest post series looks at ways .brand TLD owners can use their exclusive branded namespaces to take advantage of vanity URLs. Read it here.

GoDaddy acquired Neustar's registry business as of August 3, 2020.

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MakeWay.World is the online hub for news, resources, tips and inspiration on .brands from global dotbrand experts.

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