Upcoming webinar – .brands 101

Upcoming webinar – .brands 101

Upcoming webinar: .brands 101

You may have heard that over 550 big brands have a .brand Top-Level Domain (TLD), such as .microsoft, .ford and .barclays. But what exactly is a .brand TLD, and what can you do with it?

Following our successful .brand update webinar in June, we’re pleased to bring you another webinar that goes ‘back to basics’ on .brands. 

Register for this webinar to hear:

• An explanation of what a .brand TLD is in plain English (also perfect for bringing co-workers up to speed)
• Why some big brands have a .brand, and what to do if you want one too
• The different models being utilized with .brand TLDs
• The five real reasons .brand should be used

Come along for a great refresher on the fundamentals of .brand TLDs – or invite your colleagues to introduce, educate and inspire them about the .brand movement!

 

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

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Mid-year .brands review: 2017 off to a brilliant start

Mid-year .brands review: 2017 off to a brilliant start

mid-year review .brands dotbrands dot brands brand TLDs

.brands mid-year review: 2017 off to a brilliant start

By Tony Kirsch,
Head of Professional Services, Neustar

If you’ve read my blogs in the past, you’ll know that I’m really passionate about the benefits that .brands can deliver to organizations and their customers.  mid-year review

We are now half way through 2017 which provides us with an opportunity to have a good hard look at the data and reflect on the last six months in the .brands space.

Here is the punchline – it’s pretty damn impressive, and for a variety of reasons.

Let’s be frank – supporting an innovation such as the .brand movement is not for the faint hearted and the continual momentum we’re experiencing is great reward for those of us that have ‘stayed the course’ (with only maybe the occasional wavering!).

mid-year review .brands dotbrands dot brands brand TLDs
mid-year review .brands dotbrands dot brands brand TLDs

.brands are asking questions, and moving ahead

I’m privileged to be one of the few who has a job that is completely dedicated to this type of .brand engagement, but I can tell you that we are being asked more and more informed and targeted questions about how to optimize their .brand strategies each and every day.

All the while, organizations like Google, Audi, CERN, Bloomberg, Canon, Microsoft, and Lamborghini have launched .brand sites this year already and continue to pave the way – and that’s just a handful of them.

I think that the most important elements of .brand domain names also include the diversification of usage. Building microsites on .brand domains is still strong, but the use of .brands in alternative methods such as vanity/redirect strategies, social media, internal tools, email and full site transitions are also growing significantly.

To illustrate my point, check out the Showcase at MakeWay.World where we highlight the variety of global examples of .brand usage. It’s growing every day and the stats below speak for themselves.

mid-year review .brands dotbrands dot brands brand TLDs
mid-year review .brands dotbrands dot brands brand TLDs

The facts behind the facts

As noted above, the number of brands that have gone beyond creating the mandatory ‘NIC’ page and have registered at least one other domain under their .brand since January 1 has grown by 17 percent.

Importantly, there’s also been a greater than 23 percent increase in the number of .brands with more than 20 domain names registered – showing that there is growth at the upper end of the spectrum as well. This includes brands such as Microsoft, Bentley, Philips, AXA, Saxo Bank and BMW to name a few.

Some of the more active industries include insurance, which collectively have now registered over 1,800 domains; automotive with over 1,000 domains and information technology with just shy of 1,000.

We’re more thrilled than ever that we were able to launch the Stats Hub on MakeWay.World earlier this year, as the numbers paint a very clear picture of the .brands space and are now available to anyone to explore.

.brands making headlines

The .brands space has also received some great coverage in industry and broader media so far this year.

– ClickZ published a three-part series on .brands that culminated in a webinar featuring myself, Matt Dorville of Major League Baseball and Katie Hankinson of VaynerMedia.

– India’s biggest bank announced its plans to move to .sbi, which was reported on by Domain Incite.

– Domain Name Wire looked at how Major League Baseball is planning to use its .mlb domain names.

– Domain Pulse reported on the French national railway’s plans to move to its .brand TLD.

– I was published in B&T commenting on the Australian Football League’s use of .afl for its historic women’s league competition.

Moving forward

In just the last couple of weeks, we’ve seen new .brand sites from the likes of Google, Audi, Leclerc and Allstate, which says to me that the .brands space isn’t slowing any time soon.

Of equal importance is the fact that the majority of conversations we’re having with .brand owners are more and more about how to use their .brands, rather than why. They’re looking for practical advice on integrating with social media channels, rolling out email addresses and communicating with staff and clients about changes to web addresses.

That will be our focus for the remainder of the year here at Neustar, and we’ll share this on MakeWay.World.

And of course, let’s hope that these next six months continue to drive digital branding and that we can really move forward towards another application round for others who would love to join this movement – maybe even by the end of 2018?

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

supercharge-your-seo

How vanity URLs & a .brand TLD could supercharge your SEO
(Part 1)

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’s Advanced Media partners both domestic and internationally.

As any SEO manager will tell you, a site’s search ranking is made up of numerous factors. But if you want to boost your ranking, the ability to generate and build links is still one of the most powerful ways to do so.

Link building is a valuable part of any SEO strategy and having a good link building campaign can help boost any website for the keywords you’re targeting, irrespective of its size.

The recent release of .brand Top-Level Domains (TLDs) – where URLs such as iphone.apple can be created instead of subfolder URLs like apple.com/iphone – has the potential to create a whole new paradigm for digital marketers and SEO managers looking to generate links to their site. 

And when combined with recent changes announced by Google, a vanity URL strategy may be the key to that much needed SEO boost for the 570 or so companies that have these exclusive .brand TLD assets.

Vanity URLs uncovered 

Vanity URLs are generally shorter, customized URLs that complement rather than replace a brand’s main homepage URL and are designed to be easier to remember and provide simplicity in their approach. 

Typically, you’ll see these being used to help the customer get to the landing page for a particular product or promotion. Using a simple 30x level redirect, the user is carried to the final destination they are seeking, often a piece of content deeper within the website.

vanity urls seo brand TLDs
vanity urls seo brand TLDs

For example, yankees.com is one of Major League Baseball’s best known URLs and the homepage of the New York Yankees. Many would be surprised, however, to hear that yankees.com is actually a vanity URL and we host the site’s content at http://newyork.yankees.mlb.com/ for strategic reasons. 

At MLB, we see this as a win-win.

The yankees.com address is far easier for people to remember and type in – giving the customer a fast and easy way to access the Yankees content. And for us at MLB, it gives us the benefit of increasing the volume of links toward newyork.yankees.mlb.com and allows us to rank well in search.

Do users care that the browser bar shows a different domain to the one they typed in? Not in my experience – they just want to reach the content as quickly and easily as possible.

Understandably you won’t find many long vanity URLs, as their simplicity also leads to brand trust. There’s a complete logic that yankees.com should take you to the official site of the New York Yankees and it’s an example of the idea that a well-done vanity URL could increase a marketing campaign’s success rate by up to 35 percent.

With vanity URLs…now transferring link strength as much as a direct link to the site, the opportunity to use a vanity URL strategy with your .brand is now squarely back in focus.” 

The game has changed 

In the past, while vanity URLs were frequently seen as a viable strategy for generating quality links and building one’s website, there was often conflict with this decision. Many SEO managers tended to request that their sites shy away from vanity URLs, as redirecting each vanity URL redirect resulted in a loss of around 15 percent of the link strength. 

Additionally, in 2012 when Google said that its search algorithms would treat new TLDs just like they would treat any other TLD such as .com or .org, SEO managers became skeptical as to their use – as there was limited likelihood that websites could use keyword ‘stuffing’ to benefit rankings.

However, recent changes to Google combined with the continued global emergence of .brand TLD usage opens up a new strategy that shows great potential.

On July 26th 2016, Google Webmaster Trends Analyst, Gary Illyes, announced that 30x redirects no longer lose PageRank, which was a significant shift in the underlying algorithm. You can hypothesize that Google did this for a great many reasons, no doubt their ongoing campaign to encourage websites to migrate to https being a large factor in this.

Did everyone rush out to put a vanity URL strategy in place?

Of course not. Finding a range of relevant .com domains is extremely expensive or virtually impossible in many cases.

For .brand owners, however – the companies with no limitations to what names they can register within their own extension – this is interesting, as the results of this change now open the door to making vanity URLs an excellent strategy for marketing campaigns and link building. With vanity URLs that are either temporary (302 redirect) or permanent (301 redirect) now transferring link strength as much as a direct link to the site, the opportunity to use a vanity URL strategy with your .brand is now squarely back in focus.

vanity urls seo brand TLDs matt dorville

Part 2 of Matt’s guest post series discusses how a vanity URL strategy could offer an invaluable boost to your SEO ranking. Read it here.

Part 3 of the series looks at five key ways .brands can take advantage of vanity URL strategies. 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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