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Why Your Custom Domain Will Help You Generate More Leads Than a .Com

Custom domain

Do you have a real estate or housing related business that needs a website?

One of the keys to developing a good online presence is to have the right domain name. In an age where most of the best .com or .net domain names are taken, it’s time to look at other options for custom domains.

The right custom domain can even help you to generate more leads than you otherwise would with a mediocre .com domain name. It’s important to carefully consider the domain you purchase and how it will help to boost your business.

How should you choose a domain name? Free download here

What exactly is a domain extension?

A domain extension sits after the “dot” on any web address. You’re probably very familiar with one of the most popular top-level extensions, the .com. These domain extensions have been around for years and are short for “commercial.” This has made them very much in-demand with businesses.

The popularity of .com extensions has meant that many desired website URLs were taken years ago. Some may get put up for sale, but the most popular attract a premium price. The most expensive domain name ever sold was cars.com at $872 million. Among the 25 most expensive domain names publically reported, you’ll find vacationrentals.com, hotels.com and insurance.com.

A .homes extension is very useful to anyone in the housing or real estate industries. It provides another website extension option, especially if your desired .com is unavailable or very expensive. Not very many businesses have millions to spare for a domain name!

Custom domain

The value of your .homes extension

First of all, for many real estate or housing businesses, a .homes extension offers the opportunity to secure their own business name in a domain. If the desired .com for your business is taken, then you can either go to a lot of expense to get it, or you can end up with a .com extension that is less than desirable.

A .homes extension provides an obvious link to your business type for anyone looking in from the outside. It’s a fair assumption that .homes must be linked with housing or real estate (perhaps even construction of new homes).

From the perspective of potential clients, having a custom domain that is simple and obviously connects with your business communicates professionalism. It gives you credibility and legitimacy in their eyes.

For example, there are many possible ways to set up a business website. A lot of small businesses end up going with a website builder platform (Squarespace, for example), with the aim of creating a website quickly and cheaply. Some of these offer the ability to have a custom domain (which you must purchase), but if you can’t get the domain you’d like, you end up with something like; nameofwebsiteplatform.com/yourbusinessname. This type of generic address is not only difficult to remember, it’s not the most professional look to customers.

Your website address goes on your business cards, your social media platforms, any online profiles you have and all marketing collateral. It’s important to make a good impression wherever it appears.

Consider all the places your domain name needs to be used before purchasing Click To Tweet

Why a memorable URL is important

A short, memorable domain name can make the difference between building a successful web presence, or getting lost among the 1.5 billion other websites out there. It’s one reason why those “most expensive” .com domains are priced how they are. Domain names like cars.com are very easy to remember.

Consider how much effort a person may have to go through to remember or even just to type in a website. The longer it is, the more likely they are to make a mistake with typing the web address.

This has become an issue with the lack of availability of .coms. There are now some very long .com domain names out there, which are difficult to recall and often don’t fit easily on printed materials. If it goes beyond two or three short words, then it starts to become too long.

Some companies get around this by using URL shorteners. These are short links generated by Bit.ly, TinyURL or any of a number of other options, however, there are some well-documented problems with these. Among these issues are a lack of trust due to their use by spammers and the fact that they often involve multiple redirects. When advertising your business, it’s really not the most professional look.

Another aspect to consider is how you advertise your business. If you use any sort of audio or visual channels (television, radio, podcast etc.), people need to be able to quickly and accurately get your web address. How many times have you heard awkward domain names being spelled out on the radio? Add in issues such as non-standard spelling because someone couldn’t get the exact domain name they wanted, and it’s very difficult for someone without prior knowledge to get the web address right.

Consider also that you will usually have company email addresses attached to your domain name. You’re in business and want people contacting you easily – a lengthy domain name can quickly translate to a mistyped email address.

What makes for a good domain name?

Many of the best domain names are already taken with a .com extension, but a custom .homes extension gives you the opportunity to snap up a short, memorable domain name. What makes for a good domain name? Here are a few general rules:

  • Avoid non-standard spelling. For example, using numbers as letters or instead of the actual word (4real, g00d…).
  • Avoid using hyphens – people will often miss that these are part of the domain name
  • Avoid using homonyms (which vs. witch, sweet vs. suite etc.)
  • Avoid domain names that sound too similar to someone else’s. You could end up sending them more traffic.

Another important point is to check that the words you want to put together in your domain don’t inadvertently spell something else if it is misinterpreted. There are many examples of ill-advised web addresses that don’t mean what people think they mean. A company that disposed of scrap IT equipment registered the domain name “itscrap.com” (oh dear).  Always read through the domain name before registering it!

Custom domain

How does this help with lead generation?

So the .com you wanted is unavailable and you’re getting a new custom .homes domain, how will this help with generating more leads? Here are a few ways it will help:

  1. You improve your marketing and visibility. Customers have an easy and intuitive way to find you, and if your domain name is simple, they’re more likely to recall it later. JoeSmithRealty.homes is much easier to remember than Joe-Smith-Realty.com
  2. You establish authority and professionalism online. A custom domain shows you are a serious business, committed to what you do. This helps to portray you as being trustworthy and forward-thinking.
  3. Get more type-in traffic. When someone hears your advertisement on the radio, or even if they’re copying it from printed material, it’s easier for them to get it right when they type it in.
  4. You can protect your brand. A top-level domain is an investment in the future of your brand. You can ensure that no competitor ends up with a similar domain name, diverting traffic from your website.

What about SEO?

A few years ago people were set on purchasing “exact match domains” (EMDs) for keyword phrases. So for example in real estate, you might have wanted terms like “buy a house” in your domain name. These types of domain names sold quickly and are among those that are often unavailable today. The thinking was that by having those exact matches, the websites would rank better on search engines (SEO – Search Engine Optimization).

Do these keywords within the domain name matter for SEO though? The answer is no, at least, not anymore. In late 2012 Google released an update that included penalizing websites that stuffed in keywords and no longer allowing EMDs to rank solely based on the keywords in their domain name.

In other words, no matter what your domain name is, you have to do the same work as everyone else to get your website ranking in search.

Get our tips for choosing a domain name here

Final thoughts

With the popularity of .com domain extensions and years of use, it is increasingly difficult to get a domain name that makes sense for your business. This is where a custom domain with a .homes extension comes in – you have more hope of getting the domain name you need with this newer extension.

A custom domain communicates the professionalism of your business and helps you to drive leads by being easy to remember and clearly related to your business. It avoids cumbersome .com domain names that don’t even fit on your business card!

Finally, when you choose a domain extension like .homes, it is easy for potential customers to immediate insinuate what you do. They’re going to know that you must be in housing or real estate, so a custom domain just makes sense.

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