5 Ways to Avoid Losing Traffic to Your Domain
Posted: December 30, 2011 Filed under: Domain Questions | Tags: domain issues, links, typos
If you have a site online that gets a decent amount of traffic, chances are you’re losing some traffic. Sometimes it’s traffic you never knew you could have had. Some of those visitors might make their way to your site anyways, but given the short attention spans these days, don’t count on it.
Think it’s no big deal? It happens to everyone, so why should it matter, right? But imagine if what could have been your biggest customer doesn’t make it to your site and goes elsewhere? The truth is you have no idea who isn’t making it to your site, which is why it should be treated as a big deal.
How can you avoid losing traffic?
1. Get the obvious variations/typos of your domain
When we started Domainate.com, we already had Domain8.com and we ended up purchasing DomainEight.com from someone else. Having just finished a video interview with someone to be published next month, my mind was at east not having to actually spell out our name, because the vast majority of the time, one of those 3 variations will be typed and people will reach our site.
Where should you draw the line? It depends on your size. Clearly Google and Facebook have hundreds if not thousands of variations that get traffic, even spilling over into different extensions. A small business just starting out may only need to worry about one or two. Just make sure you’re only getting the most likely variations – don’t start getting paranoid that someone could type wzniaowidfoikf.com trying to reach you at Bob’s Auto Shop.
2. Use a name with fewer likely possibilities for traffic leaks
There’s no name out there that’s impossible to misspell, mistype or misremember. That said, there’s definitely varying degrees of each. If you get a name that’s easy to remember, spell and type, you don’t have to worry about spending a lot to get other variations to protect traffic leaks. There simply won’t be as many possibilities for traffic leaking.
3. Use a .com domain (and/or the country code of the country you’re targeting)
This should go without saying, but if you don’t get the .com, the .com will get you – your traffic that is. If you’re a German company getting German customers, the same could be said for .de, and likewise for UK companies and .co.uk. In those scenarios, you should ideally get both the local extension and the .com.
Note: If you’re a non-profit, you’d be better based on the .org and having the .com redirected to it. Even with just having the .com, a non-profit could lose traffic to the .org as non-profits are generally expected to be on the .org.
4. Make sure you’re not penalized in Google (and work past it if you are)
Times have certainly changed from back when URLs were typed in the URL bar – now many people start at Google. If you’re not coming up for searches on your domain, something’s probably wrong. Your domain might not be indexed, may be specifically blocked from being crawled (such as with Robots.txt), or you may be penalized by Google.
If you discover this issue, try to figure out the cause. A good start would be to use Google Webmaster tools and submit your latest Sitemap. If you’re not indexed, that should usually get you crawled and indexed quickly. You would also see if there are any Robots.txt issues as Webmaster Tools would report them after a crawl attempt.
If you still have issues, you may be penalized. Things that can cause penalties are excessive redirections into the site, hidden links/text, link spam on blogs and elsewhere, selling or buying links (they don’t catch all but are catching more now than in the past) and other activities they frown upon. You may even post on their Webmaster Central support forum for crawling/linking/ranking and ask why.
If your company name is unique enough, you probably should be ranking highly for it relatively soon after launch – if not, that may be another sign of penalties. However, if you are using a very common name, it may be a term with a lot of competition and not easy to rank for.
5. Make sure incoming links to your site aren’t reaching dead URLs
Another benefit of using Google Webmaster Tools is that you find out if incoming links are reaching non-existent URLs. Sometimes they may even be links to a former site that was on the domain, which could still be traffic you’re not getting that you could. You may have caused the dead URLs by changing the URL of a page or article.
If you discover any bad URL being linked to, you can either redirect the bad URL to a good one or build a page on the bad URL. Either way, you capture traffic through those links that you wouldn’t be otherwise.
There may be other things you can do to get more traffic, but at the very least, make sure you don’t lose out on traffic you would be getting in the first place. Securing traffic you might otherwise lose is much easier than getting “new” traffic.