A ‘generic domain name‘ is a term often given to internet addresses that are generic in nature and most likely to receive direct navigation or type-in traffic. Generic, given the meaning ‘relating to or descriptive of an entire group’ refers to domain names or terms such as ‘cola’ rather than specific, and often trademark names, such as ‘coke’ or ‘pepsi’.
When a user is ‘actively seeking’ a product or service online, for example ‘comic books’, there are generally two means to arrive at a destination website that will fulfill their desires:
- Search Engine Query - a user can search for the phrase ‘comic books’ and then select from the result set a website that suits their requirements, or;
- Direct Navigation or Type In - a user bypasses the search engines and navigates directly to a domain name by typing in the phrase with no spaces. For example, ‘comicbooks.com’ or any other gTLD or ccTLD, such as ‘comicbooks.co.uk’ or ‘comicbooks.com.au’. Traffic that arrives with no other website referrer, often from a list of bookmarks or favourites, is also considered ‘Direct Navigation’.
Both of the above means are considered ‘intent driven searches’, as opposed to a more casual ’surfing’ approach which may result in a visitor arriving via a click on a banner advertisement or hyperlink on another website.
In general terms, intent driven searches are ‘worth more’ commercially. Conversion rates of such a user is higher as this user is actively seeking a product or service.
Research released by WebSideStory, Inc. (Nasdaq: WSSI), a respected web analytics and marketing firm, shows that search engine traffic converts more than twice that of traffic referred via normal hypertext links. The figures provided are 2.3% conversion rate for search engine referred traffic, versus a measly 0.96% from other referred traffic.
However, direct navigation traffic is shown to convert at almost twice that of search engine referred traffic. Direct navigation or type-in traffic is shown to convert at an average of 4.23%.
So lets look at this from another perspective. If you are in the business of selling comic books, looking at those figures above, it would seem highly advantageous to own generic domain names such as comics.com.au, comicbooks.com.au or at least look to purchase the organic traffic those names can supply.
Granted that type in traffic volume is generally no where near the volume that ’search marketing’ can supply, with such high conversion rates, it should be considered a necessary addition to your marketing campaigns. Look out for a future post on ‘How can I purchase direct navigation traffic?‘.
Here are just a few Australian companies I have found that are already taking advantage of direct navigation traffic.
Intertan Australia Limited (aka Dick Smith / Tandy) ‘owns’ electronics.com.au - As a B2C supplier of consumer electronics, Dick Smith are cashing in on type-in traffic from this generic domain name.
Dulux Holdings Pty Ltd registered paint.com.au and resolve their main consumer portal on the name, taking advantage of a premium branding opportunity and increasing traffic and awareness of their product.
Flight Centre Technology Pty Ltd have got hold of flights.com.au. If you type-in flights.com.au, you’re flying somewhere! I imagine that domain name converts extremely well for Flight Centre.
Those companies are using generic domain names to ‘value add’ to their existing web presence. There are many other benefits to owning generic domain names, such as search engine optimisation (for generic keywords) and search engine visibility.
Consider the ‘visibility’ in search results for the term ‘flowers’, which result would you be drawn to? A premium domain such as www.flowers.com.au or something like www.jennifers24×7floweremporium.com.au. Domaining is probably the only place where ’standing out’ requires you to be ‘generic’.
Of course, it doesn’t stop with ‘value-adding’ to your web presence, there are some other very successful entities that have taken generic domains and created entire businesses around a name, for example:
Realestate.com.au Ltd, the only real name in property, built a business around the realestate.com.au domain name. Of course, they don’t stop there, they are also the proud owners of property.com.au and various other industry related domain names.
So on that note, domain names are the real estate of the internet. Just like land, there is a finite amount of premium locations and generic domain names are the beach front properties of the internet.