Maintaining Your .com SEO When Launching a New Brand gTLD
Most of the brand Most of the brand gTLD applicants are struggling with a big issue. The people in their companies responsible for search engine optimization (SEO) strategy and web content management on their .com aren’t too excited about gTLDs. They’re concerned if the company suddenly redirects the .com to a .brand, all the search equity invested in over years will be lost in the redirect. (The switch would mean, for example, McDonald’s could route to a brand domain of .mcdonalds, instead of mcdonalds.com.) The content managers are right to be concerned, but there are other ways to approach the roll out of a brand gTLD rather than as a hostile takeover of the .com.
Build Something New and Innovative in the gTLD to Work in Tandem with .com
Rather than just migrating what you have in your current .com, think about the gTLD as a unique digital platform with new capabilities. Use the left of the dot to consider feature sets of your existing .com or consider new portals for accessing your brand, much like you think of apps as being an on-the-go portal to your brand. Keep in mind a few of the key distinctive benefits of the gTLD versus .com to prompt and spur innovative thinking.
Intuitive, Memorable Navigation
The nomenclature of the gTLD allows for more intuitive navigation once they are on your platform. So if you want to connect to your social platforms you could use social.brand. Or you could build personalized platforms such as name.brand. You can build in sub-brands or more specific ways of connecting consumers with your brand. For example, if you are American Express, you could use the .open platform to showcase entrepreneurial portals to help entrepreneurs connect with what they need. What services do you offer that may connect to this platform?
Are you using YouTube or other channels to distribute your advertising messages embedded into music, short films, long-form commercials or even series and feature length productions? Your gTLD could be a clear portal for providing this content. For example, swaggerwagon.toyota (based on keywords in a series of television ads) could become a channel devoted to consumers who love their Sienna swagger wagon. Or Doritos, famous, for their user-generated content, could have used superbowlchallenge.doritos. The problem for these brands: They didn’t apply. Any specific promotion, program, or strategy you test in .com could be built out in the gTLD platform. You could also build in crowd-sourcing options to find new marketing strategies, content, and market research from the voice of your customer.
Social Media and Data Mining
Evaluate what you are doing in social media and apps to determine if there could be some cross-platform sharing of the strategy that complements one another. Could the same concept work, but in your own platform? You will also have very robust data-mining capabilities from your gTLD. Because it is a closed eco-system—only you own it and only you control the sub-domains—you’ll be able to access raw data across the platform that could be helpful in determining what’s working and what isn’t. What data are you currently collecting? If you could design the system to drive traffic through specific feature sets, what would you do?
Search and Functionality
You can also build in search strategies within your brand or within your brand category by building a search.yourbrand page. You could create tools and functionality, such as managing purchases and storing content. Take the best of what others have done and apply it to your brand within the gTLD platform: Amazon for shopping intelligence and ease of purchase; Apple for iTunes; Pandora for internet radio; Facebook for social networking, etc.
Authenticity for Secure Features
If you offer consumers a promise of security in access data, shopping, maintaining a cloud platform or just ensuring they are not on a fraudulent site, you can use the gTLD platform specifically for those purposes with greater assurances to consumers that the site is secure and they have found the authentic one. If you franchise, license or have authorized distributors, consider using the gTLD platform specifically as a web network for your network and market to consumers that they can trust your network of partners.
There are countless possibilities if you’re open to the new possibilities from the brand gTLD platform. As you identify unique features sets and niched portals for your gTLD, market these to you consumers.
Migrate Features to the gTLD
Once you see the success of the various strategies deployed in your new gTLD, identify what components of your. com web platform may work well with in the gTLD, and then slowly migrate them. Be sure to do this methodically so you can measure and track results. And don’t forget about the other 900+ new generics that are launching out there. There are likely at least 10 or more in your brand vertical that you may want to own and redirect to some landing page within your gTLD platform. Pay attention to how consumers are navigating within the other generic platforms for guidance on what to do within your closed eco-system, your brand gTLD.
Continue to build equity in both and optimize both platforms. Analyze what data is produced from each and mine it to improve your future strategies. If and when the gTLD surpasses the .com, wind down .com into the gTLD. Let the market dictate what has the most value for you.