Using your Internet domain name Robert W. FarrisInternet, domain name, marketing, Web page
An Internet domain name (i.e. www.homeloans.com) is as personal
as your home address, and as unique as your social security number.
There is only one worldwide...and it can be yours. You just have to
move fast and know what to do. Here are a few factors to consider
in order to fully harness the marketing power of your unique domain
name: name selection, "dot com" vs. "dot net" vs. "dot" anything
else, name recognition, domain name clickability, hyphens,
misspellings, abbreviations, and Internet search engine
Let's start at the beginning: the Internet is exploding with
growth. It can be your friend and bring you thousands of new
clients each month. Or it can be your foe, intercepting your
potential customers and sending them to a competitor. There are now
more than one billion Web pages indexed and logged in search
engines and yet the Internet still continues to grow.
Select a unique domain name (before it's too
Each and every month more than 175,000 domain names are
reserved-almost 6,000 names per day. How do you go about making
sure your domain is recognized and found from the millions of
domain names already in existence?
Many mortgage companies mistakenly believe that simply having a
Web site will yield additional business. They believe the old
adage, "Build it and they shall come." This is simply not true on
the Internet, no more than it is in the real world. Your company
has to properly market themselves in this new age of the
Your company will need to effectively compete or you will
continue losing market share. According to The Wall Street Journal,
Internet mortgage originations were $4 billion in 1998 and are
projected to explode to $250 billion by 2003. Within four years,
more than 25% of all mortgage transactions are anticipated to be
completed over the Internet. Any company wishing to be successful
needs to create a strong Internet presence, and that starts with
your domain name.
Your company needs every Internet promotion and marketing
technique to allow potential customers to easily find your Web
site. One powerful way to help stand out from the thousands of
other mortgage Web sites is to have a professional sounding and
easily remembered Internet domain name. The wrong domain name
selection can cost your company thousands of lost dollars each
How to select (or not select) a unique domain
(".com," ".net," ".org," ".cc," or...)
Real World: Domain names have their own social class built
into place. There are the most desired extensions (.com); and then
there are all the other extensions (.net, .org, .cc, .md, .to) and
then there are the proposed extensions (.firm, .store). Validation
of this is evidenced by the newer versions of browsers. Just type
any word, "mortgage" for example, and the latest Netscape and
Internet Explorer versions will complete the address by
automatically adding the ".com" if you don't enter in the full
address. As you can see, it can get confusing. The ".com" names
(yourcompanyname.com) are the most preferred and desirable, similar
to toll-free numbers.
Assume that you meet the perfect mortgage client at a social
event and they want to contact you. If you tell this person your
phone number is 1-800-MORTGAGE, then they have a good chance of
remembering you. If you tell them you are 1-888 (or
1-877)-MORTGAGE, then there is a chance that they will remember
your number, or, just as likely, 1-800-MORTGAGE... your
competitor's toll-free number. You have now lost another potential
mortgage client just because of some confusion.
Virtual World: Assume that you have a loan company and
want the domain name loans.com. You check it and see it is gone, so
you say, "Well, I will just take mortgage.com." Gone too, as is
almost every other single and multiple word combination dealing
with loans. After going through two and three word permutations
such as mortgagebroker.com, mortgagehomeloan.com, and then off to
more permutations emortgagehomeloans.com, you remember that 175,000
domains names are taken every month. (Hmm, I bet many of the "good
names" are gone.) So you start checking the .net and .org
availability and soon find out many of the "good" names are no
longer available either.
Finally after four days of searching, you find the domain name
loanz-4-u.net available. Finally, an identity! But don't be too
cute when selecting your name. If you have to explain it, you have
lost your effectiveness.
Domain name recognition
Now back to "you meet the perfect mortgage customer at a social
event; they want to contact you." You proudly tell this client that
your domain name is loanz-4-u.net, and they claim they will visit
your site tonight. Assuming this perfect client does look for your
site, does he type in loansforyou.com, loanz-4-you.com,
loansforu.net, loansforeyou.org... well, you get the idea.
You have spent thousands of dollars to develop and promote your
Web site, and now with just a little Internet confusion, potential
customers are going to other mortgage Web sites just because they
did not know how to spell your domain name. This might happen
numerous times a day, and it will cost you thousands of dollars in
new loan originations. You don't want to be giving away business to
your competitors by having a misleading domain name.
Moral of the story: all things being equal, get an easy to
remember, simple, or descriptive ".com" name.
Domain name clickability
Your domain name is like the lead headline of a newspaper. It can
immediately tell potential customers that your domain specifically
addresses what they are seeking. If they do a search engine query
for "low interest home loans" and the first three domains presented
are lotsaluckloans.com, pacificshores.com and
lowinterestmortgages.com, which name are they more likely to
Potential customers will review the domain name addresses listed
and see if any domains sound professional and relevant. If you have
a professional sounding domain name, they may be more likely to
"click" on YOUR Web site to see what mortgage services are offered.
More "clicks" on your Web site means more potential business.
If you miss even one potential customer, you could have lost a
commission worth thousands of dollars. After spending thousands of
dollars promoting and marketing your Web site, this is a pretty
expensive way to lose business, especially for a domain name that
is only costing your company $35.00 per year to own.
I am frequently asked, "Should I hyphenate my domain name? It will
make it easier to read." Well, the answer is usually no. Look at
the domain emortgagehomeloans.com versus e-mortgage-home-loans.com.
Which domain name is easier to explain? Hyphens make you have to
explain your name, and are one more place for a visitor to make an
error. And this loss of even one potential customer could cost you
thousands of dollars in business.
You want to make it easy for customers to remember and type your
domain name. You don't want one that people cannot spell correctly.
Let's use the example capitalfinancing.com. Some people will spell
it "capitol" and will not get to your site. Some people will spell
"finance" instead of financing. Make sure people will not be
confused by different variations. Make is easy for customers to
find your site. Of course, one of the easiest ways to find your
site is to be highly ranked in the search engines.
Try to leave out abbreviations if possible. If your company is Blue
Pacific Home Loans, make sure you get the complete spelling. If you
just put bpacifichl.com, you are just making it more difficult for
customers to find you. This is even more important if you want past
customers to refer people to your Web site. Can you imagine some
customer telling a friend that your company Web site is
bpacifichl.com instead of bluepacifichomeloans.com? Which domain
name is easier to remember? If people can't remember, they wont be
able to refer your mortgage services.
Search engines and domain names
Just about everything in the virtual world takes its cue from the
real world. For example, we have all heard the adage, "Location,
location, location!" In the virtual world, it could be, "Ranking,
Your domain name is just one component indexed by some of the
major search engine algorithms. The other factors are your HTML
source code, your meta title, meta description, alt-tags, visible
text, link popularity, and how they all correlate together to help
you get your site ranked high in the engines.
Unleashing the power of the Internet search engines is one of
the most powerful ways of marketing your mortgage Web site. Search
engines will provide your company with highly targeted customers
that need your mortgage services immediately. The Internet is
working for you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to a massive
audience-more than 150 million Internet users and growing.
When a potential customer uses a major search engine (i.e. Alta
Vista, Excite, Hot Bot, Infoseek, etc.), these engines will return
a huge number of Web pages that contain the key word phrase that
you have entered. For example, let's take the keywords "mortgage
loans." I checked Infoseek in July 1999 and found approximately 3.7
million pages with the words "mortgage loans". Each of those
mortgage companies thinks that their site is so unique that they
should be at least ranked in the top 30 in a search for "mortgage
Because of this huge number of competing Web sites, your Web
promotion will only work if potential customers can easily find
your site through Internet search engines. Also remember that more
than 90% of all Internet users do not look past the first 30 search
engine results. In other words, if you are not highly ranked, very
few customers will ever find your site.
You have to move quickly
We recently had a client who was thinking of registering the
perfect domain name for his business. We told him to register that
name immediately. Unfortunately, he did not take our advice. Two
days later another company registered the same name. As the old
saying goes, "You snooze, you lose." This is especially important
on the Internet. A time line of six months on the Net is like two
years in the real world.
Technology and marketing promotion on the Internet is constantly
changing. You need every Internet promotion technique in your favor
to help get more business to your mortgage Web site. Stack the odds
in your favor by registering a good sounding and well-remembered
domain name. Three years from now when 25% of all mortgages will be
transacted over the Internet, your company will be well positioned
by having a strong Internet presence.
Remember-domains are going fast;in the five minutes it took you
to read this article, more than 20 domain names were
registered...some by your competitors.
Robert Farris is co-founder of MortgagePromote.com, a
leading Internet search engine management provider to the mortgage
industry. He may be contacted at www.mortgagepromote.com,
phone (800) 625-8787, or via E-mail at