Let us do a fast experiment here and learn what is working in the real world.
Go to the website Book.com . What do you see ?
Now try Books.com . See what happens ?
In both cases you are redirected to BarnesAndNoble.com
Now let us visit Baby.com . This time you are not redirected. Would you like to know the owner of Baby.com ? Well, the owner is Johnson & Johnson, who operate from JnJ.com.
Why do these giant corporations use secondary, supporting domains ? There are 3 reasons :
- Association : Associating one’s brand with generic words or phrases or notions is a very effective way to position oneself as the Authority in that sector.
- Traffic : The supporting domains are based on very strong keywords (in our examples the keywords are book, books and baby) and are helping the owners capture traffic of people typing in these keywords. You can guess that this traffic is very relevant (targeted)
- Cornering the market : What would happen if another bookstore owned Book.com and a third one owned Books.com instead of Barnes&Noble ? Fierce competition ! Think of every domain as a piece of Internet land. Not all pieces have the same value. When a compony can surround their territory with supporting, relevant pieces of Internet real estate, they are effectively securing their position from competition and earn a competitive advantage.
These actual, real life examples of strategic acquisitions come from the higher level of economy and competition and are not to be taken lightly.
However, one would wonder if the same principles also apply in smaller, everyday businesses, like our fitness businesses ? What about local businesses, like Gyms, Personal Trainer services etc ?
The answer is Yes, in a proportionally lower scale.
Here is the ideal online plan for any business that has a web presence ( You may want to copy this somewhere as I don’t think you will find a similar diagram on the internet ) :
(We also use the same technique : if you type GymNames.com you will be redirected to FitnessNames.com Same happens for other domains too)
Now let us see what options your business has with a supporting fitness domain :
- Option 1 : Forward, just like Book.com forwards to BarnesAndNoble.com and GymNames.com forwards to FitnessNames.com. This is the simplest and fastest route. You set the forwarding and forget about it.
- Options 2 : Build out, just like Baby.com is a developed website. With this option you build a website, or often just a mini-site, and obtain leads, links and traffic for the main website. It works very well, but needs time to build the second website.
- Option 3 : Hybrid (recommended) . Forward to the main website, until you have the time and resources to develop the keyword domain. We believe this is the best option and the most flexible too, as the business denies competitors access to the suppporting domain, profits from the temporary forwarding and when time is right they can get the full benefits of a developed site or minisite.
Now let’s see what kind of domains are good candidates for a supporting domain.
Generally talking, you would want a domain that comprises good, relevant keywords, or phrases. These must be common phrases used by people to search online for similar services or products. The shorter, the better (2 words is best, 4 words max). .COM only, although .ORG or .NET might also work for very strong keywords (read : highly sought after).
Do not use brandable domain names, as these typically have zero or low search volume and are not appropriate for this task.
There are several tools you can use to check the search volume for any phrase. Google Keyword Planner is one of them.
Finally let us check the matter from a financial perspective to see whether purchasing a supporting domain would be a profitable investment for your business or you’d better pass. Keep in mind that the benefits are not the same for every fitness business. It depends.
The acquisition cost is not your only expense : in a 5-year time span you will also be required to pay 5 renewals for the domain, a total of 5 x $10 = $50 (give or take). So if the domain cost $300, you’d better count $350 ($300 plus 5 renewals of $10 each)
So you actually need to estimate whether the financial and other benefits clearly trump the acquisition cost, and only then decide to buy.
Ask yourself these 3 questions :
How many clients and referrals is a reasonable expectation to receive in one year ? In 5 years ?
Association of your business with they keywords found in the supporting domain is expected to have a positive impact on your professional image. Can you quantify this impact ?
If a competitor snatches the domain up before you do, they will probably strengthen their position. Would this make them more competitive and able to get more clients from the prospects pool ? (This is the so-called Opportunity Cost, which signifies the cost of a missed opportunity, rather than actual financial loss)