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Old 25th April 2006, 12:06 AM   #1
St0n3y
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Question Domain A or B: Help me Choose for a Client

I've got a client that goes by two different business names but now that he's come to us I'm helping him choose to go with one or the other. Here is the rundown:

Business/domain name A: It's higher up in the alphabet which helps his site be more prominent when he gets links from the manufacturer websites. He says that many times these manufacturers come up high on the search engines so he gets lots of referral traffic. Also says that using the other name he gets lost and feels like he loses a lot of business. This domain is not indexed and has no history with the search engines. He already has a number of these distributors pointing to this name and will be unlikely to change it with the distributors, even if he goes with the other name.

Business/domain name B: This domain has been in use for some time and has a PR (very low) and a history in the search engines. Changing to this name officially though requires a lot of background changes, business cards, official records, etc, because this isn't the name they've been using publicly.

The client has told me he'll do whatever I decide so I want to make sure I make the right decision here.

Option A: Change everything to Domain A, lose the search history, start from scratch.

Option B: change everything to Domain B, keep the search history, but lose the distributor links because they will continue to point to a redirected domain A.

Option C: 301 Domain A to B and let the search engines sort out the links. Change everything else to domain B and use that from here on out.

Your thoughts?

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Old 25th April 2006, 12:21 AM   #2
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My first thought is not to worry about the alphabet but go with the domain that has the best branding effect.

That being said, it sounds like the domain that starts with an alphabetical character higher in the ranks already gets traffic that the client does not wish to lose.

So my advice would be to keep the domain that has the best branding effect and if that be Domain B, 301 redirect Domain A or if Domain B is brand new, set up 302 temporary redirect until Domain B comes out of (alleged) Google Sandbox. Then do the 301 which is a permanent redirect.

Hope that helps.

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Old 25th April 2006, 08:47 AM   #3
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So my advice would be to keep the domain that has the best branding effect
I agree with David.

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Old 25th April 2006, 08:54 AM   #4
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I go along with David Wallace's answer to the question as asked. However I think his first sentence has the real crux of the issue. I feel if you're perpetuating this situation where the distributors will use the old name while the rest of the world starts to use the new name, then you'll only be working at 50% efficiency.

The choice of the single name your business will be known by is the biggest and most important strategic decision you will ever make. So you've got to crunch that. Hopefully once you've got it right, everyone will see the logic and climb aboard the same wagon. It clearly should be a name that you 'own' on the Internet. That means that when you Google it, you're the only company that comes up for the search. It shouldn't get too confused with any other agency that might be using the same word.

These strategic issues far outweigh the temporary (measured in months) issues of whether it's 301 or 302 or whether the sandbox may come into play. I'm surprised that someone hasn't even made an advantage out of the sandbox. Why not give a prize to the first person who spots you're out of the sandbox? Sounds like good link-bait to me.

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Old 26th April 2006, 10:53 AM   #5
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Thanks for the replies, gang.

Where Domain A is the one the manufactures use, Domain B has the history behind it. I can't say which will have the best branding effect though Domain B is easier to say out loud.

I do agree with the 50% capacity if we try and split between them and I think I can convince him to change all his distributor links to domain B and not worry about the alphabetical issue (the lists are not very big anyway).

So, assuming we go 100% one way or the other, does search engine history outweigh everything else? Or does an alphabetical listing that drives traffic outweigh the sandbox?

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Old 26th April 2006, 11:28 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by St0n3y
I've got a client that goes by two different business names but now that he's come to us I'm helping him choose to go with one or the other. Here is the rundown:<snip>
Your thoughts?
I was faced with a very similar situation. I have a client who had their corporate name for more than 100 years and the corresponding domain name to match. Three years into creating a vast online resource with well over 2500 individual pages, they decided to change their name AND the domain name.

What's an enterprising webmaster to do?

I kept both.

But...

I redirected all homepage requests to the new domain name (301 and server response) I configure the DNS to send all traffic to the same server (as well as a few other domain names to boot) and continued to write the site so all files, links, images - everything was relative to the root folder. Now domain1 has the same resources as domain2 and no broken pages.

I suggest keep them both for old indexes, book marks (favorites) shortcuts and especially for PRINT references to the old domain name. This will ensure you client doesn't lose business because of the dreaded 404 - file not found.

That's my opinion.

Oh... the site? Still going strong with an editorial team of 6 MS Office able creative writers and one worn out webmaster. (me)

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Old 26th April 2006, 11:35 PM   #7
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I think another factor is what kind of business they are in... It doesn't change the decision overtly, but I would wonder what percentage of their sales is directly attributable to web traffic?

It may make the decision a little easier, especially if they (you I guess) are already leaning towards the newer, more brandable domain.

After that, 301's work magic. Maybe even keep the old name as a division or product line, and 301 it to a specific relevant landing page on the newer domain. That might be the best of both worlds...

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Old 27th April 2006, 08:48 AM   #8
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I'm helping him choose to go with one or the other.
I'd have him keep two separate domains/identities and develop them as unique sites which are both valuable. That's the best of both worlds to me. All other options tend to reduce exposure instead of maintaining or increasing exposure for the client. Maybe that's why the 'right' solution is so difficult to identify with this scenario? Just my two cents stoney -

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Old 27th April 2006, 02:06 PM   #9
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Thanks guys!

I'm leaning towards B due primarily to the search engine history it already has. I'll request that he changes the name/url with the manufacturers but the 301 should take care of the rest. Both domains are similar (aSmilingPuppy.com vs. SmilingPuppies.com (just as an example)) so branding either one isn't an issue. The only real issue is losing tip tier placement in the alphabetical lists, which are only about 30-40 names total.

Any other ideas or contributions before I finalize my thoughts for the client?

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