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Could a Vanity URL Strategy with Your .Brand Be the Key to Supercharging Your SEO?

I feel incredibly lucky to work every day with some of the biggest, most recognised and most innovative organisations from around the world on developing strategies for their .brand TLDs.

In this capacity, I also have the privilege to meet some of the most knowledgeable and forward-thinking experts in branding, digital marketing, web development and technology, to name a few.

One such person is the brilliantly talented Matt Dorville, Content and SEO Strategist for Major League Baseball Advanced Media. Matt is widely regarded as a leading global SEO expert and develops SEO strategy for MLB.com, NHL.com and all 61 clubs within as well as advising on SEO for Major League Baseball Advanced Media partners both domestic and internationally.

Matt has some fantastic insights related in particular to recent changes in Google’s treatment of vanity URLs, and in particular how using vanity domains within your .brand can supercharge your existing site’s SEO ranking.

Vanity URLs: no longer a risk

Matt explains that many SEO managers have shifted their view on vanity URLs as an SEO strategy due to changes in Google’s search algorithm.

“In the past, while vanity URLs were frequently seen as a viable strategy for generating quality links and building one’s website, there was often conflict with this decision. Many SEO managers tended to request that their sites shy away from vanity URLs, as redirecting each vanity URL redirect resulted in a loss of around 15 percent of the link strength,” writes Matt.

“However, recent changes to Google combined with the continued global emergence of .brand TLD usage opens up a new strategy that shows great potential.

“On July 26th 2016 Google Webmaster Trends Analyst Gary Illyes made the announcement that 30x redirects no longer lose PageRank, which was a significant shift in the underlying algorithm. You can hypothesize that Google did this for a great many reasons, no doubt their ongoing campaign to encourage websites to migrate to https being a large factor in this.”

It’s all about amplification

Matt explains that since Google changed its algorithm to no longer penalise 30x redirects in search, vanity URLs redirecting to deeper content within a site could provide a fantastic opportunity for further amplification of links and therefore an increase in SEO strength.

Using vanity URLs with your .brand allows:

  • the marketing team to get the URL with the product name they want,
  • the development team to avoid a lot of work getting the consumers there, and
  • SEO to gain strength both on the landing page for the campaign as well as use the link building to strengthen the entire site.

“The recent change in 301 redirection is significant news and a vanity URL within a .brand domain should provide excellent benefits in broadcasting on social as well as generating links to the domain through amplification. The simplicity of the vanity domain, most times pairing up the product, action, or campaign with .brand should be able to tie in with marketing to increase SEO strength on both the landing page and the entire site, and generate traffic through organic and social channels.”

Why is this relevant for .brands?

According to Matt, .brand TLDs have even greater potential to capitalise on vanity URL strategies for five main reasons:

  1. Direct navigation for customers with simpler URLs that take visitors directly to deep content within a website
  2. Flexibility to change where a vanity URL directs as your business or the market changes
  3. Global benefits with the ability to geo-locate visitors and send them to the most relevant content
  4. No more availability issues as you own the entire namespace and won’t spend a fortune acquiring domains
  5. Focus on products and campaigns with stronger calls-to-action that directly tie keywords to your brand.

“For .brand owners—the companies with no limitations to what names they can register with their own extension—this is interesting, as the results of this change now open the door to making vanity URLs an excellent strategy for marketing campaigns and link building. With vanity URLs that are either temporary (302 redirect) or permanent (301 redirect) now transferring link strength as much as a direct link to the site, the opportunity to use a vanity URL strategy with your .brand is now squarely back in focus.”

Matt Dorville and Tony Kirsch will both feature on a panel of experts discussing .brand TLDs in a webinar hosted by ClickZ Intelligence next week. More information and registration details can be found here.

By Tony Kirsch, Head of Professional Services at GoDaddy Registry

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