Can a Generic Domain Name Help with PPC Marketing?

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Electric Bicycle
(image from Electric Vehicle Mall)

Why is this post beginning with a picture of an electric bicycle? Keep reading to find out…

Because this blog has an Internet savvy audience, I would guess that most of our readers are familiar with some of the main benefits of having a premium, generic domain name. In addition to being easy for visitors to remember (which leads to a higher level of direct type-in traffic), a generic domain name can help with branding your site and giving it additional authority and credibility. Additionally, a generic domain name can also carry a lot of weight in terms of search engine rankings.

While most of you have probably read about (or experienced) these benefits of generic domain names, today I want to discuss an important but less known benefit of having a generic domain name.

Yesterday, I was listening to a podcast from Oz Domainer while making a long drive. The podcast was was Episode 12, and the guest was Edwin Hayward from Memorable Domains.

Although Ed and Edwin discussed a lot of great information throughout the course of this podcast, what I want to talk about today came up towards the end of the podcast. Edwin brought up a study that he had published on his website. The name of the study is “Improving PPC Search Engine Campaign Results Using Generic Domain Names“, and the full study is available for download as a PDF.

The purpose of this study was to determine whether or not a generic domain name could increase the CTR for an AdWords campaign. To conduct this test, Edwin and his team assembled an eleven page minisite to act as the landing page for the campaign.

Once the minisite was assembled, the team selected three domain names to use for the test. The three domains were:

ElectricBicycles.co.uk
YourBikes.co.uk
InAHurry.co.uk

Obviously, ElectricBicycles.co.uk is the premium, generic domain name of the group, while the other two are brandable domain names.

To ensure the results were as accurate as possible, the AdWords campaign was setup with the same ad headline and copy. The only difference was the destination URL, which was equally split between the three domains.

After letting the campaign run for ~100,00 impressions, the team felt that they had enough data to produce conclusive results. So, what exactly were those results? Well, here they are, and if they come as a surprise, you aren’t alone:

“The CTR of ads using the ElectricBicycles.co.uk domain name was 15% and 42% higher than the two alternatives.

The ElectricBicycles.co.uk ads produced 45% more clicks than the YourBikes.co.uk ads and 105% more clicks than the InAHurry.co.uk ads.”

While most of us would assume that the generic domain would receive a higher CTR, the results of this test were significantly higher than most people would expect. Additionally, Edwin and his team discovered that “Google clearly favoured the ElectricBicycles.co.uk domain, whose ads received 27% and 44% more impressions than the same ads featuring the two domain alternatives.

So, what does this study mean for you? It means that if you are going to invest effort, time and money into the development, optimization and marketing of a website, it makes sense to invest in the best domain name possible. While buying a premium, generic domain name may seem like a hefty upfront cost, in the long run, the benefits of owning that domain name are going to pay for itself and much more!

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