Domain names were a flight of fancy that cost me $7.98 and which proved to be rather worthless. It was just so much easier to say "britphoto" than "tehisp". Really and truly though, I've come to the conclusion that pushing people toward my blogs is a futile exercise. Going back to the age old phrase - you can lead a horse to water but cannot make him drink. It was like my photography business - I could wave photos in front of people's noses, shout about my photo website, scream about discounts and wonderful service but couldn't make people look. It was pretty futile.
More and more I have come to the conclusion that dedicated domain names are rather frivolous that might help in "branding" but that for the vast majority of hobby websites are just a complete irrelevance. Let's face it - most websites are hobby websites. Some are more aimed at making money than others. I'm not selling goods nor services so this is definitely a hobby website.
Time was when I really cared about massive hit numbers and agonised over why they weren't coming. I struggled and fought to raise them. I agonised over low hits and tried every which way to raise them. I noticed several interesting things
- Sites that gain the biggest hits are entertainment websites
- People aren't going to the internet to buy things - they're going to be entertained.
- People look for information or humor online.
Facebook reportedly has 2 billion users. This is a testament to how people want to be entertained. They want to write about their boring little lives and post pictures of food they've just eaten or things they photographed on the way to work that amused them.
The way people find things has changed. Labels are now quite important. Labels are the search terms people may use to find an article. It's no no longer good enough to use Meta Tags. If I do a search then I'm not going to search for coffee shop, columbia. I'm going to search for "coffee shop in columbia sc". Searches have become much more specific as people are more specific about what they want.
Search engines look for exactly what you type. If I type "coffee shop in kathmandu" I get a list of coffee shops in Kathmandu. If I qualify that by "worst coffee shop in kathmandu" then I get a list of 1 star reviewed coffee shops and restaurants. If I simply type "photographer, washington DC" then I get about 28 million results. If I qualify it then I get closer to what I want. For example "newborn photographer washington dc" which gets me 383,000 hits. If I wanted specifically a male photographer then "male + newborn photographer washington DC" gets me 5 hits all of whom are female. Somebody there is missing a trick.
People don't like to hunt through massive lists of pages on the internet. They will add extra phrases. If you're afraid of missing out on potential search traffic then put "a" and "and" in as individual search phrases and your site will come up amid the millions of sites but it won't likely be at the top of the list. Only the most popular sites are at the top of a vague search. The more specific the search terms are, the less likely they are to be searched for but the more likely your site is to be at the top of the list.
Where most people go wrong, including myself, is in using very short search terms. We're all afraid of missing out. By being afraid of missing out, we use shorter terms and do miss out. The trick is to use search terms that aim for niches. There's no point in copying the masses and being buried at the bottom of a search - particularly if you're an unknown website.
Thus, search terms are becoming more specific since searches are how people find things these days rather than via domain names. Slowly references to my old Facebook page are being eliminated. As I find them, links using my old domain names will also be changed.