Digital Pudding is a fairly new company with a different philosophy on marketing. Founded in 2015, we were late to the domain registration party. So, even though we loved the name and concept, we had to settle on the top-level domain. While we could have had pretty much any domain other than a .com, we settled on a .co website.
Our original thinking was that it’s similar enough to a .com that maybe people won’t notice. At least it won’t look like a cheap knockoff. There’s little mainstream use of the .co website other than as a URL shortening agent, really (ta.co, t.co, o.co for example). We could totally pull it off as our main URL.
What have the results been 2+ years into the experiment? They’re mixed. Here’s what you can learn from our experience so far.
The Way URLs Work Has Changed
When I started in this industry about a decade ago, you needed to have a strong, memorable URL to link your advertising to your website. How else could people find you online based on your ads if they couldn’t remember where your website lived? I’m happy to say it doesn’t work like that anymore.
The most convenient way to get found now is through a web search, not the URL bar. You can have any top-level domain you want so long as you have strong brand recall. Just plug in the keywords you do remember into any convenient search engine and click on the results.
Did I mention that Digital Pudding is a pretty memorable way to brand a marketing company? It shows in the results. We get most of our traffic from branded keywords related to the company name and my name, too.
The other popular way to attract visitors is through digital advertising, of which we profess to be experts. Mask your URL all you want when the visitor clicks on a link to get to you, be it on Facebook, Google or any website. The only time anyone really ever sees our URL is after they’re already on our .co website. I’d say that’s a win.
Minimal Impact to Our SEO
One of the concerns we had initially with our .co website was how the top-level domain would effect our search ranking. Technically, a .co website domain is a repurposed foreign domain, similar to a .it, so we worried about ranking locally for our target market. Thankfully, those fears were unfounded.
Give Google some credit. Their algorithm is sophisticated enough to understand who you are, where you’re from, and what you do as long as it’s indexed. The top-level domain, in our case .co, doesn’t matter as much as we had thought it might. There may be some minimal effects, but we’re still on top pages for Westchester related keywords, all thanks to contextual copy and an effective strategy. Furthermore, our pageviews and impressions for local keywords are all within our original forecasts, in some cases surpassing them.
We did have to work hard to get that status, though, so there may be some penalty if you don’t jump through all the hoops we did with backlinking. However, we’d use that strategy no matter what domain we registered, so I’m happy to conclude that owning a .co website doesn’t have much of an impact on your SEO. And it’s likely to have even less in the future, as algorithms adapt and get smarter when it comes to contextual relevance.
Emails Might Not Always Get to You
There was an unintended side effect to our .co website, though. While web domain recall isn’t as important anymore for people to find you, one of the drawbacks of owning a .co website as your primary domain is that people don’t remember your email address. Or in our case, they misspell it. That means sometimes emails don’t come through, going to whoever owns our domain’s .com.
Now, this might be simply due to the fact that .co is so close to .com that most people mentally fill in that last letter. In fact, one person explicitly told me that they thought there was a typo on my business card. It does indeed happen from time to time, so if you elect to go the .co route make sure people know to send your email to the right location.
Don’t Be Scared of a .co Website
The way people find websites has changed. New users are more likely to get to you from a link than they are to recall your URL and enter it manually into their browser. For that reason, you don’t have to fear a .co website if it’s your only option. You may even want to embrace it.
We’ve actually grown so attached to our .co name that we’ve entertained the thought of changing our name slightly to The Digital Pudding Company as a way of better incorporating the .co part of our website. Just a thought for now. If we continue to excel with our .co website, though, we’ll want to build on our success.