Many Names, One Salesperson

Using multiple domain names, all directed to one site can vastly expand your Web marketing.

March 1, 2002

Dear Mr. Internet,
Although I have only one Web site, I have purchased several real estate-related domain names. Currently I’m not using them because my Internet service provider wants to charge me to point each one to my site. What do you suggest I do?— Linda Valaika, RE/MAX of Taos, Taos, N.M.

Dear Linda,
Having several attention-getting domain names pointing, or redirecting, to your primary Web site can definitely boost the number of visitors, and hence your potential prospects. If you’ve chosen other domain names that will actually generate additional traffic (see the Tip of the Month below), then the issue is how do you easily and inexpensively direct all your other domains to your site.

Many ISPs will point your other domain names to your site but will charge you a fee ranging from $2 to $10 a year. If you have more than a few domain names, it's also easy to lose track of where domains are pointing when someone else is handling the details. Both of these issues go away with an amazing free service called MyDomain.com.

With MyDomain.com, you can point, or redirect, to as many domains as you want to any site you please—at no cost. Any time someone types in one of your other domains, they are immediately taken to your primary Web site.

To redirect your unused domain names, you first change the settings at your current domain name server (DNS) settings to point to MyDomain’s domain name servers. (Many domain registrars will guide you through this process online at their Web sites; the change only requires the entry of a couple of Web addresses.) Then you add your redirected domain names to your MyDomain account and follow the set-up steps to point to any Web site address of your choice. Once you’ve completed the set-up, it usually takes between 24 and 48 hours for the setting changes to propagate throughout the worldwide DNS system.

MyDomain.com offers two versions of domain name redirection. The "standard" mode will take visitors to the site you have redirected them toward and will then show the actual URL of that new site. For example, if you go to my http://www.mrinternet.info URL, standard pointing will take you to my primary www.russer.com site and show the "russer.com" domain in the address bar.

However if you use MyDomain.com's "stealth" mode option, the URL never changes in the address bar. MyDomain.com does this by creating an “invisible” frame around the target site so only the URL with the domain you own is visible to the users.

This redirection is more than just a very cool trick. Stealth mode lets you continue to reap the benefits of an URL you own and have spent money promoting when you change service providers. For example, assume that you contracted with a service provider to create a neighborhood site in your area—happyvalley.com. As part of the contract, the service provider owns the site’s URL; you can use it only so long as you have a contract with them. You spend months encouraging residents of the Happy Valley subdivision to come to the site for community updates, chats, and, of course, to see your listings in the community.

Two years later, you decide—for whatever reason—to change ISPs and create a new, even-better neighborhood site. Unfortunately, your original ISP owns the happyvalley you’ve spent two years establishing and won’t sell it to you for your new site. All your marketing efforts building customer recognition for happyvalley are out the window.

To avoid this potential problem, you can still contract with neighborhood site provider, but instead of promoting the URL the ISP owns (happyvalley), you can purchase a compatible URL, such as happyvalleyohio.com from a domain seller such as Verisign and build its identity through your marketing. Then using the stealth mode, you can invisibly redirect users from happyvalleyohio.com toward your purchased neighborhood site—happyvalley. You get the benefits of the neighborhood site you’ve contracted for, but your users get use to typing in happyvalleyohio to get to your site. If you do change providers in the future, you can have a new site created and then redirect users who type in happyvalleyohio.com to that site.

Keep in mind, however, that you cannot use content from other sites without proper permission and authorization. Once you severe your ties with your original ISP provider, you can not legally redirect users to the happyvalley site. If you do, you’re guilty of copyright infringement. But as long as you are paying the site’s service provider, you can use any URL you wish to get users to your content.

MyDomain also gives you the ability to create an unlimited number of e-mail addresses for each domain you point through MyDomain. Each of these addresses can be forwarded to any other e-mail address you have. This capability offers an easy way to keep track of what listing or Web page is generating responses because you can use a different e-mail address for each point of contact. This option is also a great way to maintain your online branding when working with some autoresponder services that insist on using their domain name within the autoresponder address. Using MyDomain, you can point any e-mail alias you’ve established there to the autoresponder address; as a result your URL, not that autoresponder service will appear to users.

With MyDomain.com, there’s no longer any reason why you can't put your other business-generating domain names to work for you immediately. Do it now, before it becomes yet another great idea that turns into a lost opportunity.

Tip of the Month

Now that you know how to point visitors from your various domain names, let's make sure the names you’ve chosen will actually generate additional business for you. A good domain name is like having a great address that everyone recognizes.

One sales associate I know uses her city name in conjunction with "listings" (e.g. "[city]listings.com") to attract buyers and then point them to her primary Web site. She determined that thousands of additional people each month were finding her site simply by typing in that particular city name and the word “listings” into a search engine.

You’ll be surprised how many of these power domain name combinations are still available for your area. You can easily check out the availability of a whole list of domain names by going to the "Bulk Registration" section of GoDaddy.com. If you find a few good ones, you can register a .com, .net, or .org domain name at GoDaddy for $8.95 a year. Also the site will store, or park, your domains for free and give you full control of their DNS settings.

Additional domain names are a quick, inexpensive way to supercharge your Web marketing and to generate additional online business with very little effort. What are you waiting for?

Editor’s note: When choosing domain names, keep in mind that using the word “REALTOR®” may only be used in conjunction with your name (if you’re a REALTOR®) or the name of your company, but not as part of a descriptive phrase such as (city)-REALTOR®. Visit REALTOR.org for more details on the use of the trademark.

Michael Russer, a.k.a. Mr. Internet®, is CEO of Russer Communications. He is a leading speaker and author in the real estate industry and has been writing about Internet marketing and virtual outsourcing since the dawn of the commercial Internet.

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