Shakespeare may have asked the question first, but it’s still relevant to a 21st century entrepreneur. Roger Dooley, writing for Neuromarketing, offers some tips to help counteract “domain bias” in his recent post “Does Your Domain Say ‘Trust Me’?”
In the article, Dooley discusses recent research conducted by Stanford University in partnership with Microsoft on whether the domain of top-ranked search results influences whether the searcher will click on that link:
“One of the comparisons performed by the researchers was to label search results as being from webmd.com, a popular and trusted health site, or genetichealth.com, an unfamiliar site. By presenting the search results labeled with these domains with alternating snippets and positions, the effect of the domain could be tested. Results that appeared to be from webmd.com got clicked more often, even when the actual content of the search title/snippet was switched with the lesser-known domain.”
Unfortunately, with the new metrics and algorithm employed by Google, recognizability is self-reinforcing. If consumers follow a link because they’ve heard of the domain, that link will get more clinks and rise in the search result rankings. It leaves little room to establish credibility for a new venture.
Dooley warns against building microsites with unfamiliar domain names connected to your main site. Instead, work on building your ranking and display information so that your site can get the clicks and grow into one that consumers recognize and trust.
Laura Abrahamsen May 29, 2012