Not long ago I wrote an article asking if a .US domain could become just as successful as a .Com.
The story was about CelebrityGossip.us, a domain that I acquired for my girlfriend Erika as a side project that I thought would be fun for her.
After she showed that she had significant interest in it I thought that I’d help take it to the next level and do some professional development on the project.
So the first step was designing a great looking site that was different than the traditional gossip sites. Erika and her close friend and business partner in this endeavor, Samantha decided to give it a different look and feel and incorporate some original ideas into it.
One of which was including stories from “Old Hollywood”, gossip and scandals from 50+ years ago. Again quality content that’s original will always help a site gain ranking on a more accelerated rate. The site officially launched on June 5th.
One of the less commonly known ways that you can help establish a brand and accelerate rankings is by using highly targeted re-directs. It’s something that if done correctly accomplishes two goals. One, it helps establish your brand with consumers. Secondly if you have a massive amount of visitors being directed to your site that can help grab the attention of other websites who will then link to you. Plus there can be some SEO benefits as well, but it’s technical and detailed so I’ll spare you.
So now you might be wondering exactly what I’m talking about when I say re-directing traffic. Do I mean just purchasing traffic with PPC or one of the traffic market places? Well you could do that, but I think a better strategy is to find domains and or websites that are highly related to your target audience with traffic and then re-directing that domain with a permanent 301 re-direct. I’m going to bypass the SEO specific details and instead provide you with some metrics instead.
From June 9th to July 17th the traffic re-direct sent approximately 450,000 unique visitors. I know, that sounds like a giant expense and you’re thinking how do you possibly send that much traffic to one site affordably. If you can get creative and cut deals with domain owners who have sites that do a huge amount of traffic (even in aggregate) but convert poorly you can accomplish this.
One of the key things that I did with this re-direct was find targeted traffic that was inexpensive yet still relevant. I won’t disclose the traffic source or all my secrets but my goal at the end of this program was to retain anywhere from 1% to 3% of those 450,000 re-direct visitors as regular readers of CelebrityGossip.us.
On July 18th we turned off the traffic re-direct and have since relied solely on the sites type-in traffic from returning readers and the traffic obtained via organic search. (Mostly Google) As you can see from the images below (click to see larger picture) the long tail is where things really start to develop.
I’m pleased to say that while it is still early, it seems to have worked as planned. CelebrityGossip.us was doing on average 250 to 450 unique visitors a day in organic and direct navigation traffic. This traffic is most likely attributed to visitors who were returning to read more since being introduced to the site.
I won’t know the exact numbers for about 45 days (based on returning visitors vs 30 day period) but I am estimating that CelebrityGossip.us will have retained roughly 3,000 to 4,000 unique visitors (regular readers) that were introduced to the site via the traffic re-direct. Things will be slightly more difficult to determine now since we have re-branded the site as CelebGossip.com but as you can see in the images below (click to enlarge) all traffic sources were growing quickly. Just before we re-branded the site on August 2nd total traffic was nearly 900 uniques a day.
While I think that the re-direct was a good technique that’s outside the box of traditional SEO and web development, the real force driving the sites success has been Erika and Samantha’s commitment to writing great quality content daily. As anyone who blogs or does web development knows, writing content on a daily basis can be a grind. So kudos ladies, you’ve done well.
In closing there are no immediate short cuts to success. There are some opportunities that you can take advantage of that increase your odds for success. That said, I don’t want people to think that by just doing a re-direct it’s going to equal success over night. If done incorrectly or not methodically re-directs can do more damage than good. So kids don’t try this at home without the supervision of an SEO professional.
Regarding the matter of being able to obtain success with a .US domain, I think this case study is indicative that it in fact can be done. You simply need to have the right plan of action in place. I think that a .Com is always going to be a preferable domain (hence the acquisition of CelebGossip.com)
But if you’ve got a great site, good content and are bringing something of quality to the internet you too can go from zero to 10,000 uniques a month pretty quickly.