Signed, Sealed, Delivered

FairWinds Partners ⬥ 26 January

The value that a category-defining keyword domain can contribute to an existing business can be huge.  A recent article in Inc. magazinedescribes one case in which investing in a keyword domain paid off big for Action Envelope, a leading envelope retailer.

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Back in 1997, Seth Newman, president of Action Envelope, passed on a chance to purchase the domain name because the $10,000 price tag was too high for the small company.  Over the past fourteen years, Action Envelope’s business grew, and Newman continued to negotiate with the owners of  Finally last January, Newman purchased the domain for a cool $400,000.  The price was a lot steeper, but Newman believed that owning the domain would lend extra credibility to his company, positioning it as the definitive vendor of envelopes.

Action Envelope’s business relies heavily on search traffic; is still the first organic result that appears on a Google search for the term “envelopes”.  Newman correctly believed that owning the category-defining would drive in even more business from search traffic.

In the move from to, Newman was wary of jeopardizing the high level of traffic his site receives from search engines.  So instead of using a standard 301 redirect, the bit of code that tells browsers that a website has permanently moved to a new location, Newman had his developers build an entirely new site for, with the same customer login information and e-commerce platform as but with new content.  When the company launched the site, it emailed clients to let them know, and also contacted other sites and blogs asking them to link to the new site.  Newman is currently running both websites, and sales are up 23 percent.  At the time of this post, holds the top result in a Google search for “envelopes,” and holds the number three spot.  Newman plans to merge the sites soon.

The article also mentions another example of a domain name migration that used a 301 redirect unsuccessfully.  Read the article for further details.

There are two key concepts to take away from this article.  The first is to take advantage of opportunities to get into the keyword domain game early – the example shows how valuable they can be, and also how much both their value and price can skyrocket over time.  Second, it pays to be smart about transitioning an already-established site to a new domain.  If you’re planning to invest in a keyword domain, you should take steps to make sure it adds the maximum value it can. 

Tags: 301 redirect, Action Envelope, domain name, Google, Inc. magazine, keyword, Search, Seth Newman

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