I’ve been inspired by my pal Mike Jackness, who blogs very openly about his web projects, to talk about this project as it develops. I learned a great deal from his journey with websitehosting.com, and I thought doing something similar here would be fun, so I’ll be blogging about the process of creating Tourney Tracks.
The idea for the site came from me. I’m our target customer. When I want to find some tournaments to play, I end up hunting through the tournament lists at cardplayer.com, bluffmagazine.com and flipping through print magazines for anything those sites have missed. Even with this research, I often find out about tournaments after it’s too late. I didn’t think it would be tough to create a site that listed all of the major tournaments and series, and since my business partner Adam Stemple is a wizard with WordPress, I decided that it was a project we should tackle.
The first step was finding a domain. That’s one of my jobs, and I won’t waste Adam’s time developing a site when I don’t have a name for it or a place to put it. We currently own about 80 domains, and I’ve gotten pretty good at finding unregistered or expired domains.
We work a little differently than Mike and his business Terran Marketing. The way Mike usually works is to buy very high value keyword.com domains, optimize them for search, and make sites that appeal to a wide audience. With great domains like IRA.com and OnlineDegree.com, he gets the SEO effect of the keywords being in the domain and the word of mouth appeal of a very simple domain that people can remember. As a start up we really don’t have that luxury. We just can’t afford a high end domain that will do both things really well.
I thought about buying a search engine friendly domain like poker-tournament-lists.com and other similar keyword rich options, but my vision for the site was something that would spread organically. Most tournament players talk to each other about upcoming tournaments while they’re playing, and I think word of mouth will be important for us. I needed a domain that would be easy to remember and easy for players to share at the tables.
We are also in a niche that won’t be tough in terms of competition for search ranking, so having a keyword.com domain name wasn’t as important. I focused entirely on domains that would be easy to remember. Here are a few keys to finding a good word of mouth domain.
- A good domain in this category must be easy to remember. The first time you heard Amazon.com, you were able to remember it. If the name was amazonbooksolutions.com you wouldn’t remember it at all and the business would have failed. You want people to remember your domain clearly when they hear about it.
- Your domain must also be easy to spell. Drinks.com is easy to spell. Alcoholpals.com is not. Remember that people who can’t spell, people who are lazy, and those with bad memories, are still good customers. Get a domain that will make it easy for them to visit your site.
- A word of mouth domain absolutely must end in .com. There is not a single business that people recognize online ending in .net. If you say “I got it on EBay” people know to go to EBay.com. It makes the domain much harder to remember if you get any other extension.
- There are so many options for word of mouth domains that you shouldn’t spend a lot of money on one. Keyword domains can be expensive, because there are only a few really good keyword domains for each subject, but there are thousands of good word of mouth domains. Paying a lot of money for a word of mouth domain is just wasting money that could be spent elsewhere on the development of your site.
Think about companies that have done very well with domains without keywords in them. Most of the biggest players online don’t have keyword.com domains. Companies like Amazon, Ebay, Google, and Yahoo, are all simple, easy to remember, and easy to spell. Five and six letter .com domains can be expensive these days, but a name doesn’t have to be short to be memorable.
I often start by looking for available domains and compiling a list. A list of potential domains will look very different after a day or two, so I let it sit for a few days after I find a bunch of potential domains. When I go back to the list, half the domains on it are obviously not right and in this case I knew that tourneytracks.com was the only name on the list I really liked. It rolls off the tongue, it’s easy to remember, and it’s tough to misspell.
Tournytracks.com is the only reasonable misspelling, so we bought it and redirected it to the correct domain. This is another solution if you a domain that is easy to remember but susceptible to misspelling. Our web design company was hired to help on WastedWillie.com (NSFW) and one of our first recommendations was that they buy wastedwilly.com and wastedwilley.com as well and redirect them. You don’t want your site to get big and then have someone buy the misspelling and steal the traffic you worked so hard to get.
Working with WordPress was an automatic decision for this kind of project. We have been using it for years, Adam can do anything with it, and the way posts and pages work in WordPress fits the site perfectly. Each tournament or series is a post, and they can be set to expire once the tournaments are over.
We will continue to work on the design over the next few weeks in order to have the site ready by the time our first mention hits in the next issue of Poker Pro Magazine. It’s already been submitted, so we have a hard deadline now and we need to have the site ready for visitors when the magazine comes out.
Once we have a design I’ll be talking about why we made some of the choices we did in order to interact with our target market and how we made the site work smoothly on mobile phones.