By Sara Carbone, freelance copywriter at Create Velocity
Solar marketing can be tough. Contractors are working to differentiate themselves in a crowded and ever-changing marketplace. They’re seeking to meet prospects wherever they are and usher them to a specific website.
New top-level domains (TLDs) can help with that journey to a click. Although I write about digital solar marketing and SEO, I only recently heard about them. When I investigated new TLDs for the solar industry, I found a number of benefits.
A new TLD is a domain name that ends in something other than .com or .net and is usually three or more characters (as opposed to a country code TLD like .uk). Your company name can be to the “left” of the dot while a word that conveys more meaning around your online presence can be to the right of the dot, like .solar, .energy, .software, .social. Different domain names can be used for different purposes like redirects, online promos, short links and social media.
Reasons to use new TLDs for solar marketing
Sean Sullivan, president of the solar contracting company South Carolina Solar, explained that the company has been successfully using sc.solar as its domain name since its inception. A host of other renewable energy companies are using the .solar and .energy TLDs (i.e. kw.solar, newstar.solar, hrs.energy, nerdpower.energy).
Bill Gates recently started using b-t.energy for his Breakthrough Energy Ventures, and General Motors houses its sustainability initiatives on GeneralMotors.green. Google’s parent company Alphabet uses abc.xyz, and Google has domains.google and google.blog.
Increase web traffic and lower costs
A meaningful, relevant domain means better online engagement with your company and more clicks to your site. SEO expert Bill Hartzer said, “Having a great domain name helps encourage search engine visitors to click.” New TLDs are naturally shorter than the traditional domains because of the meaning to the right of the dot. A recent study shows that short links using real words generate twice as many clicks as long links for their clarity, simplicity and memorability.
Sc.solar’s Sullivan found that having an exact match domain name that pops up organically when someone searches “sc” and “solar” has been a money-saving addition to the company’s solar marketing efforts. Entrepreneur Magazine reports that results from a new TLD mean less reliance on expensive search engine placement and other online ads, something a 2017 study found as well.
Unharmed SEO ranking
Google said its systems treat new domain extensions like any other extensions overall. Sullivan has found that sc.solar has performed as well as any .com he’s had in the past for his businesses. Some new TLDs currently ranking first on Google search results are polar.solar, experience.energy, and evolved.energy, while a .tech domain name actually won a recent SEO ranking contest.
Best practices for using new TLDs in solar marketing
Understand your target audience
The best domain name depends on your particular prospect population, which can mean using a new TLD exclusively or adding them to your suite of domain names. If your target audience is pretty tech-savvy, they’ll like the cutting-edge feel of a domain name like .solar or .energy.
If you’re an established company known by the .com, you can still leverage additional domains to strengthen your brand marketing. You can use new domains for online promotions, short links and have these domains “point” or redirect to your flagship website. One such redirect example is Suntribe Solar. Both suntribe.solar and suntribesolar.com appear in search results, while the actual website uses the .com in the URL. The company enhances its online presence with a catchy new domain name and adds brand name protection.
Communicate your brand more powerfully
WebiNerds said, “we’ve finally reached an age where we’re realizing that .com is terribly generic and doesn’t actually describe the purpose or function of most websites.” Choose a new TLD that makes every word in your domain relevant to your brand. For example, an energy monitoring company can use ABC.energy or ABC.company for its website, in addition to ABC.com. Short and memorable .com names tend to be sold out. So rather than being an energy storage company struggling to come up with a .com name, opt for ABC.energy or ABCenergy.storage.
Align your domain name with your company offering
If you’re a regional solar or storage contractor, try a geocentric TLD like santamonica.solar or sc.solar. Conversely, national companies like manufacturers or software subscription providers should focus on a TLD that succinctly conveys what the company does: for example, use ABC.solar or ABCsolar.design over the clunkier ABCSolardesign.com or ABCSolarproducts.com.
Market to a niche audience
Domains like ABC.racking or ABCgroundscrew.solar can be used to reach specific audiences. Or a hyper-specific TLD for a mini-marketing campaign can funnel users to a landing page on your site for easy access: ABCSolar.corporate for your corporate clients or ABCSolar.homes for residential solar prospects (much like amazon.kitchens, amazon.dog and amazon.jewelry).
Catchy domains can be used to market a special campaign or promotion, particularly on social media. If your company is having a big November solar discount, use a clear domain like NovSale.solar instead of ABCsolar.com/NovSale/CallNow or if you’re hosting a free webinar, use ABCsoftware.social instead of ABCsoftware.com/free-webinar-8624679. Domains like these sound better in offline marketing too: prospects are much more likely to remember hearing mazda.lease or next100.bmw on the radio than something like mazda.com/showroom/lease.
Getting a new TLD soon can help solar contractors be on the leading edge of a new trend—while it’s still affordable. Some companies are already paying a premium for some of the best new domain names. Home.loans sold for $500,000 and vacation.rentals sold for $500,300, both of which rank on the first page of Google for an exact match search. But there are still millions of affordable, meaningful domain names available. Get them while your choices are plentiful!
Sara Carbone has her own freelance copywriting business creating tailored content for solar marketing campaigns based on several years of experience researching the industry and working with solar contractors around their pain points and goals. You can follow her on Twitter at @SaraSolarWriter or learn more about her at create-velocity.com.