How to use alternative domains for branding

Rightside is excited to launch our guest blog post series with a comprehensive article by Mandy McEwen, founder and SEO consultant of Mod Girl Marketing, about the marketing and branding value of nTLDs. Mandy’s article was originally posted on the Mod Girl Marketing blog on June 16, 2016 and we’re sharing it as an example of how marketing-savvy brands can maximize the potential of nTLDs. We look forward to expanding the voices and perspectives shared on our blog so check back frequently for guest posts, and if you’re interested in writing a guest post, please don’t hesitate to reach out.

As a digital marketing consultant, I’m always looking for new and creative ways to help clients effectively brand themselves. If a branding method also happens to be good for SEO and user experience, all the better!

The digital landscape has evolved over the years to favor a very heavy social and video experience. Consumers have shorter attention spans now more than ever, so it’s a challenge for modern marketers to create fun, memorable brand messages that appeal to audiences in a very quick minute. The average person is bombarded with about 5,000 ads per day, so the question becomes: how do you stand out?

There is no easy answer, but I believe part of the solution lies in creative branding – for example, the use of creative branded domains. Using alternative domains has become one of the hottest industry trends out there in an age where—let’s face it—.COMs have become not only competitive, but downright expensive too (if your .COM is already taken by a 3rd party)! So I often recommend alternative domains to startups building their first websites. Yet, even for the established brand who has a .COM, there is room to strategically add alternative domains. Sure, everybody knows .COM but alternative domains can be memorable, fun, and inspire creativity on your part to expand and consolidate your content.

Credit: Infographic Design Team
Credit: Infographic Design Team

Mod Girl Marketing Uses Alternative Domain Branding To Expand Reach

My websites, and have been around for several years now. As my company continues to grow, I plan to further educate our audience with educational training programs, webinars, and eBooks that will provide more in-depth tutorials and help more people succeed in building powerful brands through modern digital marketing strategies. These alternative domains will come in handy in redirecting people to specific high-value campaigns and offerings. Currently, I’ve activated a complementary domain strategy to intuitively reinforce some of my website’s most important existing pages.

For instance, I recently purchased the following domains for branding purposes:

  • – which we’re using to promote a plastic surgeon marketing case study video through social media outlets right now.
  • – which we’re using to promote our marketing solutions for technology firms page.
  • – which we’re using to promote client testimonials.
  • – which we’re using to promote inbound marketing blogs (or news, if you will).
  • – which we’re using to promote our one-to-one consulting packages.
  • – which we’re using to promote our YouTube channel.
  • – which we’re redirecting to our main homepage.
  • – which we’re using to promote our “about” page.

Modern marketing is not about “what’s trending”; it’s about building a memorable brand and connecting with an audience. Branded Top Level Domains (TLDs) that are relevant to service offerings and community building are just one of the many modern marketing strategies we deploy for our growing brand and recommend to our clients for their growing brands.
Our long-term vision for Mod Girl Marketing (which also aligns with Google’s vision) is less about “standard SEO practices” or “new SEO tricks”—and more about enhancing user experience by using data to develop better calls-to-action and more effective brand messaging that resonates with audiences. When you’re doing all that, the SEO just falls into place.

Credit: Magazine Website
Credit: Magazine Website

Mod Girl Client Roxy Plastic Surgery Benefits From Alternative Domain Branding

ROXY Plastic Surgery of Columbus, OH offers another example of how alternative domain branding can be useful. Dr. K. Roxanne Grawe is at the top of her game with a strong Snapchat and social media following, but as a busy plastic surgeon she knows there is always room to grow her brand, particularly through social media and video. For surgeons, these channels are well-suited to offer a unique “inside look” into the world of plastic surgery. Alternative domains are perfect for use in Snapchat, where video clips are only shown for a few seconds and you want audiences to recall a specific call-to-action.

We set up the following domains for ROXY:

Although we just recently set up these new branded domains for Dr. Grawe, she is very excited about using them and loves the modern branding opportunity.

Don’t Just Take My Word For It!

Many marketing professionals are starting to see the potential benefits of alternative domains. Bill Hartzer of Advice Interactive (and formerly Globe Runner) has been analyzing the SEO benefits of new TLDs for years. His conclusion: Keyword-rich, exact-match new domains “tend to rank fairly well,” and, if implemented correctly, can help improve search rankings as part of a broader SEO strategy as well. This can be true both for paid campaigns—where he found a new domain getting more impressions at a better cost-per-click versus an otherwise identical .COM—and in organic results—with one new domain rising much higher after being properly migrated and supported with a new web site design, as well as increased content and links. From the results it’s clear that some businesses and individuals are finding new TLDs to be better branding tools to help engage with online audiences.

Furthermore, Rob Villeneuve, CEO of and contributor to Duct Tape Marketing, has this to say about branded domains: “Google has made clear that its search engine does not discriminate between one TLD and another”—so “if you’re a designer, then why not use .DESIGN? If you repair computer hardware and software, then try .TECH. If you run a clothing shop, then .STYLE or .CLOTHING could be for you, or you could adopt one of the increasingly common location-based extensions.” Another option for local enterprises is to use location-based extensions like .NYC. Villeneuve implores: “Why not break free from the .COM and choose a shorter, more relevant, and more memorable new domain extension for your website? It could do wonders for business and make your brand that little bit more memorable.”

Nicole Fallon over at Business News Daily also loves the use of alternative domains for branding purposes. The experts she consulted say that new TLDs give website owners the ability to communicate offerings very simply and effectively. If you make pizza, why not use .PIZZA as your web address? If you’re a dentist, why not use .DENTIST? If you want to direct people to your online retail store, why not use .SHOP as a faster and more convenient way to get them there? Once you have a great deal of content, you can direct customers more easily by creating a .WIKI for a neutral and authoritative look at your offerings, the article posits.

The Bottom Line

We’re not suggesting that the ONLY thing you have to do is buy a creative domain name in order to stand out from the competition or rank well for a keyword. But our decade of marketing and branding experience tells us that investing in alternative, branded domain names DOES HELP mobilize web traffic down your sales funnel because ultimately it’s what modern consumers want.

About Mandy McEwen:

Mandy McEwen has spent more than a decade building a team of experts at Mod Girl Marketing to provide clients with custom digital marketing solutions and strategic consulting. Though she has partnered with a variety of businesses from coast to coast to achieve transformative results, most of her current clients are in the healthcare, technology, and B2B sectors. Interested parties may contact Mandy directly by email at or by phone at 1-800-388-7732. Or you may download Mandy’s FREE EBOOK: 8 stupid simple social media tricks to boost your SEO for a number of actionable marketing tips.


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