Switch from ServiceMagic.com to HomeAdvisor.com leads to organic search traffic drop.
IAC underestimated the challenge from switching its ServiceMagic business to a new domain name, the company disclosed with its first quarter results.
The company renamed the business HomeAdvisor, and switched from ServiceMagic.com to HomeAdvisor.com.
It was forewarned that the move would be difficult, but the results seemed to surprise the company’s top management.
On the company’s quarterly conference call, Jeffrey W. Kip, IAC Chief Financial Officer and Executive Vice President, stated:
Our performances were offset in the first quarter and will continue to be offset in the second quarter by underperformance at HomeAdvisor, driven by some technical glitches in the rebranding of the service, which should be resolved by the end of the quarter.
Later in the call the company confirmed that the “glitches” were related to search engine optimization. The company’s 10Q filing with the SEC states:
“HomeAdvisor domestic revenue was negatively impacted by a 20% decrease in accepted service requests due primarily to the domain name change.”
Switching domain names is hard, even if you’re upgrading to a better domain.
There’s a lesson in this for companies that applied for .brand domain names. Even if they view the .brand as superior to brand.com, moving to a .brand will be challenging. That challenge will be even more complex if the companies use multiple second level domains because it will create multiple web sites (e.g. americas.ibm, services.ibm, bigdata.ibm).
brian cundy says
Being a contractor and having knowledge about ServiceMagic, for them to blame it all on SEO is just wrong in my opinion. The techniques they use to get contractors signed up is very close to boiler room tactics.
Dave Tyrer says
Thanks, that’s an interesting case study presented – typing in ServiceMagic redirects to HomeAdvisor.
“…moving to a .brand will be challenging.”
That phrase is rather ambiguous, so it should be clarified that most if not all dot brand applicants won’t be substituting their dot com flagship for a new dot brand (in the near to medium term), rather, the dot brands will be supplementary utilitarian domains to promote goods and services. These new websites should have a positive effect on the SEO of the main dot com (and on each other).
So to use the example of IBM here, ibm.com won’t be going anywhere.
However, all IBM’s services will have new sites like Cloud.ibm, Data.ibm, Software.ibm, Contact.ibm, China.ibm, Tech.ibm, Research.ibm, Jobs.ibm, Future.ibm… These should all have a beneficial SEO effect.
And over time, a google search for “ibm software” for example should take you to the number # 1 result: Software.ibm
Upwards of 650 of the world’s greatest companies are launching dot brands and the search engines will move quickly to recognise the authority of these sites. Matt Cutts is going to be busy.
Andrew Allemann says
@ Dave Tyrer –
I assume you’re making assumptions about how someone like IBM will use .ibm.
Your example makes sense on one level. But it also presents complications.
First, now IBM is managing many more web sites than it was originally.
Second, there are still SEO challenges to this. On one hand, you can argue that the sites will be more specific and should ranker higher for the relevant term. On the other hand the number of links pointing in to each site will not be fewer than point to IBM.com, which could be a negative.
Of course, Google could change how it traditionally treats a second level domain if it’s below a .brand.
The China.ibm example is also a problem. According to the rulebook, for a .brand to use a domain like this it will need the permission of the Chinese government or ICANN and the GAC.
A bigger question is why it’s beneficial for IBM use software.ibm instead of something like software.ibm.com or ibm.com/software.
Dave Tyrer says
Good points, but actually my analysis is partly based on what I will have to call “conditional facts”. While I did extrapolate on your example of IBM (I don’t have specific info about their intentions) I do have actual info from some other big corporations about their dot brand rollout.
I have seen two use the word “transition” in their applications and I’ve only looked at a small number of dot brand documents. More this week.
While they will carefully monitor and evaluate their progress and success, they do intend to transition their hundreds, or even thousands of domains (including those under geo extensions I think) to their new dot brand. So while this process is conditional, I think it is likely to broadly succeed.
As an example, this is what GE plans:
———————– Q U O T E
“The initial use of the .GECOMPANY gTLD will involve an examination of the marketplace of similar launching gTLDs so that General Electric can best use the .GECOMPANY space to its advantage and the advantage of the public at large. General Electric will then register a limited number of second-level domain names to test the system internally, figure out the best ways to market the second-level domain names to the public, and start slowly transitioning from General Electric’s domain names in the .COM and other spaces. General Electric will likely begin by allocating domain names for internal corporate use and may redirect new .GECOMPANY domain names to pre-existing content and vice-versa. This phased rollout will likely take place over an extended period, subject to change depending upon a range of external factors.”
As for why it’s beneficial for IBM to use software.ibm instead of software.ibm.com, first it’s way simpler (especially if the sheer mass of 650 new dot brands make this commonplace) and second, the factor of “trust” is paramount. Many of the applications for the brand domains mention trust very specifically. While dot com is full of spammers and sharks, counterfeiters and conmen, Joe Shmoe will quickly learn that your .ibm and .sony and .microsoft extensions are 100 per cent safe and authentic.
Of course informed people like the domain investors on this board know that a domain like software.ibm.com is also 100 per cent authentic because the SLD is “ibm”, but I don’t think that would be obvious to Joe Shmoe.
Not sure about domains like China.ibm, not sure why anyone would object to that since it would be fairly clearly a website about IBM China not the country. But if it was prohibited, IBM might likely use IBMChina.ibm as well as Chinese versions – but now the speculation is going way too far.