In the late 1990s, I setup the ResourcesForLife.com website as a place for all my interests and business endeavors. The idea was to create a destination with many attractions, similar to a shopping mall or vacation destination. People would arrive at the site for tech support, but also learn about tiny houses, and see some of my photography or listen to my music.
That approach has generally worked over the years, and the site has seen about 4 million visitors. However, those looking for tech support in Iowa City will not be searching Google or Bing on the words “resources for life” but instead they will be searching for something like “Iowa City tech support” or “Iowa City Computer Support.”
About ten years ago, I decided to setup two additional websites. One site is IowaCityTechnologyServices.com and the other is IowaCityComputerSupport.com.
I put most of my effort into developing the Iowa City Technology Services website, given that the term technology services would seem more inclusive of laptop computers, mobile technology, and support for other electronic devices. The idea of Computer Support seemed antiquated to me and unlikely to generate much interest, but I thought it would help to have it out there.
Today, if you search Google for “Iowa City tech support” my two websites are in the top 5 non paid organic listings of 47 million results. Among the Google business listings, Iowa City Computer Support shows up first in the results.
Ultimately, in this competition between me and myself, running two identical businesses, with the same services, and the same tech person, with the same rates, one of them has significantly pulled out into the lead. The only difference is the website name. It is the Computer Support website that has succeeded greatest. This taught me that one can never fully predict or determine the outcome regardless of how much effort we put in.
why You Need Three Websites
When I’m helping someone get started online with a web presence, I always say that a person needs at least three websites:
- Your Name. In the word of mouth and ‘word of mouse’ manner that business awareness spreads, people may sometimes search directly for your business by your name and not the business name. They will search for “Iowa City Greg Johnson computer support” or just search for “Greg Johnson Iowa City.” Many people I work with don’t know the name of my business. They tell their friends, “You should call Greg Johnson.” So, there is always a need for people to have a website under their own name to make it easy to be found. That personal website need not be complicated. It can have just a few buttons for destinations of interest. It’s a way to be found.
- Your Business Name. It’s nice to have a catchy and fun business name. Many businesses have names that consist of words previously not found in a dictionary. Others have names that make it impossible to know what the business is really about unless you already know what the business does. We all imagine that we will take our ‘baby’ as a business and brand to the level of public awareness that one day everyone will recognized Droxler Industries as a household name synonymous with whatever it is the business does. “Google did it. So can I!” is the thinking. Having a catching business name is just part of the success puzzle, but not all of it.
- What You Do. Perhaps more important than having your name or your business name as a dot com website will be to have a brief description of what you do as a dot com website (or two). You want to ensure that when people do a search on your service, that you have a website named as what they searched on dot com. That would hopefully get you higher in the search results.
Three Rules of Success
Having a few websites is just the start. Here are three aspects of fostering success.
- Content Matters. Having a genuine website with genuine unique written content and photos makes a big difference.
- The Dot Com Difference. The most recognizable website extension is .com and it’s the one people may ‘remember’ when they are typing in a website address. So, if you have a .biz or .info or .us extension on your website, a person looking for the site may by habit type in the .com extension instead. It is similar to toll free numbers beginning in 1-800. That’s the prefix we remember for toll free numbers even though 877 and other prefixes have been used in recent years. So, I always advise people to have a .com version of the website name they want whenever possible.
- Connecting. The real-world meaningful connections we make, and the successes we have in helping others, that’s the soil that our business grows in. The websites and online presence is just an ornament or decorative gift wrapping paper to the core of who we are and what we do.
What I offer above are not answers, but questions that will point you to your own answers. My experience of establishing two seemingly identical businesses and seeing one succeed was a reminder to me about the unpredictable nature of business success. The experience reinforced my desire to have diversity in my business, and to have multiple businesses.
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[Photo Credit: The photo at the top of this page is one I took on 28 Mar 2020. I colorized it slightly.]