Tuesday, March 26, 2019

5 YouTube Description Templates That Have Helped Our Videos Go Viral

YouTube is the second largest search engine, with over 1.8 billion users per month -- so it's an undeniably powerful channel for your marketing efforts.

However, if you don't use YouTube for your current marketing strategy, you're not alone. In fact, only nine percent of U.S. small businesses use YouTube to reach their audience.

In 2018, the HubSpot Academy team didn't take advantage of YouTube, either. But in the latter half of the year, the team feared the major losses in traffic they could face if they didn't hop on board -- so they implemented a strategy that enabled them to grow YouTube subscribers by 25% in just two months.

Ultimately, if you're ready to begin using YouTube to attract and convert an audience, it's critical you optimize your video descriptions for SEO. If you're unsure how to start crafting compelling YouTube descriptions, keep reading -- here, we'll explore various tactics you can employ, and provide templates to ensure you have everything you need to excel on YouTube.

Unlock the one resource you need to start growing your YouTube business channel.

How to Create Compelling YouTube Descriptions

1. Explain what your video is about.

To explore the best tactics for writing YouTube descriptions, I spoke with Eric Peters, a Senior Growth Marketing Manager on HubSpot's Academy team. He told me, "[YouTube descriptions] is one of the primary ways YouTube knows what your video is about. Include links, additional resources, links to other videos and playlists, etc. Make sure the description box is easy to read."

As Peters notes, explaining your YouTube video and incorporating keywords into your description doesn't just help with SEO rankings -- it also helps with accessibility for people who are deaf and hard of hearing. For that reason, adding closed captions to your videos is an absolute must, too.

For instance, take a look at one of HubSpot Academy's YouTube video descriptions:

As you can see, a YouTube description is incredibly different from a web page meta description. In a YouTube description, you have the space to go in-depth and explain what your entire video is about, and even link to external resources.

Peters told me, "You get 5,000 characters total, so make use of it. A lot of creators use asterisks or all-caps to differentiate titles from body copy because it's all plain text. Consider writing up a text version of the key points from the video, or even copying the transcription of the video into the description."

2. Include a CTA.

Your YouTube description is a fantastic opportunity to ask viewers to continue to engage with your channel, or find additional resources that will help them learn more about a topic of interest.

For instance, let's say you create a brief "How to add filters to Instagram" YouTube video, but you also have an in-depth, "How to Use Instagram for Marketing" blog post -- why not link to it in the description? More than likely, anyone who is watching your Instagram video on YouTube would be equally grateful for the opportunity to learn more via a blog post.

Alternatively, perhaps you simply want to ask viewers to subscribe, turn on notifications, or share your content with their networks. These are all acceptable CTA's for your description.

Additionally, it's critical you format your description to ensure you put the most important information first -- as Peters advises, "The first 200 characters are above the 'more' fold on the description box, so if you want your CTA/link to be seen by the most people, keep it within the first 200 characters."

After the first 200 characters, your text will be cut-off, and viewers will need to click "Show more" to see the rest -- so it's vital you make your first 200 characters count.

3. Add your personality.

A YouTube description should be fun, and demonstrate your brand's personality or unique voice to an audience. Unlike more traditional forms of advertising, this is an opportunity for you to instill creativity and humor into your content.

Brian Dean's YouTube channel is a great example of this -- his YouTube descriptions often mirror the way he speaks. The descriptions are candid and casual, and he makes it feel like he's writing to a friend.

To learn more about using YouTube for marketing purposes, consider checking out HubSpot Academy's comprehensive YouTube Marketing course.

YouTube Description Templates

Now that we've covered the basics, take a look at a few templates you can use to craft compelling YouTube descriptions today.

Templates for Your Channel Description

You might create a playful, easy-going channel 'About Me' description, like this one:

Hi, I'm [Name]. This is my channel about X, Y, and Z that you can use to grow your business.

If you're a marketer who wants to learn X to get [result, i.e. more traffic to your site], subscribe to my channel.

My channel publishes videos that focus on X, Y, and Z. If that sounds like it could be helpful for you, please join me!

Alternatively, you can craft a YouTube description that describes what your company does from a third-person point of view, like this one:

Company A is the worldwide leader in X, Y, and Z. Since 2010, Company A has been on a mission to [insert company vision or purpose here].

To learn more about A, B, C, subscribe to our channel to stay informed.

Templates for Your Video Descriptions

If you've conducted an internal interview, you might keep your description short-and-sweet to describe your conversation and why it matters to your audience, as well as a CTA:

Hear how our CEO explains the difference between X and Y, and learn best practices for implementing your own strategy.

Learn more about X and Y in our course: www.XY.com

Alternatively, if you want your description to help new viewers find your various channels, try crafting a description like this one:

Hi there! New to [name of channel]? If so, here's what you need to know -- I like [interests related to channel] a LOT, so I use this channel to explore X, Y, and Z, to help you [desired result for viewer].

Where else you can find me:

INSTAGRAM: http://instagram.com/[accountname]

TWITTER: http://twitter.com/[accountname]

LIFESTYLE CHANNEL: http://www.youtube.com/[accountname]

Join our growing community for new videos every Tuesday and Friday!

BUSINESS INQUIRIES

Please contact [PR representative] at [email or phone number].

Finally, if you want to focus on crafting a description that explains what your video is about and incorporates a keyword description, try this:

Hey there! This lesson is part of a free online course. Take the full course here: www.company.com/course1

Some people are unsure what X is -- at its most basic, X is [brief definition of keyword]. In this video, you'll learn how to X, Y, and Z, to ensure you're able to grow your brand online.

Additionally, we'll explain how you can avoid doing A. Sometimes, A is all it takes to lose a customer.

YouTube for Business

Monday, March 25, 2019

23 Remarkable Twitter Statistics to Be Aware of in 2019

Twitter is one of the most popular (and powerful) social media networks around, and businesses everywhere are smart to continue using and innovating on it.

But how you use Twitter depends entirely on how its members use, follow, post, interact with, and hashtag the things they care about. Luckily, we curated some Twitter statistics to make your decision easier.

Click here to access a free Twitter for Businesses kit.So, how are people using Twitter nowadays? How are businesses using Twitter? How does the network impact people's purchasing decisions? How do promoted tweets boost offline sales, and how connected do people feel to a brand as a result of your Twitter presence?

Twitter Stats

Check out some intriguing data about Twitter, below, and see for yourself. For more ideas on how and what to tweet -- including 12 tweet templates to get you started -- check out this blog post.

Twitter User Statistics

1. Twitter has 321 million monthly active users as of the end of 2018. (source: Twitter)

2. 79% of Twitter's monthly active users are outside the United States. (source: Twitter)

3. 45% of Americans between the ages of 18 and 24 use Twitter. (source: Pew Research Center)

4. 73% of Twitter users also use Instagram. (source: Pew Research Center)

5. The number of U.S. adults who use Twitter has grown by roughly 10% since 2012. (source: Pew Research Center)

6. Twitter is the second-most popular social network in the United Kingdom, reaching 60% of the U.K.'s internet audience. The most popular is Facebook, at 90%. (source: Ofcom)

twitter-uk-popularity-statistics

7. In Japan, Twitter Advertising reaches 38.6 million of Japanese citizens -- the 9th-highest percentage reach of any other country on Twitter. (source: We Are Social)

8. The Philippines has just under 3 million female Twitter users -- the most of any other country. India has the most male users, at 5.9 million. (source: We Are Social)

Twitter Followers Statistics

9. Katy Perry is the world's most followed Twitter account, at 107 million followers, followed by Justin Bieber and then Barack Obama. (source: We Are Social)

top-twitter-followers-statistics

10. The NBA and Google are the most followed non-media business accounts on Twitter. Their followers are 28 million and 21 million, respectively. (source: Friend or Follow)

11. The most followed news account on Twitter is CNN Breaking News, at 55 million followers. (source: Friend or Follow)

12. The most followed social media account on Twitter is YouTube, at 71 million followers. (source: Friend or Follow)

13. The average Twitter account has 707 followers. (source: KickFactory)

14. Netflix Brasil and Playstation Japan are the fastest-growing business accounts on Twitter, in terms of monthly follower increases. (source: SocialBakers)

Twitter Usage Statistics

15. The 😂 emoji is the most frequently used emoji on Twitter, having been used 2.3 billion times since 2013. Coming in 2nd is ❤️, followed by ♻️. (source: We Are Social)

16. SimilarWeb ranks twitter.com the 7th most visited website in the world. (source: We Are Social)

17. Twitter's global average time per visit is just over 9 minutes. (source: We Are Social)

18. As of 2018, some of the most popular Twitter hashtags included #crypto, #influencermarketing, #womenintech, #deeplearning, and #fridayfeeling. (source: HubSpot)

19. Tweets that include hashtags can result in as much as a 1,065% increase in engagement compared to a similar tweet without hashtags. (source: HubSpot)

20. Approximately 46% of Twitter users are on the platform every day. (source: Pew Research Center)

twitter-daily-usage-statistics

21. In the U.K., the average time per visitor on Twitter is roughly 2 hours. (source: comScore)

22. As of Q3 2018, engagement with paid Twitter Ads increased by 50% year over year. For advertisers, the cost per engagement decreased by 14% over the same time period. (source: Twitter)

23. Twitter Ads are up to 11% better at mentally engaging with audiences during live events. (source: Twitter)

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Direct Costs, Explained in 600 Words or Less [With Examples]

It's surprisingly inexpensive to start a business today -- as little at $3000, according to the Small Business Administration. However, as encouraging as that is to aspiring business owners, the costs to run that business every day are a bit more complex.

Before research and development, and before you even rent an office space, you might want to know how much money you'll need to make your product. These are your direct costs.

Take control of your success with the help of this free business plan template and checklist.

Are direct costs different from fixed and variable costs?

Actually, direct costs are a type of fixed or variable cost. These expenses are not mutually exclusive. Whether or not a direct cost is fixed or variable simply depends on how likely (or regularly) the cost is to change as your business grows. Here are two examples:

  • Variable direct cost: A SaaS company that sells cloud-based software is responsible for storing the data their customers put on their software. That information is stored in the form of servers. The more clients the company has, the more servers the business will need to buy to store client data so the product can continue to operate. Server costs, in this case, are a variable direct cost to the business.
  • Fixed direct cost: Consider the variable cost example, above. This company also employs an IT administrator to manage the storage of its customers' data. Barring changes to his/her compensation, the salary the company pays this administrator remains unchanged each month. IT salaries are a fixed direct cost to the business.

Direct costs get their name because they have a "direct" line to the creation and management of your goods and services. You pay cost A in exchange for item B, you use item B to make product C. Cost A is a direct cost because product C can be traced back to the cost A you paid.

Indirect costs are more complicated and do not have this direct line to your product's end result. You pay cost A in exchange for facility B, you use facility B to host machine C, machine C is used by team D to make product E. Cost A is an indirect cost because product E cannot be directly traced back to the cost A you paid. There are other direct costs that took place between A and E.

It's easy to attribute your direct costs to the money you spend physically making your goods and services. An automotive company, for example, might pay a steel manufacturer for the material used to create each car body. This is a direct cost to the car company.

However, there are other direct costs that can go into a product even if those costs don't pay for the material your product is made out of. Here are some common examples of direct costs you can attribute directly to your product:

  • Physical materials: The raw materials, ingredients, and parts needed to build your product are all direct costs to your business.
  • Employee salaries: The individual salaries, particularly the ones you pay to those who make and sell your product, are direct costs.
  • Sales commission: Every time a salesperson sells a unit of your product, he/she is paid commission. This is a direct cost to maintaining the value or your product.
  • Servers: The servers needed to store customer data on your product, particularly if your product is in the form of software, is a direct cost to your business.
  • Data center space: The data center space you rent or own to store those servers is a direct cost.
  • Product transportation: The cost to ship your product to and from your office and customers is a direct cost.

Click here to learn more about the types of variable costs you'll encounter when growing your business.

Business Plan Template

How to Build Up Your Work-Life Balance Muscle, According to NestlĂ©’s Chief People Officer

In recent years, viewpoints have shifted on the concepts of "having it all" and "juggling work and life." We’ve come to recognize no one has it all, day in and day out; we may strike a healthy balance one week and find ourselves a bit lopsided the next. In other words, the battle for balance is ongoing. That’s why we have to build up what Judy Cascapera, NestlĂ© USA’s Chief People Officer, calls "the balance muscle."

"We have to treat it like working out at the gym: You start small and build up that muscle, and over time it gets a little easier," Cascapera says. "If you don’t use and maintain it, that muscle starts to atrophy. But you can recognize that and build it back up again."

As an HR executive, Cascapera has made balance-supporting initiatives a cornerstone of her work for NestlĂ©’s people. That includes leading the company’s Parent Support Policy for U.S. employees, offering primary caregivers up to a total of 26 weeks of leave, which includes 14 weeks paid.

But for Cascapera personally, balance was something she found impossible as she rose through the ranks earlier in her career. She went back to work four weeks after having a child -- twice. She stopped exercising. She even canceled planned family vacations.

"It wasn’t just a bad work-life balance; it was zero balance," Cascapera told Glassdoor. "Eventually, it became, 'How can I become this effective HR leader someday if I’m not even taking care of myself? If nothing else, how can I even do my best work?' When I started to build this muscle, both my work and my life got so much better."

Here’s how Cascapera recommends any worker can start building that balance muscle — and using it, so you don’t lose it.

Start Small

Shifting your view -- and creating that balance muscle -- takes time. So if you’re at the point where you’re drowning in work and balance seems impossible, tackle just one "life" aspect to prioritize.

"If that dental cleaning has been hanging over your head, just get it scheduled," Cascapera says. "Put in your calendar, tell the team members you need to tell, and stick to it no matter what. Once you go, you’ll feel so much better, and it will also show you the world doesn’t end because you left the office for an hour to take care of your health — which makes it easier to get yourself doing more tasks like this over time."

Build a Support System With Your Colleagues

Ideally, you would be working in a place that doesn’t expect or encourage an unhealthy amount of time at work. But even if the overall company environment doesn’t necessarily put balance first, you can create your own pockets of support for yourself and your colleagues. Identify a potential accountability partner -- or several! -- and talk with them about your goals of achieving better balance. Ask if they’ll help keep you to commitments like doctor’s appointments, or leaving the office by 5:30 next Wednesday so you can hit the gym. And you, of course, can do the same for them.

"Balance was particularly hard for me after I had my first child, and I leaned on a bunch of people," Cascapera says. "I had been talking about how I could only get a haircut if I forced myself to get out of the house on a Sunday afternoon and take a walk-in at Supercuts. My coworker actually made me an appointment at the salon."

Choosing a close friend at work, if you have one, is great. But your accountability partner can be anyone who wants to help. Over time, you can push not only yourself but your colleagues to keep balance and self-care top of mind daily.

If Work Must Bleed Into Time at Home, Schedule It

Wouldn't it be lovely if we could all just leave work at the office? But for some jobs, it simply isn't possible. Still, that doesn't mean you have to spend every moment at home working. "I always tell other women you can’t have it all in that you can’t have a successful career and successful children and a spouse who’s always happy every single day," Cascapera says. "It is a constant push and pull, a constant reprioritization, and that's OK."

She recommends setting realistic guidelines for yourself: Maybe you spend an hour or two sending emails when you get home from the office, so you can enjoy an outing with friends or a Netflix binge later. Or make a rule to put the phone away during dinner and bedtime routine with your kids, and then work from 8-9 p.m.

Those rules can shift as needed, Cascapera notes. If you know it's going to be an exceptionally busy week at work, get it done and don’t berate yourself -- just be sure to recalibrate the following week by promising yourself you’ll leave the office on time, and maybe plan a massage or time with friends to get that balance back.

Remember: the Big Moments in Life Are Rare, and Work Will Always Be There

The balance muscle is put into sharp focus when something big is happening in your life, whether it’s happy, like planning a wedding, or difficult, such as dealing with a family member’s illness. But those big moments are rare, and you may have to remind yourself that they’re more important. This is when that strong balance muscle you’ve been working on becomes paramount.

Cascapera wishes she had recognized that earlier in her career. At one job, she helped to lead the foodservice business, which was a challenging part of the operation; two people turned down the position before she accepted it. She was also a rare woman leader in the male-dominated consumer packaged goods field.

"I felt like I was in this pivotal time in my career, and that I had something to prove," Cascapera says. "In my head, I made that out to be, ‘Well, that means I need to work all the time.’ I canceled many vacations with family last minute, and I am not proud of that."

But in the end, she came away with a valuable lesson: "I learned that you can’t take for granted that you won’t get that time back. This is your life," Cascapera says.

This article was originally published on Glassdoor, one of the world’s largest job and recruiting sites. Glassdoor combines all the jobs with valuable data to make it easy for people to find a job that fits their life, while also helping employers hire quality talent at scale. Are you hiring? Post jobs for free with a 7-day trial.

Direct Costs, Explained in 600 Words or Less [With Examples]

It's surprisingly inexpensive to start a business today -- as little at $3000, according to the Small Business Administration. However, as encouraging as that is to aspiring business owners, the costs to run that business every day are a bit more complex.

Before research and development, and before you even rent an office space, you might want to know how much money you'll need to make your product. These are your direct costs.

Take control of your success with the help of this free business plan template and checklist.

Are direct costs different from fixed and variable costs?

Actually, direct costs are a type of fixed or variable cost. These expenses are not mutually exclusive. Whether or not a direct cost is fixed or variable simply depends on how likely (or regularly) the cost is to change as your business grows. Here are two examples:

  • Variable direct cost: A SaaS company that sells cloud-based software is responsible for storing the data their customers put on their software. That information is stored in the form of servers. The more clients the company has, the more servers the business will need to buy to store client data so the product can continue to operate. Server costs, in this case, are a variable direct cost to the business.
  • Fixed direct cost: Consider the variable cost example, above. This company also employs an IT administrator to manage the storage of its customers' data. Barring changes to his/her compensation, the salary the company pays this administer remains unchanged each month. IT salaries are a fixed direct cost to the business.

Direct costs get their name because they have a "direct" line to the creation and management of your goods and services. You pay cost A in exchange for item B, you use item B to make product C. Cost A is a direct cost because product C can be traced back to the cost A you paid.

Indirect costs are more complicated and do not have this direct line to your product's end result. You pay cost A in exchange for facility B, you use facility B to host machine C, machine C is used by team D to make product E. Cost A is an indirect cost because product E cannot be directly traced back to the cost A you paid. There are other direct costs that took place between A and E.

It's easy to attribute your direct costs to the money you spend physically making your goods and services. An automotive company, for example, might pay a steel manufacturer for the material used to create each car body. This is a direct cost to the car company.

However, there are other direct costs that can go into a product even if those costs don't pay for the material your product is made out of. Here are some common examples of direct costs you can attribute directly to your product:

  • Physical materials: The raw materials, ingredients, and parts needed to build your product are all direct costs to your business.
  • Employee salaries: The individual salaries, particularly the ones you pay to those who make and sell your product, are direct costs.
  • Sales commission: Every time a salesperson sells a unit of your product, he/she is paid commission. This is a direct cost to maintaining the value or your product.
  • Servers: The servers needed to store customer data on your product, particularly if your product is in the form of software, is a direct cost to your business.
  • Data center space: The data center space you rent or own to store those servers is a direct cost.
  • Product transportation: The cost to ship your product to and from your office and customers is a direct cost.

Click here to learn more about the types of variable costs you'll encounter when growing your business.

Business Plan Template

How to Get Genuine and Totally Real Followers on Pinterest

Pinterest now attracts 150 million people per month. Its growth even supersedes traditional social network success stories -- millennial use of Pinterest in particular has increased more than any other social network, even Snapchat.

It makes sense, then, why you want to increase your followers on Pinterest. The popularity of the platform makes it a good site to increase brand awareness -- additionally, Pinterest users are particularly receptive to branded content. In fact, 78% of Pinterest users welcome content from brands.

But the popularity of Pinterest means it's a crowded space, and the task of increasing followers can feel daunting. You might even be tempted to buy Pinterest followers -- we'll explain how to do this later (and why it's a bad idea).

Fortunately, there are tactics you can implement right now to increase your real follower count on Pinterest. Here, we're going to dive into everything you need to know to grow your Pinterest audience today.

1. Post original images.

Over 80% of pins are re-pins -- which means it's critical you stand out by creating original content for your brand. Try posting original infographics, graphics, or photos that reflect your brand's message. Additionally, when you do re-pin, make sure you're re-pinning content that aligns well with your own brand.

2. Use keywords and hashtags.

Pinterest users typically find brands through hashtags and searches, so it's important you include both in your descriptions and images. Additionally, Pinterest's hashtag help page states, "If you have a business account, adding hashtags to the organic instances of your Promoted content can help distribute your content in those feeds." Pinterest recommends no more than 20 hashtags per pin.

When adding a hashtag to your description, it's critical you remain specific and descriptive. This ensures the highest chance that your pin will match a user's true search intent. For instance, let's say you have a pin for healthy dinner recipes. Using the hashtag #healthyrecipes is better than simply inputting #healthy -- while more users likely search #healthy, those users are not necessarily looking for recipes. #Healthyrecipes helps you reach a more targeted audience.

3. Be active and engaged on Pinterest.

Like any social media site, Pinterest favors active accounts. This includes ensuring you pin on a regular basis, manually pin other people's pin, and follow other boards. If you have trouble keeping up with your Pinterest activity, try using a tool like Tailwind, which allows you to schedule your Pinterest pins ahead of time.

One pin can drive up to two page visits and six page views. So it's vital you re-pin, often. Consider going to the "Explore" and "Trending" pages, and re-pinning from there. The more you re-pin and engage with other boards, the more likely you are to increase your reach.

4. Follow other users.

If someone is following a business with similar content to yours, chances are, they'd be a good follower for you, as well. Take some time to research competitors' and follow their followers -- if your content is up-to-par, they'll more than likely follow you back.

Alternatively, perhaps there are businesses with products or services that work well in conjunction with your own. For instance, let's say you're an interior designer, and you find a company that sells handmade furniture on Pinterest. You might follow some of their followers, since their followers are likely interested in either decorating or sprucing up their home.

5. Add a Pinterest follow button to your newsletter or website.

You can likely increase traffic to your Pinterest account if you embed a Pinterest follow button in an email newsletter, or on your website. Since traffic to your site, or subscribers to your newsletter, are probably already interested in your product or services, they're a strong audience to target.

Plus, depending on where they are in their buyer's journey, your Pinterest account might actually help them decide whether your business is the right fit for them.

6. Use Pinterest sections.

Pinterest sections are similar to H2 sections of your blog posts -- they enable you to organize your full Pinterest board into categories, so users can more easily find exactly what they're looking for.

For instance, take a look at Twins Mommy Blog's board:

While the full board is about "Starting a Blog", it's then divided into five sections, including how to make money blogging, and blog traffic tips. A user might only check out the make money section, and re-pin that content without needing to see or re-pin the rest of the board.

Sections, then, make your individual content more likely to be found and re-pinned.

7. Promote your pins.

If you have a business account on Pinterest, you could consider putting money behind a pin to increase visibility and reach -- similar to paying for an ad on Facebook.

For instance, take a look at what I see when I type "travel" into Pinterest:

One of the first pins, prominently displayed under the search term "Travel", is Wikibuy's promoted "How to Travel Like a Pro" pin. Promoted pins have been proven successful -- in fact, 50% of Pinterest users have made a purchase after seeing a Promoted pin, and Promoted pins are re-pinned an average of 11 times.

For increased visibility and reach, then, why not?

Buying Pinterest Followers

There are tools you can use to buy Pinterest followers -- such as Best Social Plan, which allows you to buy 1,000 followers for $15, or 4,000 followers for $60.

Buying Pinterest followers essentially means you're buying fake accounts to increase the number of followers you have, which will make it look like your business is popular on Pinterest. This can be tempting -- why do the hard work of cultivating a following, when you can pay less than $20 for 1,000 followers, instantly?

Unfortunately, however, buying followers does more harm than good. First off, your company could be banned from the site if Pinterest figures out you've bought followers, since it's against their guidelines.

Additionally, increasing your follower count can actually harm your success on Pinterest, since Pinterest's algorithm doesn't just measure follower count -- it also measures engagement metrics.

For instance, let's say you have 100 real followers, and 1,000 fake ones. You post a pin that is re-pinned 10 times. Out of your real followers, that's 10% -- an incredibly good engagement number. But Pinterest calculates 10 re-pins out of 1,100 -- which is less than one percent.

Ultimately, more followers could decrease your engagement metrics, which will make both Pinterest and your real followers believe your content isn't actually that good.

Finally, buying followers is a bad idea because, simply put, those fake followers will never become real customers. You will become much more successful on the platform if you take the time and resources you would've dedicated to buying followers, and use it instead to implement some of the strategies listed above.

Ultimately, it's critical you work diligently to find and engage with real people -- because only real people can help you figure out what your potential future customers expect and prefer from their online content.

Friday, March 22, 2019

Do I Still Need a .com TLD For My Business?

Choosing a domain name for your business often goes something like this:

1. After hours of brainstorming, you discover the perfect domain name only to find out it was registered 20 years ago.

2. After a few more hours, you settle on another choice only to find out a payment of $50,000 was required.

3. After more hours and more iterations, you end up buying a .com domain name that you don’t feel great about.

This often happens due to the limited supply of top-level domains (TLDs) combined with the recommendation that all businesses should choose a .com or country-code TLD. But does having a common domain extension still matter? Should businesses still buy a .com domain name?

What is a top-level domain?

Before digging into the pros and cons of .coms vs. other TLDs, here’s a brief refresher on domain name terminology.

A top-level domain or TLD is the last segment of a domain name. For example, the most common TLD is .com. Other popular TLDs include .gov, .net, .and .edu. There are also country-code top-level domains (ccTLDs) like .ca (Canada), .uk (United Kingdom), and .in (India).

One other note is that top-level domains are sometimes referred to as domain extensions or domain endings. For brevity, I’ll call them TLDs going forward. To learn more about other terms like subdomains and second-level level domains, check out our guide on What is a Domain?

Per ICANN, there are currently 1,532 TLDs for businesses to choose from. That’s an almost endless number of combinations. But should businesses use one that doesn’t end with .com? Read on to learn more about the pros and cons of non-dotcoms.

Do TLDs matter for SEO?

One of the most commonly asked questions about new TLDs is whether they affect SEO. Here’s a direct, 36-pixel sized quote from Google’s Guide on Traditional vs. New Domain Endings:

"Using a new domain ending will not hurt your search presence."

This makes sense when you think about all the different ways Google can analyze page quality like backlinks, content analysis, search metrics, traffic metrics, and 200 other proven or theorized factors detailed by Backlinko. Another much simpler way to confirm Google’s stance on new TLDs is to notice that they own and use many like https://abc.xyz/, https://docs.new, and https://domains.google.

In other words, .com domains do not rank higher in search due to their TLD. However, they might indirectly rank higher due to Google’s preference for aged brands.

An aged brand is a website or company with a long track record of quality content, frequent updates, and technical uptime. If most other factors are close or equal, a page on an established brand will almost always rank higher than a page on a newer, less proven brand. And seeing that .com domains still make up 46.8% of ranked TLD usage per W3Techs, most aged brands are likely to be .coms.

So if you’re looking to purchase an existing website, a .com domain name might indirectly provide more search value. However, if you’re buying a new domain name, the TLD you choose will not affect your search rank.

Will a non-dotcom TLD help or hurt your company’s brand?

This is a very tough, subjective question with three likely answers:

1. A non-dotcom TLD will help customers remember your brand and serve as a unique differentiator.

2. A non-dotcom TLD will make your brand seem suspect and less reputable.

3. Customers won’t notice your TLD or won’t care about it.

The most frequent answer for your brand probably depends on customer demographics, traffic sources, and other factors.

For example, if you have a tech-savvy audience, they’re probably more likely to be familiar and comfortable with a different TLD. Technical people are frequently early adopters that understand and gravitate toward new, emerging trends. They might also be more likely to notice and care about the TLD you choose.

Alternatively, if you’re selling services to businesses in more traditional industries, your audience might see a non-dotcom as questionable. Paul Graham, the co-founder of the startup accelerator and seed capital firm Y Combinator, believes that B2B businesses, in particular, should prefer a .com whenever possible.

As mentioned in a Forbes article and accompanying tweet, Graham said,

“All other things being equal, .com domain names are preferable, and things are way more equal than people attached to their current name realize.” He also stated that, “dot-com domains are probably more important for B2B, because there you need the legitimacy.”

Finally, it’s always possible that your TLD won’t affect your brand positively or negatively. If your website consists of a lot of single-page, mobile traffic, maybe your customers won’t even notice what your domain name is. Overall, as different TLDs become more common, your customers will likely be equally comfortable with whatever you choose.

Will a new TLD cost more than a .com?

Most popular, new TLDs typically cost about the same as a .com. Per DomainNameStats, .xyz currently has an average price of $0.75, which is actually less than the average price of a .com. .club also has a very affordable average of $0.99. Most other options have similar, reasonable prices but there are some exceptions.

If you’re looking to buy a .makeup domain name, that will currently cost you an average of $5,783.59. I guess I’ll have to find another place to share my extensive collection of beauty tips. Other examples of expensive TLDs include .auto ($2,000), .rich ($1,596), .bank ($801), and .tickets ($389).

Prices might also change when it comes time to renew your domain name. The cost of a domain name is primarily determined by the domain registry (e.g., Verisign, Donuts, or Uniregistry) and the domain registrar (e.g., Google Domains, Namecheap, or GoDaddy). The domain registry first negotiates a price with ICANN, a non-profit that helps prevent unfair price increases. The domain registrar then marks up that negotiated price a little.

Price raises during renewals are typically due to the domain registrar. Some domain registrars are notorious for bait and switching with a low, initial price that increases upon auto-renewal. Questionable price increases are one of the many reasons that choosing a reliable, ethical domain registrar is important.

Are there any risks with a new TLD?

One small, almost irrelevant risk is that some websites or older software won’t be able to recognize your URL is valid. For example, when you create a social media post that links to your company’s website, Facebook or Twitter recognizes it’s a URL and is able to convert it into a clickable link. Some software struggles to do this with newer TLDs.

This scenario is pretty rare as most major websites quickly add support for new TLDs, but you might want to register a .com domain that redirects to your website just in case. You also might want to avoid being an ultra-early adopter of future TLDs.

Another likely negligible risk is that customers will have a tougher time finding your website when they manually type in your domain name. This probably isn’t a big deal because most Internet traffic comes from either search, social, referrals, advertisements, or email.

A study by Conductor using 310 million website visits found that only 12-29% of web traffic was actually “direct” traffic, and a much smaller percentage of that traffic is people typing your domain name into their browser.

As detailed by Moz, direct traffic sometimes includes a variety of scenarios like misattributed search traffic, “dark social” traffic, non-web documents, and improper redirects. It also probably includes some bot traffic. A more realistic estimate of actual direct traffic is probably anywhere from 0-5%.

Are there any indirect risks with a new TLD?

One indirect risk of a new TLD is that some are only available at a limited number of domain registrars. Not only could this lead to a higher price, but this might make you more prone to losing your domain name if you’re forced to use an unreliable registrar.

You should ideally try to purchase a domain name from a registrar that you believe is ethical and technically competent enough to maintain the security of your domain name. An unreliable registrar can lead to minor annoyances or major issues like accidentally transferring your domain name to hackers. A full range of possibilities is discussed in a Stack Exchange thread.

With that said, registrar horror stories are extremely rare. Most top registrars obtained their status by providing ethical, quality service. But like any service provider you do business with, you should try to evaluate a domain registrar’s competency, ethics, and other risk factors.

So should I still choose a .com domain for my business?

As seen above, there’s a lot of different questions to consider. Personally, I believe that if you’re happy with an available .com domain name, you should choose that. But if you’re not, you should strongly consider a different TLD.

In my opinion, having a brand that you believe in is way more important than settling on a name due to a concept that’s quickly becoming obsolete. Having a new TLD might even make your brand stand out.

If you agree and you’re ready to try out a new TLD, our guide on How to Choose a Domain Extension is a great place to start.