An architecture website increases traffic a stunning 700% by adding a new internet address

In boardroom after boardroom across the country, from the tiniest startup firm to the most staid blue chip company, executives finally awakening to the stunning rise in e-business are tearing their hair out asking themselves the same question: “Do we have the right Internet address for our business?” Shockingly, almost everyone—from the Chief Executive Officer to the Marketing Director—is asking himself the wrong question. The question really should be “Do we have the right Internet addresses for our business?” You can, after all, have as many as you want, and for as many reasons as you want. Amazingly, even the most major architecture firms, engineering firms, and construction outfits have been shockingly slow to grasp this enormously critical but simple concept.

In March of this year [2000] when The Royal Institute of British Architects decided to pay $190,000 to buy the Internet address www.Architecture.com, many architecture industry insiders raised an eyebrow. Internet insiders did not, however; they completely understood the move was yet another example of a rocketing and immensely profitable Internet phenomenon—the Internet “re-direct” address. Just as there are hundreds of thousands of businesspeople who, in cocktail party after cocktail party, bemoan how they missed their chance to buy 10,000 shares of IBM 30 years ago, so too will there be CEO after CEO ten years from now who will prattle on endlessly about how no one told them to buy the re-direct address that would have made them billionaires. The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) is NOT changing their name—why should they? The Royal Institute has customers who already know and trust their name. What RIBA is doing is merely having every single visitor to www.Architecture.com re-directed to their existing website (www.Riba.org).

This is the most critical point of all to understand: The re-direct automatically and instantaneously sends everyone who reaches www.Architecture.com to the very same page they would have gotten to had they typed in “www.Riba.org.” So there are now two completely different ways to get to the RIBA website…via www.Riba.org OR via www.Architecture.com. The latter address, of course, is far easier to remember. Has the idea worked? An assistant to RIBA General Director Alex Reid says RIBA has immediately enjoyed an increase from roughly 200 visitors a day to 1,500 visitors a day—a seven-fold increase. Answer: it has worked. What could your firm do with a seven-fold increase in website visitors? Answer: A lot.

Other industries have embraced the same cunning re-direct address strategy: buy a domain for the generic term that most accurately describes what you do and use it to capture Internet traffic-and qualified prospects. Rental car giant Avis snapped up the Internet address www.RentaCar.com and now re-directs all www.Rentacar.com visitors to the regular Avis website, Dreyer’s owns IceCream.com (think free advertising and exposure; remember over 100 million Americans are online) and little (for now) Peet’s Coffee recently secured the coveted web address Coffee.com. What do you think Starbuck’s will want to pay for that address five years from now? Re-direct addresses are even more valuable in increasing the sales of somewhat specific items or services. Would you know where to find a new water heater if you needed one? Why not try www.WaterHeater.com? You’ll find Rheem Manufacturing waiting there for you with a wide grin on their face.

THE PERFECT RE-DIRECT:

What makes the perfect re-direct? You have to put yourself in the minds of your prospective clients to best answer this. What term or terms best represents the item or service you provide? What term or terms is the average person going to search for in order to find your business category on the Internet? Try this experiment: Go up to 100 average people in a shopping mall and ask them what or who (Boston-based architecture firm) Shepley Bulfinch Richardson and Abbott is. Be prepared to see some blank stares on 99 of the 100. Now ask them who or what www.SBRA.com is. More blank stares. Now ask them what an “architect” or an “architecture firm” is. No more blank stares! An extremely high percentage of people will immediately and completely understand what those terms mean and what those businesses do—and those generic terms are also easy to remember. Www.Architect.com and www.ArchitectureFirm.com are, therefore, perfect re-direct addresses for architects and architecture firms respectively, and you should beg, borrow or steal to get similarly generic re-direct addresses now while you can still afford them. The same is true, of course, for engineers and engineering firms, interior designers and interior design firms, and on and on across all industries. If you are an accountant named Bill Lefkowicz, think of your existing website, www.BillLefkowiczCPA.com (if you must) as exactly analogous to a White Pages telephone book ad. The ONLY PEOPLE who are going to find you are those who already know they are looking for YOU specifically. Same problem for the accounting firm of firm Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu International (www.Deloitte.com); only someone looking specifically for them will find them.

For an additional re-direct address, if you can add on a generic name like www.Engineer.com or www.EngineeringFirm.com, or www.Architect.com or www.ArchitectureFirm.com, think of that as your yellow pages ad, but with one enormous advantage over a typical Yellow Pages ad: because the Internet has no geographic boundaries, owning a great generic re-direct address is (to quote Worldwide Satellite Corporation co-owner Chris Wall) like “having a free Yellow Pages ad in every directory in the country…it’s a financial windfall.”

MAKE IT EASY TO FIND YOU

Picture the owner of a quickly expanding chain of hospitals. One day he says to his secretary, “Go onto the Internet and get me a list of ten major architecture firms in the country.” Who do you think the secretary is going to find first, Shepley Bulfinch Richardson and Abbott, or www.Architect.com? Skidmore, Owings and Merrill or www.ArchitectureFirm.com? Am I suggesting those firms should change their name? Of course not. Am I suggesting those firms should make it easier for clients to find their website? Of course.

In short, add a generic re-direct Internet address to your current situation simply to make it EASIER for prospective clients to find you and do business with you. This concept is not new; people have been using the same idea with toll free phone numbers for years. Would you rather be a florist with the phone number 1-800-FLOWERS or a florist with the phone number 1-713-HWFGAPS (for Harvey Wintelmeister’s Flower, Garden And Plant Shop)? Which one is easier to remember? Which one makes it easy for prospective
customers to find what they’re looking for? Which one would you recall a year after hearing it for the first time?

IT’S NOT THE SAME AS NAMING THE BABY

Many firms mistakenly believe that if they acquire a “new” domain name they must relinquish their “old” name and overhaul their website. Not at all. Fortunately, unlike naming your baby, where you really do have to end up with one choice, you can choose to own and utilize as many generic re-direct addresses as you want and can afford. There is nothing to stop Skidmore Owings and Merrill from owning www.SkidmoreOwingsandMerrill.com, www.SOM.com, www.Architect.com and www.ArchitectureFirm.com, just as there is nothing keeping accounting giant ArthurAndersen from owning www.ArthurAndersen.com (as they do), and also www.CPA.com, www.AccountingFirm.com, www.Accountant.com, etc. Any individual or firm can have as many generic re-directs as they want, each re-direct address simply allows another avenue for customers to find you and do business with you, just as a company like J. Crew has multiple avenues for people to reach them: in person, online, by phone and by mail order catalog. Why limit your customers to just one avenue? Adding on generic re-direct addresses, at its most basal level, simply increases the likelihood of more people finding you to do business with you. Just keep the terms generic, easy to remember and exactly representative of what your firm does.

Here are some pointers for the future:

  • More and more business is being conducted online and that makes your choice of Internet addresses all the more important. Just a year ago, almost everyone would have said “Why in the world would an auto mechanic want a website?,” yet a recent poll of Internet users noted that half of all respondents expect to use the Internet to make appointments for the maintenance and repair of their vehicles in the future. This tremendous shifting toward e-business will be even more pronounced in traditional “white collar” professions. Engineers, architects, consultants, real estate agents and attorneys will all be conducting a rapidly expanding portion of their business via video conferencing on the Internet (the Veteran’s Administration already has psychiatrists treating some geographically distant patients in this manner). If you’re a business owner in Detroit and it’s February, why in the world would you drive an hour through the snow to meet with your architecture firm when you can immediately attend the very same meeting via live video at that firm’s Internet address? Your Internet address will be more important every year. Make it easy for people to find and remember you.

  • Today, almost everyone finds your Web site by typing in your Internet address. Easy to understand, generic addresses will become even more valuable, though, as we begin to access the Web through “voice recognition” technology—and it’s not far off. You’ll actually say to your computer the words: “Find AccountingFirm.com” and that Internet address will appear on your computer screen automatically. Picture yourself asking for Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu International by voice command. Computer: “Please spell”. You: “Forget it. Find AccountingFirm.com”. Stick to easy to understand words.

As hundreds of thousands of companies madly rush onto the Internet, there will be no greater need than to make it easy for your customers to find you. The adoption of generic, easy to remember Internet addresses does exactly that, and that’s why they are such a hot commodity right now within Internet circles. And now the rest of the world is catching up. Fast.