What’s in a name!
We’ve discussed the various factors that go into making your site a hit in the search engines, now I would like to throw one more item out there as well as review what I consider to be the most important factor - content.
Whether you have an existing website or are putting up a new one, what you choose for a domain name can, and does, make the world of difference in site traffic. Many dealers are established and choose names that reflect their company name – Victoria Stamp Company (www.victoriastampco.com) and Champion Stamp Company (www.championstamp.com) are a few examples. But what happens when people search and they don’t know the company they are looking for? Let’s say you are interested in Russian stamps or postal history. The average user would simply search by topic. A search for each of these search terms provides the following; russian stamps gives us www.russianstamps.com as the number 2 listing on Google while postal history gives us www.postalhistory.com in the number 1 spot. Obviously, where you place will have something to do with your content and site design. However, the search terms themselves give you a good starting point. This is a fairly simple process to test yourself. Try various combinations in the search engines and see what you get. If no site comes up you may want to see if it is available for registration. Stay with [dot] com or [dot] net names where you can. All the other top level domains ([dot] tv, [dot] science, etc) may sound cute, but they are rarely showing up in the search engines. Also consider country specific domains such as [dot] ca for Canada. Please note there are specific requirements for country specific domains such as residency.
touched on this previously but it is so important that I feel the need to address it again – Content! If all you have is a listing of stamps for sale you may have a loyal following (once they find you), but being found is really the key. While you want your content to be important to your visitors it does not always have to be a stamp for sale. It can be a monthly newsletter or something similar.
I recently visited a site called StampSmarter (www.stampsmarter.com) and guess what – he doesn’t even sell stamps. The site is purely philatelic content with everything from how-to articles and videos to neat tools the average collector would love such as philatelic screen savers and stamp identification features. Like many collector websites the site is devoted to promoting the hobby in an interesting and informative fashion. Don Denman (founder of StampSmarter) is also the moderator of one of the largest philatelic forums www.stampcommunity.org.
In my very first article (The Future of Philately) I took the position that the future is with the Internet. There are many who do not agree, or choose to ignore it. The Internet is your source for new collectors. The average age of Internet Philatelists is lower than many of those attending stamp shows. This is important! Dealers and older collectors complain that the hobby is dying. That may be the case for the traditional markets, but the Internet has become the source for new collectors and (I believe) the future of philately. In speaking with Don we’ve discussed that the news groups and other resources are bringing in younger well educated collectors with money to spend. It is these younger collectors that the hobby needs if we want to expand our base. They may not be your traditional country collectors but they have their own interests and, as they acquire more knowledge, are looking to collect. Those interests can be country specific or topical. Either way you want these new customers!
These past few articles have primarily been for stamps dealers. Everything I have written is equally applicable to stamp clubs and collector websites as well. If you build a good site with interesting content people will begin to find your site in the search engines. Once people find you, keep it interesting and you will be able to get your message out there.
Coming up I want to discuss features of interest to collectors as well. There is a lot going on in the world of philately on the Internet and I want to help you discover what is out there.
About the author, Bruce Drumm owns and operates a web design and hosting company, Servers, Inc® – www.servers-inc.com, dedicated to philately and e-commerce. He’s been designing sites since 1997 and has partnerships with Adobe, Google, PayPal, Microsoft, and others. As a collector, he has an understanding of philately and how to do business on the Internet.