Great Domain Name Strategy: Vacations To Go

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Travel planning company Vacations To Go employs one of the finest domain strategies I have seen. The company owns some fantastic niche travel domain names, allowing them to avoid paying high pay per click costs. While they seem to avoid the very expensive one word generic domain names (like Cruises.com), they do own a ton of great second tier travel domain names that probably receive some traffic. Just a few of the highly targeted domain names owned by Vacations To Go include:
AcapulcoCruises.com
AthensTours.com
LowCostCruise.com
LowPriceCruises.com
MexicanCruises.com
ItalyCruise.com
Showing their vast domain knowledge, Vacations To Go even owns some fantastic typo domain names, including:
BahamasCrusie.com
CheapCruies.com
Norweigan.com
The smartest thing about this strategy is that instead of paying $.50 – $10.00+ per visitor’s click on Yahoo or Google, they own all visitors to their domain names, and only pay around $7/year for each domain name. All of their names are forwarded to their main site, with a subfolder tracking how the visitor reached the main page. If a customer books just one cruise or vacation after landing on a domain name, they’ve almost certainly paid off the domain name for life (and then some).
One major issue I see is that many of the domain names owned by Vacations To Go don’t seem to be listed in Google. As you can see in the screenshot below, MexicanCruises.com isn’t listed in Google when the exact domain name is entered into the search bar. This isn’t good, as it means if a customer tries to directly navigate to the site using Google instead of the internet browser bar, they won’t even see the domain name. On some of the names where this is an issue, Vacations To Go attempts to alleviate this by buying the keyword of the domain name, but that is costing them money.
MexicanCruises.com
There are many reasons why Google could have removed the names, but it may have had nothing to do with anything Vacations To Go did. To rectify this, I would suggest that someone from Vacations To Go enters all of their domain names into Google, and take note of the names that do not show up in the results. They should then request reconsideration from Google. By doing this, Vacations To Go will have their domain names put back into Google, saving them from having to pay per click every time a consumer types the domain name as a search.
On other domain names, such as MexicoCruises.com, the domain name is listed in Google at the top. If a visitor accidentally types this domain name into Google instead of their navigation bar, they will see it as the top natural result, and they may click on this listing rather than on the paid search listing. Vacations To Go has protected itself by paying for Adwords keywords, which is another smart move.
MexicoCruises.com
Vacations To Go certainly has one of the best domain strategies I’ve seen. Not only are they building value for their brand, they are also building value for each of the domain names they own. If they were to ever sell the company, they could provide a traffic, click through and ROI for each domain asset they own, adding tremendous value to their portfolio. I give high praise to Alan Fox and his team at Vacations To Go.

1 COMMENT

  1. Great strategy – also good as a barrier for the competition i.e. force them to develop second-fiddle-domain-name.com (or .net/.biz/.info heh)
    Re: mexicancruises.com etc not showing up in google, my guess is that google might not want to index domains that have no content and just redirect to another site.
    From my limited experience with redirecting domains/entire websites I’ve found that the target domain (i.e. NewDomain.com) should show up for a search on OldDomain.com, provided olddomain.com actually ranked for it’s name to begin with.
    I was going to say that these peripheral domains (is there such a term?) must have been redirecting from the get-go but I checked the wayback machine and mexicancruises did have content until mid 2004.
    I was therefore going to recommend dumping a mini site or holding page on these domains and get them indexed and ranking before redirecting but now I’m not sure if that would work or not.
    Perhaps they should just insert “www.olddomain.com” as text on newdomain.com/the-page-old-domain-redirects-to/ and/or point a few links to that page with “olddomain.com” as anchor. I searched for mexicancruises.com and this blog post came up no.1 simply because you mention it a couple of times on the page.

  2. A domain that just is a redirect page won’t be listed in Google…there isn’t any reason to submit a “reinclusion” request because if unique content is present, it would get included on its own.

  3. That is a very interesting observation Elliot. We just started a series of federal lawsuits under the ACPA on behalf of Resort Hotels against travel agencies who use their top level brands in the domain name. The domains registered by Vacations To Go are all legitimate generic domains. But many travel agencies are waking up to the potential of harvesting on-line travel customers and seeing tremendous returns on both direct navigation and solid Google results. Unfortunately, some do not realize that you can not use Resort brands in the domain names themselves when creating their on-line strategies.
    We have one case where a travel agency registered dozens of domains using the top level brands of over 20 resorts. They invested tons of time, effort and money into developing those domains, many of which enjoy Page 1 Google results. Of course, they are now in the extremely difficult position of having to rely on that traffic for revenue, but in violation of the ACPA and UDRP as well.

  4. This is an SEO issue. If they want to rank for these terms they need to develop optimized landing pages for each domain with good descriptive content and then provide links to their ‘home’ site. I do not believe this is an issue of Google intentionally not ranking them- as others have pointed out you cannot get indexed without relevant content and inbound links that are authoritative. That’s the entire basis of the search industry.

  5. Very unusual. Few companies outside the domain space are aware of the value of acquiring generic domains relevant to their industry. Many of the big corporations control hundreds or thousands of domains, but this is usually done just to protect trademarks. Often the domains themselves are inactive and not even forwarded.

  6. Indexing problems are usually tied to lack of backlinks, not lack of content. 301 Redirect also will not prevent Google from indexing a URL. That’s how you fake toolbar PR; you’ll notice your URL is indexed though the cache belongs to another site you redirected to.
    As for mac.com, the URL has around 1 million backlinks, according to site explorer, so no surprise that shows up in Google’s SERP.

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