A generic domain name outperforms a non-generic name by delivering a higher CTR and an even higher number of total clicks.
The exception is likely to be where the non-generic name is an established brand or website with a strong awareness and trust factor for the product or service search terms in question.
Even in such cases, a generic domain name has potential value in targeting very specific product or service search terms with an appropriate keyword-rich domain. Established brands should consider a generic name for minisites associated with a particular product, service or ad campaign.
The choice of generic domain name itself is also important. An “ideal” generic name was able to produce 45% more clicks across all keywords than a “reasonable” generic alternative.
Generic domain names perform particularly strongly where search and domain keywords match closely. This suggests businesses might do well to isolate keyword groups within their PPCSE campaigns, and use an appropriate generic name for each group (thus maximising the total benefits).
AdWords does not provide the kind of data that would allow us to draw clear conclusions on exactly why an “ideal” generic domain name performed so well relative to the alternatives. We believe it is due to a combination of factors, notably:
- Domain name closely matching the product or service being searched for (irrespective of the actual keywords used in the search).
- Bolding of search terms in the domain occurring more often.
- Impact of domain name on ad quality score.
As such, the benefits are likely a mix of an inherent “greater clickability” (factors 1 and 2) and higher ad positions (through factor 3, and through factors 1 and 2 driving better CTRs).
Whatever the explanation, we would expect to see the ads featuring the winning generic domain name appear higher up the PPC ad listings on search result pages.
Landing page analytics data reveals the ad position for each incoming click from an AdWords ad. While not the same as data on ad position for each ad impression, it likely reflects the same pattern.
The graph below reveals that the ads featuring the winning ElectricBicycles.co.uk generic domain name did indeed seem to get higher average positions than the other ads.