Surprising User Acquisition Strategy: A domain name

How a domain name can help you in acquiring new, paying users

I've analyzed all 491 Indie Hackers interviews and identified over 30 acquisition channels and strategies that work consistently for founders (see Zero to Users for more details).

One surprising thing I noticed is that a few founders mentioned how their domain helped them to get more traffic and users.

Using a Unique Domain Extension Can Drive Word of Mouth & Community Mentions

Levels.fyi ($5K/mo) is website where people can compare salaries across positions for companies like Google. Here's what Zuhayeer (the founder) said when asked about user acquisition:

Have you found anything particularly helpful or advantageous?

I think one thing we realized later on was that the domain we chose was pretty catchy and easy to remember (Levels.fyi). When we first bought it, we hadn't really considered that the domain name would make it way easier to spread by word of mouth, or how much it would help our SEO. A simple and easy to remember domain name makes it much easier for people to access your website and spread it to others!

If you read the whole interview, you'll notice Zuhayeer mentioning Blind (a forum with ~2.3M users/mo) as one of their main acquisition channels. If you do a simple search there, you'll notice many people mentioning Levels.fyi just by the name (without linking). In fact, Blind doesn't allow links.

The mere fact that Levels.fyi used a unique domain extension (.fyi) made it easy for people to mention them across communities. Do you think that would be the case if Levels.fyi was called CareerLaddersAcrossCompanies.com, instead?

This the advantage of having a short domain name with an unusual extension; you can easily mention it anywhere and people often associate the extension with your company's name as well.

How Using a Main Keyword in Your Domain Name Can Have (Unintentional) SEO Benefits

Review Signal ($3K/mo) is a web hosting reviews site. When asked if there's anything they could change if they could go bank in time, this is what they said:

You'll notice most of my competitors having host/hosting in their domain and I'm sure it helps to some degree. One big reason is every time they get linked, they get the words linked because it's in their name.

If I knew I was going to only focus on hosting, I probably would have branded more hosting specific.

If you're familiar with SEO, you'll know that anchor text (still) matters and this is one of the safest ways to include it when people mention it.

Another company that noticed the power of including a major keyword in their name was Repost Network ($1.2M/mo). Repost Network is tool for artists to expand their SoundCloud reach by getting more "reposts"on SoundCloud. They've noticed the "repost" keyword is closely associated with their niche and decided to include it in their company's name. Was it worth it? You bet:

I thought if I named the company Repost and dominated the SEO on that specific search we could get some free inbound traffic. My assumption worked. I believe if you search "SoundCloud repost" in Google we're one of the top hits, and something like 25% of our inbound applicants come organically.

Same principle; when people link to "Repost Network", they have no choice but to include "Repost", a word closely associated with SoundCloud.

When to use a unique vs. 'keyword-rich' domain?

It depends on what acquisition channel you plan to use. You're more likely to sound spammy on a community about discounts/deals if your site is called MyGreatDiscounts . com vs. Deals. team. On the other hand, if your main acquisition channel is search traffic and you spend 90% of your time building backlinks, you might want to think about adding your main niche keyword in your name. The advantage here is people mentioning that word when they link to you, passing you some anchor text love.

What do you think?