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About dot com — not a bad idea

Sometimes the most obvious competitive tactic goes unexecuted, and sometimes it’s because while we know it would be good for us, we don’t appreciate just how good for us it could be. Enter the “about dot com” page.

If you have a .com site, you need to have an About site. It’s a separate website, unconnected to your .com site, but which is all “about” your .com site. Ever look at those About.com web pages that rank everywhere for everything? They are aggregators, sure, and lately they have gotten very spammy, but the concept has been good for many years and continues to be good: a page about another site, which links to it as well as to related resources, which also happen to link to your sites.

Now before you go SEO theoretical on me, let me say that yes, this is a doorway approach and yes this is a classic Bruce Clay third-party doorway approach and yes I know he trademarked a name for an intricate version of the process and yes About.com builds authority pages and yes, overloading on internal anchor text is passe’ and yes it is great that we both agree about how spammy About.com has gotten lately. That said, here me out about the need for every one of your competitive websites to have an About Dot Com website.

Create a disconnected site and post content on it that describes your main website. Find a way to discuss the topics that are currently on your dot com, as if you were reporting on it in a trade magazine. Link to it as appropriate, using your SEO savvy, but also link to the supporting materials for those topics, located on (non-competing) authority sites and popular topical sites. Make the site all “about” your main site. Make sure that every worthy link out there to your main site has a mention on your about site, and a link.

Yes, you can have a “the making of…” site to do this, like one of those DVDs on the making of Star Wars. It’s rich content, all about Star Wars, yet is it a “doorway” to Star Wars? No. It is solidly semantic content all it’s own, worthy of an audience that also just happens to have a very sincere interest in Star Wars (hint hint).

Yes, a “corporate blog” was supposed to be one of these. It’s a blog not simply because “every company has to have a blog these days” but because blog software makes it easy for corporate marketers to publish “about” content, link to relevant resources (especially their own .com site hint hint hint) and make use of syndication tools that would otherwise take 2 years and 750 pages of specifications to build. A corporate blog is an “about dot com” site and should be managed as such. Why anyone would put a corporate blog in a sub folder of the primary domain is beyond my comprehension. It belongs on a separate domain, or… here comes the brainstorm boys and girls, a subdomain known as “about”.

You don’t have to take my suggestion literally, but you can. If you sell an SEO book you probably wish you were lucky smart enough to get a domain like, say, www.seobook.com. That would be a website full of information and sales pitches for your seo ebook. Stuff like subscribe to the SEO book, read testimonials about the great SEO book, etc. How about adding a website at about.seobook.com, and putting a blog there which chronicles the development of, selling of, revisions of, feedback on, and experiences of producing the seo book? A blog, if you will, about seobook.com.

Google will view about.seobook.com as a separate domain from seobook.com. The content will be semantically similar in almost every way to seobook.com, yet unique and more comprehensive. The out linking on seobook.com is crafted, I assume, around selling the seo book. Because of that constraint, it is not easy to do many things which semantically make great SEO sense – like linking to a competitor’s ebook about SEO. Why tempt your potentials with a link to the next best thing? Yet even my new SEO recruit can list 10 ways to write content about the competitors product without endorsing it (he proved it during his interview). Such content may be too risky to publish on the main commercial website (which is being optimized and tracked for conversion rates and such) but certainly it’s content worthy of the about domain, where it will gain some Google love for the comprehensiveness it brings into the site. And… since there are all those clever mentions of the seobook.com website in there, the traffic will surely flow.

How will the user view about.seobook.com? Well, look at it:

about.seobook.com

I suggest that the domain name itself will not only attract attention to the main website www.seobook.com naturally by visual brand reference, but will also attract existing seobook.com lovers because, well, it’s more good stuff. It will attract existing www.seobook.com haters, too, who are looking for validation of their hate of www.seobook.com (or for more to hate about seobook.com). It will attract diligent consumers who have been reading through all of the seo book websites out there, and have seobook.com on their short list of candidates. Conversly, it will attract diligent consumers who have been reading through all of the seo book websites out there, and have stricken seobook.com off of their short list of candidates. Do you see where I’m going here? Another shot at the prospect, and almost everybody captured by the organic SEO effort fits the profile of prospect.

I think the word “about” is beautiful. In common understanding, it includes “in”, even though “in” and “about” are mutually exclusive by definition (you can’t be “about” and still be “inside” yet we are all “up and about the house” every day, aren’t we?). About means all over, when it comes to information. If something is All About Christine Dolce that means it has dedicated itself to one topic: Christine Dolce. If it is Everything About Christine Dolce, it means it doesn’t have to be only about Christine Dolce, but it does try and include everything that is out there on the topic of Chistine Dolce. About is magic.

Consider johnon.com. What if you saw about.johnon.com in the SERPs? Okay, I admit that didn’t work because you and I are sooooo jaded by our experiences with spammy About.com pages. We right away think it must be some odd manipulation by the About.com people. But try and separate yourself from that belief system for a minute. It says it’s extra, additional, related, ancillary and or supplemental information on the same great content you have come to expect from www.johnon.com. Mission accomplished. Oh, and I might point out that the bigger the About.com brand, the better this works. Just IMHO.

Now I will offer an SEO prize to whomever posts the best Internet search for about subdomains like about.seobook.com and about.johnon.com in the comments here. I haven’t looked, but I doubt there are many today. What does that say about there being one in your niche? And if there were many… let’s say there were tons of them, what would that mean for the success of yours when it appears in the SERPs? Exactly.

About dot com. Another great idea? Let’s consider it a mental warm up… not just a use of subdomains, not just a doorway, and not just a corporate blog. It’s a perspective, and folks, in SEO world, just like the real world, perspective is everything.

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7 Responses to “About dot com — not a bad idea”

  1. Rational Beaver Says:

    Great post, very good idea. From what I can find there aren’t many sites doing it. Here’s my search query, by the way:

    http://www.google.com/search?q= “http://about.”&hl=en&lr=&rls=GGGL,GGGL:2006-17,GGGL:en&as_qdr=all&start=0&sa=N

    Of the sites that do have an ‘about’ subdomain, many of them seem to just be wasting it in standard corporate fashion.

  2. mosquito Says:

    I’m having trouble following this post, not quite sure what your point is: are you advocating the about perspective as a separate site or as a subdomain?

  3. John Andrews Says:

    Not sure I’m advocating either, mosquito. A subdomain has it’s benefits for the primary domain www site, and works today as a separate site. A separate domain can be unaffiliated. Both have pros and cons that come into play with your standard SEO considerations.

  4. john andrews Says:

    Yes that search seems to be all I can do, too, although I added -site:about.com to it and saw about 225k results. Nothing special among the ones I looked at.

    The search about Bloomberg hits their about.bloomberg.com page, but stuff about Bloomberg gets the typical Google mangled results set (the authority for Bloomberg first, followed by keyword phrase match pages as if a non-competitive search). Too bad. That could have been more fun. I don’t think the two word query is natural for users, and it ranks due to it’s use in the mainsite navigation for the AboutUs page, including the menu image filename, on a site with otherwise poorly crafted URLs.

    Anyway the point wasn’t about the literal “about” subdomain beyond how beautiful that word actually is outside of Google land, and how good the About.com URL can be. Content has to be in place.

  5. aaron wall Says:

    I like the idea. But I do not track conversions as well as some may because I feel that would lead me to writing specifically for conversion above all other purposes. I also feel sorta weird about citing many of my citations because it starts to get a little surreal…like eating my own dog food. But I definently think it is a great idea to have an about site like that. Maybe I could do it with updates and whatnot…it would obviously increase conversions and add value to the sales offer to have a log of some of the types of updates that were done as I revised my ebook.

  6. johnon.com » Blog Archive » Thanks for the Game: It’s Been Fun Beating You Says:

    […] Often the methods are good ones, and they work for a day or two before the competing page disappears. I saw an image last week sliced into 40 pieces, each with prime alt and title attributes. Shot right to #1. For a day. I see plenty of pictures of pretty women on industrial products pages, just like those calendars Dad brought home from the construction sites back in the seventies. I see my own images hotlinked, which of course I play with to further the entertainment. At one point it got so funny I created an “about dot com” page to talk about it, and took the second spot away with that. It has to hurt, no? […]

  7. johnon.com - John Andrews - » ReviewMe gets a little Shmarter: Better than A Press Release Says:

    […] So good luck to those of you who utilize ReviewMe to get popular Internet marketing blogs to highlight your offerings and activities, and who then reference those in your About blogs and the free press release services. Let me know how much you get for your $250. I’d love to hear the success stories. […]