Pizza as a Brand. Why Pizza.com is missing the boat!

There is no denying that Pizza.com is a great domain name. However, for those of you who think that owning a one-word .com like this can get you top-rankings in Google, time to think again. At the time of this posting Pizza.com is still on the first page of Google, but located at the very bottom almost on page two.

pizza_googleAs you can see from the listings here, above the fold I can clearly see the major brands in the Pizza world, Dominos, Papa Johns, and Pizza Hut, followed by a listing of Pizza places near my house. If you keep scrolling down you can finally make it to poor little Pizza.com that is now relegated to the rarely-seen bottom of Google page one.

So what happened here?

Well we all know that Google likes big brands which is why we see the three giants in the Pizza world dominating the top spots. Couple that with Google’s preference for local businesses and page one is actually really hard to rank well on for pizza. Of course not everyone that wants to order Pizza just types “pizza” into Google. In some cases people will look for Pizza in their local area, so they would type something like “pizza Santa Monica” which leave Pizza.com completely in the dust. I scrolled all the way to page three of Google and still had no sign of the category-defining .com name.

What happened here is that Pizza.com failed to innovate and provide anything that useful to the customer. When I look-up pizza places in my area I get a bland-looking list of restaurants and then a generic description of what the Pizza place is. No interaction with Yelp, no Twitter feed, no Facebook interaction, just a boring set of listings.

Sure, the category-killer domain is Pizza.com, but the category-killer site isn’t here, instead it’s just a simple site with very little “flavor” to it. This just goes to show that in the new web, or as I like to call it Web 3.0 – you need to do more than put-up a basic site even if you do own the category-defining name, you have to build a brand. If you take a look at the big three they all have made real living breathing brands online. Dominos is active on Twitter and Facebook and using these tools to interact with customers and make the brand, well, exactly that, a brand!

Right now it looks like the Twitter feed is becoming a bit of a complaint department but they are interacting with their customers and showing them that they’re listening. The site is fresh and easy to navigate, it is winning in the web 3.0 economy.

So remember, as Domainers owning a category-defining name like Pizza.com means much more than throwing-up a simple directory script and expecting to collect the big bucks, it’s all about creating brands that interact with people and make your service the go-to, category defining site it was meant to be. Otherwise, even a great domain name like Pizza.com still won’t get you a good location in the search engines and that means you are missing the boat when it comes to, well, boatloads of traffic.

{ 12 comments… add one }

  • Bobby Dowling May 9, 2011, 3:45 pm

    Morgan, great article! It is also amazing to me Pizza.com is not hypertext linking phone numbers for all of us pizza eaters ordering via smartphones these days. What’s up with that ?

    BTW, TacticalDomain is selling http://www.PizzaApps.com as a premium domain name. Maybe Pizza.com should buy PizzaApps.com so we can all view the making of the pizza we order in real-time 🙂

    All The Best,

    BobbyD

    Reply
  • Joe May 9, 2011, 3:47 pm

    Hi Morgan, grreat post. Anyway, the huge advantage in owning such a superpremium is that you can count on a high amount of type-in visits, so, even if it didn’t show up on page 1, it would still have traffic.

    Reply
  • James May 9, 2011, 5:02 pm

    When developing domain names, you are not a domainer any more. It is totally different ball game. It is much more risky. You may spend a lot of money with no significant returns. You need a lot of capital to develop a name like pizza.com. Even with capital, it is not enough, you have to have a good plan and something unique and new. Not easy.
    I think for many people, even with premium domains, it is better parked and wait for the big buck to buy the name.

    Reply
  • Morgan May 9, 2011, 5:07 pm

    @James – excellent point! I think if you don’t have the money to do it right you shouldn’t do it at all. If you have a name that’s worth a million dollars or more (which Pizza.com very well might be worth) you should be prepared to put hundreds of thousands of dollars into developing a full-scale business on the site, or sell it and find someone who can.

    Going half-way like this just wastes a perfectly good name with a very mediocre site. It’s like putting regular unleaded gas in a Lamborghini, it will still work but it’s far from optimized!

    Reply
  • Uzoma May 9, 2011, 6:43 pm

    Morgan,

    The whole idea of owning a domain/website such as Pizza.com, is to to put Google in the second position, not first.

    What kind of a hobo will go searching for pizza.com on Google? Just type it inside the browser! In that case, who cares where Google places you?

    Reply
  • Morgan May 9, 2011, 6:45 pm

    @Uzoma – it’s the difference between getting 20,000 visitors/month and 2 million+ visitors/month. So it’s really the difference between making a few thousand and a few hundred thousand dollars so I’d say it is a BIG deal!

    If all you care about is type-in traffic then you’re missing-out on about 90% of the traffic a given keyword phrase gets!

    Reply
  • Uzoma May 9, 2011, 7:00 pm

    Morgan,

    I agree to a certain extent; for small time domains, such as ours yes, but for a million dollar domain, relying on Google’s whimsical placements is counterproductive; if I owned Pizza.com, I will say “To Hell with Google Search”, I will run display adds on Google, plus my natural type ins. I will run billboard ads, I will go on TV, Superbowl ads, Playboy magazine, I will run ads at 1-800Auction.com, MorganLinton.TV, anything before I will kiss Google’s ass. But, I understand what you’re saying to a point. I just don’t like it. Google shouldn’t have so much power over all search, picking and choosing good content?

    Reply
  • Elephants are People Too May 9, 2011, 7:40 pm

    Uzoma is right…..it’s about putting Google in second place.

    Anyone that builds a business to rank in Google is a fool. If you think playing fiddle to G is smart go right ahead. Almost 100% of my traffic is type-in ……none from the search engines. Therefore, I don’t NEED Google.

    I also think you are wrong about missing 2+ million visitors. Most of those folks that type in Pizza into Google are looking to make a pizza, not order one.

    Seriously, how many people would look for a pizza through a search engine.

    Also, I’d venture that per the website, they are making more money than than they know what to do with. They are looking to be a middle man, not sell pizzas, so being above the fold is irrelevant in that sense also.

    And yes, Development is not domaining. That’s another profession.
    .

    Reply
  • Morgan May 9, 2011, 7:45 pm

    @Elephants excellent point and I do agree that you should not build sites for Google. Also very true, development is not Domaining, and also building a business and building a website are two different things.

    I know a ton of people that can build a website and are great at development but don’t know the first thing about building a business.

    I’ve covered this a lot when I speak at conferences, the difference between monetization and development which easily get confused…and yes, none are Domaining! Of course a good brand definitely can get a lot of value from a good domain name but it sure isn’t necessary since “Google”, “Twitter”, “Flickr”, “Yelp” etc. are pretty meaningless until you build a business on them!

    Reply
  • RAYY May 9, 2011, 8:42 pm

    Don’t rely your business on Google too much. Google SEO changing all the time. You business in internet should be ‘Google Proof’, so that you don’t have to worry about Google’s constant change in SEO model.

    Reply
  • Jon May 10, 2011, 6:28 am

    Large pizza chains have yearly advertising budgets prob between $50M-$300M. With pizza.com one can come in and get some marketing traction with no or almost-no advertising. One can partner with small independent pizza places and promote them or do gourmet pizza delivery, or even license the url a new pizza franchise.

    Reply
  • Trico May 10, 2011, 7:09 am

    “…If you have a name that’s worth a million dollars or more (which Pizza.com very well might be worth)…”

    It better be “or more”.

    Pizza.com sold for $2.6 million in 2008 in auction at Sedo.

    Reply

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