Most of us can remember the first time we rode in a limo. Ryan Hilberth certainly does. He was eight years old, celebrating a family member’s birthday.
“We had an opportunity to go on a night on the town,” Hilberth recalls. “The limo was immaculate. It was buffed and washed and beautiful. It left an impression on me.”
Fast-forward twenty-plus years: Hilberth is CEO of an online limousine booking company Rental Limo. It currently covers 24 states, including Puerto Rico, and more than 500 cities.
Hilberth left a career in digital marketing to become his own boss around the same time as ride-share companies Uber and Lyft were also in start-up mode. “I sensed a ground transportation revolution that was coming,” he says.
Unlike the mobile, push-button service provided by Uber and Lyft, however, Hilberth decided to focus on building a web-based business that would serve as a one-stop shop for limo rentals across the country.
The entrepreneurial gamble is paying off. In just two years, the company has partnered with more than 100 limo operators, from mom-and-pop enterprises to regional fleets, to assist people in securing the luxury ride that made his eyes go wide as an eight-year-old.
He credits a big part of this success to the domain name.
Expanding an online footprint with 'dot-limo'
Hilberth knew the domain name would be critical to his business, since he is targeting people actively searching online for limo rentals. Common search terms -- such as “limo,” “rental” and whichever city the person calls home -- would be key to incorporate into the name.
So Hilberth seized an opportunity that emerged in 2014: the release of 'dot-limo' (.LIMO). It’s one of hundreds of new "not-com" domain options available, and one of the many words that specifically cater to an industry. Others industry-specific options include 'dot-lawyer' (.LAWYER), 'dot-florist' (.FLORIST) and 'dot-plumbing' (.PLUMBING).
Hilberth saw 'dot-limo' as a strategic addition to elevate his existing 'dot-com' site. He scooped up domains such as Rental.Limo and RentA.Limo, along with 20 major city names that use the 'dot-limo' domain. All of his 'dot-limo' domains currently redirect to his host 'dot-com' website.
While Rental Limo currently leverages these domains to increase the company’s online footprint, he says owning them affords opportunity to eventually use them as stand-alone websites -- something he eventually plans to do.
“Dot-limo [.LIMO] is the absolute best you can get for portraying a reliable web entity that can perform well in search engines and appeal to that online shopper,” he says, with respect to the limousine business. “It also gets into the value of naming, It’s not just the name of your URL. It’s memorable and has long-lasting appeal.”
While he says that having a 'dot-limo' domain doesn’t guarantee better SEO by itself, he’s seen great results with his latest website Book.Limo, a stand-alone website for Rental Limo’s three-step booking widget. It’s the No. 1 search result in Google when you type the words “book” and “limo,” residing atop more than 15.3 million other results.
Hiberth considers himself a pioneer in the Internet naming space.
“The problem when these [new domain endings] were released, there were a bunch of naysayers shooting them down for really one reason: the status quo consumers and what they were used to,” Hilberth says. “A futuristic person is someone who sees what’s coming before writing is on the wall.”