Have you ever felt stupid about wasting money?

I have — many times; but to make us all feel better, I'm going to do a case-study of Cingular Wireless.

They boldly claim that they have the fewest dropped calls of any wireless network.  That's wonderful.  But with one of their competitors, T-mobile, paying for text links, I can surmise that wasting any URL equity at all in their ultra-competitive industry is just plain silly.  That's just what they're doing.  Let's take a look:

A few years ago, Cingular had the great idea to open an online store.  The URL was onlinestore.cingular.com.  According to Yahoo, they have a few thousand links to that subdomain name.  More recently, they abandoned it; there is no redirection.  Oops — there goes the equity of 2000 links.

Instead they decided to move the store to onlinestorez.cingular.com.  And besides the fact that thiz lookz quitez unprofessionalz, it was problematic for so many other reasons.  The store really should have been placed within www.cingular.com proper if they were going to move it, for one.  Despite this, since Cingular is such a behemoth, they continued to acquire links on the new subdomain at a breakneck pace.  In fact, they have over 14,000 links to their online storez according to Yahoo, excluding links from *.cingular.com.  This includes links from Apple.com, etc.

But let's not stop there!  They moved again.  And many of those inbound deep links results in either an error page, a 404, or something completely irrelevent, e.g. http://www.cingular.com/cell-phone-service/get-started/shopping_options.jsp?returnURL=%2fcell-phone-service%2fcell-phones%2fcell-phones.jsp%3fCategoryId%3d2283000008%26source%3dINC230059&_requestid=28123

I'll give them credit for finally moving it to their main domain, therefore not splitting up the equity even further.  But they wasted a lot of equity on the way.  The words "waste" and "equity" should probably not be anywhere near each other, as a rule, and this is a useful guide regarding what not to do.

I suppose large companies make these mistakes all the time, so I shouldn't be fazed; but they're just throwing money in the garbage with these capricious domain name changes.  Even if they 301 them at this point, much of the equity has already been lost.

I really think URL-equity has become a currency of late.  And, unfortunately, large companies are ignoring or throwing it out.  What a shame.



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