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Academic articles: why are so many such shite?
example 3

Murphy, J. and Scharl, A. (2007) An investigation of global versus local online branding. International Marketing Review, Vol. 24 Issue: 3, pp.297-312

There are folks who refer to me as being an expert in digital marketing. I disagree. However, I do know a bit about the subject of this academic article ... domain names. I also know quite a bit about search engine optimization.

This article carries academic merit. In terms of academic vigour, the article is sound. What I am against is the value of such papers in the real world - including:.

The research supposes that the organization gave the choice of the original domain name much thought. I was there. They didn't.

In common with most [all?] academic research, there is a lapse in time between research and publication. In this case the research is stated as taking place in 2003 - the publication being in 2007. Four years is a long time in all things digital.

With very few exceptions, the dot com suffix is accepted as being the one to use if your organization trades globally. That was the case in 1996m and it is still the case now.

Hypothesis #1 says that having a dot com gives the site a higher PageRank. It might have done ... but only as one of many variables that are not factored in this research. It also assumes that that having a high score on PageRank is a significant benefit in SEO. It isn't.

Also on the subject of Pagerank, the article states that having no PageRank means near invisibility with Google. No it doesn't.

Dot coms were the first domain names to be commonly available, so they have the longest 'history'. This is important as one of the 200 or so variables used in the Google algorithm is length of registration of the host domain name. So, all other things being equal, a website hosted on a domain name registered in 1994 will have a higher Google ranking than any other domain registered after that.

There is some confusion between PageRank and rankings in Google's search returns. The two are not the same.

There is an inference that the dot com is a better suffix to have for search engine ranking. This is not the case.

No other variables used in the Google algorithm are considered in this research - therefore any conclusions related to Google listings are deeply flawed.

Hypothesis #2 is little more than coincidence based on other points raised here and factors external to the Internet. For example, the article states that: 'MNCs listing a dot com domain name have a higher Fortune ranking than MNCs with a local domain.' This is simply a statement of fact, and nothing to do with the domain name.

Hypothesis #3 takes no account of the potential technical reasons for using a dot com or ccTLD ... such as hosting in local countries and using directories on a single domain giving greater control and security are often the deciding criteria.

No consideration is given to the availability of ccTLDs in all the countries in which the organization trades. If you cannot register your domain name in the suffix of every country, then you may as well stick everything on the dot com.

Hypothesis #3 uses Hofstede's dimensions as a criteria. For all of the above, I would discount it as any guide as to why a domain name was registered. Even outside my opinion on the subject of domain names, Hofstede's original 'dimensions' are widely questioned when used in a contemporary environment.

And finally - and this really is a personal viewpoint - is the use of logistic regression testing in Hypothesis #3. The sight of any kind of mathematical formula sends shivers up my spine [I think it was an Act of God when I got a maths 'O' level] - but to use them to investigate why any given company uses a dot com domain name is, well ... shite.

So there you have it. An academic paper that in an academic environment has merit ... but as a document that might help an organization choose what domain name or names it should use in its global marketing strategy, it is not only worthless, it is shite.

This page was first published in February 2018 ... but it may also have been updated or amended since then.
Some of the content is drawn from my books, other pages on my websites or my public rants on the subject.
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