Apr302008

Let go of your JUNK domainsThere has been some talk lately about the need to trim the portfolio, but few specifics about how to do that. Well, I would like to offer some specifics. Keep in mind that these are just some guidelines, and I do not suggest you listen to everything I say. I don’t even follow all of these suggestions all the time 😉 . Hopefully this list will help you with the decision process, but the bottom line is that there are no strict rules when deciding on what to keep and what to let go (or what to not register in the first place).

PPC Names: Parked names that make more than their renewal fees are generally worth keeping. Keep an eye on the renewal prices though, because they will likely increase by 7% a year for the foreseeable future.

Trademark and Trademark Typo names: These names are often more trouble than they are worth. Dump them now.

Non .com Names: Many people will tell you to primarily invest in .com names, but that does not help you if you already own non .com domains. If you own domain in an extension other than .com, check to see if the other extensions are also taken. The best names are generally registered in .com, .net, .org, .info, and even .biz. If you own the .biz and the .net is still available, consider dropping the name. If you own any extension and the .com is available, consider dropping the name.

Do you own all of the extensions? Some people like to own the series, or every extension of a domain name, including the .com, .net, .org, .info, .biz. .mobi, and the .us (or other country code). First, if you own all the extensions, chances are there is a reason they were all available. Second, sometimes it is better if you own the .com and other people own the other extensions. Sometimes they will develop a site and inadvertently increase your visitor count, and sometimes they will just want to buy your .com name. If your main business uses the .com name, then it is ok to register the other extensions to protect your name, but if you are simply registering all of the extensions because you think it will make your .com name more valuable, consider dropping the non .com versions.

Country code names: Keep the name if it is a strong keyword in the cctld of the country you live in. Avoid cctld names that try to brand themselves as something else. For example .Bz. .cc, .la, .im, .me names. A possible exception is .tv, but be sure to invest in a strong generic domain and watch out for high and potentially uncertain renewal fees.

Brandables: These names are called “brandables” because they are currently meaningless and must be heavily promoted or advertised by a company before they make sense. Why would a company pick the name you own instead of just making up another meaningless and available “brandable” name. Consider dropping all but a few of your favorites.

Does the name receive any visitors, or does the name have a heartbeat? According to Frank Schilling, these are “names which somebody will either type into their address bar because the string means something to them, or names which people look-up the whois record of, to see who owns it. Names which compel other human beings to take some form of action.” This is perhaps one of the most important concepts that you should apply to your entire portfolio.

One character makes a difference. Atlanta.com is extremely valuable, Atlanta7.com is not. Order makes a difference. PetFoodSupplies.com is in the correct order, SuppliesPetFood.com is not.

New domain extensions such as .mobi, .asia, etc.: While it is possible to profit from any extension, it is also important to note that the majority of investors in extensions such as these will be stuck with renewal fees for years before they will simply drop the name without an offer. There is very little or no traffic coming to these names, so you will either need to develop or sell to an end user before renewal fees eat away all of your profit.

Short domain “sellouts” like the “The official final countdown for L-LL and LL-L.” Most of these types of names appeal to newer domainers, and the potential for a good end user sale is very low. You will be lucky if you make your money back, and this will likely be a very expensive lesson for quite a few people. I am not talking about quality LLLL.coms or shorter names here, I am referring to names like N-N-N.com, L-L-L.net, NN-N.com, N-NN.com, LLLLL.net, etc in the current market.

Are there advertisers? If you go to Google and type in your domain name without the extension, are there advertisers for that term or terms? Ideally, you should see three advertisers at the top before the search results, and quite a few advertisers in the column on the right side of the page. If there are no advertisers, consider letting the name go.

There are many other factors to consider, and sometimes you have to just go with what you believe in, regardless of what anyone else tells you. So, what do you think, and what criteria do you use when deciding if you should register or renew a name?

Apr242008
UUOPD – Five.com
By Ryan | Posted in UUOPD.

Five.comToday’s UUOPD (Unusual Usage of Premium Domains) website is Five.com. Five.com unusual because when you visit the site, all you see is a black background and “five.com” in tiny white letters in the center of the screen. You can’t really go anywhere or do anything, but hey, at least you know where you are, right? What also makes this website unusual is that if you look at the source code of this extremely basic looking website you will see that it is slightly more complex than you think; it uses css for formating and statcounter to track visitor activity. What exactly was the owner thinking? Perhaps the conversation went something like this:

Five.com owner: Sweet, I just registered five.com.
Five.com owner’s friend: That is a great name, what are you going to do with it?
Five.com owner: I have big plans for this one. First, I am going to show off my awesome coding skills by using css to create a black background. White is lame, all the cool sites have black backgrounds these days.
Five.com owner’s friend: You rock, and black backgrounds rule. What are you going to do next?
Five.com owner: Well, obviously I am going to use some tiny text to spell out the website address, and center that on the screen. Then I will add statcounter code to see who is visiting.
Five.com owner’s friend: Yeah, that way you can see who is visiting and where they are going on your site. There are going to be other pages right?
Five.com owner: No way. I don’t want to confuse people with complex navigation and too many words. I am just going to keep it simple.

Click here for more UUOPD websites.

Apr212008

DomainerCon Atlanta - A FREE Domainer Networking ConferenceWhat is DomainerCon?
It’s an open invitation domainer networking conference in Atlanta. Meet, greet, and network to your hearts content.

Where’s it gonna be held?
We’re hosting it in a social room in the Blue Ridge Grill. It holds about 50 people, so if we receive more registrations than that, we’ll have to relocate.

How much is it?
Nothing. It’s free. Just register and you’ll receive the invitation and event information.

Who’s hosting this event?
Ryan MacDonald & Peter Askew are your fine hosts for this event. Peter and Ryan enjoy networking with other domainers, so they thought it might be fun to host a free event in Atlanta.

More Info…

Apr32008

No AdSense for you.  Next!First, a little background. I do not buy trademark names, I do not click on my own ads, I do not encourage anyone else to click on my ads, I do not promote anything illegal or questionable, and I do not do any arbitrage. My sites are mostly informational in nature and generally provide useful information about location specific activities (i.e., geodomains). So I was surprised when I checked my email account and found this:

While going through our records recently, we found that your AdSense account has posed a significant risk to our AdWords advertisers. Since keeping your account in our publisher network may financially damage our advertisers in the future, we’ve decided to disable your account.

Please understand that we consider this a necessary step to protect the interests of both our advertisers and our other AdSense publishers. We realize the inconvenience this may cause you, and we thank you in advance for your understanding and cooperation.

If you have any questions about your account or the actions we’ve taken, please do not reply to this email. You can find more information by visiting https://www.google.com/adsense/support/bin/answer.py?answer=57153&hl=en_US.

Sincerely,

The Google AdSense Team

What? My account poses “a significant risk” to advertisers? That makes no sense, so I checked my website statistics for all of the sites that contain adsense. Everything looked fine. So, I thought to myself, perhaps some bad traffic is coming my way. The stats showed that there were no traffic spikes and the referrers looked ok. Then I did a search on Google for each of my sites, and I found what I think was the problem.

Someone else was using Google AdWords to advertise my website, using my exact domain name in the advertisement and linking the ad to my site!

Now keep in mind that this is an expired domain that I purchased more than 10 weeks ago, and someone else was paying to advertise my site on Google. Unfortunately, there was no way for me to find out who was doing this. If I clicked on the ad (which I did not do) it would just take me to my site. Was this the former owner who did not realize that they did not own the site anymore, or was this a savvy SEM expert who has figured out that if a competitor uses Google AdSense, you can simply advertise that competitor’s site and they will be banned by Google? That SEM idea is probably a result of overthinking it, but I guess it could happen.

Whatever the reason, I was banned from AdSense, so I decided to do a bit of research. According to their FAQ, because of my account suspension, the check I received yesterday has a stop payment on it and could not be cashed. There were payments from clicks on my other sites on that check as well, but according to Google, when one site is bad, they all are. Another FAQ says, “Can my account be reinstated” and the answer contained a link to an appeal form. I clicked that link and explained my case, then clicked submit, and then I waited. I did another Google search to see if anyone else has had this problem. Almost every case I read involving an account disablement ended in a permanent ban. There seemed to be few if any cases that were reversed. So then I waited some more. Another day passed, and then I received this email:

Hello,

We’re currently in the process of reviewing your account with the additional information that you’ve provided. Please understand, however, that there is no guarantee that your account will be reinstated into AdSense. As a reminder, Google does reserve the right to disable an account at any time, as stated in the AdSense Terms and Conditions (http://www.google.com/adsense/terms ).

Thank you for your patience.

Sincerely,

The Google AdSense Team

At this point, I was not optimistic about my chances. I understand that Google must protect the advertisers, and the advertisers provide them with the majority of their revenue. I thought that they would likely err on the side of caution, and that it was not likely that they would reverse their decision. Then, three hours later, I received this email:

As you know, Google treats instances of invalid click activity very seriously. We have reviewed your circumstances and have reinstated your account, effective immediately. However, there will be a delay before ads start running on your website. It may take up to 48 hours before all of our servers are informed of the change.

We appreciate your patience, and apologize for any inconvenience. If you have any questions, please feel free to respond to this email.

Wow, although it was the right decision, I did not know if they would have time to actually look at the facts and I was prepared to move along without AdSense. In fact, I already applied to the Yahoo Publisher Network and am planning to try Yahoo ads on that site. I wonder if I can finally cash my AdSense check now. 😡

***Update by Ryan***

It is now 4 weeks later and I am still unable to cash this check. The check still has a stop payment on it, so even though I can login to my adsense account and Google ads appear on my sites, this check is no good.

***Update by Ryan***

On April 28 I received a new check from Google that includes the total from the old check as well as additional new earnings. The old check still has the stop payment on it, so if this happens to you, do not try to cash any checks that you are in possession of after your account is disabled. If your account is permanently disabled, the checks are worthless. If your account is reinstated, the checks you have not deposited are still worthless, but they will send you a replacement check next month.

Apr12008

.caThe government of Canada filed a complaint with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center today over the domain name www.ca.gov. The complainant alleges that the domain name is confusingly similar to the Canadian government website – www.gov.ca. According to the filing, the complainant claims common law trademark and first use of the abbreviation “CA” and claims that the country of Canada was established prior to the establishment of the state of California. Prime Minister Stephen Harper was quoted as saying, “The United States has http://www.usa.gov, so shouldn’t Canada have http://www.ca.gov?” The governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger, was unavailable for comment as he was busy filming the fourth installment of the Terminator series entitled Terminator Salvation: The Future Begins.

Happy April Fools Day 😀

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