May242008
Something to Think about…
By Ryan | Posted in Trivia.

I think I will register…23 years ago today, the domain name Think.com was registered. Some of you might think you registered your first name a long time ago, but think about this; Think.com probably preceded your first registration by a decade or more. Some of you might think you started registering domains too late, but think about this; 23 years from now, someone will be registering their first domain name.

In 1985, the year Think.com was registered:

  • The Web browser had not yet been invented
  • Windows 1.0 was released, and Microsoft was a privately held company
  • Ronald Reagan was president of the United States
  • Mikhail Gorbachev became the Soviet leader
  • New Coke was released. Anyone remember that?
  • Back to the Future was the top grossing film
  • The Berlin Wall was still up

So, what were you thinking about in 1985?

May232008

DomainerCon Atlanta - A FREE Domainer Networking ConferenceClear your calendars and get ready for the best (and perhaps only) domainer networking meetup in Atlanta this year. DomainerCon is three weeks from tomorrow and the registration deadline is quickly approaching. If you have not yet signed up, go to DomainerCon.com today and fill out the quick form to let us know you are coming. It is a free networking event, but we need to know how much space is needed. The main event is from 5-7 pm on Saturday, June 14, but feel free to stay as late as you want. Also, some people have expressed interest in getting together for breakfast the next day, so we may do that as well. If you know of anyone in the Atlanta area that has not yet signed up, help us spread the word by letting them know. We look forward to seeing you there.

May212008
Microsoft should buy CNet
By Ryan | Posted in News.

Microsoft.cnetThe Microsoft-Yahoo merger is not working out, and the guys at Microsoft seem like they don’t really know what to do. This is not surprising though, as they have yet to put together a successful search engine strategy. Their MSN Search is now Microsoft Live Search, online at Live.com. I wonder why they picked “Live.com” as the name though. Sure it is a great domain, but wouldn’t it be better used as a video site or social network? The much more obvious name for a search engine is Search.com, and CNet owns it.

The CNet-CBS deal is not finalized, and if CNet receives a higher offer, they can take it. Instead of Microsoft paying users to use their sub-par search engine, why not use a few bucks from their cash reserves and buy CNet. It won’t necessarily fix their search problems, but it will give them a solid foundation for future online services such as:

Search.com – to compete with Google
Com.com – wildcard it to bring more visitors to search.com
MP3.com – to compete with Apple iTunes
Download.com – to promote their software
Downloads.com – also to promote their software
Computers.com – to promote Windows operating system
Help.com – for customer support
Chat.com – to promote Windows live messenger
TV.com – to help them get into the living room with interactive tv

No doubt they will miss this opportunity though. They started by underestimating the importance of the Internet, and they obviously underestimate the power of great generic domain names. Oh well, maybe one day they will realize what they missed and perhaps they can just buy CBS. 😉

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 😀

Mar282008

CommentsI really enjoy reading all of the great domain blogs out there, and I like to read new blog posts as soon as I find out about them. The only problem is that I often read the posts before people have had time to comment. Because of this, I sometimes miss reading the great comments left by the readers and the responses to those comments.

For example, a recent post on SevenMile.com discussed why you should not necessarily sell domains at todays prices. Frank is incredibly articulate and always has amazing insight as it relates to our industry, but when he advised people not to sell, the one point I thought he missed (I know, blasphemy) was this: sometimes you should sell at todays prices if you can use the money to fund the purchase of better names.

After re-reading the post, I found that this point was addressed in the comments:

Posted by andy kelly | March 21st, 2008 at 7:45 pm

I really enjoyed your post – I totally understand your stance re: not selling unless the price is right but you have the luxury of great success (hard earned I know) Bottom feeder dealers like me sell / flip to finance new (hopefully better) domain purchases.
If a domain isn’t paying it’s way in ppc I give it 3 -6 months to get a decent end user offer, if it doesn’t get one in that timespan I flip it regardless.

Just another perspective, Great to see you’re back to making the occasional post ! Seriously, it’s great to have a domain expert blogging and giving his advice to the rest of us – bottom feeders included.

regards

andy
http://www.UrlAcademy.com

***FS*** Sell if you have to make money .. Nothing wrong with making money, but know what you’re selling and understand the value proposition of letting the good ones slip away, then price accordingly. Thanks for the kind compliment.

Great comment, and great response. Understanding the value proposition is key though. If you can sell a name, and with the proceeds of that sale you can buy an even better name, then you are basically trading up and you will increase the value of your portfolio. Remember that there is also an opportunity cost associated with holding names and not selling.

Then I continued reading and found another great comment:

Posted by dch | March 24th, 2008 at 2:54 am

Frank, great post. In the same vein, any comments on NameMedia and their “business model” of selling all of their assets until none remain?

I can’t imagine smart money investing in that IPO…half of revenue is non-recurring and can never be recovered! Talk about limited upside…

***FS*** Very well said .. Its a faustian bargain trading cash (which ultimately gets spent on salaries and ‘the machine’) for valuable names .. The names have been going up faster than the cash and many a smart domainer has bought good names from NameMedia cheaply.. I suspect they (NAME) think they’ve found a sustainable sweet-spot and can sell in perpetuity without eroding their core, but if you’re selling names that get even 30 unique a month, eventually the valuable marrow of their portfolio will get sucked away.. I guess it depends on how successful they are at replenishing.. I haven’t had any real insight into that end of things there. Clearly they are making a ton of revenue selling their names (20+ mil last year)..

The worst-case fear for industry participants is that NAME burns the furniture selling too aggressively so they can get higher EBITDA in the name of a big IPO pop. Staff backfills the good-names with crap from the drop and longer tail search terms without the same search resonance. The founders parachute out on the back of said IPO.. new management/investors move-in and essentially become bag holding patsys that can’t sustain the name-sales from before the IPO, ebitda falls, and we (the industry) get tarred with the brush of their model when the stock tanks and investors run from our space saying; “Those domain name investing companies are no good” – lumping the entire industry in with NAME’s fate. That’s a worst case scenario.

This response could be a post by itself, so if you are like me and sometimes read blog posts as soon as they are written, then consider going back and reading the good ones again.

Mar182008
George W Bush vs .XXX
By Ryan | Posted in News.

.xxxStuart Lawley and the ICM Registry just lost another round in the .xxx top level domain saga after a federal judge granted summary judgment to the Bush administration. The lawsuit was filed under the Freedom of Information Act (FIOA), alleging improper intervention on the part of the Bush administration after ICANN first approved .xxx and later reversed their decision.

Porn-friendly .xxx domain backer loses suit against federal agencies

The company behind the proposed .xxx top-level domain, which was rejected after the Bush administration intervened, has been trying to dig up embarrassing government documents through a federal lawsuit.

Make that “was trying.” A federal judge on March 12 granted summary judgment to the Bush administration in the Freedom of Information Act lawsuit brought by the ICM Registry.

Source

😉

 

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