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Buying .CO Domains for Typo Traffic

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As one would expect, there are many people who are buying .CO domain names with the hopes of capitalizing on typo traffic. These people are looking through Alexa, Compete, Quantcast, and other various traffic estimation tools in the hopes of purchasing .CO domain names that will get traffic intended for the .COM.

One thing people need to be cognizant of (aside from trademark issues which I am not going to discuss) is that many high traffic websites get significant search engine traffic, and there isn’t going to be leakage from that. If someone visits a website via search engine or other referral, there will be no leakage to the .CO unless the referrer makes the typo.

Yesterday evening, I was asked if I had an interest in Burbank.CO. A reader of my blog offered his position in the auction because I didn’t back order it, and I wasn’t interested. I’ve been very fortunate with SEO and referral traffic for that site, and at the present time, only about 14% of the traffic is from type-in.   Assuming 20,000 visitors per month total, that means under 3,000 are typing it in to their browser.   If .3% of this traffic typos it, that’s about 9 visitors a month that I am losing.   It just doesn’t make that much sense to pay more than $500, which is where this name ended I believe.

There are a number of .CO websites that are live, where the .COM website is also live. Sex.com/Sex.co, Porn.com/Porn.co, Porno.com/Porno.co, Hotels.com/Hotels.co, and Weather.com/Weather.co are five such comparisons you can do, as I would imagine these sites rely on significant type-in traffic, which is where the leakage would take place. Since I don’t know how long each .CO has been live, I can’t say whether it’s 100% accurate, but here are the Compete numbers and % of traffic:

  • Sex.com – 135,793 | Sex.co – 393 – .CO % of .COM traffic: .23%
  • Porn.com – 1,807,569 | Porn.co – 1,015 – .CO % of .COM traffic: .056%
  • Porno.com – 233,909 | Porno.co – 656 – .CO % of .COM traffic: .28%
  • Hotels.com – 4,822,172 | Hotels.co – 1,698 – .CO % of .COM traffic: .035%
  • Weather.com – 31,992,990 | Weather.co – 29,893 – .CO % of .COM traffic: .093%

As you can see, there isn’t much leakage to the .CO, so investing a lot of money with the intent only to capitalize on typo traffic isn’t smart. Of course .CO domain owners can (and many will) develop their .CO domain names like I am doing, however, relying on revenue from typo traffic here might not be a smart play.

Announcing Geographic .CO Acquisition

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I’ve been excited about this for the past few days, and I needed to make sure a few things were in place before announcing it. After reviewing my Founder’s Program application for a web development project, the .CO Registry has awarded my company the geographic domain name Bahamas.CO. I love the Bahamas and I plan to visit sometime this winter, and I will be back there again in March for Domain Roundtable.

Under the agreement with the Registry, I will need to launch a website on this domain name within the next few weeks, and I’ve already set the wheels in motion. I started a logo design contest on 99Designs today, and I will be working with my developer to build a beta website, hoping to launch the second week in August after he returns from a trip to NYC.

Press Release is below:

Silver Internet Ventures, LLC Commits To Building A Web Presence On The New .CO Domain

Joins Growing Ranks of People and Businesses Getting a Fresh Start on the Internet with a truly global, recognizable and credible domain name

JULY 22, 2010 – Silver Internet Ventures, LLC a web development company with experience developing geographic domain names, today announced that it has secured the domain Bahamas.CO and will be expanding its geographic web presence online. Silver Internet Ventures’ new Bahamas.CO website will be launched in mid-August.

Until now, Silver Internet Ventures has focused solely on US city .com domain names, owning and operating Lowell.com and Burbank.com. Bahamas.CO will be the company’s first major international geographic website, and the company will build a travel portal for people looking to learn about the islands of the Bahamas and the fun things to do in the Bahamas.

“I am very happy we were able to work with the .CO Registry to acquire Bahamas.CO,” said Elliot Silver of Silver Internet Ventures. “This is a huge opportunity to build a great website as others build their brands on .CO. I love the Bahamas, visited last year, and I can’t wait to get started on the Bahamas.CO website. These are exciting times, and with the recognition of .CO around the world, I am confident this is going to be a wise investment.”

Silver Internet Ventures, LLC joins the growing ranks of organizations and individuals who have already committed to the new .CO domain, including major global brands and Fortune 500 companies such as BMW, Cartier, Facebook, Google, Hilton, Overstock, Panasonic, and innovative media companies and startups like Twitter, Politico, Angel List, Challenge.co, and more.

With the .com domain running out of viable names, corporations, brands, web developers, agencies, entrepreneurs and others are turning to the new .CO domain as a way to enhance their existing Web presence or to get a fresh start with a global, recognizable and credible domain that better meets their business or branding needs.

“Whether you run a start-up, a small business, or a multi-billion-dollar corporation, you need a meaningful, memorable digital brand that tells people who you are and what you’re all about,” said Juan Diego Calle, chief executive officer of .CO Internet.   “Thanks to forward-thinking companies like Silver Internet Ventures, the .CO movement is gaining tremendous momentum, and we’re very excited to help create new online branding opportunities that the world has not seen since the Internet was first born.”

About Silver Internet Ventures, LLC

Silver Internet Ventures, LLC is a privately held online media company founded in 2008 by Elliot Silver. Websites owned by Silver Internet Ventures are located on category defining domain names that offer a platform for local companies to promote their brands online to a highly targeted audience. The company owns and operates Lowell.com, Burbank.com, TropicalBirds.com, and Dreidel.com.

About .CO Internet S.A.S.

.CO Internet S.A.S. is the Registry Operator for the .CO top-level domain.   .CO Internet was formed by a strategic venture between Arcelandia S.A, and Neustar, Inc. (NYSE: NSR). The .CO domain offers individuals and businesses a truly global, recognizable and credible option in branding their online presence. Thanks to leading-edge technology, enhanced security and unprecedented rights protections for brand owners, the .CO domain is poised to become the world’s next premier web address. For additional information, please visit www.COinternet.co.

Media Contacts:
Eric Sokolsky, Sparkpr for .CO Internet S.A.S., +1.908.288.7201, eric@sparkpr.com
Donna Burke, Sparkpr for .CO Internet S.A.A, 1.415.321.1862, donna@sparkpr.com
Lori Anne Wardi, Director of Marketing for .CO Internet S.A.S, +1.917.838.6743, lori@COinternet.co
Elliot Silver, Silver Internet Ventures, LLC, pr@silverinternetventures.com

======
Photo credits:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/11149039@N04/2376885496/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/theactionitems/3956453149
http://www.flickr.com/photos/sm3287/218475309/

Speculating on .CO Domain Names

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I’ve covered the .CO launch pretty extensively, but I continue to field emails and some phone calls asking for advice, so I want to share a little bit of additional insight from a personal standpoint to answer any lingering questions.

As you’re aware, I was awarded a .CO domain name, which I hope to reveal this week. It didn’t cost me anything, but I have to build a website on it and market it, which will be expensive. It’s a geographic area I like to visit, so while the goal is to make money, I may also be able to write off some research. That will be up to the accountant to ultimately determine once the time comes.

In addition to this, I bought 5 domain names .CO domain names via NameJet. I wasn’t planning to back order many, but at the last moment I backordered 39 of them and they secured 5 I think.   None of them are significant nor were intended to play on trademarks. For example, I got Elliot.CO and Torah.CO.

You can look around and see that .CO has paid for advertising on my blog (small banner from the registry going back up tomorrow and a banner from Register.com below my posts), so keep in mind that I can’t be completely unbiased despite the fact that I feel like I am offering my unbiased opinion. I do make money from blogging, but I am first and foremost a domain investor/speculator and hope that this is conveyed below.

That said, I do think this is going to be a widely used extension because .CO makes sense to me and will resonate with others who could not afford a 6 figure .COM. Names that would cost 6 or 7 figures in .COM should be considerably less in .CO, unless speculators keep them off the development market, which could ultimately hamper its usage. However, with so many names bought by domain investors, I am sure there will be plenty who can’t afford to hold out too long.

In my opinion, the widespread usage by big brands is what will make it a valuable investment. Whether this happens is unknown for now though. Despite the fact that many brands did secure .CO domain names, it remains to be seen whether they will be used and promoted or simply used for defensive purposes. I don’t know. You don’t know. We don’t know.

Yes, I think the Founder’s Program was very smart because it guarantees that there will be many sites that use .CO and actively promote it. This is good for investors. The primary reason .CO domain names could become valuable is because regular people and companies want them as an alternative to .COM.   Will this happen? I don’t know. You don’t know. We don’t know. I think it might and others think it might not, but at the end of the day, it’s not us who will determine whether they will have significant aftermarket value.

This is pure speculation. Invest cautiously and invest smartly. Some people who invest heavily may be rewarded very handsomely if .CO becomes more popular than .NET and other extensions. If this doesn’t happen, some people may lose a lot of money.

As I’ve told the people who have emailed me, “I am holding off on a bigger investment until I see what companies do with their .co names and how the aftermarket shapes up.”   I am going to build my Founders Program .CO domain name soon and will do my best to earn my investment back.   It’s pure speculation at this point, but my business model was built on speculation.

.CO Registry: 40k Names Pre-Registered, 6 Figure Sale Already Made

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.CO Registry Founders ProgramTomorrow is a   big day for the .CO Registry, as they will be publicly launching in the afternoon at 2pm EST. People will begin finding out if the .CO domain names they ordered were secured by their domain registrars, and others will learn more information about auctions and domain availability.

I received an email from the .CO Registry with some impressive news and updates I thought I would share.

  • Nearly 40,000 .CO domain names have been sold in the pre-launch phase
  • 70% of the worlds top 500 brands have secured .CO domains
  • The first public domain auction sold for $81,000 USD (www.e.CO)
  • The Registry will be announcing its second public sale this week for six figures.   This may be the domain name Mike Berkens mentioned yesterday.

I know a number of people who are buying .CO domain names, and I personally back ordered around 10 or 12 of them. I am not making a huge investment right now (aside from the development cost of the Founders Program name I was awarded), but I think this extension is going to strong results.

As I’ve said here in the past relating to .CO and other extensions, I’d rather invest heavily when I see the money rolling in and a solid aftermarket formed, even if it means less upside. There’s less risk when names begin selling for high values on the aftermarket.

Surprisingly to me, nobody correctly guessed the Founders Program domain name I was awarded; however, I am not going to reveal the domain name yet until it’s in my possession. Hopefully that will be soon and development will start ASAP.

.CO Domain General Availability Opens on July 20

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I’m sure you’ve read about .CO domain names by now, but if you would like to take action but haven’t yet, this should serve as a reminder that the general availability date is Tuesday, July 20, 2010. If you are interested in buying a domain name that will be sought after by many, you should ensure that your order is placed ASAP.

According to NameJet, where preorders close at 8pm on July 19:

“General Availability, which means the normal registration period for .CO where no trademarks are required, will open at precisely 11:00 am PDT, July 20, 2010. It’s important to get your names in early before the pre-order queue closes.

.CO is the new domain extension that offers people and companies more choice in branding their online presence with a truly global, recognizable, and credible domain name. It’s the online space where people can fulfill their dreams and the world’s next great enterprises will have a home.”

The .CO Registry has already awarded their domain names as part of the Founders Program, and my proposal was approved, so I was awarded a .CO domain name. More on that later on, but for now, if you want to pre-order .CO domain names, the time to do so is now.

Sunday Update: World Cup Edition

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What an interesting week in sports for this Boston fan. First, the Celtics lost a tough game 7 of the NBA finals to the Lakers who had a great game by Ron Artest. Surprisingly, I think Artest was the best player during the Finals, and it was neat to hear about him celebrating the victory in Hollywood after the game in his full uniform.

The following morning the US soccer team faced a difficult opponent in the World Cup – referee Koman Coulibaly, who disallowed what would have been the winning goal on a phantom foul. “Sleepy Eyes,” as he is known throughout the soccer world due to his droopy eyelids, now has a website dedicated to him – KomanCoulibaly.com (not mine).

On to some Sunday updates:

  • Burbank.com is almost ready to re-launch, and I am very excited about the new site. It’s currently being tested, and I hope to have it re-launched in the next two weeks. The Scottsdale.com and Cities Planet teams have worked hard on getting the site re-launched, and they already have more advertising commitments than I was able to achieve.
  • It would be very interesting if a company like Cities Planet was able to sell advertising space on developed websites. There are companies where webmasters can submit their available space for advertisers to select, but it would be great if there was an independent company who worked on behalf of website owners to seek out advertisers. If there is a company like this (maybe I am forgetting) please let me know.
  • I’ve noticed a lot of people asking questions about .CO, the likelihood of successful investment in .CO and its impact on .Com domain names. I really think it’s premature to speculate and those who post questions like that or read responses should realize it would only be speculation. There will be plenty of people who invest a lot of money in .CO names, but it will all come down to consumer adoption, which is contingent upon business marketing. All of this is TBD.
  • Today is the last day to get the MiniSites.com Deal of the Week. There will be another deal in its place beginning sometime tomorrow morning. If you haven’t seen it yet, check it out.

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