Guest Post

Guest Post: How .com Changed Three Words For The Better

The following is a guest post written by Bobby Fitzgerald discussing how RestaurantsAgainstCancer.com was developed to raise money for the children of  Camp Sunrise.

Recently at a American Cancer Society meeting I was told about CEO’s Against Cancer, a smoking cessation program the ACS operates. I jotted down restaurants against cancer and bought the domain through Godaddy’s app before the meeting was over. For the next few weeks I worked my contacts in the industry and asked them to pull together to support a summer camp for children fighting cancer. The total cost of food and supplies for the two-week over-night portion of the camp is $15,000.

Out of 8,000 restaurants in Phoenix we need just 30 at $500 each. Everyone said “great idea” and walked away or looked at me with a blank stare. In three weeks I got one restaurant to commit. I went to my WP guy on Elance and had a site built based on a directory model I am tweaking for a budding restaurant network (BethesdaRestaurants.com). A week later RestaurantsAgainstCancer.com was up.

The first day the site was live we raised $2,000. Eight days later we raised over $8,000. I was shocked and thrilled at what had been accomplished for the children of Camp Sunrise. The Arizona Restaurant Association stated this could be a marquee event for the industry and associates in Chicago and Denver inquired about starting the effort there.

I called a national supply company’s HQ in another state and left a VP a voicemail mentioning the site. Five minutes later the local manger called me and said they were in. I know what happened, the VP went to the site and saw his customers listed and his largest competitor. All this because I added dot com to the end of a phrase I had been touting for weeks with no return.

Putting three words on a website made it something REAL. The power of this has blown me away and I cannot stop with the ideas of what else this formula could do for charities. Every restaurant and vendor who has joined the fight is now walking around saying, “We are part of RestaurantsAgainstCancer.com, go see.” Add in a PPC campaign (using $75 promos) during the two weeks of the camp to promote the restaurants involved and we have delivered a ROI for them as well.

Interestingly, a number of people have asked me if it was .org so that extension is forwarded. Everyone knows the internet is limitless and seeing your name or brand online is a huge form of recognition.

Elliot certainly did a great job of this by listing his contributors to the NYC Ronald McDonald House, which may soon be a retirement home if the health-food-activists get their way. (LOL) Nothing has the potential for worldwide exposure or is cheaper than bits, so recognizing on a website works well. It is way more than a plaque on the hallway to the John. It could even be a WordPress or Blogger template with a domain simply forwarded. This is how we our restaurants’ blog works.

I want the SEO value of WordPress so it’s RestaurantName.Wordpress.com and we get top billing on searches plus back link value we control. A site for a worthy cause can be up in minutes with no cost.

So if it is selling Girl Scout Cookies or any worthy cause, many who read this blog have the ability to easily get a site up to help the effort. This little exercise shows first hand the potential impact. Many people want to give back but truly do not know how. Now you do…

Rob Sequin Guest Post: Options for Your Domains

This is a guest post written by domain broker, Rob Sequin.

As part of my 2011 planning, I have been giving considerable thought about the current and future use of my domain names. This nice thing about owning a number of domains is that domain portfolio owners have numerous options for what they can do with their domains.

Of course everyone’s portfolio is different as are business models and goals but I thought that it may be helpful to offer some guidance about use of domains. Here is a list of what you can do with your domains…

  • Development
  • Forwarding
  • Leasing
  • Minisites
  • Nothing
  • Parking

Development

Summary: Website development requires skills and software. To develop a site you need to have a server, website design software/platform like xsitepro, WordPress, Dreamweaver etc. Development requires lots of time and skill or money if you have to hire a developer.

Pros:

Adds value to the domain so long as your development is appreciated by search engines, visitors, direct advertisers and potential buyers. Gives you the ability to place Adsense, affiliate ads, sell products, get direct advertisers etc. Ability to track everything with Google Analytics code.

Cons:

Time consuming and may be developed differently from what your visitors, direct advertisers or potential buyers are looking for thus just a waste of time.

Forwarding

To Developed Website

Summary: Forward related domains to a developed site already in your network that would be an appropriate “lander” for the forwarded domain.

Pros: Visitors land on a developed page therefore you get the best use for this forwarded domain. Developed site gets more traffic from type ins from relevant, forwarded domain. Why park a domain for pennies a day if you can forward to your site and capture a potential direct advertiser or customer. Why not spend those pennies a day and “buy” this traffic?

Cons: You have to have a related developed domain as a “lander”. Cannot offer forwarded domain for sale if it is pointing to a developed site. No stats for forwarded domain unless masked. If masked then visitor cannot see URLs of developed site. No search engine love for forwarded domains.

To Retail Sales Website

Summary: If you have a developed site that is a retail sales site, forwarding your domains to this sales site can increase sales.

Pros: You can have some advertising on the site but if it’s for sales of domains, limit ALL outgoing links. Direct sales to buyer, no third party marketplace with anonymous negotiations or commissions. Potential to upsell buyer more similar domains. Why park a domain for pennies a day if you can forward to your site and capture a potential buyer. Why not spend those pennies a day and “buy” this traffic?

Cons: Same as above to Developed Website.

Leasing

Summary: I know there are leasing sites and opportunities out there but not practical for most domain owners.

Pros: Generates guaranteed income over what Adsense, sales, leads or direct advertisers will pay you.

Cons: VERY difficult to find anyone to lease your domains, you need a STRONG contract and need to make sure leasee is not using your domain in bad ways. You give up all control of the domain.

Minisites

Summary: Epik, Whypark and DevHub are hybrids of parking and development. Not all domains are good candidates for minisite development but a great option for the right domains, usually product domains or long tail domains.

Pros: May generate more revenue parking and may get some search engine placement.   Adds value to domain since content is directly relevant to domain. Minisite platforms are very advanced today and offer many ways to add content and revenue generating features. You can probably have a “This domain for sale” link on the lander.

Cons: From my limited experience, I have not made any money nor created any search engine traffic from minisite development.   No public sales marketplace at minisite companies.

Nothing

Summary: Nothing means nothing. I am amazed how many dead landing pages or registrar landing pages I come across.

Pros: Not using domain could help if you are TM squatting. That’s about all the Pros I can come up with J

Cons: Dumbest use of domain, shows owner does not care at all about domain, adds zero value. In fact tells potential buyer that you are uneducated about domains, not using it and therefore you should expect VERY low offers and of course no revenue or search engine placement, no stats either.

Parking

Summary: Many people say that parking is dead or dying but this is by far the easiest way to make the most revenue with little effort. I have used Sedo (Google feed) and Parked (Yahoo feed). I admit I do not make much money from parking, which is not my primary source of revenue. I will say that I have tried MOST of the parking companies at one time or another and I have found that I like working with Sedo or Parked.

Pros: Change the nameservers, optimize the lander, set it and forget it.

Cons: Probably no search engine ranking but I have seen my domains rank with Sedo and Parked pages.

Sedo Pros: Best parking revenue, domain for sale link, sales marketplace, good stats but confusing

Sedo Cons: Cannot negotiate directly with buyer, buyer is anonymous, sales commission, no custom content. Landers are very generic.

Parked Pros: Custom domain for sale link, great stats, simple user interface, ability to add custom content, plenty of photos directly relevant to keywords.

Parked Cons: Adequate revenue, no sales marketplace. I understand that the transition to Bing has not gone well and Yahoo feed parking companies may need some time for revenue to recover.

Summary

You should have all your domain names in a spreadsheet or in some manner that they can be sorted and categorized. Make a column for near term use and long term use. Ultimately your long term goals might be something like this:

  • Development 5% to 20%
  • Forwarding 10% to 20%
  • Leasing 0% to 5%
  • Minisites 10% to 30%
  • Nothing 0%
  • Parking 40% to 80%

Short term use could be parking while long term use could be development. Parking is a great way to at least see what kind of traffic a domain receives then you can make a better decision about developing it. Be sure to have a clear understanding of what you want to accomplish.

If you want a revenue stream then test parking, test minisites and test development. If your goal is sales then be sure to have your domains listed for sale in several locations and/or forward them to your own retail sales site. If you goal is to bring in direct advertisers then you’ll want to develop good websites with unique content that offers value to your visitors.

Good luck. I hope this helps with your domain planning for 2011.

Guest Post: Could Revised Google Adsense Policy be a Game Changer for Alcohol Related Domains?

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Here is a guest post from Pat Quinn of Big Iron Design, LLC.

Will Google’s New Adsense Policy for Alcohol Ads Increase Manufacturer Spending Online?

Last week Google changed their advertising policy on alcohol to allow ads that promote the sale of hard alcohol and liquor.

Will this new policy encourage the adult beverage industry to spend more of their 2-3 billion dollar annual budgets online? They’re not spending much of it online right now, that’s for sure. According to this 2008 report, the top 12 advertisers in this sector spend less than 2% of their advertising dollars online. More than half of that amount probably goes to their own web sites judging by this chart which breaks down the spending by venue. That amounts to roughly 2 million dollars a month for internet advertising aside from the manufacturer’s own sites. By contrast, they’re spending almost 69 million a month for TV, 50 million a month for Point-of-Sale, and 29 million a month for Sports, Sports Teams and Athletes.

In 2008 Google changed their policy to allow ads that promote the sale of beer, but I’m not seeing a lot of beer ads in my daily surfing, are you? I wonder why. It may be because there are myriad local and state laws regulating this advertising, and the manufacturers are just afraid to go there (yet). But, I don’t really get why there would be regulation differences between running ads online and running them on TV. Certainly the football fans among us are bombarded by them, even on the earliest games (Go Steelers!). Are they afraid kids will see the ads online? Give me a break.

What’s this have to do with domaining? There are hundreds of cocktail names and dozens of generic liquor names, with new drinks being created all the time. Obviously, popular drinks will generate searches because people want to try new things. The CPC and Competition on even many highly searched ones are pretty much rock-bottom, though. I think it goes without saying that most domainers are always on the lookout for any product-related terms with high search numbers. But if the potential advertisers can’t advertise because of restrictions that certainly kills any potential value of these domain names.

So, the question is – will this policy change be enough to drive a few more of those huge advertising dollars to Google, and by extension the owners of these types of domains. I’d love to hear your thoughts, particularly if you have real-world experience in the alcohol names domain (and I don’t mean drunk dialing your ex).

Disclaimer: I own a number of cocktail related names. That’s why this policy change sparked my interest.

Guest Post: Why Domain Names with Hyphens Are (Possibly) Undervalued

This is a guest post written by a reader of my blog who would prefer to remain anonymous. What are your thoughts?

Most likely you have shyed away from investing in domain names with hyphens in, they have traditionally been seen as barely worth the reg fee. Im finding this may be grossly undervaluing what is essentially a slightly different class of domain asset. Of course many domains with – in are indeed worthless, just like their big brother non hyphen names.

Take the case of a product/service type ‘does what it says on the tin’ exact match domain name – eg UsefulWidgets .com

This domain name is almost certainly not available for casual sale, if at all. Useful-Widgets.com may well be for sale at reg fee, in lots of cases Im finding – it is.

Your’e probably saying yes, its available to hand reg because its *worthless*. Perhaps not, it all comes down to the competition. If the owner of nonhyphen usefulwidgets.com simply has the page parked, or worse – badly forwarded with url masking on amazon type affiliate links, then its game on!

Most often this domain IS NOT EVEN INDEXED IN GOOGLE! ‘beating’ it,  to top spot in G’s index will be a pushover, especially for the owner of hand reg  useful-widgets.com. If they do it right they will have first dibs on world online sales of useful widgets, at least the ones who googled ‘useful widgets’.

Of course its probably only a matter of time until the nonhypen domain is developed, but in the meantime  the way is clear. Theres no telling when this may happen 1, 2, 5, 10+ years – some domains have asking prices that dramatically lower their chances of imminent development. By that time, you may well have a thriving business on Useful-Widgets.com that the new nonhyphen owners have no choice but to fight or buy,  for probably a lot more than reg fee and your time/outlay in development.

Guest Post: CIRA’S .CA “Election” Is On

Zak Muscovitch from DNattorney.com writes this guest column on the Canadian domain name registry elections that are currently underway.

Canada’s .CA registry, the Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA) is run by a Board of 15 Directors. A single seat has opened up for the public, and I am running in the election for it. The other four seats that are up for an “election” are already locked by CIRA for its own hand-selected nominees, who do not represent the domain name community at all. In fact, CIRA’s “Nominations Committee” rejected the application of at least four prominent Canadian domainers. So, although there will be an “election” for five seats in total, this is the kind of “election” that we are accustomed to in non-democratic countries. You will recall that Saddam Hussein regularly won elections with 98% of the vote.

I have however, decided seek the single vacant Board position available to the public. If I get on the Board, I will vigorously put domainer issues on the agenda. Most Canadian domain investors will readily tell you that they believe that CIRA rules, regulations, policies, and procedures, stifle the growth of the .CA space. This opinion is borne out by Verisgin’s report which shows that Canada does not even rank within the top 10 ccTLD’s in terms of number of registrations. In fact, in 10 years, CIRA has only registered 1.5 million domain names, a paltry number when compared to other ccTLD registries. I believe that the depressed .CA market is directly tied to Canda’s lacklustre performance in Internet commerce. The CFO of Google, who is Canadian, said in February, 2010, that Canada is in danger of missing the digital revolution altogether.

My objective is to help CIRA improve the .CA space by listening and responding to the needs of the public, and to domain name investors in particular. I believe that domain name investors are the chief stakeholders in the registry and are experts in how to build and grow online businesses, and should be recognized as such. Domain names are the “cornerstones” of Internet commerce. By dramatically increasing the prominence and visibility of .CA domain names, they will increase in value, and that is great for Canada’s digital economy. The way to achieve this is primarily, to remove the archaic red tape that binds .CA domain names like ancient mummies.

Many of you know that I have been an advocate for .CA domain name owners for over ten years and that I can be counted on to continue to make sure that the issues that are important to you, get heard, loud and clear at CIRA.

Voting will take place from September 22 to 29, 2010, but in order to vote, you must become a member of CIRA. CIRA membership is open to all .CA domain name owners, and involves a simple application, which is separate from having a CIRA registrant login. A registrant login is not the same as a CIRA membership. You need both.

Please REGISTER TO VOTE NOW BY BECOMING A CIRA MEMBER. You can register to become a CIRA member by clicking here:

https://member.cira.ca/en/member.html

This should take you five minutes, and involves uploading ID, or appointing a guarantor. Uploading the ID is a faster process for CIRA to process. CIRA has been very slow to process memberships, so please do not wait, and register to be a voting member now!

YOU MUST REGISTER ONLINE BY AUGUST 30, 2010 to be eligible to vote!

Members can also Show Support for my candidacy from August 26, 2010 at noon (ET) until 6:00 p.m. I require 20 ‘shows of support’ to be able to run as a candidate for the eventual vote to be held between September 22, to 29, 2010.

For More Information:

CAMAPIGN WEB SITE: http://zak-for-cira.ca

EMAIL: zak@muscovitch.com

IDN Series Questions & Answers

A couple of weeks ago,   Aaron Krawitz and Gary Males wrote three guest posts on my blog about IDN domain names and investing in IDN domain names: Diversify Your Domain Portfolio: How IDNs are Registered in Punycode, Translating Domain Names, and Our Story: Aliasing and Times Square.

I followed these articles up with questions that I have about investing in IDNs, and Aaron and Gary have been kind enough to supply the answers. If you have additional questions, feel free to add them to the comment section, and I am sure they will be answered soon enough.


– What is the best way to monetize IDN domain names, and do you find the RPC to be in the same vicinity as non-IDN domain names?

Buying and flipping IDNs is the fastest way to make the most money off of IDNs, and the same can be said for ASCII/Latin domains.

As for parking, the IDN parking industry is not yet that mature, and as such there is plenty of room for improvement, innovation and increased competition.   But it is a big misconception that parking IDNs isn’t profitable at all.   As previously noted here, depending on the keyword and whether the underlying country is wealthy, there are payouts to be had of $5 to $7 per click.

As such, most people park their IDNs.   Namedrive has particularly good landing pages as they not only serve native language ads but also translate the entire landing page, which includes categories and menu options. There are also many affiliate programs out there that cater to foreign niches but I don’t see them used that often.

– Which will be more valuable the IDN.com or the IDN.ccTLD?

It’s too early to call this one. But the answer no doubt will differ between markets and between ccTLDs.
In some countries, dot com is widely accepted and the ccTLD shunned, in other languages it is the opposite.
The questions is like predicting whether the dynamic will be closer to [English].com vs [English].us or [German].com vs [German].de, and it is too early to tell.
Personally, I have always advocated betting on both horses, and if your bets are hedged you can’t go wrong.

– What’s the best way to sell IDN domain names?

The majority of domainer to domainer sales occur at IDNForums.

I’ve personally been involved in brokering to non-domainer investors as well, which does not differ from selling ASCII/Latin domains.

We launched IDNNewsletter.com to bring some confidence to the process of buying IDNs, as we certify the translation of an IDN by using native speakers we work closely with.

I’m not aware of any mass brokering exercises in contacting native end users, but no doubt it is happening.   I think most people are waiting for awarenes of IDNs to peak.

– Do you know of any domain investors who have successfully developed IDN domain names, and can you share a few examples?

The most public example of a successfully developed IDN is a Thai language domain, you can read an in-depth case study here that explains how this site generated 68 million page views: http://www.idnguru.com/media/IDN_keyword_domain_search_success.pdf

– Is there a website that tracks IDN domain sales, what are the top tier IDN names selling for these days?

We try to manually track the publicly announced IDN sales here.

Of late a lot of top sales have been dominated by German language IDNs, those Germans certainly love their IDNs!

– How much are the best IDN domain names selling for, and are most of the bigger sales end user sales or domainer to domainer?

Whether you’re looking at DNJournal sale prices or emailing the owners of top IDNs, the best names are selling for six figures.   From my experience, the bigger sales are domainer to non-domainer investor. This makes sense in today’s economic climate where there is a lot of money on the sidelines looking for alternative investments (other than stocks or real estate).

– When you receive an inquiry on a IDN domain name in a different language, how do you overcome the language barrier?

It always helps if you have native speaking contacts to assist you of course, but in the absence of that I simply use Google Translate, and I suspect so does the other party.

Tools such as Google Translate are just fine for translating non-English to English paragraphs, and you will more often than not get a clear idea as to what is being said.

I am also often surprised how many non-English speakers can read English decently, but can’t speak or write it.

– What needs to happen to make IDN domain names more of a mainstream investment vehicle?

The short answer is “more traffic”.

The longer solution has always been a 3 part answer.

1) Compatible browsers.   The last mainstream browser (Internet Explorer) became IDN compatible when IE7 released in 2007 – so to a large extent this is a non-issue.

2) IDN.IDN (or full IDN as it’s come to be known). ICANNs efforts on IDNing the part to the right of the dot are moving at high speed, although it should be noted that there are procedural hurdles ahead, and speed is all relative

3) Awareness. The launch of new IDN ccTLDs and the publicity that will be generated locally on the ground should correct this.

– Do domain investors need to rely on domainer to domainer sales to make money with IDN domain names?

In the short term, until the above issues 2 and 3 are resolved, the answer for most people will be yes.

Aaron Krawitz of IDNBlog and Gary Males of IDNDemystified, are guest authors of this IDN series on ElliotsBlog.   Aaron and Gary co-own   IDNDroplist, IDNTools and IDNNewsletter.

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