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Microsoft / Yahoo Deal Increases Value of Generic Domain Names

MicroHooThe Yahoo and Microsoft on-again off-again partnership/buyout discussions have been all over the financial and Internet news for a while, so I don’t need to chronicle those here. Yesterday afternoon, news broke that Yahoo and Microsoft were not only talking once again, but a deal was imminent. This morning it was announced that a deal between the two companies had been completed – finally.

According to Reuters, the upshot of the deal is that Microsoft’s Bing search engine will handle search duties on all Yahoo-owned websites, and Yahoo will be responsible for selling the premium search ads. This means that Bing will now be the search engine for nearly 30% of all searches, up from 8% in June according to a report from Comscore. This is big news for owners of generic domain names.

A few weeks ago, I posted an article stating that Microsoft’s Bing search engine seems to love developed generic domain names. I listed a small sample of search results for generic domain names on Google and on Bing, and they clearly ranked much better on Bing. While I was doing my small sample, noted domain investor Edwin Hayward was doing the same comparison with similar results, and the white paper he wrote shares his results.I didn’t report Yahoo’s search results, but they were somewhere between Bing and Google for the most part.

This is very good news for domain investors, because it means if a company has a generic domain name, it should rank higher for almost 30% of web searches rather than just 8%, making these domain names more desired and valuable. I won’t speculate about what will happen with PPC payouts because domain parking is a very small % of 1% of my total revenue, so I will let other experts provide commentary on that side of things.

I believe this is good news for owners of generic domain names.

Relevant Expired Domain Names

When you have a developed website and are looking for ways to grow your traffic and rankings, redirecting (via 301 redirect) related, expired domain names is a good way to do it. On Lowell.com, I had a difficult time getting inbound links from the city websites and local organizations, as many of them work closely with the city of Lowell. I get frequent compliments and submitted press releases from many of them, so I know they like the site, but getting returned links has been a difficult task.

Needless to say, there are many small organizations and/or Festivals in the city. Some of the Festival organizers have websites that for whatever reason have been neglected. On occasion, they even let these domain names expire, which isn’t a surprise since these have generally not been updated in a while. Oftentimes, these websites have links from businesses, cultural organizations, and government websites in the area (not all .gov though). Most are links without anchor text, so the SEO value is very little, but that isn’t entirely the point.

Instead of letting someone else grab them and park them for the small amount of traffic they receive, I bought a couple and forwarded them to the correct event pages on my website, which contains information about the event history and dates. If/when people type these domain names-in or click on a link, they will get the information they looked to find. Most visitors probably won’t even notice the difference because they simply wanted to learn about the event, and that’s what I am doing. An example was a recent ethnic Festival, and I received about 20 visits from one website that had a link to the old site.

Ironically, the minor league hockey team operates on LowellDevilsHockey.com and LowellDevils.com dropped very recently. I was debating whether to buy it or not and opted against it. I informed all of the executives about the pending drop auction, and their marketing person told me they don’t need the domain name. I opted not to buy this one, as I didn’t want to have to deal with a professional sports organization asking why I own this name, while not understanding how I ended up with it.

The key is to pick and choose which names are worth buying and which could be infringing. Most of the Festivals have generic names, and if the Festival founders ever want the names back, I am more than happy to oblige. However, the hockey team name wasn’t close to being generic in my opinion and wasn’t worth any type of legal trouble. There’s a fine line between being helpful and being harmful, and I didn’t want to be perceived as being harmful.

If you operate websites, you can find expiring domain names that might help build awareness of your site and perhaps even add some SEO value. I want to give a tip of the hat to a friend who is a great SEO for this advice a while ago.

The Domain Name Matters for SEO

I read Rick’s Blog this morning about search engine optimization specialists and spammers, and I agree that there is a lot of crap out there. I also know there are a lot of smart people who do this for a profession or a hobby, and a number of people helped me out when requested (THANKS!!).

One thing I took away from Rick’s article is that a company’s domain name is very important for SEO. Rick said, “Want the best SEO guy? Do a damn Google search!” He proceeded to search for the best SEO guy, and guess what returned #1? A listing for Mic Tienken, whose website resides on www.bestseoguyintheworld.com – a domain name with the keywords Rick searched.

Personally, I am less colloquial when I search, and I wanted to find the best SEO company. Guess who came back with the number one result… SEO Image, with a website not residing on SEOImage.com, but a website on www.bestseocompany.com, the exact search phrase I used.

If you want to improve your SEO rankings and do good SEO, it’s as easy as analyzing the obvious things on the professionals’ websites, and clearly the domain name matters for search engine optimization.

SEO Advice Requested

I don’t generally ask for much from my blog readers other than feedback and commentary on blog posts I write about domain names, but I would like to ask a favor of readers who are SEO experts/professionals. Regarding ElliotsBlog.com, are there any things that I can and should be doing to improve my current search ranking that I am not doing right now? Are there obvious mistakes that I am making that should be corrected ASAP? I know that nobody is ever satisfied with their SERP rankings, and I am in the same boat, but I would like to fix it if possible.

Traffic is about as high as it’s ever been, and it seems that my daily traffic continues to produce higher highs every month. My blog’s page rank continues to be strong, and I have quite a bit of inlinks that reference popular articles. My blog’s Alexa ranking seems to be increasing every month as well. Much of my traffic comes from blog readers, domain news aggregators (Domaining.com, NameBee.com and Altop.com).

So what do I do to enhance my SEO right now? First thing is that I use the All in One SEO plugin to quickly use good SEO for my blog posts. I   limited the number of links in my blogroll, which had dozens and dozens of links last year. I also moved many outbound links to the Resources page with “no follow” commands. I sent notices to sites that had been copying my content, and almost all dupe content from scrapers has been removed. Finally, I write unique content on my blog daily.

There are two primary things that leave me a bit unsatisfied with my SEO:

1) Only 19% of my traffic is from search engines. This is compared to my developed websites which see anywhere from 50-90% of the traffic from search engines. These stats are for sites that get anywhere from 250 – 600 visits per day on average, so it’s not really an anomoly. I would like that number to be closer to 40%, which I think is reasonable considering that I have over 1,000 unique posts in 2+ years.

2) I had site links a few months ago when you searched Google for “Elliot Silver” and “Elliot’s Blog”, but I don’t have them any longer. One thing which may have impacted is that I changed the user name from Admin to “Elliot Silver” and when I did that, I saw that Google searches for “Elliot Silver” showed my blog #1 but the meta description ended up changing to my latest post rather than the standard meta description I now have. As a result, I changed the user name to “Elliot,” although I don’t know if that impacted the site links.

One other issue to note is that several months ago – maybe over a year ago in fact – I changed the url structure to eliminate the date. Many of my previous posts lost ranking and page rank in Google, but they should be forwarding to the correct page. In fact, I use Dean’s Permalinks Migration to help with that.

Because traffic is much higher this year over last year, and it is steady or growing, I haven’t worried too much about my SEO issues. However, I know there are a number of SEO professionals who read my blog for domaining tips, so I would like to ask for some feedback about how I can take advantage of additional search engine traffic.

THANKS!

Great Search Engine Resource

One of the better search engine resources I’ve found is the YouTube channel of Matt Cutts, a Google employee who shares a ton of great knowledge about the way Google ranks websites. Matt gives in depth answers to a number of user submitted questions – many of which I have personally had over the past couple of years.

In addition to this, you should also be familiar with Google’s SEO Guidelines as well. This free pdf has a ton of information about SEO, which is perfect for someone who is beginning to develop websites.

There are a lot of great SEO resources out there, but you should at least come to the table with basic knowledge which can be gotten via these two free resources.

SEO Contest on Net Builders | Sulumits Retsambew

1

Calling all SEO Experts!   One of my readers sent me a link to a neat SEO contest being held on Net Builders. The objective is to get a website ranked in the top three of Google’s organic SERPs for the targeted keywords, which will be announced on the site tomorrow (March 15).

Not only is this a good opportunity for a great SEO professional to win some prize money, it will also allow others to see what types of things go into getting a website highly ranked in Google. Additionally, it will presumably lead to new business for the winners.   It’s a cool idea all around.

The keywords that were selected were sulumits retsambew, which is “webmaster stimulus” spelled backwards. 🙂

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