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Where The Money Is

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Picture 1The real money with web development (when you aren’t selling a product or service) is in direct relationship deals with advertisers. Instead of having to hope for clicks with Adsense or a parked page, you can work with someone to build a website, add space for 5-6 advertisers, charge a fair rate for top placement, and blow your PPC earnings away.

Depending on the industry and traffic, a fair rate can be anywhere from under $100 a month to thousands of dollars per month. If you have a great generic domain name, chances are good that if you add relevant, interesting, and useful content that visitors will want to see, advertisers will want to capture the attention of those visitors. Also, if you have a great industry defining domain name, you better believe people in that industry will listen when you tell them who you are. This sounds oversimplified, but I hope the information below will be helpful.

My advice is for you to find the best possible domain name that you can afford in an industry you are passionate about. Search for domain names for sale at companies like BuyDomains and Sedo, and also make direct inquiries using the Whois database. Just keep in mind that when you are trying to buy a domain name in private, make sure you make a good offer, or it will be a non-starter.

Once you have your domain name, write up a small business plan with details about how you plan to build and monetize it. I personally recommend using WordPress, which is easy to maintain, gets lots of Google search love, has considerable development support, and there are plenty of people that can help you manage your blog. With WordPress, you can visually set it up in any way you’d like, and you can add many plugins and widgets to enhance your site. You can also purchase fairly inexpensive templates, so much of the hard work is already done.

After the look and feel of your website is created, it’s time to start discussing what you like and know about that particular industry. Write interesting posts and articles about the “buzz word” topics, helping to share what you know with others. Since you are an afficianado of that industry, you probably know the most popular blogs and forums already, so begin letting people know about your website – but don’t ask for links. One thing that annoys people is when you ask for a link back without a reason for them to give it. Don’t be annoying when you post in the forum, but if you really like that industry, this should be obvious.

Sign up for news aggregation sites that are specific to the industry (like Domaining.com is to ours). You will also want to submit your site to the major search engines, and you may want to submit it to the Yahoo Directory, which costs about $299/year – this should help with SEO. Later on, you will want to submit your site to DMOZ, but don’t do that until your site is fairly established. Some people think you should sign up for a search engine submission service, but others say it’s a BS waste of money. I really don’t know so I can’t give you advice on this.

By doing what I’ve mentioned above, you will begin to get traffic – both naturally (via type-in and links) and via organic search. The companies who make the products or sell services to people like you will hopefully begin to notice your website, and you should start looking to find the contacts who manage marketing or advertising. Use company directories, search engines, or attend tradeshows to find these people, and let them know who you are and what your site is. One way to do this is to request an interview with people within the company – not only to provide interesting content, but to make them more aware of your existence. When they know your domain name, website, and traffic, they should want to advertise – or recommend their affiliate program, which can be even more lucrative.

I know all of this sounds time consuming – it is. However, you will end up with a website about a topic you enjoy, and not only will you have increased the value of your domain name, but you should also have a good opportunity to sign on direct advertisers, which is lucrative, since you are able to cut out the middle man. There really is no easy magic way to make a lot of money online – except by the people who sell the books about making a lot of money online 🙂 You will need to put the time in, but it will pay off.

Research Domain Names Before You Buy

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The way a domain was used in the past could potentially impact a domain owner, so researching any potential domain acquisition is important. Not only could prior usage put a domain owner at risk of losing his domain name due to a UDRP, but there could also be untold legal risk when acquiring a domain name, and also issues with it appearing in search engines.   All of these potential problems can cause much financial turmoil as well as take time to remedy and reconcile.
The first and probably the most obvious concern is prior TM infringement with a domain name that may have multiple meanings. If a domain name was previously parked, and the PPC links infringed on another company’s mark(s) where the domain name is also confusingly similar to that company’s marks, the company may have a legitimate complaint. If a new domain owner takes possession of the domain name, it doesn’t negate the issues that existed before. The complainant could cite prior use of the domain name, and the new owner’s claim of non-responsibility probably wouldn’t fly.   I think this is especially so in the case of three letter .com domain names, where there may be many companies whose trademarks could be infringed upon.
If a domain name was involved in spam or phishing emails, the new owner may be held accountable.   I am not an attorney, so I am not going to say what liability may exist, but from a public relations perspective, it could be detrimental. People may have posted their spam/phishing messages in forums or other websites, all linking back to the domain name. If the domain name gets developed into a website, it might be tough to be legitimized if enough questions were raised – forever linked in Google search results.
In addition to these issues, there are also spam blacklists that exist. If a domain name is put on the list, many mail servers may not accept incoming mail from certain domain names. While that may not be important for mini-sites or for parked domain names, if a business is built on that domain name, email access will be critical. A company may be able to appeal to the blacklists (like Spamhaus), but I don’t know how to handle that.
If a domain name was previously parked or if there were other major problems with it, Google and Yahoo may have banished the name from their listings. Upon changing ownership and/or building a new website on the domain name, it might not even appear in Google or Yahoo because of the domain name’s past history. There is a way to remedy this however, by filing a reconsideration request with Google or asking Yahoo to re-review the website. Neither of these will guarantee that your site will appear, but it’s a good start.
Research is key when buying a domain name. Archive.org offers a great tool to see what the website looked like at various points in time, allowing you to see the history of the site.   Domaintools also offers many valuable research tools to see the ownership history, blacklist history, screenshots, and some other useful tools. While you may think you are buying a domain name with a clean history – or one whose history will be cleared when you buy it, but it reality, it’s always buyer be ware.

Yahoo's Confusing Issue With Tropical Birds.com

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Although TropicalBirds.com has been doing well on Google for some long tail keywords, and it continues to grow daily, only the home page shows up in Yahoo. When I inquired about the issue with Yahoo, I filled out a form asking if there’s an issue, and I received a canned response that may provide some information:

Q: What are some of the common reasons that a site may violate Yahoo!’s Content Policy Guidelines?
A: Yahoo!’s Content Quality Guidelines (link above) outline what we are and are not looking for in pages that we index. Listed below are some of the more common reasons that a site may violate these guidelines:
– Cloaking (showing crawlers deceptive content about a site)
– Massive domain interlinking- Use of affiliate programs without the addition of substantial unique content
– Use of reciprocal link programs (aka “link farms”)
– Hidden text
– Excessive keyword repetition

Since I am not a technical person, I don’t know what half the stuff is, nor would I know how to do it. Can anyone have a look at TropicalBirds.com and let me know what they think might be the problem? I haven’t signed up for any linking programs, I don’t have hidden text, my metas and the site aren’t filled with extensive keywords (to my knowledge), and all of the content is 100% unique – created by a writer who researched the topics for me.
I would really appreciate it if someone could provide some feedback, as the canned answer doesn’t help me at all.
THANKS!!

Google Implements Auto Fill in Safari

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Google just rolled out with auto-fill in the Safari browser, following in the footsteps of Yahoo. When you enter a search term into Google, it makes suggestions to complete your search for you. This could be detrimental to domain owners, as people frequently type in the actual destination domain name into their search engine query, but with Google’s suggestions (which don’t include domain names), it may be less likely that people will continue their search entry.
As I posted in February, Google was testing this on other country sites, such as Google Korea.

Yahoo and Intel to Bring Widgets to Television

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Here are two excerpts from a hot off the press news bulletin in the Atlanta Business Chronicle:

Intel Corp. and Yahoo Inc. on Wednesday announced plans for the Widget Channel, a television application framework optimized for TV and related consumer electronics devices.

and furthermore…

Yahoo-branded TV widgets “will enable consumers to engage in a variety of experiences such as watching videos, tracking their favorite stocks or sports teams, interacting with friends, or staying current on news and information,” the companies said.

Just a few months ago, Widgets.com was listed for sale by Rick Schwartz on Ebay. If Yahoo employed forward thinking like Rick Schwartz, they would own the perfect domain right now. Well, I guess if Yahoo really thought like that, they would be owned by Microsoft now, but that’s another story.
Now, with dropping PPC payouts, Rick has begun to develop Widgets.com. While Widgets.com certainly wouldn’t have come cheap months ago, the value of this great generic domain name continues to climb.

Yahoo! and CADNA

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In a press release dated July 24, 2007, CADNA announced the launch of “its national campaign against Internet fraud.” The press release also publicized that “CADNA’s membership includes such leading brands as AIG, Dell, Eli Lilly, Hilton, HSBC, Marriott, Richemont, Verizon, Wyndham, and Yahoo!.”
More recently, when CADNA announced it’s support of the proposed Snowe legislation (S. 2661) called the Anti-Phishing Consumer Protection Act in a February 26, 2008 press release, they stated that its membership includes “American International Group, Inc.; Bacardi & Company Limited; Compagnie Financière Richemont SA; Dell Inc.; Eli Lilly and Company; Hilton Hotels Corporation; HSBC Holdings plc; Marriott International, Inc.; Verizon Communications Inc.; and Wyndham Worldwide Corporation.
Strangely enough, Yahoo! is no longer listed as a member of CADNA. Interesting. Did Yahoo! decide they were no longer interested in fighting Internet fraud? I am sure that’s not the case. Why then is Yahoo! no longer a member of CADNA (or at least a publicized member)?

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