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End of Year Checklist: Close Out Your Record Books

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Now is the time to make sure your record books are in order to help save you time during tax season. Take some time to organize your records, to make sure you have all of your sales, purchases, expenses, and donations are recorded and in order. Oftentimes people pull their hair out in the days and weeks preceding April 15th, trying to remember specific transactions. This can be avoided by going over your books now and putting everything in order.

It could also be helpful if you set up your record books for 2008 so you can start off the new year on the right foot. You probably don’t need any special software to keep your records straight. A simple Excel workbook can help you stay organized. If you are organized, it will pay dividends during the next tax year, as you and/or your accountant will be able to make a guesstimate on your taxable income throughout the year, which can help you make intelligent decisions to offset your taxable income instead of the typical rushed decisions at the end of the year (like now).

It’s getting down to the wire, but SEO guru Aaron Wall provided some good year end tax tips to help save some money at tax time.

Reputation Killer – Backing Out of a Domain Deal

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Want to know one of the quickest ways to destroy your reputation? Back out of a domain deal, and you can be sure that people will think twice before doing business with you ever again. This is a small industry and word gets around very quickly. People want to do business with trustworthy people, and if you violate this trust, people won’t want to do business with you. Whether you deal with premium generics, trademarks, typos…etc – it doesn’t matter – nobody wants to do business with someone that is dishonest.

In the past few weeks on various domain forums, I have seen a number of cases where people backed out of deals after an email agreement was made. A couple even started escrow transactions but backed out because a better offer was received in the meantime. I think this is VERY shortsighted. Perhaps the seller made a few hundred dollars more on a particular transaction, but it is doubtful many people will ever do business with that person again. I had this experience once, and I won’t do business with the seller again.

As I said before, “honesty and trust is the most important thing” in the domain investment business. If an acquaintance or friend tells me about someone who backed out of a deal, I wouldn’t do business with that person. It’s not worth taking a chance that something will happen in between agreeing to terms and the domain name being transfered.

The one caveat to this is in the event a trademark claim is made on the domain name. One unwritten rule of the business is that you never sell a domain name while any potential legal issue is pending. In that case, and only in that case, is it permissible to back out of a deal – and only after explaining the situation.

Whether a contract is legally valid if its made via email doesn’t really matter for the purpose of this post. I am strictly speaking from an ethical point of view. If you happen to be someone that is contemplating backing out of a deal (or maybe recently backed out of a deal), I would strongly suggest you reconsider. This is a mistake that is made only once in this business. Usually the first time is the last and only time.

Domain Security Alert

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I found a link to David Airey’s blog on a forum and I think it’s important to read this. Had his registrar enabled a security key fob system, this theft could have been prevented. It’s scary to know that email accounts can be hacked, but its even scarier to know that if it happens, all of your domain names could be vulnerable.

Consumers can purchase insurance policies in the event valuables are stolen, but due to the nature of domain names, I don’t think coverage for theft events exist. Sure, a domain investor can fight to get his names back using the court system, but that is costly and takes a great deal of time. Valuable SEO rankings can be lost in the time a website is down, costing a business thousands of dollars in losses.

I think its about time a registrar makes domain name security impenetrable from outside theft.   As far as I am concerned, the best way to do it is using a security key fob. When will a registrar take action and make domain theft a thing of the past?

Domain Sales/Steals of The Week

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I don’t usually spend much time pining over recent sales, but I think there were two great buys listed in the DNJournal.com sales report this past week, both of which took place on GreatDomains. I think Our.com selling for $60,000 was a great price. I know what I said about 3 letter .com names, but this is a great 3 letter, one word name. As I said, there are some names that are worth every penny, and this is one of them.

In my opinion, the biggest steal was FatTuesday.com, which sold for just $16,500. This is the perfect domain name for a website about New Orleans and Mardi Gras. There is also a famous bar with locations throughout the east coast called Fat Tuesday, and they own the domain name Fat-Tuesday.com. They serve some pretty good mixed drinks like the “190 Octane” and “Hurricane.” I’ve been to a few Fat Tuesday bars, and its always Mardi Gras when you’re there! The buyer got a great deal on this one.

End of Year Checklist: Optimize Parked Domain Names

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Lately, have you checked to make sure all of your parked domain names are optimized for the proper keywords and images? While the year is winding down and things are slowing down, now might be a great time to make sure that all of your domain names are resolving the way you want them to resolve, and that the PPC links (if applicable) are targeted to your domain name. A domain name receiving targeted traffic is great, but converting that traffic is what’s important, and you can’t convert the traffic unless you are displaying relevant advertising links.

I spent a bit of time doing this yesterday, and I was surprised at the results. In March, I registered the domain name MountedHeads.com after watching a show related to hunting. Don’t ask me why I was watching it because I have no idea. Nevertheless, this name receives minimal traffic, but it has made much more than the registration fee over the past 9 months. Because of that, I figured it was already optimized.

Well, it wasn’t exactly optimized. When I tested it, there were a couple of relevant links, but four of the six were somewhat unrelated. I researched the stats from the past 8 months, and almost all of the clicks were related to hunting and mounting animal heads (taxidermy). I changed the keyword term to “mounted animal heads,” and now the links are almost all targeted. I also changed the images, as only one of the three were related to hunting.

My recommendation is for you to spend a couple of hours over each of the next few days looking through your names that receive traffic to test the keyword optimization. Even if they are making money, you might be leaving some money on the table by not fully optimizing your domain names. Intuitive programs that automatically optimize your names can be good and save time, but sometimes the human touch is needed, too.

End of Year Checklist: Renew your Domain Names

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With the final days of 2007 upon us, now might be a good time to review your portfolios to ensure your domain names have ample time before expiring. Many of us ignore the renewal emails that start filling our inbox with 90 days to go, figuring we will renew them with a few days to spare. Instead of doing that, I am going to log in and make sure that all of my premium domain names have at least a year before expiring so I don’t run in to trouble.

One reason expired domain name auction services are in business is due to the fact that some people don’t renew their domain names. I presume many cases are accidental non-renewals, which can be due to a multitude of reasons. Perhaps you changed your email address over the past year. Maybe your spam filter is preventing the renewal emails from reaching your inbox. Whatever the case may be, you should manually check the expiration of your domain names now to avoid any surprises.

Heck, maybe you can even count the renewals as a business expense against your 2007 profits (consult with a tax expert or purchase the Domain Tax Guide to see).

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