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2008 TRAFFIC Award Nominees

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Howard Neu emailed me a list of the 2008 TRAFFIC Award nominees. The winners will be announced at next month’s TRAFFIC show in New York City. To vote, drop Howard an email (trafficawards @ earthlink.net). These are some of the leading individuals and companies, and a hearty congratulations to them all, many of which are close friends.
SPONSOR OF THE YEAR
SKENZO
CASALE MEDIA
TRAFFIC Z
PARKED
SEDO
HITFARM
DOMAINER OF THE YEAR
DEREK GIORDANO
RICK LATONA
DR. CHRIS HARTNETT
RICK SCHWARTZ (Declined)
MIKE BERKENS
ROB GRANT
LONNIE BORCK
BEST OVERALL DOMAIN SOLUTION
FABULOUS
DNZOOM
MONIKER
NAME MEDIA
PARKED
SKENZO
DOMAIN HALL OF FAME (Vote for 2)
MICHAEL BERKENS
DR. CHRIS HARTNETT
ROB GRANT
LARRY FISCHER
SCOTT DAY
YUN YE
PAGE HOWE
BEST NEW MONETIZING SOLUTION
PARKED
SENDORI
ADBRITE.COM
EVOLANDING.COM
HITFARM
THE “WE GET IT” AWARD
JOHNSON & JOHNSON
APPLE for ME.COM
FORECLOSURE.COM
CNN

BEST DEVELOPER OF THE YEAR

JESSICA BOOKSTAFF
WHY PARK
RECALL MEDIA
KEVIN HAM
RICK LATONA

Caught the Domain Fever

As most people in the domain industry know, as soon as you tell friends what you do, most immediately start naming names asking if they’re available. Sometimes this lasts for just a few minutes, sometimes a few days, and sometimes the friend decides he wants to get started in the business. I’ve know of a number of people who heard about the domain industry and “caught the bug.”
A good friend of mine in the finance industry has been trying to cut his teeth in the domain industry. I’ve been giving him pointers along the way, and I think he was able to buy a few good names along the way. Since my opinion might be a bit biased, I would like others to let me know what you think of some of his domain names:
SweetAndSweaty.com
YenInvestments.com
CanandianDollarInvesting.com
CanadianDollarInvestment.com
ChocolateTaco.com
LeverageInvestment.com
MarginInvestment.com
MarginInvesting.com
PimpMyFinger.com
PesoInvesting.com
PoundInvesting.com
USDollarInvesting.com
USDollarInvestment.com
So do you think my friend registered some decent names, or should he stick to his day job?

DNN Acquires DNN.com

Domain Name News just announced the acquisition of DNN.com, which will be their new home. This is a smart and ballsy acquisition, as DNN.com is not only a great domain name for them, but it also happens to be a tremendous domain name in general that must have cost them a small fortune. It’s great to see leading domain investors thinking like smart domain investors.
While it may sound a bit far fetched, I believe this acquisition could help bring more coverage to the domain industry. Brilliant move!

What Comes First, SEO or Site Development?

This might be a dilemma faced by other domain owners/developers, but I always seem to have an issue with my search engine optimization once my websites are developed. When I consult with friends who do SEO, most give some very good tips, but it can be quite an exasperating amount of work – especially after a site is launched. So, my question is, how do you prioritize your SEO while developing your website?
Much like you can’t expect your web designer to be a master coder/programmer and visa versa, you can’t expect your web developer to be a master of SEO. As a result, there may be some major issues related to the SEO that would require huge back-end changes, which is something a domain owner/developer doesn’t want to hear after a site is launched. When major issues come up, there is a whole lot of redesign that might need to be done, costing a great sum of money. That said, how do you overcome these issues?
Take TropicalBirds.com for example. The site averaged less than 1 visit per day before launch. A couple weeks after launching, it was receiving over 100 uniques per day, with the majority of the traffic coming from Google. People were finding the site via searches for tropical birds and other long tail keywords – just as I anticipated. In fact, only the home page is indexed in Yahoo – and the site has been live for close to 2 months! The RPC is very low, but it was a neat topic and the site is making more money than before.
For some reason (probably natural occurrence), after a month and a half, the site dropped from #4 to #20 for the term “tropical birds” in Google. Traffic has been down, and I can’t really figure things out. I have in links from bird breeders, although I do have dupe content on the bird breeder and bird veterinarian pages. I started a forum, although I am currently blocking the Googlebot from seeing it because there isn’t a ton of content, and the free forum software would probably be considered duplicate content.
Anyway, long story short. The site has been launched after a considerable amount of time and effort. I want to help grow the site, but I don’t know how to tackle it via SEO. I know that in links are important, but those are very difficult to gather. In general terms, how does one go about building a good looking, informational, structurally sound website that also utilizes great SEO techniques? How much can someone expect to spend to on improving the SEO for a completed site like TropicalBirds.com?

Domain Sale to an End User

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End user sales, that is sales to people or companies who plan to use the domain name to enhance their businesses, can be the most profitable (and satisfying) domain sales.   Since most domain owners monetize their domain names using methods that are financed by advertisers, these advertisers may prefer to outlay a lump sum to acquire the referring domain name rather than paying per click daily. I recently sold a domain name to a company that intends to use it for their corporate website, and I wanted to share how I went about selling it and provide other tips to people who might wish to sell a domain name to an end user.
The first thing I did was a Google search for the term that made up the domain name.   While most of the paying advertisers were large companies, I opted to contact several companies who had organic positions in the results page, but were fairly low.   In my experience, most companies who have decent rankings (but still lower than top 10) would like to do what they can to improve their rankings, and they have the knowledge to do this.   Having a top 5 ranking can boost traffic tremendously, as I have seen with my own websites, and many of these companies need just a bit of an edge to get there.
I figured that most of the small companies I contacted had some good inbound links to achieve the decent ranking, but many of their current domain names were poor. With some redirecting of the old domain to the new one I wanted to sell them, rankings could be lifted due to a more relevant domain name.   I didn’t mention this in my pitch, as it isn’t a guarantee that this would happen, but at the very least, customer awareness of the new domain name would be impacted.
The reason I reached out to the SMB audience (small to medium sized businesses) is that there is less hierarchy involved in decision making.   Previously, I contacted a fairly large company for the domain name, and the mid-level manager told me the name was fantastic and the price was good, but he would still have to get authorization of the CEO for the expenditure.   Well, it’s been over a month and I still haven’t heard back.   SMBs tend to make decisions quickly, which is something I like, and there isn’t a whole lot of red tape to cut a check or send a wire.
In my email to the businesses, I told them that I own the domain name for their field, and I wanted to sell it since I don’t have plans to develop the name. I mentioned that I thought the domain name would be perfect for their company, and I listed the sales price. My pitch was quick, as I have found that if you need to extensively explain why a domain name has value, it is very difficult to convince someone to spend the money on it.   The company either gets it or doesn’t, and if they don’t get it, their competitor will.   Companies that do get it, will end up getting it – if you know what I mean.
I quickly received a response from one SMB and after a short conversation it was a done deal.   There was a bit of negotiating on the price, but we worked out a fair deal. I’ve found that it’s easier to negotiate a better price than have to spend more time pitching the name to other people.   The fact that my opening price was reasonable was also something of note, as a SMB isn’t usually going to blow through their marketing budget (if they even have one) on a domain name that was pitched to them out of the blue.
There are a few things to keep in mind when contacting end users.   Sometimes they don’t like that a person outside of their industry owns a domain name from their industry. Some don’t understand that it is a free market and that you have just as much right to the domain name as anyone else.   There really isn’t much of a reason to engage in a pissing contest over this issue.   I have never dealt with this although I know of people who have, but if the potential buyer isn’t receptive, there is no reason to continue the conversation.
Also, don’t ever pitch a potential trademark infringing domain name to a company. I’ve seen many UDRP decisions which cite the owner’s contacting the business as a sign of bad faith.   Unless you plan to give the domain name to the company for free, do not do this.   Do not contact a company’s competitor either. Even acronyms (3 & 4 letter .com names) aren’t immune to UDRP or other legal troubles.
After writing this in my head at the gym this morning, I saw that Rob Sequin also posted a guide to end user sales.   I think there are some very good suggestions there, and I urge you to check his site out when you get a chance.
Incidentally, pitching a domain name to an end user is far different than negotiating with an end user who has approached you. When someone approaches you to buy a domain name you may or may not want to sell, you are in the driver’s seat.   IMO, someone with experience negotiating end user sales should build a business around their skill.   If you receive an inquiry from a potential buyer, the negotiation company would take over for you and would close the deal.

Yahoo and Intel to Bring Widgets to Television

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.

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