Archive for September, 2007

Blogging and SEO

Wednesday, September 19th, 2007

Chris BaggottI just talked to Chris Baggott, co-founder of ExactTarget, about Compendium Software, his new company that has a product focused on “organizational blogging.” From his description, the tool is pretty slick and a potential power-tool for the enterprise, but I was most impressed with the SEO benefits in Google’s organic search results. To demonstrate, Chris suggested that I use Google search and type in the phrase “Blogging Best Practices.” His company was listed #11, on page 2 of the search results.  Then he had me search for “Easy to use Blogging Software” – it was the #2 listing, page 1 in organic results. This is all done by the company’s technology and a process that he calls “compending.” A blog tool that has the power to impact search results in this way is going to make some noise. There’s an interview with Chris on Inside Indiana Business where you can hear him talk about his company and its technology.

Some interesting facts about domain names

Wednesday, September 19th, 2007

·         Every two- and three-character .com domain has been registered – There are more than 50,000 possible combinations of 2- and 3-letter .com domains if you include the alphabet, numbers and symbols. And every single one of them has already been registered. You could buy a three-letter domain at auction – but prepare to pay top dollar. With luck, maybe you’ll find your company’s acronym. Bid on three-letter .com domains at Zestydomains.com, where they remind you, “Minimum offers of $x,xxx please.” 

·         Every domain with all a’s from a.com to 63 a’s .com has been registered – This fact comes from Edwin Hayward from the Internet Goldrush domain name guide, who says, “I have no idea who would want them, but every .com domain from 1 to 63 characters long, consisting entirely of the letter ‘a,’ has been registered.” Edwin, I agree. By the way, this interesting fact means that aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa.com is no longer available. Sorry.

·         The oldest .com domains are probably not what you would have guessed they would be – A full list of the 100 oldest .com domains reveals some surprises. For instance, I would not have expected vortex.com (no. 30), octopus.com (no. 42), tandy.com (no. 50), datacube.com (no. 68) or toad.com (no. 84) to break 100. Sex.com did not make the list. The first domain was registered on March 15, 1985. And it took 2 years, 8 months and 15 days for the first 100 domain names to be registered. The first 10 registered domains are listed here:

1. March 15, 1985 – SYMBOLICS.COM
2. April 24, 1985 – BBN.COM
3.
May 24, 1985 – THINK.COM
4.
July 11, 1985 – MCC.COM
5. September 30, 1985 – DEC.COM
6. November 7, 1985 – NORTHROP.COM
7. January 9, 1986 – XEROX.COM
8. January 17, 1986 – SRI.COM
9. March 3, 1986 – HP.COM
10. March 5, 1986 – BELLCORE.COM

·         The most common letter to begin a domain name is “s” – The letter “s” is far and away the most popular starting letter for a domain name. Relatively few domains start with Q, X, Y or Z. Dennis Forbes includes a number of other interesting statistics on domain names in his Interesting Facts About Domain Name article, including information on the length of domain names and suffixed domain names. 

·         The longest domain name is… http://www.thelongestlistofthelongeststuffatthelongestdomainnameatlonglast.com/ (at least that’s what they claim!) 63-characters is the maximum length for domain names (not including http://www or the top-level domain .com .net, etc.) – so there are others that tie the domain name listed here for longest domain. You can have longer domain names if you count the top-level domain – for example, http://www.llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogochuchaf.org.uk. (This word is not nonsense, but supposedly the name of an actual village in the Isle of Anglesey, North Wales.)  

·         The shortest domain name is…  It’s a tie. The shortest domain names are three letters long, and are available only for the shortest top-level domains – so .com domains, for example, wouldn’t qualify. This leaves only top-level domains that have country codes that are 2 letters. Dirk Loss provides a helpful analysis of the shortest domain names – a list of his favorites are included, some of which are c.cc, m.tv, e.tc, s.ki and b.mp.  

·         Most frequently misspelled domain names – I didn’t actually find this fact. But I did come across Yahoo’s list of the most commonly misspelled search terms.  

~ Today’s view: http://www.flickr.com/photos/13799608@N08/1407210597/

How to get the domain name you want

Tuesday, September 18th, 2007

 

The basics of domain name registration are relatively straightforward. You contact a domain name registrar (my favorite is GoDaddy.com) and you do a search to see if your domain name is GoDaddy logoavailable. If it is, you pay a small fee (anywhere from $8-$25, depending on the registrar), fill out a form and it’s done, you own the domain.

But things rarely go that simply. First of all, it’s difficult to find the domain that you want. There are currently millions of domain names that have already been registered, and there is a vibrant community of domain name speculators who are also bidding on domain names, so the pool of available names is shrinking. But there are some strategies that you can use to give yourself a better chance of getting the domain name you’re after.

If the domain name is available, buy it immediately
About a year ago, I found  a really good domain name in one of my searches, made a note about going back the next day to buy it, but when I went to make the purchase, I found out that it had already been registered and was now unavailable. This experience is not uncommon and it is happening because
someone is monitoring domain name searches. The way to avoid it is to do your brainstorming ahead of time and be prepared to buy when you find a name that is available. If you’re not sure if you want a domain name but you find out it is available, buy it anyway unless you are OK with losing it completely.

Set up an account with SnapNames so that you can bid on the domain name when it becomes available
SnapNames is a service that lets you “back order” a currently registered domain name. The idea behind this service is that when a domain name expires the expired domain name goes back on the market for anyone who wants it to buy. But, without a service like SnapNames, it would be difficult to monitor the domains SnapNames logothat you want, and depending on the demand for that domain, very difficult to get the domain at all. According to the SnapNames Web site, “about 25% of currently registered domain names–now an installed base of more than 100 million names worldwide–expire and delete each year.” This is a big pool of names that you will have access to by using this service or one like it.

Buy a domain name from a speculator or the current owner
Buying a high-price domain might not seem like an attractive option when you can buy a domain name for $8 from a registrar, but sometimes paying a little (or even a lot) more is worth the investment. There are many Web sites that offer domain names for sale at inflated prices – theoretically the price climbs the more valuable the domain. These sites include
GreatDomains or Afternic, where, for example, today you could purchase cancerfree.com for $20,000 and where figurine.com just sold for $10,100. These prices may seem high, but even one of the most notoriously expensive domain names – Business.com – which sold in late 1999 for $7.5 million, was bought in July 2007 by R.H. Donnelley Corp. for between $340 million and $360 million. The current purchase price includes the fully developed Business.com directory business, of course, but it does underscore the ability to build a huge business around a simple multi-million-dollar domain name.

Another option if you want to find out who owns a domain name is to do a WHOIS look up. Typically if there is any chance that you’ll be able to buy the domain from the owner, their contact information will be included in the record, and you can contact them directly and try to work out a deal.

~Today’s view: http://www.flickr.com/photos/13799608@N08/1403041697/

The difficulty of finding a good domain name

Monday, September 17th, 2007

It wasn’t long ago that registering a domain name was relatively easy. In 2002, I helped found a start-up company that built a network of B2B Web sites focused on niche IT topics. At the time, we registered approximately 100 domain names with the letters “IQ” at the end – GraphicsIQ, DocumentIQ, etc. – and it was a straightforward process to buy and compile the entire network of domain names. Very rarely would I do a DNS lookup and find that one of the domains was not available.

Things have changed. I’m in the process of launching another new company, and in trying to name the different pieces (the company, my blog) it’s been difficult to find domain names to match. MSNBC has an article that provides some good background on why the current domain name market is so tough for someone who wants to register a domain name. For instance, at the end of first quarter 2007, at least 128 million domain names had been registered worldwide, a 31% increase over the previous year. The buying and selling of domain names is currently a $2 billion industry, and it’s predicted to hit $4 billion by 2010. This is a market that’s growing quickly. And it’s making a lot of people money.

In fact, the Internet domain name business has proven to be incredibly profitable. I loved this article about Kevin Ham. Especially interesting was the story of how he made a deal with the government of Cameroon to reap a profit from all the domain names that end in .cm, the country code for Cameroon. The result of his deal is that anytime someone mistypes a Web address and omits the letter o, Kevin Ham makes money. (This domain name glitch has reportedly been resolved, but I’m not so sure – I just typed in a .cm domain name using IE, it appeared that I was taken to one of the Ham sites.)

The growth of the domain name market and the ability to make significant amounts of money trading in domain names is only one factor that has made it difficult to find a domain name. But one result of the struggle is the Web 2.0 company name phenomena, where, as one blog writer put it, You’ve got to be hip, trendy, cutting-edge. In short, you’ve got to come up with a word that makes no sense to anybody, anywhere. Like Jookster, Meebo, or Squidoo.” Just take a look at the company directory on TechCrunch to see this in action. In one small section of “companies that begin with the letter s” the following companies are listed, all in a row: Scanr, scanscout, sclipo, scooplive, scoopt, Scouta.

And this brings me back around to my dilemma – trying to come up with a company name that also had a domain name that wasn’t yet registered. I got lucky – PureIncubation.com was available. And after quite a bit of deliberation, I hit upon 16thletter.com for my blog. Another stroke of luck – sixteenthletter.com was also available.

 

~  View from today’s blog post:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/13799608@N08/1398574773/