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Experienced SEOs Know…

Keeping Open-Minded about Creativity when Considering Domain Portfolios

Just some thoughts captured, as a reminder about the importance of accommodating creativity, even when it seems so very awkward.

As a consultant to super-successful people, I have often witnessed leaders/decision-makers suffer through obviously awkward, cringe-inducing moments when ideas were first proffered by creative thinkers. Too often, IMHO, those decision-makers discounted the ideas, and I believe the cringe-factor played a role.

Sometimes a successful business person simply cannot stomach a really “out there” idea, and decides to simply move on, without considering it.

When considering domain strategies, for example, some industry players will skip right past a domain idea that is too far “off base”. Yet years later, the whole team realizes that if they had built that little side project, it would be super valuable in a practical sense, today. Or they see it sell on the aftermarket for 100x the initial price.

What would ave been a sub-$200 “investment” would now be worth thousands…evento them. Yet they passed on acquiring it, because it seemed too far off-base.

Priceless has a Cost

Creativity is a priceless commodity. In my experience, when things seem most awkward to us, that awkwardness is a sign that we would almost never consider the idea on our own, suggests it is really “out there” from our perspective…. and that is precisely why we should give it some consideration.

Don’t act on it, but certainly explore it as a possibility, and gleem what you can from the discussions of the potential of the “crazy idea”.

But That Would Never Work

Maybe it could never work, but if it was considered a possibility by someone on your team, doesn’t it, by definition, have some merit as an idea?

If not, you have the wrong creative people on your team. You should not have people you do not consider credible on your team, contributing ideas. Read Ray Dalio’s essays/books for more on that topic… people can be trusted based on their past performance, provided you actually know about their past performance.

That would be Nuts!

Yes, some true innovations seem crazy at first, but if an idea was obviously good, the chances someone else is doing it is very high. In SEO and domaining, first-movers can win big. Profits from organic SEO strategies can flow UNTIL everyone else enters the game and dilutes the traffic. A truly innovative idea SHOULD seem crazy when first considered, in my humble opinion.

But where do we Stop? 

With domain portfolio investing, this is a common retort to the “it couldn’t hurt to hold this domain, and it just might be important down the road” situation. The “only $15/year” holding cost of a domain is not substantial, but what about 100 of those? Two hundred?

Creativity is priceless, as is Discipline  

The answer is easy : you stop when your portfolio value goes down.

I believe a portfolio of 100 names evidently important to your marketplace is worth $100/domain, plus the market value of each name, as a conservative estimate. That means 100 names that are evidently important… ones that would be recognized as meaningful by your prospects (including search engines), is worth at least $10,000, even if every name had no acknowledged aftermarket value (so-called “reg fee” names).

That floor value is a low-end estimate of selection and opportunity costs, plus competitive value. BEFORE adding the market-recognized value of any names within the portfolio. The fact that reasonable people on your team considered them evidently of value to the marketplace, establishes that minimum value.

What’s your Portfolio Worth?

Not so easy to value the portfolio? As in any business, if you are in it, you need to be good at it. If you can’t value your domain name portfolio, you shouldn’t be investing in domain names. And if you don’t see value in a particular domain name that is considered evidently attractive to your online audience, you perhaps should not expect to be a winner in your online marketplace.

Happy Independence Day!

Trash-Talkin’ Newbies: the New Link Builders

SEO World has a new generation of specialists. They are brash, aggressive, and proud trash-talkers. They are link builders. They build links. They grew up (physically) with a Google where all that mattered for SEO was links, links, and more links.

Oh, so young, and oh, so…… naive? Yet they work hard (when they are working). They have a focus that works for the win : get paid to build links, and build links to get paid.

With a lightweight requirement for that focus to not be required for very long, on any given day, it’s a good “job” for this period of uncertain economic status, and overpriced schooling.

The Origin Story of Modern Day SEO Link Builders

Of course there have always been SEOs who focused exclusively on link building. Even some of the old school RockStarz actually just managed link building for affiliate and client sites. I know a few like ________ and ________ who took to the podium on a regular basis to preach high-brow white hat SEO tactics, while limiting their actual SEO practice to building links using 3rd party service providers.

Plus many mainstream SEOs have lost their touch with modern Google. Since none of their SEO mojo moves the modern day Google needle, they work to shift clients to PPC and, you guessed it, link building.

But the older generation of link building SEOs hid their secret link builder lives. Today’s new generation of link builders are openly trash talking about links and PBNs on social media, unafraid of consequences.

I have to admit, history has shown there is no more Matt Cutts, and today’s Google seems to love love love sites with little more than link support.

Today’s Young Link Builders

Some started as junior assistants to SEOs active in the early 2000s, when links seemed to be the only way a poorly-trained SEO could gain traction in the SERPs. SEOs like _______, ______, and ______ who disregarded technical, content, or strategic SEO and just focused on brute force link blasting for the win.

Once capable, they took their skills with them to work as independent freelancers, mixing old school outreach with new school private blog network development, for a flexible product mix they could play with, while still getting paid. Often running tax-exempt Bitcoin or Paypal-for-the-win operations, they have incredible financial freedom, compared to similar mom’s basement operators of yesterday.

Others are completely new to the SEO game, having simply started on the advice of a friend in category 1 or category 3, described below. “Just build links for a fee, and put 50% of your earnings back into building affiliate sites you can also utilize for shit backlinks for low-budget clients”, they were told. From what I’ve been told, they put 100% back in (living off funds stolen from mom’s purse in the mean time).

S.C.O.R.E! It was good advice… while established link builders grew to charge $10k/month for quality link building for real projects, these scrappy upstarts picked up the low end of the marketplace, offering unchecked quality backlinks for $100, $250, or $500 per month (who needs a contract when you have credit card rebilling lol?).

Of course once a client perceived a dependency on those links, the maintenance price went to $100 or $1500 or… whatever, right?

That third category? Some of the new crop of link builders are actually spawn of old school SEO link builders, still feeding at the tit but branching out into the darker, scammier arenas too risky for Big Brands that pay $10k/month for link building services.Nice work if you can get it.

Spammin and Jammin’

Fun aside, props are due to the doers who get the job done. In the past, once Google clamped down and stopped sharing the advertising revenue, aside from seriously committed business developers (most of whom were independent or semi-independent lead gen types), most SEOs were spammin’ and jammin’ to financial gains. Only the Podium SEOs, Big Brand consultants,  and professional pretenders were able to keep the funds flowing while underperforming on the SEO front.

Who are these young’uns who get the job done? For now, I won’t link out to any of them, until they convince me I should (and of course, then I will). They are, after all, link builders, right?

The Declining Value of Established SEO Websites

The truth is they will only reach out to me for shits and giggles, because with the current Google, they don’t need links from me or anyone else with SEO relevance. They can just point 1,000 shit links and get a bigger boost, immediately, routed through a throw-away proxy for safety, right?