Conversation in my house last night, after the kids were asleep. I’m on the couch, my BFF is on the computer in the kitchen nook, and I want her to experience LOLCats.
“hey honey, checkout this LOLcat site. No, it’s cats. but with bad grammer. Whatever, just check it out. Go to I have cheeseburgers dot com”
“Doesn’t work. No such domain.”
“Did you do ‘have’ or ‘has’? It’s I HAS cheeseburger.com”
“IHASCHEESEBURGER.COM. Okay I got it. Photography stuff, and travel. Why is this special?
“Look at the cats. They are too funny.”
“You dont have cats?”
“No cats. Photography links.”
“Try I HAS CHEEZEBURGER.COM, with a Z in cheese.”
“A Z in ‘haz’ too, or just cheeze?”
“Just cheeze. IHASCHEEZEBURGER.COM”
“Okay. IHASCHEEZEBURGER.COM. Got it. Which link do I click, cheeseburger recipes?. Hey, Hawaii is on sale. Can we go?”
“No. Try I CAN HAS CHEESEBURGER.COM. Yeah, I remember now. That’s it. Try it.”
“Okay I got it. Recipes. By the way, did you like the herb burger at Wendy’s barbeque? Wasn’t that good?”
“Huh? Do you see cats?”
“No cats. Did you refill the gril gas tank yet?”
“No. Whatever that is, it’s not the LOLCat site. Make sure you put HAS, not HAVE. It’s bad grammar, but that’s part of the fun.”
“This isn’t fun so far. ICANHASCHEESEBURGER.COM. I’m seeing a link for ‘funny animal pictures’. Is that it?”
“No! Don’t click anything there.”
“Hey I won! I’m the 999,999th visitor! Too bad for the one millionth, eh? What’s my prize?”
“Don’t click – it’s a scam.”
“Too late. Sorry.”
“Try I has cheezeburgers.com, with a Z in cheeze”
“Just try it.”
“No such site.”
“Try singular.. just one cheeze burger, but still with the Z.”
“Okay, that worked. I got it“
“See the cats? Check out the ‘random’ link in the navigation.”
“What’s AvenueA, and do I want to block it?”
“huh? Did you see cats?”
“No cats, but Bali vacations are on sale, too. I’d rather go to Bali. How hot is it there in August?”
“It’s monsoon season over there. Freaking domainers! Forget it. Just go to Google. Search I can have cheese burgers and tell me what comes up.”
“That was easy. ICANHASCHEEZBURGER.COM… LOLCat site. Bad grammar, with the Z but no E at the end of CHEEZE. Should I click?”
“How cute! But I don’t like cats. Is there one for puppies?”
SEO vs. Domainers:
I don’t know which is worse… a web publisher choosing a domain like ICANHASCHEEZBURGER.COM or the domainers who bought so many variations of that odd-ball domain name for their usually off-topic link pages. Sure there was opportunity in buying up all those mis-spellings… the publisher failed to own them and the super-popular site should generate tons of type-in typos (for the record, there are many more variations still unregistered.. hint hint). My comment “freakin’ domainers” was aimed at the hassle and confusion associated with the “no, not that version of the site” back and forth. I suppose it wouldn’t have been much different if they were actual registered sites for other things.
But notice how the solution was Google?
Almost two years ago I updated my SEO Sales Pitch to include “you have to vanity SEO your own web site name, because nowadays people are putting their URLs into the browner search box (or toolbar search box) instead of the location bar. If you’re not #1 for your own domain name, you’re losing what is rightfully type-in (direct) traffic. This is especially important for brand names and product names, because people often assume a URL for a popular product or brand, even if it is owned by a parent company. Companies need to rank #1 for their domain names and their brands and their products in addition to the core market search terms.
SEOs know the value of selective domaining around an optimization project. But unlike domaners who are not associated with the onwer of the trademark or brand, the SEO can own the SERP for the variations as well as the original. You can even petition to take them away from others who may have squatted on them. Contrary to much of what appears in the SEO literature on the web, the 301 is not always the best tool for managing related domains like typos. You can make use of them in other, more creative ways specifically because you have a license to do so.
The overlap of SEO and domaining is a natural, but oddly, it has taken until now for someone to recognize just how big an opportunity exists for combining SEO and domain industries in a single conference setting. Domainers seem to be big egos… kinda like SEOs, no? Domainers seem to be opportunists, kinda like SEOs, no? Domainers seek to automate with efficiency and metrics… just-like-seos. And domainers have a potential public relations problem with the advent of significant attention on issues like “if there are so few domains left, why do some people control hundreds of thousands of them?” and “if Verisign couldn’t redirect unregistered typos, why can someone else?”
Aside from the obvious experience the SEO industry has with managing a snake oil reputation, SEOs are also the tacticians to go to for reputation management itself. Even if domainers don’t want to learn from SEOs about managing a bad rep, or how to deter PR attacks from jealous, whiney, possibly inept competitors, domainers can use SEO for reputation management.
Next month’s Seattle Domainers Conference brings SEO and domaining together and it’s a hot topic on the blogs this month. I’m seeing SEO names added to the agenda… including some BigNames… it will be interesting to see if the established SEO clique gains control of the venue (so we see the same-old same-old representing SEO yet again). Personally, I’d love to see some public challenge to the typical “seo talks” we’re getting at SES, SMX, and PubCon. Clearly, I am not the only one seeing the opportunity in this room full of seo and domainer opportunists.
Update: Okay so already Google is sending me crazy traffic on all variations of the ICANHASCHEEZBURGERS theme. But look at this. Google returns no results for ICANHAVECHEESEBURGERS and ICANHAVECHEESEBURGERS.COM. Odd, no?