John Andrews is a Competitive Webmaster and Search Engine Optimization Consultant in Seattle, Washington. This is John Andrews blog on issues of interest to the SEO community and competitive webmasters. Want to know more?  Competitive Web & SEO
June 1st, 2009 by john andrews

Hey Affiliates – Screw You! (pass it on)

If this new ICANN proposal called “Rapid Suspension System” goes through, I can cheaply file a complaint to get your affiliate landing pages taken down immediately. Shoot first and ask questions later! Think about that… I file for next to nothing, claim your Acai-berri site is confusingly similar to my Acai-beari site, and your landing page goes “bye bye” while your PPC campaigns click away into the red. Don’t even think about arguing… it goes off line FIRST (I’ll make sure it’s on a Friday at 4:45pm heh heh).

Send an email to ICANN right NOW saying “no way to rapid dispute system”(mailto:) it could save your future.

When opportunity knocks you have to answer. This time, it’s a “negative knock”. That means if you don’t answer, you don’t just miss an opportunity but lose out later, when the consequences of your inaction hit you smack in the face. Luckily, this one is easy. It’s a simple email. If you’re smart, you’ll send one right now.

What’s the opportunity? How about an opportunity not to have to battle Joe-abusive when he has your domain taken offline?  There’s a proposal on the table that would make it dirt cheap and simple for just about anyone to file a claim that YOUR domain name infringes on their trademark, and to have your website immediately taken down.

The existing dispute process for internet web sites (domains) costs about $1600 bucks. A trademark holder has to make a case for why your web site is infringing on their trademark, before they can get anything changed. And of course you have a right to answer the complaint. This process keeps things “civil”…. it takes effort and some money to acuse you, and you can respond reasonably (or tell them to take a walk) with no cost. Only after a claim has been made, debated, and judged, does your website come down.

We also have the DMCA, which can be used for more immediate concerns (but which also has a penalty for mis-use).

But now a lobby group for big corporations has pushed to change the  system so they can get your site taken down for a few dollars, based on their claim that it infringes. What do you think? Do you agree with me that this would mean constant headaches for you?  Bad idea.

So tell them so. Just send an email to and say “No way! Bad idea!” and tell them you do NOT support this “Uniform Rapid Suspension System”.

I have a website I’ve used for email and a home page for about 8 years, which is a clever twist on a word. I have received  inquiries from companies over the years, because they, too use that same clever twist on the word. They have asked about buying it from me, asked whether I would link to them, or if I would help promote their products (for free). They have never filed a dispute claim because I would probably win and they don’t want to waste $1600. Even though I never trademarked it, I had it first, and it is not (despite their wishes) truly infringing on their trademarks. Under this new proposal, they could take my site offline immediately at almost no cost to themselves. Is that fair? Think about the leverage they would gain if that was a revenue producing site. For each day it was off line, it would be costing ME money, putting pressure on ME to negotiate out of the mess that I had nothing to do with in the first place. When I think like a dirty bastard, I imaging all sorts of cute ways this could be used as an anti competitive  tactic in the affiliate world!

Just think of all of the affiliate sites that could be immediately taken off line because some company claims the websites are “confusingly similar” or files some other grey area complaint, knowing they don’t need to actually make a case, just file a complaint. THINK OF THE LOST PPC REVENUES when your landing page goes offline but you don’t know it!

This is pretty important -send an email TODAY and let ICANN know you won’t tolerate big business telling us how the Internet will be managed. Do it now, because in a few weeks, it might be too late, and you’ll probably regret it as your web sites get  taken down.

Perhaps most important, pass the word. Let everyone in online marketing know about this a.s.a.p. because this is under consideration NOW and the comment period closes in JUNE!

Update: Okay I’m rewriting this… I noted in this update how Shawn Collins podcast got this all wrong, but I’ll grant that a conversational podcast is not the best format for accurate reporting. I’ll also grant that I didn’t want to spend all day arguing about it, so I’m re-thinking how I shall handle this.I saved everything and will review it more carefully.. might even make a transcript. I saved Shawn’s comment in moderation since it just furthered the confusion. I’ll release it when I update or if Shawn wants me to, although I doubt he does.
For those who followed along, One: I feel disrespected by the “swine flu” reference. Two: one of the self-proclaimed leaders of the affiliate industry decided to address the issue in front of his audience, while showing that he doesn’t understand the issue and doesn’t respect those giving it attention. That means it is my civic duty to either call him out on it (a.k.a. challenge the authority) or find out why, and three: I’m not sure how important that fact is, or how much time it deserves.

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May 27th, 2009 by john andrews

Shhh…unused domains are worth real money

Last year sometime I said that any domain, if it is wanted by someone, is worth about $1200. That’s the price that justifies a quick buy. Want it? Twelve hundred bucks and it’s yours…. or you can spend a few HOURS looking for another one, a few HUNDRED on consulting fees when your SEO or marketing person “helps”, or about $1200 (nowadays about $1600) to challenge a domain squatter via the dispute process.

Apparently 2009 is the year the aftermarket woke up, as AfternicDLS is now doing $550,000 a week in aftermarket domain sales. The bulk of those are sold between $1000 and $3000 each, and are perfectly useful if not “generic” domains. Someone can use them, so they have value. And getting them now, has value. A few examples: $ 988.00 $ 1,000.00 $ 1,000.00 $ 2,588.00 $ 2,788.00 $ 3,190.00 $ 4,000.00 $ 2,100.00 $ 1,180.00 $ 1,000.00 $ 1,000.00 $ 888.00

Now that we have an understandingof the value of an unused (previously registered) domain name, for someone who wants to use it, we need to establish the value of a previously-used domain name (for someone who wants to re-use it).

What is basic SEO performance worth? Another $500 or $1000?

If the name is Google indexed and ranks #1 for itself n Google, what additional value is that worth?

If it ranks for long-tail keywords in the market it obviously serves (for those domains whose names obviously serve specific markets), what additional value does it have?

Note that it is only because of exact-match bonus and pre-existing content/links that a “previously owned” domain will be ranking, but in those cases, it surely has value, right?

Let’s not debate whether or not Google drops domains that change ownership… let’s leave that for risk management, and consider the value of the ranking (if kept). Another… several hundred? Thousand? It would cost at least that to “put back”, not counting the time delays involved.




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May 4th, 2009 by john andrews

Front-end Trimmed Typos as Domain Portfolio Strategy

Trends are important. A research director once pushed me to note a trend in some experimental data; a trend which I did not see myself (despite careful analysis). In the presence of a trend, small subtleties assume importance far beyond their inherent value. Seemingly insignificant experimental findings can be considered very important if a trend can be noted.

I’m now noticing a trend.

Some time ago I worked with some great programmers who solved a problem using javascript. They used js in ways it  was not intended to be used. In fact, the only peer criticism of the resulting working solution was that it exploited a “loophole” in javascript that was clearly a security vulnerability.  “You can’t do that” they said, yet “doing that” solved the practical problem and enabled an important application to work on the Interwebs.

As Paul Mockapetris would say, it “worked in practice, but not in theory“.

Later, the world opened its collective arms to JASON and Ajax, solutions built around extensions of javascript along the very same lines. Entire libraries built with an apparent ignorance of what can’t be done. Security, it seems, can be handled after the fact.

The take-away is that when you see a trend, look for the possibilities despite the risks. Try not to focus on how things “can’t be done that way”. At some point, the marketplace gets to make the rules, even if they override existing rules.

Have you noticed how javascript  has been slowing down the web? Have you noticed how web publishers have been adopting rich web scripting aggressively over the years? Has it impacted your use of the web? Not your strategy, or your business plans, or even your success… but your use of the web? I certainly have.

Increasingly, I type something into and discover the Google box has trimmed my entry at the front end. “John Andrews” shows up as “hn andrews”, which I only discover after Google has already accepted my ENTER keypunch and served up search results for the query “hn andrews”.

Similarly, I open a browser and type in “” + ENTER only to discover I have been delivered to The javascript loading on the page has caused a delay, no type-ahead buffer has been utilized. Coding of the “rich” pages is such that my entries are being trimmed on the front end. A trend is clear.

More typo sites will get traffic every single day, as javascript continues to slow down the web, and code increasingly delays the page load. I bet gets more traffic today than it did yesterday, even after normalizing for twitter growth. Will get even more later this year, as the trend continues?

Are these really typos, eligible for prosecution under the cybersquatter’s laws? What about less obvious examples? What about getting antivirus traffic allegedly intended for What about getting “typo traffic” from (CRO is an acronym for Contract Research Organization in medical is a GREAT name for a CRO software application -SAS- company). Can be pursued as a cybersquatter for publishing ads for software applications, with a claim it is a typo?

Credit Card fraud has been rampant for years. Credit card companies have managed those losses mostly behind the scenes (properly, or not, I can’t say). Despite the almost absolute certainty that villains are taking cash money out of our accounts every second of every 24x7x365 day, credit card use has grown to  mammoth proportions. Some large businesses that dominate their industries practically can’t function, let alone dominate, without credit cards.

Increasingly, citizens cannot function responsibly without credit cards, hence social order is at least theoretically dependent upon access to credit cards. The same will be true of javascript soon enough. We need js. And in the mean time, trends fulfill their destinies.

How quickly can you build a portfolio of names built upon the observation of the trend, an expectation that it will continue, and consideration of today’s Cyersquatting laws? For those not actively “domaining”, the business is based on revenue flow. If the site receives direct traffic, that traffic is monetized. No site development is needed… it is all about traffic. If something like received antivirus traffic, and monetized with antivirus ads, it may enjoy a 95% or better conversion rate.

Think of all the front-trimmed names that will get some traffic today, and more tomorrow, yet are arguably not trademark infringing. I recognize that the word “arguably” is the key here, and that lawyers can be expected to increasingly benefit from the growth of the Internet.

Search marketers can think about the resulting skew in the search results and search statistics, as more and more searches for john andrews pass thru “You searched hn andrews. Did you mean john andrews?” We SEOs have long worked to capture typo search traffic, carefully managing whatever case law exists for trademarks in meta tags and such. It seems to me things, well, they are a changin’ again, as usual.

Disclaimer: Please don’t jump in here to admonish me for suggesting typo squatting. I am not recommending trademark infringement. Just as some SEO’s will overreact when I suggest SEO is “gaming”, some will want to jump on me for referencing typos as a business strategy. This is a “thought piece”, intended to raise some awareness and possibly prompt some innovative thought. It is not to be taken “literally” and even if it was, those who execute literally will encounter realities without my help (whether it is the reality of the SEO game, or the reality of trademark/cybersquatting law). Andif they don’t, well, then they were visionaries, no?

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John Andrews is a mobile web professional and competitive search engine optimzer (SEO). He's been quietly earning top rank for websites since 1997. About John




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Recent Posts: ★ SEO Industry Growth, Widespread Failure, and SEO Industry Challenge ★ Do you want to WIN, or just “Be the Winner”? ★ 503: GONE ★ Cloud Storage ★ Identity Poetry for Marketers ★ PR is where the Money Is ★ Google is an Addict ★ When there are no Jobs ★ Google Stifles Innovation, starts Strangling Itself ★ Flying the SEO Helicopter ★ Penguin 2.0 Forewarning Propaganda? ★ Dedicated Class “C” IP addresses for SEO ★ New Domain Extensions (gTLDs) Could Change Everything ★ Kapost Review ★ Aaron Von Frankenstein ★ 2013 is The Year of the Proxy ★ Preparing for the Google Apocalypse ★ Rank #1 in Google for Your Name (for a fee) ★ Pseudo-Random Thoughts on Search ★ Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus, or a Blog ★ The BlueGlass Conference Opportunity ★ Google Execs Take a Break from Marissa Mayer, Lend Her to Yahoo! ★ Google SEO Guidelines ★ Reasons your Post-Penguin Link Building Sucks ★ Painful Example of Google’s Capricious Do Not Care Attitude 


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