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?

johnon.com  Competitive Web & SEO
October 12th, 2007 by john andrews

Paying for Privilege

I’m sitting in the Moniker/TRAFFIC Domain Live Auction. Right now Mucho.com is on the block…. $13,000…. $16,000…. $18,000…. all the way up it goes. Now $30k, once, twice… now $37,500 and the auctioneer makes a joke. Where’s Alf? He’d like this one, but maybe not at the $47.5k it’s at already. Did he just say $52,500? Once, twice, third and final call, SOLD at $50,000.

Yes that’s $50,000 for a domain name. For this one I can see the value. Mucho.com is so brandable in Latin American markets. The growth of the Hispanic markets here in the US alone is adequate to support Mucho.com as a US business. Surely one could build a business on Mucho.com and recover that domain cost in a reasonable time frame, and the business would still have the domain in possession as a (probably appreciating) asset. A bargain at $50k? Not really, because there is significant risk in the market at this early stage, which needs to be accommodated. But I’m pretty sure one day I’ll look back and say “Yes, Mucho.com was a bargain at $50k. If only I had bought it…”

MaineLobsters.com is on the block. $20k, now $40,000, now $45,000 and SOLD for $45,000. Another bargain?

The buyer paid for the domain name, but I think I understand it to really be paying for a privilege. I am reminded of the day long ago that I “bought” a GetOutOfJailFREE card from my older brother Glenn during a monopoly game. He had gotten it for free as he rolled through “chance”, and held it as an asset on his side of the board. I had “chanced” several times without getting a getoutOfJailFREE card myself, and now I was locked up for some sort of Monopoly violation. My 8 year old brain didn’t quite understand the violation that landed me in jail, but I understood I was losing turns in jail. And that he had that card… the privilege card. With that card, I could get out of jail. But I didn’t have the card. But I had cash.

So he sold me the privilege to get out of jail for $400. Sweet deal for him… $0 to $400 in a half hour of Monopoly. But I was able to buy privilege for cash, where I had no such privilege otherwise. No need for a lawyer, an eloquent tongue, or a missed turn, I was out of jail for a measly four hundred bucks.

Public.com is on the block… nobody wants it for $50k. Here’s cab.mobi at $10k, $12k, $15, $17.5k, nobody wants it for $20k… so it is SOLD for $17.5k.

Domain investors understand that only one entity can retain the privilege to publish on a domain name at any given time, and they invest cash into the system in exchange for the rights to that privilege. Cash from other productivity sources. Cash which props up the Internet industry, and fuels activities like domain development, which in turn fuels the Internet economy. In exchange for that investment, They reap the rewards of domain appreciation. My brother realized an infinite appreciation of value of his GetOutOfJailFREE card, because he got it for $0 and sold it for $400. Some domainers buy at $7 and sell for $15,000 a few years later. Nice return if you can get it. Insight into the Internet industry and ecommerce plus investment plus risk assumption equals capital gains. That’s how it works, right?

As the secondary domain market takes shape, we see the investments of cash, sweat, and brains that are fueling the Internet portion of the world’s economy. If you ever wonder why some people are “allowed” to have domains they aren’t using, I suggest you take a close look at how things really work. Once you gain some insight, I guarantee not only will you understand why it works the way it does, but I bet you’ll start buying domains for yourself.

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October 11th, 2007 by john andrews

UpperLeftPlacement.com and Snarky SEO Blogs

I started this blog in July of last year, after many years of staying under the radar in SEO. Mostly I try and maintain it as an unbridled voice of a strategically-engagedĀ  SEO watching the search engines, the online market places driven by search traffic, and the crazy public promotional world of “SEO/SEM”.

I’ve decided to relocate my didactic posts (some past, most future) to UpperLeftPlacement.com, to better serve those looking to better understand practical SEO and the art of SEO engagement for commercial gain. UpperLeftPlacement will also become home to a limited-engagement search optimization practice. More news on that to come. Hopefully that will allow me to keep johnon.com expectedly “snarky”, and entertaining for those who “get” SEO, an dget it onto a new more readable and SEO friendly Wordpress template.

These are some of the johnon.com blog posts that readers liked the most during the past year:

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October 11th, 2007 by john andrews

Is your registrar worthy of your domain assets?

This morning’s “Meet the Registrar” session demonstrated the importance of the registrar in domain asset management. We all know this, and have been aware, but have we been truly aware? As domains increase in value, they become more valuable than money, yet how many are “stored” at registrars where security is not exactly top priority?

There are several domains at auction tomorrow over a million dollars. Many in the high hundreds of thousands. A digital bit in a database, with a value so high. Obviously there is a burgeoning market for stolen domains. A domain gets stolen away and then moved around and then sold on the private market, where the new owner may eventually be informed that it was indeed ms-appropriated. How many of us have insurance for our domain assets? Right. So what happens in this case? Someone loses a lot of money.

And the registrar is the middle man carrying much of the burden of restoring peace, and yet how many of you know your registrar as well as your bank officer? If your registrar receives a request to transfer your domain away this coming Sunday morning at 4:21 am your time, will they call your cell phone to check with you, or simply let it go?

Every registrar says the same thing - never use a free email address. “I can hack an AOL email account in 10 minutes” said one of the registrar reps here, AT THE PODIUM. Wow. There are programs out there mining the WHOIS database of email addresses that are expired” - so those domains can be stolen away. Believe it. “If your email is expired for a week and you have a god domain name, they will take it away within just a week or two”. Make sure the email you use for WHOIS is not on the registered domain. That makes it much easier for the hijackers to steal the domain.

Moniker notes that their domains are always locked unless they are in transfer. Why else would anyone ever want a domain unlocked? Moniker allows you to make changes, updates, etc without ever “unlocking” the domain, and wonder why other registrars allow domains to be left in the “unlocked” state when they have not been put into transfer.

TRAFFIC is run by the World Association of Domain Name Developers, and the WADND board of advisors (made up of big-time domainers) has developed a set of criteria for registrars, presented as a WADND “Seal of Approval”. If they meet these strict requirements for domain asset management (which addresses all of the above, plus more to ensure domain registrants are well positioned to not only secure their domain assets but safely manage them), the registrar can show they have that Seal of Approval. So far, 4 registrars have received the Seal of Approval: Moniker, Fabulous, DirectNic, and TuCows. GoDaddy was here this morning, saying they meet the requirements but don’t have the seal of approval. Maybe that’s true, but it didn’t sound very convincing.

Some questions from the audience:

Q: Why isn’t privacy free? Good question. GoDaddy didn’t say anything, but Moniker says they charge a small fee to cover internal management and handling of requests through the toll free number. Another registrar noted that they bundle free privacy with 5 domain registrations at one time, for example.

Q; For bulk transfers, why can’t the registrar send EP codes in bulk? Moniker answered that they do indeed send EPP codes in bulk for bulk transfers. I can imagine this is a balance issue, considering security and convenience.

Q: Do you automatically park a newly registered domain and keep the profits? GoDaddy says they do, and you can always change the DNS if you want. Moniker stresses again that you should have a relationship with your registrar, and via that relationship you should be informed of your parking options and the best way to park is to put it into the parking service. Another registrar (I wish he would re-state his registrar… was it redneck?) says they give a new registrant 3 days to do something with the DNS, and then if it lies dead they park it themselves.

Q: Can you all comment on how some registrars seem to make it difficult to transfer domains away? Yahoo! was cited as an example of a registrar that seems to work hard to prevent domain owners from transferring domains away from Yahoo! Moniker notes that some registrars put 60 day hold if a change is made to the admin contact, suggesting it is for security reasons, but it’s a registrar-specific policy and not required. The sense I got when Moniker said this is that GoDaddy has this 60 day policy because it is more profitable for them to lock up a domain that is about to be transferred. That practically insures an extra year of registration at GoDaddy, and probably also keeps a lot of domains at GoDaddy.

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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: ★ 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 ★ Seeing the Trees, but Missing the Forest ★ Search is a Task; Discovery is Fun ★ Why “dot everything” is a Good Idea (and ahead of its time) 

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