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Visit Spain in April : DomainingEurope.com

Updates: As I update this post, you’ll find the additions either as UPDATE asides like this one, or at the end where I extend the post to reveal some of the activities I secretly engage in when on conference travel in foreign lands. Agenda now online.

DomainingEurope.com is an annual conference held in Valencia, Spain every year. I’ve been the past two years, and it is one of the best trips I make in the web publishing industry. Thinking of gaining some fresh perspective? Fancy a trip to Europe?

I’m going to post some stories and pictures, but in the mean time let me just say Spain is very easy and fun to visit, the host is a top quality person (Dietmar Stefitz), and the conference is totally worthy of the time and attention (practical discussions of real world issues obtaining, using, selling, and the future of Internet domains).

UPDATE: I have a significant discount code if you need it… just contact me behind the scenes at USA @ DomainingEurope dot com.

The Euro is at a 9 year low compared to the dollar, and Spain is one of those countries where the people simply insist on living a good life no matter what the economy or external geopolitical climate might be. In my experience you are never more than 15 feet from someone who speaks English, and never more than 5 feet from someone who is friendly, considerate, and willing to answer a question or share a pleasantry.

salon de juegos Madrid

This “salon de juegos” is typical for almost every neighborhood in Madrid. It’s a “Game Room”. The new domain JUEGOS.CLUB recently sold for $6000. (Photo copyright 2014 John Andrews, LLC All Rights Reserved).

For business, I meet more independent-thinking, open-minded entrepreneurs there than at big US conferences like NamesCon… they seem less mainstream, less likely to be working scams, and more thoughtful, and are more deeply involved in their domains and publishing on the web. I also meet vendors close up and personal… there are fewer “invite only” private dinners, for example, and in general a more open community than at US-based events.

Update: After NamesCon, I am even more thrilled to be headed to Europe. The energy behind some of the gTLDs is catching on, and I am very curious what my European friends think of the potential of cross-border names like .club and .buzz in their countries. FYI, jeugos.club just sold for $6000, suggesting that the Spanish langiage market likes .club (juegos is “games” in Spanish).

If you are interested, let me know via social media (Twitter @johnandrews DM me) or email USA @ DomainingEurope dot com… I have deep discount codes available.

If you are a domain industry player and want some insider comments about how good this would be for your brand or gTLD or whatever to engage with, I’m happy to share insights. There is no better venue to continue the meomentum of the new gTLDs in front of an audience of domain investors and developers, than DomainingEurope.

More about Visiting Spain

Take the metro... it's convenient, reliable, and gets you mixing in with the locals. Valencia is flat and the metro runs close enough to everywhere you want to visit.

Take the metro… it’s convenient, reliable, and gets you mixing in with the locals. During siesta, it’s almost empty. Valencia is flat and the metro runs close enough to everywhere you want to visit.

I enjoy traveling and especially traveling into Spain, for many reasons. While of course it’s great to visit trendy and amazing places, I like to trek through “real” places, where I can participate in the community as other than a tourist. Spain is very easy for solo travel, and interesting.

I tend to “skip out” very often during conference travel. It’s a way for me to scout out neighborhoods and pathways before I have any vested interest in actually getting anywhere at a particular time. In Valencia, the metro is very convenient but it is also a very walkable city.

Secotel Hoteles Sorolla Palace

The Sercotel Hoteles Serolla Palace is a fine hotel and the conference hotel. It is a modern steel and glass vertical hotel in the business district of Valencia. Stay there, to enjoy the guest hospitality and comforts of a conference hotel. The food is excellent, and the spread put out is tremendous. The hotel clearly caters to upscale international travelers and business people.

A few of my European domainer friends chose to stay in apartments and VRBO-like flats nearby in the neighborhoods. They were not high-quality. They were fine, according to them, but very very cheap and you do get what you pay for when choosing cheap, local accommodations off the tourism map. I did not get to visit any but will try harder this year… it’s part of my kind of travel: get to see what others are doing, without having to do it myself ;-)

The food put out by the hotel was always very impressive. There is simply no way you would not be happy with any of the meal buffets they offer. The coffee machines are real… not this Keurig crap we see in the states, but 4 or 5 real automated espresso machines set out with real milk options and the like. Of all of the things I’ve enjoyed about Europe over the years, the coffee has been a highlight.

The Sercotel Sorolla Palace buffet is a highlight. never disappoints.

The Sercotel Sorolla Palace buffet is a highlight. never disappoints.

Europeans consider sweets served after meals to be "digestive aids"... they got that right.

Europeans consider sweets served after meals to be “digestive aids”… they got that right.

View from my Conference Hotel in Valencia, looking towards the water on a clear day. Hoteles Sercotel Sorolla Palace. It was like 75 euro per night as I recall.

View from my Conference Hotel in Valencia, looking towards the water on a clear day. Hoteles Sercotel Sorolla Palace. It was like 75 euro per night as I recall.

Tapas is the rule in Spain, and for good reason. You can eat a little bit of good food, cheaply, which enables everyone to go out every night, without a big expense. But for the toursist, often tapas is not the best choice. For example, if you know you like spiced up grilled chicken, you can order it as a meal. And when you do… if you are outside of the tourist tracks, you can get …

Get off the tourist track, and enjoy "real" food in Spain. This was served to me as ONE serving of grilled chcken...you can see I had already eaten the bread with my wine.... a mistake.

Get off the tourist track, and enjoy “real” food in Spain. This was served to me as ONE serving of grilled chicken…you can see I had already eaten the bread with my wine…. a mistake. The total bill was under $15.

 

The guys who served me ran the bar and back kicthen, and were very interested in how I liked their food… they had no interest in gaining social media reviews or getting a tip.. they just saw a new customer they wanted to make happy.

ValenBi Si bike rentals are everywhere, helmets not required, and Valencia is flat so it actually works.  I used it several times last year.

ValenBi Si bike rentals are everywhere, helmets are not required, and Valencia is flat — so bike rental actually works. I used it several times last year, especially when I overstayed my visit and had to be back to the conference in a hurry.

The European Domaining Conference food was great.. the Hotel is top tier and does a great job serving Spanish-prepared classic foods everyone will like. But with a 2-3 hour mid-day break, and virtually the entire population out for socializing between 930 and 11 pm every single night, you almost always wander out at night and eat again. To be honest, I love the lifestyle.

This American was not accustomed to the amount of street art in Spain.. it's a cultural expresssion less connected to street crime than it is in the US. Also, the narrow streets from hundreds of years ago are very cool.

This American was not accustomed to the amount of street art in Spain.. I’m told it’s a cultural expresssion less connected to street crime than it is in the US. Also, the narrow streets from hundreds of years ago are very cool. The posts protect pedestrians.

If you want to understand Spain, don’t ask a Spaniard. They literally don’t know how unique their culture is, or at least don’t know how to communicate that to a foreigner. That’s why I walk… I see things for myself.

And almost every time I walked, I ran into something new and interesting.Ask a resident about festivals and they’ll tell you about the big annual one you just missed. But then… not a day goes by that you don’t encounter a celebration of some sort on the streets.

There are so many different cultures within the nation known as Spain, and every one of them wants to express their culture in public. It’s part of the process of keeping it alive and maintaining respect for your cultural within the conglomerate that is Espana. So when you see a c rowd or hear some music or instruments or clapping or stomping, go check it out. It’s a celebration.

I watched dancers from Sevilla showing off their stuff, a procession of Catholics honoring the Holy Mother, among many, many other parades, festivals, processions, and celebrations over just a few days in Spain.

I watched dancers from Sevilla showing off their stuff, a procession of Catholics honoring the Holy Mother, among many, many other parades, festivals, processions, and celebrations over just a few days in Spain.

And of course getting off the beaten path means mixing with the locals. While the conference attendees visit the amazing free breakfast buffet at the hotel, which was excellent, you have to venture out at least once before 8am and break fast with the locals.

A "mixto"... a ham and cheese breakfast sandwich, served at a noisy counter, is typical worker fare in the mornings, along with a beer. I had cafe... which is also excellent everywhere in Spain.

A “mixto”… a ham and cheese breakfast sandwich, served at a noisy counter, is typical worker fare in the mornings, along with a beer. I had cafe… which is also excellent everywhere in Spain. Put me back about $4 total.

Do I need to even mention the architecture? While the travel agents will show off Valencia’s amazing modern architecture (see below), I just walk around and touch the old stuff… we don’t have this in America.

Valencia is famous for it's modern Arts & Sciences district, with amazing architecture. But I liked the almost thousand year old stuff more...and it was everywhere.

Valencia is famous for it’s modern Arts & Sciences district, with amazing architecture. But I liked the almost thousand year old stuff more…and it was everywhere.

Pretty unbelievable that old relics sell at auction for millions, while carvings like this are in the public throughout Europe. Take a walk... you'll enjoy the view.

Pretty unbelievable that old relics sell at auction for millions, while carvings like this are in the public throughout Europe. Take a walk… you’ll enjoy the view.

So this is a bit about traveling to Spain for the European Domaining conference in Valencia. It’s not a brochure post… I am not a saleman nor a travel agent. It’s a post about some of the details I wanted to share… as an American with not-enough opportunity to visit Europe, I find this and other smaller, tightly-focused conferences to be priceless. While the Euro is low compared to the dollar, and everyone is speaking English, it’s a great opportunity and I recommend it.

If you plan to attend, drop me a note. I always plan before and after travel, and my primary focus of all of these trips is meeting the individuals actually doing the innovating behind the scenes on the Internet: the seos and entrepreneurs behind the domains. We have a lot in common and the opportunities for collaboration are endless right now.

 

 

SEO Security, Threat Intelligence, and Competition

I was reading about a security course over at Black Hat when it dawned on me… this is just like SEO.

The US Special Operations Forces pioneered a methodology called F3EAD, which enabled amongst other things the ability to take out insurgent and terrorist networks.

Acronyms aside… F3EAD sure sounds cool. And “taking out” insurgents and terrorists is honorable work. But the details of the HOW are just like competing in Internet and Search Marketing. Look how it continues:

This methodology focuses on ‘Finding’ the adversary, ‘Fixing’ their location, ‘Finishing’ their operational utility, and collecting the materials associated with the target.

Just like buying sites in your market vertical. Find the ones worth buying, and investigate the real reasons they rank (to manage risk of purchase and utility). The military will then “finish” them (while we will simply buy them out). The military will then take all their stuff… just like we assume control of the web sites and ancillary support we bought (social media, mailing lists, and the like).

The military doesn’t burn the competitors’ stuff… they do better, just like we do:

This material is then ‘Exploited’ or used to extract operational details of the network they are associated with, ‘Analyzed’ for intelligence which is useful to find other targets, and ‘Disseminated’ for other friendly forces to conduct operations.

Yup. We get access to insider analytics and learnĀ  better how to take over the marketplace. We use our awareness to “find other targets” whether keywords orĀ  sub-niches, or additional competitors we should buy out.

The “disseminating to other friendly forces” is just perfectly similar to the way we start linking to our other owned media, friends, and supporters. To the victor go the spoils… put it all to work!

Here’s the claim, and the pitch for the training course:

Intelligence enables cyber defense teams to look at the cyber battlefield from the 50,000-foot view and piece together all aspects of the cyber adversary’s operations. From what altitude are you viewing the cyber battlefield?

Just like Strategic SEO… the value of the Big Picture when optimizing for Google traffic: not only for volume but for quality, in support of conversion rates and ROI goals.

The rest is also spot on… I think any great strategic SEO should be able to attend this course, keep an SEO perspective throughout the class, and walk away much better equipped to compete in today’s SEO landscape:

In this class, you will learn the importance of Threat Intelligence, how to consume intelligence, and how to integrate it into your enterprise. This integration will focus on real time integration to allow threat intelligence to be processed at ‘line speed’. Students will learn how to leverage intelligence for defense as well as investigative purposes. A key focus will be on identifying intelligence sources and exploiting them to extract intelligence. We will then explore how to enrich this intelligence and feed it into enterprise security solutions to enhance defensive postures. There will be some technical hands-on activities exploring data visualization, forensic analysis, malware analysis, and dynamic memory analysis.

Not only strategically empowering, but it’s a tech course, so automation is key:

Students will leave with a competence in identifying intelligence sources and incorporating them into automated solutions. This will include extensive hands-on work using numerous tools across several different disciplines. While not exhaustive or specifically deep in any one area, students will leave with an arsenal of tools and techniques to apply intelligence to enterprise defense.

I think this highlights one of the major weaknesses of the modern SEO industry marketplace. Our leaders aren’t strong enough in our own field. Our speakers, teachers, and journalists are light in actual effective SEO skills and knowledge, so the SEO publishing doesn’t deliver nearly what this security course promises. But it could, no?

Perhaps a criteria for publishing on SEO or speaking from an SEO podium should be actual combat experience. We just have to figure out how to verify the battle winners from the battle losers, since it’s clear that failed SEOs don’t get killed off.

On Practitioners, Policymakers, Business, and Authority

Deleted, because I’m exhausted. It just won’t make any difference… you have lost, and the big players have won.

 

Update: therefore, it’s time to address the future of online marketing & SEO.