It appears that the Ohio Democratic Party believes that Senator John McCain will select Tom Ridge as his Vice Presidential running mate. According to the Whois database, on August 18th, Todd Hoffman from the Ohio Democratic Party registered the domain name McCainRidge.net. At the moment, the domain name resolves to a generic Godaddy landing page with links to John McCain buttons and political messages.
While some people might immediately claim that the Ohio Democratic Party is cybersquatting on this domain name, I would like to point out that there isn’t necessarily any evidence of bad faith in this registration – unlike many others who intend to profit from selling the domain name. Should the Ohio Dems decide to post an anti McCain/Ridge website, their rights to free speech would probably be protected under the US Constitution’s First Amendment, although I am not an attorney.
At the moment, the only entity profiting from the registration is Godaddy who is monetizing the name – presumably unbenounced to the registrant. IMO, the real legal question is this: if the Ohio Democrats utilize their First Amendment rights and they attempt to solicit contributions on the site, would this be considered a bad faith registration, as they are profiting off of a famous name/brand?
I think this is more of a John Berryhill question!
Rob Monster, the serial entrepreneur and venture capital angel investor behind Monster Venture Partners is looking to acquire more great generic domain names to turn into businesses. The company is raising capital in order to make these strategic investments. According to a blog post on Seattle Post Intelligencer,
Monster will continue with the firm’s strategy, which is rather unique in the venture business. The basic concept is to acquire compelling domain names — such as Patents.com or Wifi.com — and then recruit experienced managers to build new businesses around those sites.
With the new capital, Monster says they plan to acquire more domain names “that can be incubated into great companies.”
Recently, Monster Venture Partners and Castello Cities Internet Network announced a partnership where Monster’s company would work with CCIN to develop Traveler.com. By investing in successful start-up companies at their early stage, Monster hopes to emulate Berkshire Hathaway’s strategy of investing in successful companies from inception.
There is no doubt that there are some good domain names on the marker, but the challenge is finding the right domain name at the right price, with the ability to implement a winning business plan executed by an experienced management team. It is going to be interesting following the success of Rob Monster as his company’s investment portfolio grows.
With the NBA set to announce the name of the newly relocated Oklahoma City basketball team, rumors have been circulating that the team will be named the Thunder. The rumors seem to stem from the registration of OKCThunderBasketball.com as a reason for this, although OKCBarons.com seems to be owned by a law firm in Oklahoma City.
Nonetheless, I must point out something that would seem to be asking for a UDRP. Out of curiosity, I searched for the Whois on ThunderBasketball.com, as this would seem to be a better domain name to own. The name has been registered since 2005, which would indicate the owner didn’t register the name in bad faith or to capitalize on a professional basketball team called the Thunder. Perhaps the owner’s son played for an AAU or local team called the Thunder.
However, I believe he is making a huge mistake that will surely cost him his domain name if the Oklahoma City team is renamed the Oklahoma City Thunder. The owner currently has a statement on the site: “Thunderbasketball.com For Sale… To the highest bidder. Make an offer at email@example.com”
While this certainly doesn’t show the owner intended to profit off of an NBA franchise, a UDRP panel could and probably would interpret it that way. If this isn’t damaging enough, he has an Adsense block advertising “OKC Basketball Tickets,”Sonics Fans – Hoops” and “Supersonics Ringtones.” The NBA is aware of the UDRP process, and is currently 3-1 in UDRP decisions.
There is always a fine balance between trying to sell a domain name that has become sensitive (for whatever reason) and not putting yourself at risk. It would be likely that the NBA and other fans/speculators would contact the owner in an attempt to purchase the domain name whether the owner had the statement up there or not. Putting a for sale sign up at this time is putting the domain name at serious risk.
Bill Hartzer is a successful writer and search engine marketing and search engine optimization expert who has created hundreds of websites over the years, beginning in 1996, with the establishment of his company’s online presence. It was during this time that Bill learned about the Internet and how much power Internet search engines had in helping customers and potential customers find his company’s website.
Bill has over 17 years of writing experience, including as a television writer and a computer software company technical writer. Hartzer utilizes his writing and online skills to create websites that are compelling and useful to clients and their potential customers. Bill’s primary focus is on business to business search engine optimization, but he is also experienced in optimizing business to consumer websites.
Bill Hartzer’s many accomplishments include:
– Founder, Dallas/Fort Worth Search Engine Marketing Association (www.dfwsem.org)
– Owner/Author, Corporate Web Site Marketing (www.corporatewebsitemarketing.com)
– Administrator, Search Engine Forums
– Frequent Speaker, Search Engine Strategies Conferences
– Frequent Speaker, WebmasterWorld’s PubCon Search Engine and Internet Marketing Conference
Bill has given me quite a bit of helpful tips and advice for several of my websites, both on private forums and on his blog, BillHartzer.com. It’s great that someone like Bill helps people build successful websites, and it’s nice that Bill happily helps those who lack the experience in the SEO arena.
1) EJS: With so many people calling themselves SEO experts, how do you distinguish between those who are and those who aren’t? What questions should a domain owner ask before ordering services from a SEO company?
BH: Great question. You’re right, there are a lot of people out there calling themselves “SEO Experts”. While there’s no SEO “license” or official “certification” for SEOs like there are licensed plumbers, lawyers, and other professionals, the Search Engine Marketing industry has been trying to get some standards in place. SEMPO (www.sempo.org), the Search Engine Marketing Professional Association, has courses that provide for certification, and both Yahoo! Search Marketing and Google AdWords have their certification programs. Vizion Interactive has an SEO RFP that has a lot of the information that generally should be included when you’re thinking of hiring an SEO: (http://www.vizioninteractive.com/search-engine-optimization-request-for-proposal-rfp/).
To distinguish between a “good SEO” and a “bad SEO” (if there is such a thing), you’ll need to ask for references and proof that they’ve done their job and know what they are doing. If you hire someone to build an addition on your house they most likely you’ll want references and photos of their work: the same goes for hiring a reputable SEO company.
2) EJS: How important is a domain name in ranking high in the search engines, and how much does the extension matter?
BH: I believe that every domain name has an equal “chance” to rank high in the search engines. That said, though, many of the factors that search engines consider when determining search engine ranking involves humans: and when people are involved in making decisions (like deciding to link to your website or not), some domain names will have an advantage over others. If you use a domain name that fits the content of your web site (one that has its main keyword in the domain name), there’s a good chance that someone linking to you will use that domain name (the keyword in your domain name).
So, for the search engines that give a lot of weight to ranking factors that includes the anchor text in links, you’re going to see a benefit from that. Some marketing experts prefer to market a brand name; thus they use the brand name in their domain name. Ultimately, I believe it can definitely help both from an overall marketing perspective (both online and offline) and from a search engine ranking perspective to be have a category-killer domain name.
The .com, the .net, and the .org TLDs generally have an equal chance of ranking well in the search engines. The only real difference is using a ccTLD, where the major search engines give preference to certain countries in search. If you’re in the UK and using Google.co.uk, Google expects that you prefer to see UK search results, which includes .co.uk domain names as well as others.
3) EJS: How has the search industry changed over the last couple of years, and how have you coped with the changes?
BH: There always seems to be various “fads” that come and go. We’ve had “reciprocal links”, “web directories”, “bid directories”, “social media”, etc. etc. that have come and gone. There are really only half a dozen major web directories left, Google tells us not to exchange links, and social media sites seem to be here to stay. Ultimately, it’s the content on your web site that will keep your search engine rankings. It’s important to have more content on your site than others in your niche; and to add content to it on a regular basis. It’s the ability to create great content that has allowed me to cope with the changes in the industry. Sure, it’s okay to test out the latest online marketing “fad” to see if it brings any ROI. But don’t forget the content.
4) EJS: What free SEO tools do you recommend to domain owners who are developing websites?
BH: There are all sorts of free SEO tools out there. Many of them actually exist that are part of the search engines themselves. For example, a “linkdomain:domain.com” search at Yahoo! will show you all of your competitor’s backlinks; use that information as an SEO tool to see where your competitors have links (and where you don’t). Set up Google and Yahoo! alerts to make sure you’re on top of your industry: watch your industry and add content to your site when something comes up that interests you. Your own web stats will give you lots of good SEO-related information about your web site, your visitors, and what they like and what they don’t like. Other SEO tools I like:
- OptiTools (OptiSpider, OptiLink)
- Traffic Marks
- Domain Tools
- Google Insights
- Google Trends
There are a lot of great free SEO tools listed here:
5) EJS: What services do you offer to domain owners who would like to improve the rankings on their developed domain names that they have passively developed (not full businesses, which would recommend?)
BH: I recommend that domain owners who want to improve rankings first look at their web analytics. See where their traffic is coming from. Take a look at how many pages they have indexed in Google (using site:yourdomain.com). Look to see if the number of pages on your site is close to how many pages your competitors have on their sites. Make a plan to create the content or figure out how you’re going to get someone else to create that content for you. Analyze the backlinks to your website. How many links do you have that are from sites that are on the same topic? How many links do your competitors have that are on the same topic (e.g., an automotive site should link to another car site, not to a dating site).
Once you’ve done some quick analysis, determine if you’ll need more content on your site or more links to your site: or both. I certainly can help domain owners with link building and content building and writing services. Or both. There are also many different things to “fix” on most sites, which would include most of the “on-site” factors, such as title tags, search engine friendly URLs, and other on-site issues that plague most content management systems nowadays.
I am floored and touched by something Rick Latona and his employees did for me and Karen. Shortly after I proposed to Karen, I thought about buying KarenSilver.com for her. Unfortunately, I saw that the name had been registered for a while, and there was a website on the site. Sadly, I didn’t even try to buy the name. I settled with a name that wasn’t as good, but I figured it was better than nothing.
Out of the blue last night, I received an email from David Clements (President of Rick Latona Auctions, LLC) letting me know that the folks at the Rick Latona family of companies acquired KarenSilver.com as a wedding gift. This is an incredible gift, and Karen and I are very appreciative. This is something that Karen will have for a long time, and as her career grows, this gift will have even more meaning.
To Ryan Steel, David Clements, Toby Clements, and especially Rick Latona, thank you very much for doing this for us!