My love affair with domaining continued last week as I made my largest ever (self-financed) domain purchase. I think I got a really good deal on it, based on the fact that we will be developing it. (Valued in reference to its pay-per-click earnings, you might say we overpaid–but we didn’t.)
Anyway, I think being an experienced SEO and affiliate marketer gives me an edge as a domainer–I am able to see value where many domainers wouldn’t (for instance, I know that .org’s and .net’s get the same ‘SEO bonus’ that .com’s do, making their normal sale value–10-20% of the .com version–relatively desirable if you actually plan to develop rather than park). This competitive webmastering experience also allows me to avoid drinking the Domainer Kool-Aid. Yep, I think domainers as a bunch often believe what they want to believe, even in defiance of reality (the same could be said of SEOs of course!). Well here are four often-accepted lies that domainers tell themselves, which this SEO is calling bullsh*t on:
- Type-in traffic numbers are higher than you think, and growing. OK before you domainers launch your SCUD missiles at me, I do admit that with the REALLY big domains (e.g. Cars.com) certainly there’s a lot of type-in traffic. Not sure what the ratio is to search traffic, but of course for every 1000 searches for [cars] there is a certain fraction of that number typed into the URL bar as Cars.com. This fraction may also apply to 1.5-tier domains (e.g. UsedCars.com) but in my experience it does not apply to 2nd-tier domains (e.g. OhioUsedCars.com). As far as trends go, I think the facts are pretty simple. Most users stop typing something.com in the browser URL bar after they’ve used the Net for 6 or 12 months. Really, there is no reason to ever type in something.com once you have used Google. Yes, there will always be incoming (dumb) Net users, but in future years most of the new Internet users are going to be in the developing world (and thus harder to monetize). In America, nearly everyone who ever will use the Internet is already using it–and very few of us don’t know how to use Google.
- Type-in traffic converts better than search. OK so not only is type-in volume generally overhyped, its quality is lower than what’s normally stated. Richard Ball from Apogee Search covers this well here, the short version is that studies touted as proving type-in converts better than search are often lumping type-in, bookmarks, and other forms of traffic together (often referred to altogether as “direct navigation”). Of course bookmarks convert extremely well, and that skews the numbers upward. As far as how well the type-in traffic converts, the jury’s still out.
- Dot-mobi is the next dot-com. Well let me start off by saying I believe .net’s and .org’s are undervalued, which Brian Provost explains in-depth here. So the idea that a .mobi goes for as much or even more than the equivalent .net or .org is my first clue that the dot-mobi values are way overheated. Yes, I understand the concept of long term speculation in the mobile space, but even if we accept that mobile web usage is growing (from its current anemic adoption rate it in the US), it’s not yet even widely agreed that we will use .mobi extensions in mobile URLs! (as opposed to using mobile.domain.com or just having one universal URL where browser sniffing serves you a mobile version of a site when it detects you’re using a mobile device). Unfortunately, with dot-com prices sky-high right now, less-capitalized speculators are turning to this extension hoping for a huge long term upside, and of course the current dot-mobi owners are all-too-willing to feed the hype. I guess this myth is OK, I will keep buying up the good .net’s and .org’s and will laugh all the way to the bank.
- “Web 2.0 Communities” can be built automatically across huge portfolios of parked domains. As I explained in an earlier post I think Demand Media’s “Web 2.0 parking” plans are going to fail miserably. Basically, the plan is that with the push of a button you can transform your parked domain into a “Web 2.0 community” by pulling content from some different sources (eHow? wikipedia?), branding it according to the domain name, mixing it with user-generated content that the visitors provide, and interacting on the back-end with all the other domains for purposes of monetization and cross-promotion. Domainers want to believe that it will work because it solves the ‘development problem’ (how can you develop your domains if you own 10,000 of them?), but there are many trends going against it, and neither the SEO economics (thin, low-value-added, partly-duplicate content) nor community economics (the 1% rule, the fact that most community sites fail) bode well for its success.
Well I would enjoy it if a domainer would take the bait and write The Top 4 Lies SEOs Tell Themselves. In the meantime I think you smart SEOs are seeing the synergy between domaining and organic search. Just make sure you don’t drink the Domainer Kool-Aid!
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