NEW YORK, NY – A long time ago, say, 8-10 years ago, to effectively market a website on the Internet you needed to know how to do some very basic SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and you needed to acquire lots of inbound links to your site – from just about anywhere you could find them, and when you understood this and utilized it, you could reap tremendous reward from search engine traffic.
This is because if you simply acquired or purchased enough inbound links to your site you would sky-rocket to the top of Google, and your site would stay there for a long time; at least until the next Google update, when rankings would move around and Google would do its little ‘dance’ (props due Darrin Ward – This guys websites and forums taught me a lot.). Your sites page rank would also increase; the little green bar on your browsers toolbar would extend longer, and your sites value would go up; you would become king of your niche. Especially if your PageRank® increased to a six, seven, eight, or nine. Now you would really be worth money. You could even earn a comfortable living simply selling links on your pages to others who also needed links and understood the value of PageRank®.
Today, not so; Google’s rankings change instantly, are customized for each user, and Google has done away with the entire visible PageRank® because all it did was get manipulated, cause confusion and create an entire market of buying and selling something Google created without benefit to Google. In fact, utilizing the same rudimentary marketing tactics today will likely cause the complete opposite result of what benefits it had in the past; and if you’re really unlucky, your site could virtually vanish from the Internet all-together, and you’ll put yourself right out of business as Google will just remove your site. The only difference for Google removing and banning sites today, verses a few years ago, is they’ve got to be even more sneaky about it because they keep getting sued.
That’s right; these days, online marketers need to be a lot smarter, much more strategic about the ads and links they acquire, and ensure they follow Google’s ‘rules of the road’ – or at least make sure it ‘appears’ that their following the rules. And as far as content goes, they have to come up with all sorts of link-bait tactics, info-graphics, viral videos, funny memes and other clever methods of content generation in order to get people to share things with friends, family, etc… It’s called “content marketing” or “inbound marketing” and it takes time and effort. This means it’s a whole lot more difficult and costly to market websites on the Internet, especially with search engines, because things need to be looked at longer, sites and links need to be studied for value verse risk, and many methods of long ago just do not work at all anymore.
Today, a site has to be ‘sticky’ with its users and have a high share-ability factor for social media. If and when a site has links pointing to it, those links need to come from authoritative sites or the links don’t work (they don’t increase rankings). The links including where they appear on the page (within bodies of content verses sidebars and footers) simply matter much more than they did in the past. These links also need to be related (on-theme) and powerful – due to this they are much harder to acquire.
It’s also difficult to get people to notice you and write about your site and service these days; you need to really stick-out to get noticed. There is a lot of noise out there in the Twitter-sphere and with all of the content being thrown at net-surfers; people’s patience is much shorter.
It’s continually getting harder and harder to make your mark on the web.
Getting to the title of this article, this morning I noticed an article about the domain names “Homes.Forsale and Houses.Forsale selling for $90,000”. The sites were linked to in a story just like they are here. I also noticed the sites were linked to from Twitter, the venue which spread the news to my email which initially caught my eye to begin with and that Twitter post was shared and re-tweeted three times (twice which re-tweets contained the links). Here is my point. The sites acquired ten (10) inbound links from this being mentioned in the article and on Twitter, so far.
— WTF Domains (@wtfdomains) June 23, 2017
Two links were acquired from the Twitter post, two from the original article (the Entrepreneur story itself) two more from the story ‘about’ the story, two more links from the re-tweet and two more from the previous re-tweet. The sites have just acquired another two web links from this article of mine and I am sure there is plenty more already. I have not yet even looked around any further for any others which are surely out there including soon-to-be up-and-coming followers. That’s not a bad start for a web business. I’m now counting twelve (12) total web links so far and the buzz is just starting to build. This buzz and inbound link strategy has real value in today’s web.
This is because inbound links are still very very important in determining a sites ranking in Google despite what Google might want you to believe. Notice Google’s faithful mascot (I won’t mention any names) is no longer around. My guess is he couldn’t take being on the hot seat anymore with all the lies and deceit involved and wanted no-part of the continual blow-back from Google updates, changes and ongoing penalization (not to mention the liability by continually talking about it all the time – eventually they’ll stick their foot in their mouths and say the wrong thing).
Heck, the right PR stunt has probably built plenty of businesses in the past. To get something off the ground out of nowhere you’ve got to have great PR. “How long is this really supposed to take to get a startup off the ground?” Sound familiar? And that is where most of the hidden value is in these new gTLDs; people are going to start talking about them because it’s new and different and there is a trend building here. As a case-in-point, Homes.Forsale and Houses.Forsale are within their initial startup phase, and people are already talking about it – (hey, there’s two more links).
These high value gTLDs which are based on real money terms, high search volume, in high profit industries spark discussion – period. These discussions and sales will thus drive higher the rest of the gTLD market and lead to even more sales and more discussion. Even the wisest of domain name investors and enthusiasts are starting to take notice and worry; if not much, just an insy little bit – that money is pooling away from .coms and being spent on gTLDs. They may not want you to know this, but there is indeed an insy-little-bit of anxiety out there.
Don’t let them fool you.
This is why the value of all domains is going down, against what most would like you to believe. Because an exact match .com domain (EMD) is simply not a ticket-to-ride anymore, like it once was and there are plenty of other options emerging. Having the right .com domain is not going to equal “instant success” like it did in the past. Today, to succeed, it’s going to take the right name, PLUS the ability to market that domain like a king.
Great names need to be developed into great websites.
And I am not talking about a five (5) pager cookie-cutter with some nifty-navigation and some content you purchased from a freelance writer. No, those sites with cheap, non-spectacular content are not going to top the charts anymore simply because of the keywords in the domain name or the content being unique – OR, you were able to accomplish getting a few links pointing to it (from your other owned sites :)).
No, no, not at all. The site has to be fantastic; it’s got to have a buzz-factor to it; it’s got to get shared with minimal effort, it’s got to have some viral aspects to it, so when it’s shared it can build some momentum of its own – then, and only then, it’s also got to be run like a full-fledged business; or it’s just not going anywhere. Again, the domain name is leverage, albeit, very significant leverage, but it’s not the be-all end-all like it used to be. It depends on who has it and what they are doing with it.
Now don’t get me wrong. Having the right name (especially a .com), in the right hands, is a license to steal. It’s like being a stock-broker; three percent (3%) in and two percent (2%) out; you can’t lose.
However, having the right name, in the “wrong” hands is an asset worth selling. Because nothing is going to happen with it. Parking the domain name, for the most part, is a waste of time and opportunity. Even if the domain name is a real category killer, having it parked is not going to bring you much dividends, and if it does, only the slightest and smallest fraction of what it could be.
This is likely why there has been some unbelievable domain portfolios going up for sale as of late. Because times have changed my friends…. And smart people know it. Domain investors with great domain names know they need to be developed or sold to someone who plans to develop them. In fact, they are better off just partnering with a developer or someone who can really monetize their domain ideas because that is what a domain name is, it’s a great possibility; an idea waiting to be built into something great. Sure you can just hold onto the domain name and sell it later, but with it comes risk, as in all investments.
The domain market and business has changed from buy and hold, to buy and develop.
So buying these new gTLD domain names, if for nothing else, is a great PR stunt. It’s an effective way to build some initial buzz and momentum that would otherwise be difficult to generate. There is also added marketing value in the keywords on the left and the right of the dot. If those keywords on the right and left can help you rank in search, even just a little bit, it could help add leverage – very necessary leverage to compete in a quickly overcrowding place. But just don’t forget, you’re going to loose a little bit of traffic from direct navigation, those who forget the URL and/or confusion. These are the types of things that will get people talking about you when and if nothing else will.
Do I recommend buying these new URLs? To be honest, I don’t know, I’m really not sure. I don’t think it’s as important as whether or not you build a great site and service. Plus, you could always change the name later and take your traffic and link equity with you via a 301 redirect, so in some cases I think really good new dots could be worth it, at least temporarily or to have as potential leverage down the road, especially if you have the spending capability to grab them. If you’ve got the cash, right now why not? They’re like lotto tickets; I would rather have five of them in my pocket, than just one. But I am leaving that to you to decide, because sometimes I just do not have the definitive answer and this is one of those times.
For the Trolls out there that think I write just to bash new gTLDs and/or domains overall, simply not so. I’ve purchased, renewed, built out and developed plenty of expensive new gTLDs such as Find.cars, the largest and most complex database driven site in the gTLD automotive space (It has over 250,000 vehicles for sale on it and I can launch a mirror of it on any domain in any geographic market I want by simply pushing a button); it’s also one of the most expensive new gTLDs to take a chance with and renew on a year to year bases (which I have been doing) – and I am not big fan of wasting money. On the .com front I’ve built my entire life on domains, so I am not here to bash the domain business, I’m here as your ordinary truth-telling straighter-talker based on what my experience has taught me over the years. Like it or hate it, I report and share what I see and what I think, and I’ve got no problem saying that sometimes I’m flat out wrong – like anyone else is from time to time, yet some will never admit it.
So buy, trade, sell and develop what you will and what you believe in. In all aspects of both life and business, there are always people who beat the odds. Just be sure to learn everything you can while you do it. When I started this business, if I would have listened to every nay-sayer that predicted this Internet thing would never work, I would never have even gotten started. There is nothing wrong with making mistakes; every entrepreneur does it, as long as you learn valuable lessons from them.
About The Author: John Colascione is CEO of Long Island Media Inc., an Internet ad agency and publisher of the largest group of Long Island New York based websites and one print newspaper collectively reaching over one million people per month. He specializes in Website Monetization, authored a ‘how to’ book called ‘‘Mastering Your Website’, and is a key player in several Internet related businesses through his holding company Searchen Networks®