Tag Archive for domains

AdSense Park My Domains Retired

Today Google announced that is shutting down part of its AdSense platform that it had been using to monetise undeveloped domains. The platform was conflict of interest as Google benefited by selling Ad space on the domains but also took a cut of AdSense earnings from owners who chose to monetise via AdSense for Domains.

The shutting down of this AdSense product has likely come at the request of the web spam team who fight daily to remove websites from their index that are of low value, but also from the industry who don’t like Google double dipping. Typically the benefit to users visiting any Adsense domains was close to zero but it also provided a strong commercial incentive for people to register typo domains and incentivize typosquatting domains.

This could certainly be a large step towards cleaning up the image of the domain parking industry as it shifts away from encouraging clicks to parked domains that add no value to working to develop the domains into lead generation and affiliate channels. There are a number of domain parking providers that run wonderful networks that help create content, provide analytics and generally help you build some value into your domains.  So it’s not the end of the world but there will be a number of unhappy domain owners that will have to start looking for a decent provide, but it will be golden days for domain parking platforms.

The announcement of shutting down its AdSense for Domain platform has potentially overnight destroyed a number of very profitable business models as I know a number of people who make great revenue from a handful of niche domains. But it will be interesting to see how this change will impact Google’s income stream over the next 6 months as people abandon it’s platform before it’s closed on June 27. It is also possible that a number of people might leave the domain parking industry so there could be a flood of domains that will start hitting the market over the next few months.

Based on this change I expect there is a significant Google algorithm change on the horizon that will potentially wipe out a number of these  sites, so Google wanted to get out while it was ahead. So stay tuned there is something on the horizon that pushed Google to respond after all these years of easy money.

Google is also being very fast in how quickly they started shutting down their parking program, with just a matter of a less than 2 months. They are also careful not to suggest any possible domain parking providers, they just advise people to Google “park my domains”. It’s a very interesting and lazy way to shut down a marketing platform and then just suggest people Google a certain phrase if they want to find a new parking provider. The official Google guide to migrating your domains away is here.

Doing a quick search across a few tools, currently there is no traffic around “park my domains” according to Google Trends, this is likely to change very quickly, and there is only 210 searches a month for that term as of today. As you can see from the screenshot below there is currently not that many specialist websites setup to capture that traffic but expect this to change rapidly.

Park My Domains

Park My Domains

Google has tried to cut its ties with an industry it helped build and reward, but it will be an interesting few months on the AdSense support forums as domainers lash out that Google has cut off their revenue stream.  It is now a bigger incentive to build out domains into real businesses but is everyone ready for the sheer amount of work that is actually required?

For a number of people who did well out of AdSense for Domains it’s going to be interesting change to revenue streams as previously they could just buy niche domains park them with Google and operate on razor-thin margins across a massive portfolio of domains. This is a very interest move indeed. You can read more details on the Google help page.

Amazon hints at keyword traffic

Black Friday DealsThe crew over at Domain Name Wire have picked up on an interesting registration by Amazon of several Christmas and Black Friday related generic exact match domains. These .com domains enable Amazon to benefit globally but a number of the terms are very American retail specific such as “black friday” and “holiday toy list”.  The purchase of the domains signals that Amazon is trying to increase the number of direct visitors that they are attracting and trying to cut the reliance on Google to deliver these visitors.  The strategy can be very effective but also can start an arms race with competitors to register every variation of domain that Amazon has failed to register first, and also search engines may adjust their algorithm further to reduce the benefit of exact match domains.

What are their exact match domain keywords?

  • black friday deals clothing
  • black friday deals movies
  • black friday deals tools
  • black friday deals watches
  • amazon holiday toy list
  • gift ideas books
  • gift ideas cameras
  • gift ideas games
  • gift ideas kitchen
  • gift ideas movies
  • gift ideas music
  • gift ideas toys
  • holiday toy list electronics
  • holiday toy list games
  • holiday toy list movies
  • holiday toy list music
  • holiday toy list sports
  • holiday toy list toys
  • holiday toy list videos

What is the value of this typed-in traffic?

If amazon wanted to buy this traffic via Google AdWords it would be costing them around $0.56-0.80 per click so it’s going to be a lot cheaper to try and capture visitors via type-in traffic.  When a visitor types the keyphrase directly into the web browser’s address bar, Google will often see it as direct navigation and send the visitor directly to your website.  This is a very effective way for Amazon to capture traffic for a number of these long tail terms but benefits them as it also skips the entire process of them seeing Google results and possibly clicking on your competitors links.

What is the traffic trends around the “Gift Ideas” terms?

It’s perfect timing as the biggest area of traffic that spikes in the 2nd week of November each year according to Google Insights for search.  The related search terms around “Gift Ideas” also show that this area is larger than just the holiday season with search variations of gift ideas including: birthday, christmas, wedding, anniversary, diwali, baptism.  This might also hint that some of the low hanging fruit for SEO or PPC might be focusing around the same terms as the new Amazon domains, that may now deliver them several thousand extra visitors every month.

What is the traffic trends around the “Black Friday” terms?

The generic term of “black friday” outperforms “gift ideas” by around 30 to 1 according to Google Insights for Search.  The purchase of the domains also support Amazon’s new Black Friday Deals website which is counting down to the start of the Christmas shopping season and one of the busiest shopping day for US retailers.  Being how Cyber Monday is the online version of of Black Friday it’s interesting to see that Amazon is focusing on the offline retail channels.

What is the traffic trends around the “Holiday Toy List” terms?

The potential traffic that these terms will drive is much lower that “gift ideas” and “black friday” but it’s likely that many of these terms are keywords used during the research phrase before a decision is made what toy they should buy.  If Amazon has multiple touch points and manages to get an item added to their wish list or shopping basket the chance they will purchase from Amazon greatly increases.  Even if the visitor doesn’t purchase this year, Amazon is also able to tag the visitor with a cookie to better understand consumer behaviour in time for 2012 Christmas shopping season.  You will also notice that Amazon is not focused on “toys” or “lists” but the singular version of the keyword.  They are focused on the plural version of the actual item as they understand the shoppers mentality and also want shoppers who are going to purchase more than one item.

What is the Top Toys for 2011?
While we are talking holiday toys, the Guardian has already outlined what presents parents must ensure they purchase for their kids, based on the Toy Retailers Association “Dream Toys” list.

So if Amazon is on the money already, so have you started planning your Christmas campaigns yet?

Should the UN regulate the internet?

Based on the issues that Wikileaks raised it was only a matter of time before the issue of controlling and censoring the internet would be raised, so with some detail John Hilvert covered it in his article on thoughts around if the UN should move to setup an inter-government working group that seeks to harmonise the global efforts to regulate the internet. Initially it seems the group would outline global standards for policing the internet challenging platforms like Wikileaks to operate freely which would please many governments who have been exposed via Wikileaks.

The concerning factor is that governments are starting to bring about a Draconian future where global infrastructure and free speech may no longer be possible, so would a UN working group challenge this or facilitate this Draconian world that might have already begun? Recently as part of the US governments move to stamp out piracy 82 domains were seized and the sites were shut down which challenges the role ICANN had to offer a single DNS system with root name servers.  ICANN stands for the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names & Numbers and was created to provide a not-for-profit public benefit group that is dedicated to keeping the internet secure, stable and interoperable.  ICANN is not meant to stop spam or deal with access to the internet but to promote competition and develop policy around the internet’s naming system but would that change if the UN working group was created?

ICANN Organisational Structure

ICANN Organisational Structure

The interesting point raised by Professor Bambauer at Brooklyn Law School is that the US might have actually created a precedent by seizing the domains before the court was able to rule on if they were infringing on copyright issues and opens the door for any other country in the world to do the same. There has been moves to consider if an open and distributed DNS platform could solve the issues of ownership and reduce the impact of governmental censorship as last month China was able to briefly divert around 15% of the world’s web traffic through Chinese servers.  While the incident which occurred way back in April 2010 only lasted 18 minutes it affected US military, US government, and US corporations showed the problem with a single government or company having control of the web.  The Chinese redirect highlight the possible weakness of the current routing tables for the web which still has not been addressed, which was first exposed at 2008 Defcon hacking event but remains unfixed even with all the current organisations and committees watching out for internet users which I doubt a UN working group would be able to solve any quicker.

Will the move to have a UN agency devoted to regulation speed the resolution of takedown notices or allow a shield for inter-government departments to rule on aspects such as Wikileaks? The United Nations charters already includes 6 principal organisations, 15 agencies, committees, subsidiary bodies and several programs so do they really need more roles? There are already semi-government supported platforms such as the Internet Government Forum who assist the UN Secretary General in carrying out his/her mandate from the World Summit on the Information Society which promote web accessibility standards set by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). There is also the ITU which is already a UN agency for information and communication technologies that could assist ICANN and the IGF around what could be done but there needs to be a stronger focus on transparency and independence from government and commercial interests.

Within Australia there has been pressure from the Government around Cybercrime which lead to a review into the Governance of the .AU domains and auDA’s role to ensure Australia’s internet infrastructure is stable and reliable, so they have requested expression of interest into the Governance of .AU which can be downloaded. The rise of Wikileaks has certainly shaken up how the future of the internet may operate and maybe these are the golden years and darker times are ahead and censorship looks to be on the up…. maybe we should UNregulate the internet?

Binged.it URL Shortner

A number of the leading web properties have been adding URL shortners to their product suite over the last year since Tr.im was almost closed.  The warning sent off alarm bells with companies as what would happen if the service they were using went bankrupt or the company decided to limit server resources or even change direction and sell their users data?

There is small signs on places like Twitter that Microsoft staff have started using Binged.it as their URL shortener but they are not the first nor the last company to build their own platform. It appears to be used just for internal purposes at this stage more for marketing and social media purposes.

As SeattlePI pointed out it was actually Michael Gillett of My Microsoft Life who actually noticed the tweet, but even then it was tweeted a week earlier.  With so many people watching Twitter and Bing, how can no-one else notice this earlier, and a congratulations to Michael for finding the needle in the haystack.

Domain Redirect?

Since the story was first published by SeattlePI, there has been some issues that have been corrected as it has been corrected since reported that when you visit http://binged.it it used to take you to http://Bit.ly but this has now been addressed and you are taken to http://www.Bing.com.

Since this had only just been changed, we thought that we could check if they had done it correctly.  The small point that they have still not addressed is that they setup the redirect process like this.

  1. http://binged.it (302 response)
  2. http://bing.com (301 response)
  3. http://www.bing.com

The issue is that there is an extra step involved in the redirection process, and possibly better for other URL shortners is that Bing will get less seo advantage from the backlinks built up in time. We had a quick look at a number of the other leading URL shortener’s and how many others are just for internal/company purposes.

WordPress “WP.me”

WordPress launched WP.me as part of the WordPress.com free blogging service, where you can just click “get shortlink” and you get your Twitter/Facebook friendly URL. The other benefit is that the URL is less likely to be affected by malicous links because WordPress is very proactive on Spam.  The other point about the WP.me is that they are generated from a WordPress.com blog post and not any random URL found online.

So the URL shortening service will be around as long as WordPress is around which gives users much more confidence to start using the service as an alternative. A side point courtesy of Mashable is that WP.me was the only 2 letter .me domain in the world before Facebook FB.me was launched.

Google “Goo.gl”

Google not one to miss out on a new toy has launched its own URL shortner Goo.gl but similar to WordPress it is only using it for its product suite and not using it for public URLs.  It is slowly been rolled out across Google’s extensive list of products but two of the most requested products to have the URL shortener is Google Docs and Google Analytics.  The URLs these products generate can fill several lines and a shortened version would prove very useful. A small indication of how likely the product will be made public anytime soon is that the copyright year is still set to 2009, where every other Google property has been updated to 2010.  This means that a small amount of resources are being made on the public face of the product and is likely being allocated to getting the backend system right.

Google advises that its url shortener system is built around 3 key principals: stability, security, speed

Facebook “FB.me”

Facebook had started the rollout of FB.me suited for sharing URLs, and it could also be used a shortener for accessing Facebook, so you could type in Fb.me/cocacola to access the Coke fan page. But when we tested it while writing this post it showed an error screen and this url http://www.facebook.com/expand.php?short_key.  So it looks like the product is still being tested or might be in the process of being updated?

“Bit.ly”

This is the leading URL shortner and one that has an agreement with Microsoft, and a very close relationship with Twitter.  It is even expanding with Bit.ly PRO launched last year that enables companies like Microsoft to have their own branded URLs. Some of the Bit.ly powered domains are :

  • nyti.ms
  • 4sq.com
  • mee.bo
  • tcrn.ch

WalMart fails to understand online marketing

From several previous posts we have discovered that a majority of traditional retailers don’t place as much effort into their online strategy as they do their shades of colour used on the logos or even the material used for corporate furniture….

While a majority of the Toys R Us web properties fail to follow the basics around search optimisation, they still rank #1 or #2 for many of the high volume terms because they have an effective and established backlinks.  But with some on site optimsiation it is possible that they can further increase their online sales from their current position. This will also help them expand their reach to the profitable and higher converting long tail search terms that their competitors currently capture. They appear to be well ahead of Walmart.com in the market to capture a bulk of the profitable online toy market.
Website Traffic
Even the more established online sites Toys.com and eToys capture significantly less traffic according to compete.com site analytics. The site analytics figures show that even though ToysRUs.com is a niche retailer it still attracts a significant amount of website visitors.
Walmart.com (51.8 million)
Toysrus.com (18.7 million)
Amazon.com (76.4 million)
What is interesting is that Walmart traffic grew 52% less than the 78% growth for Toys R Us leading upto the Xmas period.  Amazon showed far less of a spike with around 8% growth but matched the other 2 websites for yearly growth rates according to compete.com.
Keyword Ranking?

So how does eToys managed rank #2 for the search term “toys” when Walmart struggles to rank #5. The basic analysis revolves around eToys is a keyword friendly domain and has always been associated with toys.  This combined with around 20,000 links from 2,500 domains

vastly out performs Walmart.com/toys which has 57,000 links but from only 80 domains. Domain diversity is an issue and Walmart’s backlink strategy is leaning closer to spam and failing to give it the extra online sales.
So how does Walmart rank for its key terms and products it seems to indicate are key areas of business or has plans to capture more market share. It doesn’t appear that they have made an effort to improve what toys are the hot/popular from Christmas 2008 which is not the best start.
Walmart.com Keyword Rankings in Google.com (Top 100)
Toys #5
Games #N/A
High School Musical  #N/A
Disney #N/A
Iron Man #N/A
Elmo #70
Star Wars #N/A
Batman #N/A
Barbie #N/A
Lego #N/A
More #N/A
Action Figures #24
Bikes #7
Scooters #21
Skates #11
Building Sets #N/A
Dolls #N/A
Stuffed Toys #N/A
Games #N/A
Kids Electronics #3
Learning Toys #12
Music Instruments #N/A
Karaoke #N/A
Outdoor Play #3
Preschool Toys #3
Riding Toys #2
Radio Control Vehicles #53
Video Games #27
Gift Finder #19
We did not include universal search results that showed Google Product listings for some searches such as Scooters, only actual organic results for Walmart.com.  The biggest problem is that based on our own clients data you need to be first page of the search results at 92-94% of clicks occur here and do not goto the second page, combined with expanded universal search results it is key to be in the top 3 results to be successful. There is so many gaps in their products that don’t even feature in the top 100 which I thought would be impossible for a website like Walmart.com which shows there are major issues with their online marketing strategy.
Meta Tags
It also seems that Walmart still seems to follow some basic points to guide the search engines such as Meta description or Meta Keywords and leaves this marketing message to algorithms. It is not always best to leave your advertising message to a robot to self generate based on its estimates on what would encourage people to click.
Canonical Tag
But a guiding point is that they are using Canonical tags to reduce duplicate content and give Google/Bing the hint of what page they wanted showed in the SERPs. http://www.walmart.com/toys
The canonical choice of URL does show some hope for WalMart at a top level but they seem to fail around most other factors such as relevant title tags, and even SEO friendly URLs within the store.  These failures combined with overuse of onsite ads, too many images, too much flash and poor page loading times affect website usability.
Site Navigation fails consistency
I would rate this is a poor navigational URL for a website and one that could easily lead to broken links
Product URL fails to rank well
How could what product or item this URL is for? http://www.walmart.com/catalog/product.do?product_id=11018843
It doesn’t make sense to the user and would i be likely to share or bookmark this link? Once again Toysrus.com ranks higher at #3 for the search term “DC Universe Batman figures” but below Amazon.com #2 which shows that there is something wrong with the online marketing by Walmart.com
Google Insights
Using Google Insights for Search Toys R Us has around 10 times the amount of branded search traffic that Walmart Toys does.  Combined with owning 3 of the top online domains: Toyrus,eToys,Toys gives them a massive lead over Walmart. Using the basic calculation of a #1 & #2 result for Toys R Us website this gives them an estimated of around 53% of clicks from searchers seeking toys in the US market.
SEO Factors such as Domain Age?
Looking at some key search ranking factors for Walmart.com and it appears to be around 2 years older than the eToys.com domain so we can say that in this case domain age is less of a factor. Also it seems that Walmart.com’s competitors such as Toys R Us fail to take onsite optimisation as seriously which leaves link strategy as the only differentiator between the two companies.
Walmart Domain Strategy
Walmart continues to buy back domains which it didn’t secure early in the dot.com days, but is it making effective use of these domains as part of an overall strategy.  The only domain that is partly setup correctly is “wal-mart.com” which has a 302 redirect to its primary Walmart.com domain. It would appear that they wish to have these other domains show within the search results, and they are likely causing issues such as duplicate content and maybe marked as spammers due to how the search engines are treating the domains.
  • wallmart.com (200)
  • wal-mart.com (302)
  • Retaillink.at (200)
  • Wallmartphoto.com (200)

So based on our initial analysis their appears to be several key areas where Walmart fail to be the 800 pound gorilla of the online retail world and may just need to sit back eat some humble pie and consider its strategy with some more thought.  Only digital strategy takes more planning and requires a site wide view that matches with several elements of your online marketing and some companies still need work.

Usernames landrush on Facebook

The initial landrush to claim your Facebook username is over, with initial estimates of between 10 to 20 million usernames being claimed.  Hitwise UK blogged that Facebook had its busiest day ever with the hype around the username launch with Facebook accounting for 5.17% of all web traffic.  Will the second stage launch generate as much traffic for the social network as the next move is to open the floodgates for all the new Facebook accounts that were any accounts created after the username option was announced at 3pm on June 9th 2009.

After 11:59pm (EDT) on Sunday 28th June, all new Facebook users will be able to register a username.  These new accounts are required to have a verified Facebook account, which may require them to authenticate via mobile phone.

Developers will have to wait a bit longer for username support as Facebook is still not allowing usernames to be accessible through its Platform API, where in the past applications were able to store UID’s.  This will not affect how you use Facebook apps on a day to day basis.

An important point which makes the username feature different from email is that a period (“.”) does not count as a part of a username and does not make a username unique.  Therefore, names like jamessmith55, james.smith55, james.smith.55… all constitute the same Facebook username. This limits the potential number of variations that are possible within the Facebook username system, so you should register your user name now.  www.facebook.com/username/

Facebook also not immune from hacking as it is not immune from its users having poor quality low security passwords has added help details for users who have had a username created for their account without their consent.  If you need help because you facebook account has been hacked visit their help page.

If you want more help with Facebook usernames visit their username help section.

Related Images:

Facebook encourages Vanity

Facebook now allows users to personalise their facebook url (web address) by selecting a unique username similar to Twitter.com/thelostagency

This process started at 12:01am (EDT) on Sat 13th June 2009, the system allows you to pick the suggested names or create your owner.  If the username is available you just have to click confirm and it is done.  The only downside is that you can only have one username and this cannot be reset once selected.

The interesting security feature is that even after an account is removed/closed the username will not be then made available as other services allow.  This might produce problems if a spammer creates an account, claims your username and then is closed down, so my advice is to register your username now rather than later, considering how many other people may have your name with 200 million users…

To reduce the landrush and spammers, users names for new users created after this annoucement was made public will only be made available after 28th June 2009.

Facebook can also reserve the right to remove or reclaim any username at anytime for any reason.  The caveat is if you have a name in common with someone famous or important they may steal your name in the future if it suits them under this broad T&Cs.  Read more about the Facebook username process.

Update: It is almost time to open up the landrush for usernames for all new accounts created since 9th June.

Related Images: