nTLDs and Trademark Protection: How ICANN’s Trademark Clearinghouse Protects Your Brand

Perhaps you’ve been wondering how, with all the nTLDs releasing in the near future, you’ll be able to protect your brand. The Internet is about to get huge (echo “huge” in your head for added effect), so how will your trademark stand its ground?  ICANN has got you covered. With the addition of a Trademark Clearinghouse (TMCH), ICANN hopes to help protect trademark security and clean up the waste of cost and time usually spent protecting trademark portfolios by simplifying the protection process. Because time is money, and money is numbers, and numbers are… well, you see where we’re going here.

What the TMCH is:

The Trademark Clearinghouse is a digital database in which trademark owners will be able to register their trademark. Once the trademark is registered, it brand copyright protect becomes a part of the Clearinghouse, and every time a nTLD becomes available, during the Sunset Period (the first sixty days after domains are available for purchase), the administering registry for that gTLD must run each new domain name through the database to make sure there are no matches. If there is a match, the applicant for the new domain name is notified, as well as the owner of the matched trademark. The process gives trademark owners the chance to protect their brand with minimal legwork.

What the TMCH does:

The TMCH will also provide a rapid dispute solution, to take down domains that infringe on other trademark copyrights, as well as provide a process for determining who gets rights when more than one registered trademark can claim ownership over the same domain. If a trademark owner identifies a rights infringement in the registration of a new domain, that owner can file an objection. ICANN has the ability to then pull an infringing domain quickly, allowing for added security to the trademark owner. The TMCH provides a point of contact to begin disputing and in doing so, creates a safer environment for trademark owners to protect their rights.

Arguably, the most defining characteristic of the new TMCH is that instead of having to register your entire trademark portfolio with every registry administering a new gTLD, you only have to register with the TMCH. That means, if you have a trademark portfolio of 10 trademarks, and 500 nTLDs start registering in the next few years, you saved money and time you would have spent on 5,000 different registrations. With the TMCH, you’ll only have to register your portfolio once, with the TMCH, and the registries, which are required to run every new domain through the database, will catch duplications before domains get registered.

The future of the TMCH:

ICANN is still working out the details for the implementation and administration of the TMCH, and many officials involved with the development are quick to point out that the process isn’t perfect, but the Clearinghouse provides a working solution to a previously huge problem – how to allow trademark owners to affordably protect their ownership.

Aside from the TMCH, many registries are in the process of developing their own measures to protect against trademark infringement, as well. The combination of registry guards, the TMCH, and trademark owners will hopefully make protecting against infringement a little easier. Read more about the nTLDs here on our blog, or follow our watcher as the application process unfolds.

Don’t Get Hacked: Password Lessons from the Flame Broiler

It lasted for over an hour and was so ugly that even their competitors were sending out empathetic Tweets.

mcdonalds empathy burger king

Burger King’s Twitter account had been hacked, and not only were the hackers sending their own racially-charged tweets about Burger King employees “crushing and sniffing Percocet in the bathroom,” but they also changed all the branding from BK to McDonalds. They even went so far as to promote McDonald’s new Fish McBites.

burger king twitter hacked

So with this kind of nightmare playing out in real life in front of the whole world, we thought it was time to contribute a quick, legitimate  piece to the “how to come up with a great password that’s memorable and fun and makes you feel safe” articles that will be swirling around the ‘net. From our staff we compiled dozens of tips all shrunk down to this one convenient list of tips and tricks for a better, safer, more memorable password.

Caroline Temple, our Affiliate Marketing Manager, knocked out 8 quick pointers for better Internet security:

1. Well – duh – we’ve got the free 2-step verification.

2. Don’t use words like “H3LL0!”  The programs designed to crack passwords have included subbing numbers for vowels now.

3. Consider the “pass phrase”.  Like “IReallyLikeCoffeFirstThingInTheMorning10:00am”

4. Change your password often.

5.. Don’t use the same password for more than one account.

6. WRITE  your passwords down somewhere safe.  Try your darndest to not store them within a document that can get hacked.

7. Review all those apps that you have given access to your Twitter account – maybe it’s time to revoke access of apps that don’t use SSL certificates or that you have not used in a while.

8. Always make sure the URL bar up top reads “https” before logging in to any account.  that means they have an SSL certificate installed that will encrypt your information when logging in.

Some of these steps can be completely alleviated with great tools like oplop (courtesy of Pat “P-Mo” Moroney) that let you simplify all your passwords to a nickname and one master password. And Fitz in support reminded us to plug one of our customers, Last Pass, a secure password manager that promises to make your life much easier.

Finally, it should be noted, that your password should NOT be any word or phrase associated with your personal information or business products. Those are very easy to hack. Like I should not use “Jared1” and you definitely should NOT use “whopper123”  as Burger King, the Home of the Whopper, used up until recently.

We’ll leave you with this helpful password hint from one of our favorite web comics, XKCD

cartoon password strength tips tricks

String Similarity and the New gTLDs – Does ICANN Have Too Many Similar Extensions in the Running?

One of the most pressing concerns with nTLDs is whether or not the launch of so many in such a relatively short amount of time will complicate the functionality of the Internet for everyday users. Wrapped up in this worry, is the focus on string similarity, or how close a proposed nTLD can be in meaning, sound, or visual representation to another, or to an existing gTLD.

There are rules in the ICANN guidebook concerning how similar strings can be, and they seem to spell-out that strings should definitely not be close in visual representation, while giving more leeway to how close two strings can be in meaning and sound. As experts watch the process, and the upcoming Initial Evaluation results, which will indicate string similarity issues, some believe that there’s a lot of flexibility, while others believe there’s not.

ICANN defines the purpose of their String Similarity Panel as such:

“The String Similarity Panel will review the entire pool of applied-for strings to determine whether the strings proposed in any two or more applications are so similar that they would create a probability of user confusion if allowed to coexist in the DNS.” (4-3)

The guidebook further explains that the String Similarity Panel will look for the flowing issues:

  • Whether or not a proposed string is too visually similar to another string, either already in existence or proposed.
  • Whether or not a proposed string is too similar, by proxy. For example, if A string is too similar to B string, and B string is too similar to C string, then A string will need to be accessed as well, even if it’s not similar to C string on its own.
  • Whether or not the launch of a certain nTLD will cause user confusion.nTLDs domain names

In a letter written in November, but only recently posted to ICANN’s site last week, Jeffrey Smith, the CEO of Commercial Connect, LLC, let ICANN know that their guidelines are both hard to parse-out for interpretation and may mean that only 56 proposed nTLDs are actually unique, if the guidelines are taken strictly.

Smith, in conjunction with Commercial Connect, is applying for the rights to .shop, a follow-up to an application Commercial Connect submitted in 2000, when they were asked to submit again, as a part of the larger nTLD push. Smith states that his letter is written as a community member more than an applicant, and he points out that if all 1,917 applications are considered in accordance with the string similarity guidelines put forth by ICANN, then not just visually similar strings should be knocked-out of the running, but also similarly sounding and meaning strings, too:

“There has been an understanding that no new gTLD would be released that had similar meaning, sound, or appearance to any existing TLD. This has roots in protecting the end user from being confused about which TLD should be used and lends credibility to the intent of the process. The premise of keeping the internet a safe, secure and user friendly environment for all stakeholders supports this rule.”

To illustrate what Smith is talking about, here are just a few examples of current applied-for nTLDs that could be considered too similar to launch, depending on how strictly you interpret the guidelines:

  • .auto, .car, .autos, .cars
  • .loans, .loan; .market, .markets; .work, .works
  • .buy, .shop, .shopping
  • .lawyer, .esq, .law

There are many examples like these – where words are similar visually, many times just the difference between singular and plural form, or that words are too similar in meaning, such as with “buy” and “shop.” Smith argues that IDNs should also be considered in the same mix as other nTLDs – since both will be existing together as options to one another.

Yet, some argue that Smith’s representation is too oversimplified. If an applicant applies for .auto, and wishes to use it as a closed registry, in conjunction with their business, than a .car would suffice to establish an open-market nTLD in place of the word “auto.” Some argue that having “car” and “auto” in any capacity would be confusing; others argue that Internet users are flexible and capable of discerning the uses of both nTLDs.

With so many applications in the works, it’ll be interesting to see how ICANN broaches the subject, and whether or not we’ll see the number of possible nTLDs lower as launch dates get nearer.

Where do you stand on string contention? The more the merrier, or too many cooks in the kitchen? Use any outdated and corny colloquialism you want – we won’t judge you. We just want to get your take.

If you have your eye on the application process, check out our nTLD watcher. Plugin the nTLD you want to track, and we’ll send you updates as they make their way through evaluation. Or keep checking back here, to our blog, for updated information.

13 Tricks and Tools to get the Right Domain Name and Make it Awesome

It’s 2013 and time you get in on the domain name action. Why? Well it’s the best marketing tool money could buy. Why else? Well aside from getting your own spot on the World Wide Web to do just about anything you want, Name.com has lots of cool tricks, many of them free, to help you get the right domain name and optimize it for the best performance on the web.

1. Geo Domains Search – This is an SEO gold mine for businesses. Even Google is starting to display search results and ads based on your location. Think about when you search for something you need like, for example, “Dentists in Denver.” Getting a Geo Domain with our Geo Doman search will help you land on the front page of those results.

geo domains search

2. Premium Affordable Domains – We know what makes a domain hot.  We offer some of our best premium registered domains at affordable prices. We dare you for just one day to follow our @namecom_flash twitter account.   Even if you’re not looking to buy a domain, you’ll get a live stream all day long for new business ideas.  HostCommunities.com? GotLiveStock.com? LoonyBits.com? You’ll get addicted! Click and buy straight from Twitter.

 

affordable domain names

3. Exclusive Expiring Domains – People have big ideas and sometimes…they let them go.  We have an exclusive list of Expiring Domains that you can’t buy anywhere else.  In the domaining world, it’s good to belong to the “exclusive domain club” and especially to buy domains before they are offered to the public.  Be careful though, it can turn into a hobby, and maybe even a full-fledged domaining business. This is one secret that those who already use this list hope does not catch on.

Expiring domain names

4. DNS Traffic Search – Like the great prophet  Nostradomainus, this cool tool helps predict how much web traffic your online idea will get. For example, DNS Traffic Search can find if there’s already interest in a particular domain phrase.  The higher the score, the more that people naturally search for this domain.  (meaning people can find you on the wild wild webs)  Don’t do your “domain for business/blog/website” search without this tool!

traffic scores for domains

5. Domain Nabber – We’re telling you how to cheat our system!  Sooooo, have you ever found a domain you want – but it’s already registered?  It’s pretty common and you can hire us to wait out the domain for you when the domain becomes available.

However, every other company like us is going to try to register that domain for their clients too.  Most companies get greedy and allow more domain name nabberthan one person to be placed on the “waitlist” of sorts and then will auction it off to the highest bidder.  We allow just ONE person per domain to submit interest – and if we don’t ‘nab’ the domain after it expires, we REFUND your money.  You have nothing to lose.  So if you back order domains through a different company – back order with us too.  You have nothing to lose and will most likely pay less for the same domain when we ‘nab it!

6. newTLD Bonanza – The big new generic Top-Level Domains are coming, and we can help you get your .BEER or .NINJA or .HORSE domain.  Add yourselves to our newTLD watchlist and we’ll deliver to your inbox the updates as they happen for your choice of domain extensions.  You could be the first person to brag to your friends that you are now .COOL!

ninja and horse are two newTLDs

7. NameSafe Account Security – These domains you’ve been registering are worth some money! Protect them with Verisign’s 2-factor authentication login. That’s geek speak for not only do you supply your name and password for your name.com login, but then you’ve got a super secret app on your phone (or key fob) that generates a new code every 30 seconds that only you can input.  You’ll feel pretty pimp using yours when at the coffee house.

8. Social URL Forwarding – We see you on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, and…Wanna make it easier for your friends to find you on each social media site you try out?  Rather than give out facebook.com/immacrazaydomainer why not your own – ImmaCrazayDomainer.com/facebook?  BAM!  You just took the power back from Facebook.  Feels good.  Register your domain and then click “Social URL Forwarding” from your domain management page.

7. Buy the stars, save 40% – It’s called “buying the constellation” when you pick up several domain extensions at once. Most often people and businesses do this to laptop woman happydefend their trademark. If you have bananaflipper.com, you’ll want to protect your genius with bananaflipper.net, .org, .me, .biz, .info and .co.  When you do that at name.com, you automagically get a discount for purchasing a constellation.

8. Fast Transfer from GoDaddy – This is indeed one of the coolest things we’ve ever been responsible for. It is exactly what it says: If you want to transfer your domain names from GoDaddy to name.com, you can do it in minutes. And there will be joy.

9. Sync your Domains – Take all your COM and NET domains and sync their expiration dates. It sounds like a small thing, but for anyone who has ever lost a domain to expiration, it’s a sky full of rainbows. For anyone at all really it’s nice to harmonize something in your life. Now you won’t have to worry about twenty different dates.

10. URL Forwarding – It amazes us how many people still don’t know one of the greatest free tricks of a domain name. Here’s a real life example: My son brought home a flyer from school. It said, “Go Green! To get the lunch calendar sent to your email go to http://www.schoolnutritionandfitness.com/index.php?page=automenu&sid=1810101726256203 !” So to help Littleton Public Schools stop killing trees, I bought lpsgreen.org and forwarded it to http://www.schoolnutritionandfitness.com/index.php?page=automenu&sid=1810101726256203. They’re still not sure what I’ve done or how I’ve done it, but I’m preferring to let them think it took a lot of work. When in fact it takes about a minute to turn a bad url into a good website.

free url forwarding11. The Slickest Little Bit o’ Web Magic – Scrollkit fell into our laps when Pat “P-Fro” Ramsey stumbled across it on the ‘net. It’s new, but don’t let it’s rookie status fool you; it’s also awesome. If you want to build a fast and easy web presence–scratch that–if you want to create a personalized web presence in mere minutes and without wanting to throw your computer out the window, Scrollkit is it.

easy web builder

12. One-Click WordPress – WordPress has cuddled the world up to its user-friendly bosom and made many of us feel really comfortable about starting our own website. But it’s not all of us. With WordPress you have to get your own name unicornshosting and you have to know how to install it. These are steps that have kept people from getting a truly professional looking website. NOW HOWEVER THERE IS RapidPress. For one low price you get an instant WordPress site. Click. That’s it. Hook it up to your domain and you not only save a boatload of time…but also a nice handful of cash.

13. We have RAINBOWS and UNICORNS on our homepage. Seriously.  Do you know Konami Code?  If not, Google it, then come back to name.com and unlock all that makes us happy in the world.

Those are the Top 13 tricks to make the most of your domain names in 2013. Oh, and did we mention we have superfast DNS and propagation? Don’t know what that is? You don’t need to. Our incredible customer support and web dev team takes care of it for you. If there’s anything you come away with from this list is that we take care of you, your domains, websites and hosting. Otherwise we’d have no idea what to do with ourselves.

An Overview of ICANN’s Strawman Solution, and Why its Causing a Kerfuffle

There should be more complications in the new gTLD process. Said no one, ever. But concerns about brand protection have started a new debate in the ICANN community concerning the “Strawman Solution,” a suggested answer to the question, How will ICANN protect the Internet community against intellectual property destruction during the launch of nTLDs?

Since the Strawman Solution is getting so much attention, and since it affects you, as a potential registrant, we decided to break it all down – what the solution is, where it came from, why it’s causing controversy, and how it would affect registration. Once you’ve read everything over, let us know what you think.

The Strawman Solution

The Strawman Solution introduces several tweaks and implementations to policies in the ICANN guidebook, concerning trademark protection. The solution is meant as a talking point and a suggestion of possible changes, and would not go into effect until comments are considered and the proposal could be fleshed-out. Some of the key points of the proposal are:

  • Registrars must give a 30 day warning, pre-sunrise period, to promote public awareness and participation in sunrise registration.burning man for ntlds strawman
  • The 60 day period for Trademark Clearinghouse registration would be extended to 90 days.
  • An optional “Claims 2” period for the Trademark Clearinghouse would be implemented, during which a claims holder may pay additional fees to keep the basic functions of the TMCH open for six months to a year.
  • Trademark owners could register up to 50 labels that have been previously determined by the UDRP or a court proceeding to be abusive or infringing in the TMCH.

In addition to these points of the Strawman Proposal, the document is also dog-eared with an additional proposal, not agreed on by the committee that met after Toronto, but still up for discussion. That proposal, The Limited Preventative Registration, would add a mechanism for trademark owners to prevent second-level registration of their marks.

The Process of Drafting the Strawman Proposal

The Strawman Proposal was drafted after a closed-door meeting following the Toronto summit, in November (2012). The meeting was kept off-record, so until recently the list of who attended wasn’t released. The members included: ICANN staff, IBM and Deloitte representatives (both companies were picked by ICANN to run the TMCH), and representatives from “select stakeholder groups,” who also represent GNSO, or the Generic Names Supporting Organization. The complete list is available on the Strawman document.

After the proposal was drafted, ICANN posted it to its website, and opened the document for commentary, which occurred through Jan. 16, 2013. 85 comments were posted, by applicants, trademark holders, registries and registrars, and the proposal is now in the reply stage of its process, meaning replies may be posted to original comments through Feb. 5. After Feb. 5, ICANN will post a summary of the comments in order to decide whether or not the proposal should pass through to the next stage.

Support for Strawman

Much of the support for the Strawman Solution comes from brand owners who are concerned about the changes nTLDs will cause when they are launched — including more opportunities for cyber-squatting and for string confusion. To those who support the solution, it represents an enforcement of policies already in place, and a necessary step in ensuring that trademarks are better protected without having to place the entire burden of the process on trademark owners.

The Three Main Arguments Against Strawman

Because nothing is ever as simple as it seems, ICANN’s Strawman Solution has caused a complex discussion in the nTLD community. The 85 commenters — representing companies like Facebook, Coca-Cola, DuPont, Donuts, USPS, and Time Warner, just to name a few — have either agreed with ICANN’s proposals, or raised objections. The three most common reasons for objection are:

  1. The proposal came about from a closed-door meeting. Many argue that the nature of the meeting prevents the Strawman Solution from being able the ntld straw man proposal to represent the wants of the ICANN community. Many members feel that because ICANN called the solution a “community” proposal, but did not open the door to the community during the process, the Strawman Solution cannot represent the community.
  2. “Implementation” versus “policy.” The difference between how you perceive these two words can mean all the difference when looking at the Strawman Solution. For those who support the solution, it doesn’t represent a change in policy, but rather an extension in the implementation of policies already in place. For example, the extension of a 60 day TMCH period to a 90 day period – to those who think the solution is a mere implementation of previous policies, then an extension of a TMCH period isn’t a big deal. On the other hand, some feel that the proposal introduces policy changing practices, which will cost the community more time and money and significantly change the course of nTLD registrations. Changing the TMCH period from 60 to 90 days may not be a big concern, but to those who object to the Strawman Solution, implementing a “Claims 2” period, in which the TMCH can be extended to a year, or allowing trademark owners to register up to 50 abusive strings, weighs down the process of registration and adds policies to the guidelines already in place without going through the channels the policies in the guidebook had to.
  3. Protection versus overkill. The final argument between the two sides of the Strawman Solution conversation is whether or not the points proposed in the solution are a) protective measures needed to guard against trademark abuse and infringement, or b) a method of using policy to protect trademarks that hinders the free market and ties-up the registration process in red tape.

Where do you Stand?

We’ve heard from all the heavy hitters, and we’ve submitted our own comment, too. But we want to hear what you think. Do you think the Strawman Solution needs to be an Ironman Solution, or do you think ICANN needs to let it burn? Tell us in the comments below, or on Twitter or Facebook.

And keep checking back here – we’ll be watching the nTLDs for you as they make their way through the application process. (You can even sign up to have us watch your favorites, here.)

The Best Super Bowl Commercials. We parody one that is not.

It was the ultimate Superbowl Sunday. The game was good (except for that awful missed call in the end zone) and we can all feel good that the losing Harbaugh brother can at least be happy for the other, winning Harbaugh brother. It was also nice to see some decent commercials. Companies paid upwards of $4 million bucks for their thirty-second ad, so you’d hope that they’d air something to remember. Right now, in kind of a loose top six, we have fond memories of:

Samsung’s Next Big Thingsuperbowl ad samsung

Budweiser’s Horse Love Ad

Space Babies from Kia

Amy Poehler for Best Buy

Tide’s Joe Montana Stain

And we’ll even admit that GoDaddy did a good job with their .CO “your big idea” commercial. We’ll share it with you as long as come to name.com to get that idea online. To be honest, it was a little bit weird for us to see them do something so…so not bad. We thrive on their bad ideas, so it was with a great amount of disgusted relief when we saw their #TheKiss ad featuring supermodel Bar Rafaeli, and ubiquitous geeky movie extra, Jesse Heiman. A nerd getting a kiss is a victory for all of us in the web industry, but to have it as wet and close as that one…well, we had to do a parody.

super bowl commercials

We got the whole company involved in a brain storm, and from an initial idea, @OwenBorseth, our VP of Awesome, said that the kissing “sounded like someone eating a cantaloupe.” And then Nick Salvadore, who was at home with his awesome wife, son and their new baby girl, chimed in to say the cantaloupe was the best idea.

So we went with that. And the Twitter went nuts.

godaddy kiss response

Oh, and this…

godaddy superbowl commercial

We heard from many, many more people who were happy to have an outlet about a Superbowl commercial gone awry. The shot didn’t need to be that close. It didn’t need all the sucking sounds. With a heaping amount of thanks to Stephen Donatelli and Patrick “P-Mo” Moroney  (@brandnamebob on Twitter) for being our “kissers,” we mobilized the entire office to take part in our parody of #TheKiss commercial.

So that happened and for about zero dollars. Although we did splurge on a 4-dollar melon at Whole foods.

Domain Names Promo Code for February, 2013

We like awesome and we love sauce; together they deliver on their promise with domain name savings on COM/NET registrations and renewals. Also, this month we’re throwing in deals on .CO domains! Indeed, awesomesauce.

BUY DOMAINS NOW!

Use AWESOMESAUCE for $10.25 COM/NET registrations and renewals and brand spankin’ new $9.99 .CO registrations. 

domain names promo code

 

But just so you know that you’re in good company, below are a few images the Internet dredged up under the search term “awesomesauce.”

awesome sauce chuck norris

awesome sauce

awesomesauce

Is there an exact percentage of keywords you should use for SEO?

KEYWORD DENSITY – IS THERE A DEFINITIVE PERCENTAGE?

good-seo

Keywords have been the central facet of search engine optimization since Google first started delivering returns back in the late 1990s. In the beginning, the sheer number of times that a keyword appeared on a page determined where it showed up in the SERPs. As search engines evolved, the amount that keywords helped became a bit less important. Other factors were added into the search engines result equation. Today, there are over 200 individual metrics that are used by Google to determine a web page’s SERP ranking. And, even though Google’s representatives have tried to downplay the importance of keywords, it is still obvious that they are at the top of the metric list.

Google Weighs In

The real key is to understand how keywords are measured by Google. As Google’s search engine spiders were evolving, the programmers noted that some webmasters were finding new and innovative ways to incorporate keywords into their pages. Some of these methods included placing a huge list of keywords at the bottom of the page, putting “invisible text” (text that is the same color as the background) on the page, placing a list of keywords in the META description, stuffing keywords into picture descriptions and file names and various other ploys. The quality assurance team at Google felt that these tactics were nothing more than attempts to game the system without delivering high-quality content. This led to the decision to make keyword stuffing count against a site in the calculation of its rank. Thus, the new game became trying to figure out at exactly what percentage these penalties were going to be assessed. Google has stated that there is no one magic number, but rather that it depends on what the competition is doing. While this sounds good when it comes from the mouth of Matt Cuts (http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=Rk4qgQdp2UA#!), it doesn’t really hold water under scrutiny.

Mr. Cutts asserts that there is no set keyword density number that will cause a penalty for a website even though the web spiders are computer programs that are unable to make arbitrary decisions. This means that they must have a set parameters to impose a penalty. Of course, if Mr. Cutts did give us a number, then every single website in the world would optimize every page to meet these new density numbers, and the purpose of the entire metric would be compromised. So we can’t blame Mr. Cutts for towing the company line and imploring us to create quality content and stop worrying about keyword density.

Sorry, Mr. Cutts, we just can’t do that. We’ll take your advice and load our pages with well written content that works keywords naturally into the flow, but we’ll still be trying to figure out the golden keyword ratio that is hidden in the bowels of the GoogleBot.

Experimentation is the Key

If we listen closely to what Matt Cutts says, he says there is “no one magic number.” Reading into this, it could mean that there are multiple magic numbers. These numbers could be different for different niches or different spider configurations. Maybe the keyword density percentage is compiled from different areas of the page. Perhaps, there is one penalty for a certain percentage of keywords in the Meta description and another totally different number for the percentage in the main text and then still another for the density in picture and alt tags.

The only honest way to determine how this system works is to experiment with a huge number of pages using multiple different keyword strategies. For most of us, this is simply impractical. A more plausible, and far more effective solution is to do this research for the keywords that you are trying to rank for. Look at the top ten page returns for your keyword in a Google search and then compare the keyword densities in each one. The results will give you a good idea of the density that will be required to reach page 1. If you are feeling a bit adventurous, check the next few pages and see if the densities change. This could give you a good idea of what is working and what isn’t.

What the Pros Are Saying

If you ask 100 different SEO experts what keyword density is working right now, you’ll get as many different answers, but they will be in the general range of 1% to 10%. The real telling thing is that most SEO professionals are steering away from keyword density in favor of creating more engaging, higher-quality content and using other Google “best practices” as the way to bring up SERPs.

We are still of the belief that you need to have the keyword in your text at least 2%-4% of the time or the search engine will never find you. You also need to have a much higher keyword density in your inbound links. This is really where keyword density is important. Google uses backlinks as an “objective” way of telling what a webpage is about. So if your inbound link keyword density is 20%, it’s going to get you ranked much higher than an inbound link percentage of 5%. It is unknown if there are penalties for an inbound link density that is too high, but Google has so many metrics that there is a good chance that there may be. It would be a good practice to shy away from an inbound link keyword density of above 35%. Again, check the sites that are ranking high in a Google SERP for your keyword and see what the link keyword percentage is on them. Here’s a tool that can be used to do just that. (http://www.webconfs.com/domain-stats.php)

After you have fully researched the competition, try to make some tweaks to your current pages and see what results you get. If your web rank doesn’t seem to be changing, reassess the conclusions you came to when analyzing your competitor’s sites. Keyword density may not be the part of your SEO that is the problem. You may have a quality issue, a problem with or lack of backlinks or perhaps your social media engagement simply isn’t nearly as complete as theirs. Just remember that keyword density, although it isn’t as strong as it used to be, is still a major factor in determining page rank and keeping the Google machine happy will help your rise above the competition.

Most Users Don’t Know What New gTLDs Are — Do You?

At the beginning of December, a company named FairWinds released a white paper report, the results of which indicated that 74% of the Internet users they surveyed have no clue what new gTLDs (nTLDs) are, didn’t know they’ll be released in the near future, and thought the application process was incredibly confusing. The results aren’t much of a surprise to us — we’re in the business of domains, so we know while there’s a lot of information to keep up with, there’s not a lot of media frenzy outside of tech mags.

kim kardashian better known than ntlds

Mainstream media hasn’t focused a lot on ICANN’s process, many social media organizations aren’t even invested in nTLDs, and the big companies who are invested, like Amazon, Google, and Yahoo! aren’t talking publicly about why they’re interested, or what the nTLDs will mean for e-commerce, search engine results, or the way we surf the Internet. Because there’s not enough mainstream exposure, most people know more about Kim Kardashian’s Christmas than they do about nTLDs (unwillingly, of course).

Maybe you just found out about the nTLDs (new generic top-level domains), or you’ve never heard of them, and you’re wondering why you should care and what the change will mean to you. (If you’ve never heard of nTLDs, start here.) There are still a lot of quandaries we don’t know the answer to – which nTLDs will get approved, when exactly they’ll go live (they’ll start in 2013, and you can view the release order on ICANN’s site), how much they’ll cost, or how they’ll affect SEO. But we do know that nTLDs will change the Internet as we know it, and if you aren’t paying attention now, you will be when the first nTLDs start going releasing.

Don’t wait until the releases to start learning about nTLDs. We think there are benefits to starting your education early, including:

  • Being brand aware. If you own a company, then you should know if someone is trying to register a nTLD that either defines your market niche, or uses a generic term you use in your brand name. You should be aware of the Trademark Clearinghouse, and be ready to object to gTLD string that may infringe on your trademark rights. You can view all proposed nTLDs and who the applicants are on ICANN’s website.
  • Planning the future of your website. Maybe you’d like a chance to get into the nTLD world. If you own a brewery, for instance, you might be interested in a .BEER extension. Knowing about who will administer the nTLD, when it will be approved, and preregistering possible domain strings, either to serve as your webpage or as an extension to your web page, will prove valuable to anyone looking to get a piece of their niche nTLD.
  • Got a problem with an nTLD? You can object now. Right now, if you object to a proposed nTLD, or the possible use of it, you have a chance to file a public objection with ICANN. After the objection period closes, it will be a lot harder to have any say in a gTLD that might affect you. All the information about who’s applying to administrate the gTLD, when they’ll launch, and the Early Warnings issued to applicants is available on the ICANN website until Mar. 13. You can add to any current objections, or rest assured that the nTLD you’ve got your eye on is going through the application process smoothly.
  • Start thinking about SEO. There’s nothing concrete yet about how new nTLDs will affect SEO, so you can’t start planning, but you can start researching. Adding a “gTLD” feed to your Google News feed, or taking time every couple of weeks to search “SEO and new gTLDs,” can help you stay abreast of the changes. nTLDs are already used in SEO, so knowing whether or not an extension with a market keyword may help traffic or will be virtually useless can help you plan for the future and decide whether you can afford to watch the market, or you need to get into the landrush.

Whether you’re invested now in keeping an eye on the nTLD application process may mean the difference between confusion or comfort when nTLDs hit the mainstream media and start going active. There’s no question that nTLDs are coming, or that they’ll be big news, so knowing the terminology, the gTLDs you might be interested in, how to protect your brand, and basic information about how the process works can save you feeling lost or uninformed next year, when the first new nTLDs release.

For more information, check out our nTLD news and information, here on our blog. You can click on “nTLDs” section, in the blog site map in the right hand margin for nTLD specific news. We also have an nTLD watchlist you can subscribe to, which will tell you up-to-date information about the specific gTLDs you’re interested in.

As New gTLDs Launch, is Your Brand Protected?

One of the most talked about developments in nTLDland (yes, nTLDland is an actual, mystical place where everything has a dot right in front of it), is how to best protect your brand as the nTLDs (new gTLDs) launch. With almost 2,000 nTLD applications making their way through the final stages of the process, you may have to rethink the practices you use to keep your brand secure on the Web. The million dollar question seems to be (pun intended): How can you keep your brand safe without bleeding money in the process?

The Strawman Solution

If you’ve been following ICANN lately, then you know the Internet community is engaged in a two-sided conversation concerning just that. The “Strawman ntld brand protectionSolution,” tentative policy enforcements proposed by ICANN to add protective measures to the policies already in place — such as more time in the sunrise periods and more time required for registrars to use the Trademark Clearinghouse — is garnering attention from those concerned with the protection of intellectual property.

Comments on ICANN’s website, about the Strawman Solution, center on two main arguments: That the Trademark Clearinghouse, sunrise periods, Uniform Rapid Suspension System, and Uniform Domain Dispute Policy ought to be enough to protect brands and trademarks, if the Internet public takes enough time to utilize each. And, on the other side of the argument, the concern that these measures alone are not enough to protect brands and the proposed enforcements should proceed. The conversation has attracted comments from big name corporations, registrars, and applicants alike.

Both sides are concerned with time and money. Those looking to implement the Strawman Solution are concerned that time and money will be wasted by trademark owners trying to defend their brands, and so are looking for more protective measures, up front. Those who wish to proceed without the Strawman Solution worry that adding more burden to the front end of an nTLD launch will make the already heftily expensive application process more costly, and add even more time until nTLD domains are available for public registration.

Your Options

Brand protection isn’t a new concern, but the launch of nTLDs has a lot of industry experts rethinking the way you can protect your intellectual property. While defensive registration is important, unilateral defensive registration isn’t an option for everyone. To register your brand in every nTLD (1,917) would be costly,to say the least. While defensive domain registration is still an important step in securing your place on the Web, there are other ways you can remain protected without having to register your trademark in every nTLD. Here’s a break-down of your options as nTLDs launch:

1. Know the ICANN nTLD Guidebook. Taking some time to read over parts of the ICANN nTLD guidebook, concerning the Trademark Clearinghouse, sunrise periods, string contention, and the Uniform Rapid Suspension System and Uniform Domain Name Dispute Policy can go a long way in helping you make informed choices concerning the protection of your brand. There are a lot of systems in place, as explained in the guidebook, that you can use to your advantage if you feel your brand has been infringed upon, or to protect your brand from possible infringement.

2. Register your brand and domain strings in the Trademark Clearinghouse (TMCH). When the Trademark Clearinghouse launches this spring, you have the opportunity to register your trademarks for $150 each. Registering your trademark helps to prevent others from infringing on your brand rights because your brand will become a part of the TMCH database. Anyone who tries to register an nTLD with a string that’s too close to your trademark will be notified.

3. Take advantage of the sunrise period. During the sunrise period of each nTLD, which is the first 30 days after it launches, you’ll have the chance to register your own domain strings to protect your brand. Because almost 2,000 nTLDs are going to launch in the coming year, many experts agree that protectively registering domain strings in each nTLD will be too expensive for many, but to register the nTLDs that closely relate to your market sector is a good way to both secure your trademark and own a spot in the nTLD world.

 4. If needed, utilize the Uniform Rapid Suspension System (URS) and the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Policy (UDRP). If another entity registers a domain string that infringes on your copyright, or brand, then you could utilize the Uniform Rapid Suspension System. The URS is meant to provide a cost-effective ($300-$500 an arbitration) and timely way to freeze domains that threaten other brands. Once a complaint is filed with the URS, the registrar must suspend the domain and alert the owner. The owner then has 14 days to respond. If the owner does not respond, or cannot defend their use of the domain, the domain is put into the URS indefinitely.

The Uniform Domain Name Dispute Policy is a policy already in place that provides guidelines for domain disputes. UDRP outlines a procedure that you may follow to alert a registrar to possible copyright infringement and begin working to take a hostile domain down. The guide-lined process moves slower than the URS, which is why the URS has been implemented for the release of nTLDs in the first place. ICANN hopes both the policy and the system will work in conjunction to help brand owners secure their property.

Weigh in. What do you think?

So, now that you know your options, do you feel secure? Do you think the Strawman Solution adds to your protection, or adds cost and time to a process that’s already dragged-out months longer than ICANN expected? We want to hear your take on brand protection, what you plan to do as nTLDs launch, and whether or not you think these measures are enough, or too much.