If you thought that Google & Yahoo! were working in a vacuum to make life more difficult for domainers you’re kidding yourself. I’ve seen the enemy and the enemy is SEO.
I’m in NYC for the Search Engine Strategies show. For those of you who do not know what I’m talking about, SES is the largest conferences dedicated to improving your visibility within search engines. Google and Yahoo! reign here. Whether your goal is natural/non-paid results or better placement in paid results.
In yesterday’s Domaining and Address Bar Navigation session Sedo’s Matt Bentley and Moniker’s Monte Cahn found themselves up against the anti-domaining duo of Point-It’s John Lisbin and Sendtec’s Janel Landis. The timing for the discussion couldn’t have been better due to Google’s recent announcement that advertisers will be able to opt-out of parked pages for their campaigns.
Bentley kicked off the conversation with a bit about perception skew. Based on later discussion I think that he was spot on. He’s point was that Internet professionals, and particularly SEO professionals, think that being found on the web is all about search navigation. He used the 1976 New Yorker cover cartoon about the geographic skew from a New Yorker’s point of view. Matt went on to talk about the various ways to use direct navigation as a viable, and often times, better option to paid search campaigns. Of particular interest was his assertion that a good generic domain name has an average ROI of 2 years, even with a price tag of $350k.
Matt was followed by PointIt, Inc’s John Lisbin. John started off attacking “cyber & typo squatters”. Which immediately put me on the defensive. It’s no secret that our industry has bad apples but to lump typo squatters into legitimate domainers borders on libelous. There was very much a vein of domainer as criminal. Further muddying the waters for the advertisers in the audience was the grouping of “made for Adsense sites and parked pages. Utilizing one of his customers bad experiences with a group of Adsense optimized sites such as UniqueChristmasGiftsA.com and about six others which were very similar. Clearly you cannot compare the traffic that would be driven to URLs of that nature (whether from link farms or arbitrage) to the natural type in of ChristmasGifts.com, can you?
Well, that very notion was the premise of Sendtec’s Janel Landis. Janel came out with both guns blazing. Janel claims that address bar navigation is almost exclusively an accident and visitors use any link on the page as a way out. Therefore she posits that any traffic from parked sites is not quality/qualified. The lone exception to her theory is typo domains. Yes, you heard that right. This search professional was espousing the value of typo domains to individual brands. She didn’t differentiate between whether the trademark holder or someone else was the domain registrant in her point, but both of the TurboTax typos that she used as examples were parked/monetized domains. In summary she maintained that traffic from parked pages was almost exclusively useless and she encouraged advertisers to opt out.
Monte Cahn, who was introduced as the Godfather of domaining (be sure to call him Godfather at TRAFFIC) batted clean up. Monte wrapped up things nicely by encouraging advertisers and mark holders to register the most frequent typos of their name and their brands. And, the savvy marketer that he is, he offered his company as the perfect company to help with that project.
I cannot stress enough the number of people here. These people are looking at improving their visibility via search. They are being told that parked domains are crap.
All of that talk by industry leaders about transparency and quality traffic? Ya, it’s a little important if you want Google and Yahoo! to keep domains in their programs at all. Arbitrage? It’s spoiling it for everyone. Link farms? Yep, those too. Concentrate on quality generic names. If you can’t land those you better start developing names into valuable resources. There are no shortcuts to making money with domain names these days. I’ll talk more later this week about ways to make money with domains. But for now I need to pay more attention to this session on Social Media Marketing. Ciao.