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NameSummit NYC moves to November, offers early bird pricing starting today

6 hours 4 min ago

I was disappointed that I couldn’t make it to NameSummit last year, and after talking to people who attended, it was clear that I had missed out on a pretty special event. This year I was also going to miss it again since it took place in the middle of an existing work trip. So I was very excited to read today that the conference has been moved to November, and while it’s sure going to be chilly in NYC, I’m happy to break out the winter jacket and make the trip.

For those who don’t know about NameSummit here are a few highlights:

  • it’s run by two of the nicest people in the domain industry, Steve Kaziyev and Jason Schaeffer
  • the event covers both domain names and traditional real estate
  • there’s a really interesting session planned to cover opportunities with blockchain and real estate
  • breakfast and lunch are included
  • additional topics are also covered like SEO, Social Media, and Marketing

Early bird pricing is available for $299 (click here to register) and no they aren’t a sponsor so I don’t get any special kickbacks if you register. I am excited they moved the date because I really didn’t want to miss it again this year. Oh and if any of my blog readers are attending please let me know in the comment section below, I’d love to buy you a beer or a hot toddy since it’s certainly going to be chilly in NYC!

Press release claims that VPN.com is the 7th largest domain purchase in the world

Thu, 2018-07-19 00:34

Well this is a bit of a head scratcher. A press release went out yesterday disclosing the acquisition price of VPN.com and claiming, in the headline of the press release, that it is the 7th largest domain purchase in the world. At a final acquisition price of $976,730 I just know that’s not true.

If this were true, that would mean that there have only been six domain sales ever, that exceeded $976,730 and I think we all know there have been a lot more than that.

“Domaining is still as popular today as it was during the dot-com boom. Ask Michael Gargiulo, founder and CEO of VPN.com, because he now owns the record for the 7th largest domain purchase in the world. Premium, three-letter dot-com domain names are rare and extremely expensive, which makes this no small feat.” (Source – GlobeNewsWire)

While I definitely agree with the first sentence – Domaining is still just as popular (if not more) than it was during the dot-com boom, I know that the owner of VPN.com does not “hold the record” for the 7th largest domain purchase. Sorry but I’m calling BS here.

To prove it – here are 50 domains that sold for more than VPN.com:

Domain Price Date Venue sex.com 14,000,000 USD 2005-01-01 Private sex.com 13,000,000 USD 2010-11-24 Sedo fund.com 9,999,950 USD 2008-03-11 Private porn.com 9,500,000 USD 2007-06-05 Moniker porno.com 8,888,888 USD 2015-02-04 Private fb.com 8,500,000 USD 2010-01-01 Private we.com 8,000,000 USD 2015-06-19 Private diamond.com 7,500,000 USD 2006-05-23 Private beer.com 7,000,000 USD 2004-01-01 Private z.com 6,784,000 USD 2014-12-03 Private slots.com 5,500,000 USD 2010-06-04 Moniker casino.com 5,500,000 USD 2003-11-01 Private toys.com 5,100,000 USD 2009-03-01 Private korea.com 5,000,000 USD 2000-01-01 Private asseenontv.com 5,000,000 USD 2000-01-01 Private clothes.com 4,900,000 USD 2008-05-01 Private ig.com 4,700,000 USD 2013-09-18 Igloo/Marcus Kocak yp.com 3,850,000 USD 2008-01-01 Private hg.com 3,770,000 USD 2016-11-27 Private mi.com 3,600,000 USD 2014-04-30 Private ice.com 3,500,000 USD 2018-07-06 Grit Brokerage shop.com 3,500,000 USD 2003-11-01 Private wine.com 3,300,000 USD 2003-09-01 Private altavista.com 3,250,000 USD 1999-04-01 Private software.com 3,200,000 USD 2005-12-01 Private whisky.com 3,100,000 USD 2014-03-12 Castello Brothers sex.xxx 3,000,000 USD 2014-06-11 ICM Registry candy.com 3,000,000 USD 2009-06-10 Private vodka.com 3,000,000 USD 2006-12-20 Sedo loans.com 3,000,000 USD 2000-01-01 Private wines.com 2,900,000 USD 2004-07-01 Private fly.com 2,890,000 USD 2017-04-04 Private creditcards.com 2,750,000 USD 2000-02-01 Private pizza.com 2,605,000 USD 2008-04-03 Sedo gambling.com 2,500,000 USD 2011-05-04 Sedo tom.com 2,500,000 USD 1999-12-01 Private investing.com 2,450,000 USD 2012-12-19 Private youxi.com 2,430,000 USD 2014-03-12 Private kk.com 2,400,000 USD 2013-11-20 SnapNames coupons.com 2,200,000 USD 2000-01-01 Private autos.com 2,200,000 USD 1999-12-01 Private vivo.com 2,100,000 USD 2016-09-02 Private 114.com 2,100,000 USD 2013-07-17 Private computer.com 2,100,000 USD 2007-12-05 T.R.A.F.F.I.C. eth.com 2,000,000 USD 2017-10-22 Sharjil Saleem freedom.com 2,000,000 USD 2017-05-21 Starfire Holdings express.com 2,000,000 USD 2000-03-01 Private telephone.com 2,000,000 USD 2000-01-01 Private england.com 2,000,000 USD 1999-12-01 Private 37.com 1,960,800 USD 2014-03-19 Private

Of course, this list goes on and these are just publicly reported sales! I would say that the purchase of VPN.com might be the 150th highest publicly reported domain sale in the world, but the 7th, come on, that’s just not true.

Now if you read through the press release you’ll see that they state that according to DNJournal it is the 7th largest domain sale of 2017, and hey I’ll buy that. However they should really correct the headline and first paragraph of the press release because to claim this is the 7th highest domain sale in the world is crazy.

Are you as confused as me? How did this press release get out without anyone taking a minute to fact check it?

Breaking: Identity.com acquired by blockchain identity startup

Wed, 2018-07-18 04:40

It’s official, blockchain identity startup Civic has acquired Identity.com, and like many startups trying to land their top choice domain, they never thought they’d get it. In fact, that’s a direct quote from the co-founder and CEO of Civic:

“I never thought we’d get it.”

That’s Vinny Lingham, co-founder and CEO of the blockchain identity startup Civic, talking about the company’s acquisition of “Identity.com” – a fitting web domain for a company built around the idea of putting personally identifiable data in the control of its owners.

To that point, Lingham said he had always thought Identity.com would be an ideal address from which to promote the platform he is building. (Source – Coindesk)

While the final sale price of Identity.com hasn’t been revealed they did note that it wasn’t pocket change, and given that they raised $33M in a token sale last year I’m guessing that means this was a seven figure sale.

Identity.com is already pointing to Civic’s main site, more specifically, an article about the acquisition of the domain and their plans on how they’re going to be using it.

Today, we are very happy to announce a new name for the decentralized identity ecosystem – Identity.com.

Identity.com will be a first-of-its-kind decentralized platform that will open up access to on-demand, secure identity verification. Identity.com is designed to connect users, requesters, and validators around the world to enable reusable identity verification, powered by Civic tokens (CVCs). This ecosystem allows individuals, companies, and other entities to interact easily and safely in the digital world. (Source – Civic.com)

Huge congrats to Civic, Identity.com is an amazing domain and it will likely make a huge impact on their business which is why they were willing to shell out a lot more than pocket change to lock it down. I’m looking forward to seeing how this develops, and it’s pretty easy to remember where to go to look for updates!

Who is your go-to domain registrar?

Tue, 2018-07-17 03:41

I am approaching 11 years in the domain world and one thing I’ve found is that my favorite registrar has changed over time. When I first started I didn’t know anything about how to pick a registrar so I went with 1&1 who turned out to be a nightmare. Then I bounced around for a while until I landed at Go Daddy, then Uniregistry came out and IMHO changed the game in many ways.

That being said, today I still have most of my domains at Go Daddy but I’m a big fan of Uniregistry and could see myself likely splitting my portfolio between the two over time. What I really like about Uniregistry is that it’s a complete end-to-end solution that makes it easy for me to put up landing pages, list domains for sale, and register, renew, and manage domains all in one place.

At the same time, Go Daddy gets a ton of eyeballs at Go Daddy auctions and it’s a really easy to list domains you have registered with them there. I also am a big fan of Go Daddy’s DTVS (Domain Theft Verification System) it is one of the best ways to secure your domains.

So I’m split, I don’t have one answer to my question, I have two. Of course I’m always interested in what my readers think so now I’d love to hear from you. Who is your go-to registrar? I want to hear from you, comment and let your voice be heard!

Startup Sunday: 3 Mistakes Founders Make When Pitching Investors

Sun, 2018-07-15 14:38

Last week I had the chance to meet with three different companies, all raising their Seed round and pitching me as a potential Angel Investor. First things first, I am not an experienced investor, I just made my fifth investment two months ago and I’ll likely make another one, maybe two this year.

What I am trying to do is connect up with angel investors that are a lot more experienced than me so I can learn from them, and meet with as many startups as I can to get experience hearing startups pitch.

On Thursday I was reflecting on one of the meetings I had with another angel investor and we started to talk about some common mistakes that founders make when pitching investors. This particular investor has spent a lot more time than me meeting with founders every week and evaluating deals so it was interesting to hear more about where a founder might lose him during a pitch.

As a founder myself, I’ve spent years pitching investors, and thanks to Techstars, learned a lot of valuable lessons during our time in the accelerator. Accelerators like Techstars, Y Combinator, 500 Startups, etc. put a lot of focus on helping founders create their pitch deck, structure their pitches, and most importantly, get feedback on their pitch. Before I dive-into what not to do, let me just say that if you are a founder and you’re getting ready to hit the investor circuit, make sure to sit down with someone who knows a lot more than you do about pitching investors, and pitch them. You can learn a lot from this experience. Now onto three common mistakes founders make when pitching investors.

  1. Not sending a thank you note – this is #1 for a reason and it’s incredibly simple but a big miss if you don’t do it. After you meet with an investor, take a few minutes to send a thank you note. This doesn’t have to be some long elaborate essay, instead just a few sentences thanking them for their time and maybe mentioning something that got your gears turning during the meeting will do.
  2. Setting your valuation arbitrarily high – if you’re a second or third time founder and had a nice exit in the past, great, you can set a pretty high valuation at Seed. On the other hand, if you are a first time found (like me) you can’t, and if you do, you’re going to turn away a lot of investors who think you’re either a) disconnected from the market in general, or b) arrogant. Convincing an investor that your company is worth $3M – $5M in the Seed stage is possible, convincing them it’s worth $10M – $15M is a long shot unless you have some amazing traction out of the gate.
  3. Not being humble – here’s something I see get confused all the time. As a founder going into a pitch you should be confident, that’s important, but you can be confident and humble at the same time. Too often founders confuse being confident with bragging and this can very quickly rub investors the wrong way. Investors invest in people, they know things aren’t always going to go well in your startup, they want a founder that can be honest with them when things aren’t going well and being humble from the beginning is the first way to show that you’re capable of doing this.

Okay, so now that you know three mistakes to avoid when pitching an investor, what happens after the pitch? Mark Suster from Upfront Ventures has a great blog post about this topic, aptly titled – I met with an investor, what happens next?

Mark’s post is a must-read and one that I send founders to all the time so if you haven’t read it yet, and you’re out there pitching investors trying to raise money, read it now. Honestly it’s one of (if not the) best posts about fundraising I have ever read.

Happy fundraising and hopefully some of the advice in my post and in Mark’s article can help you on your journey. Who knows, that make or break check for your Seed round could be just a meeting away…

Will changing your domain name hurt your SEO efforts?

Sun, 2018-07-15 05:56

John Mueller, the Senior Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google recently posed an interesting question that I think most people ask themselves when they’re rebranding – how does changing your domain name impact your SEO efforts?

I was in this situation myself a few years ago when we rebranded our company from Fashion Metric to Bold Metrics and I can tell you it made me pretty darn nervous. John asked this question on Twitter and he got some pretty good responses from some SEO gurus who jumped in to share their two-cents.

Well it turns out that my trepidation around the domain change was relatively well-founded as most SEO’s agreed that changing your domain name would result in a loss of traffic. Of course this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t rebrand or upgrade your domain if you can, but it does mean that you might have to take a little step back before you leap forward.

“For the most part, SEOs agreed that domain changes carry a lot of risk and will almost always result in a loss of traffic.” (Source – Search Engine Journal)

What I think the article missed in their coverage of the topic is that in so many cases, changing domains means upgrading to a better domain. In the long run, having a better domain will make a major impact and is absolutely worth the risk. Also, while most SEO’s do agree there will be a loss of traffic, there are a lot of people out there who just don’t change domains the right way.

If you’re thinking of changing the domain name for your business, I highly recommend reading this guide from Moz that walks you through making the change the right way.

“Moving domains can make a tremendously negative impact on search engine rankings. This is because the major search engines use metrics on both the domain level and the page level to determine rankings. When a webmaster decides to switch to a brand new domain, they are resetting their domain metrics to zero whether they know it or not. Luckily, there are steps one can take to minimize and in many cases completely negate the affects of a domain move.” (Source – Moz.com)

While I was nervous myself when we change our name, the domain change ended up being relatively painless, the real work was changing the logo on all of our collateral, updating email addresses, business cards, bank accounts, etc.

The reality is, like most things in life, take your time to do your homework and make sure you’re taking all the necessary steps to make sure your hard-earned SEO transfers to your new domain. It’s not rocket science but it’s also not something you can just guess your way through.

Entrepreneur Magazine publishes the Startup’s Handbook to perfecting SEO

Sat, 2018-07-14 06:56

Entrepreneur Magazine wrote a great article this week about what Startups need to know about SEO. What I like about this particular article is their brutal honesty in calling out some of the common misconceptions about SEO.

Many business owners and founders still make the mistake of assuming SEO to be an offshoot of web development. Understand that SEO is an inseparable and ongoing part of marketing. It is much more than adding titles and meta descriptions to your web pages or getting a “writer” to post articles to your blog twice a week. (Source – Entrepreneur)

One key point they make that I find people still become easily fixated on is links. Yes, backlinks are great, but they sure aren’t as great as they used to be. I built my first website in 1996 and I can still remember being able to rank better just by repeating a word more times than my competitor or cross-linking between sites.

Those days are gone but people seem to have a hard time letting go. Now I’m not saying that you shouldn’t care about links when you’re thinking about SEO, you absolutely should, but quality backlinks alone isn’t enough.

Therefore, it is essential you don’t base your SEO strategy only on acquiring links. Instead, focus on creating wider conversations around your brand. Get people to follow and engage with you on major social media platforms. Encourage them to leave reviews and ratings for your products on Google, Facebook and other niche-focused sites. Bring on board micro-influencers (the startup’s answer to brand ambassadors) to help you increase brand awareness on various social channels. (Source – Entrepreneur)

Oh and if you want to do a deeper dive into common SEO mistakes that people make, I highly recommend this article from SearchEngineLand.com.

How does 5N .COM pricing work? 57200.com seems to be getting a lot more attention than 83108.com

Fri, 2018-07-13 01:49

I’ve never been a big numeric domain investor, but after taking a look at Go Daddy Auctions over the last few days, I kinda wish I was. A 5N .COM, 57200.com is expiring and currently at $2,552 with over two days to go which means it wouldn’t be all that surprising to see this domain cross the $5,000 mark.

My guess is that the previous owner of this domain has no idea that it was worth thousands of dollars, and they probably don’t know that it’s up for auction on Go Daddy right now. Like I said above, I’m not that plugged-into the numeric domain market but I thought it had cooled off quite a bit so I’m surprised to see so much activity.

Of course I think that some of my readers might be more plugged-into numeric domains so I’d love to hear more about why this particular name is seeing so much interest. There’s a couple other 5N .COM’s on Go Daddy Auctions as well like 00295.com but it’s only at ~$1,000 with less than two days to go.

Where I’m really confused is with 83108.com, which is only at $852 also with less than two days to go. Last I checked 8 was the best number you could have in a numeric domain so it feels like starting and ending with an 8 should mean that this name is worth quite a bit more than 57200.com, right?

Now is where I’m really interested in hearing from you, my reader, since I know quite a few of you know a lot more about numeric domains than I do. Why is 57200.com getting so much more interest than 83108.com? I want to hear from you, comment and let your voice be heard!

If you’re trying to sell domain names, this tool could save you a lot of time finding potential buyers

Wed, 2018-07-11 23:06

Selling a domain, outbound, is hard. While you might have bought a domain and thought that you had the perfect buyer in mind, most people quickly learn that their ideal buyer actually isn’t interested in the domain at all. The reality is that sales can often be a numbers game when it comes to domain names, which means that reaching out to one or two potential buyers probably isn’t going to seal the deal.

In the past I used to search on Google and create lists of potential buyers that I would usually store in a spreadsheet that I continually updated as I found new potential buyers. If you’re only selling one domain this is manageable, but if you’re trying to sell a number of domains, this manual process can spiral out of control.

This is where a really handy tool from Estibot saves the day, it’s called Lead Generator & End User Finder and you can find it in the Dashboard under Popular Tools:

Once you open the tool all you need to do is enter the domain name that you’re looking at generating leads for and Estibot starts curating a list of potential buyers. Here’s an example with a domain from my portfolio:

As you can see, in this case the lead generator found 443 leads and I can even go a step further and select which potential buyers I’d like to email. While I probably wouldn’t want to email 443 leads, this is a great way to start with a solid list of potential buyers and then review and consolidate down to a list of maybe 20 – 30 good potential buyers.

Hats off to Estibot for making this tool, it is one heck of a time saver!

How do you find potential buyers for your domains? I want to hear from you, comment and let your voice be heard!

.TV domains are selling for thousands of dollars all the time

Wed, 2018-07-11 05:06

I’ll start this post by saying, I don’t own a lot of .TV domains and I’ve never made a lot of money buying and selling .TV domains. So don’t read the headline and think, oh Morgan’s telling me .TV is hot and I should start buying them ASAP. As a domain investors I like to keep me eye on sales across all the extensions I own since it can be all too easy to become myopic and only look at .COM sales.

When it comes to a non .COM domain extension like .TV, it’s usually on the most premium domains that see meaningful sales prices. I tend to focus on one-word domains that I could see selling for six-figures in their equivalent .COM. In .TV I own names like Bourbon.tv, Hacking.tv, Huddle.tv (Huddle.com sold for $131,400).

I was poking around on NameBio today and decided to look up some of the latest .TV sales numbers, and like the post title says, they’re still selling for thousands of dollars, all the time. Here’s a look at some recent sales data:

(Image Source – NameBio)

While I am surprised to see that Large.tv only sold for $121, seeing a two-word .TV like SportsBet.tv go for $7,250 is pretty interesting. Today Yaddle.tv sold for $3,100 and the highest most-recent sale is an NN.tv, 89.tv which sold for $10,000.

So what does all this mean? Really nothing for most domain investors because I don’t think a lot of people are (or should be) investing in .TV very much. What this does show is that for those of us that have a handful of .TV names, you’re not crazy asking for something in the four figure range.

Do you have any .TV? Had much luck selling them? Was this data news to you or are you thinking “duh Morgan I already knew this!” I want to hear from you, comment and let your voice be heard!

Crypto domains may be hot, but ICOs sure aren’t any more

Tue, 2018-07-10 02:54

Lately crypto has been back in the headlines in the domain name world as the sale of Crypto.com for a reported $12M is generating a lot of buzz about crypto-related domain names. What I think is interesting about this particular sale is just how powerful this word has become. Think about it, of the over 1,500 different cryptocurrencies, 99% could die and this domain would still be relevant. In short – it’s a monster.

What isn’t quite as big of a deal is ICOs, which stands for initial coin offering, and I recently read a pretty shocking statistic. Over 50% of ICOs actually go bust within four months of their token sale taking place.

About 56 percent of crypto startups that raise money through token sales die within four months of their initial coin offerings. (Source – Bloomberg)

Yikes! That’s a scary number, and in my opinion probably a good enough reason for domain investors to not go nuts registering domains related to a specific token that is doing an ICO since it might not be around for very long.

That being said, let’s not confuse ICOs with cryptocurrencies that have already stood the test of time like Ether (often referred to as Ethereum), Litecoin, Monero, and a handful of others. For the most part I’m staying out of the crypto-related domain space outside of a handful of domains that I’ve had for a while now.

While I’ve heard a lot of people say that crypto is dying or even pronouncing it dead, I think that’s pretty far from reality. But numbers don’t lie and I do think it’s fair to say that the ICO craze is dying, which IMO is probably a very good thing for all of us.

What do you think? I want to hear from you, comment and let your voice be heard!

Startup Sundays: 3 Tips For Finding The Right VC Firm For Your Startup

Sun, 2018-07-08 19:50

Hello, happy Sunday, and welcome to Startup Sunday, a new weekly feature I’m kicking off on MorganLinton.com. As many of you know, I am the co-founder of Bold Metrics, a venture-backed startup based in San Francisco that has raised $3.8M to-date. We’ve learned a lot of lessons along the way and today I want to talk about one lesson we learned the hard way – finding a VC firm (in our case multiple firms) that were a good fit for our startup.

Many new founders are laser-focused on raising money and meeting with as many VCs as possible, the problem is, they often burn through a bunch of time with VCs that would have never been a good fit for their startup to begin with.

Here’s an example.

If you are building a startup in the consumer space, maybe it’s an app and your KPI is DAU (daily active users), pitching a SaaS focused VC isn’t going to make much sense, it’s not their wheelhouse, and DAU’s isn’t a metric they’re used to tracking. Also, a VC firm wants to be able to help you, and they can only do that if they have experience with the type of business you’re running.

I have covered this topic quite a bit both with startups that I have invested in myself, or have mentored through Techstars or other programs that I mentor in. I’ve always had a lot of positive feedback on these tips so I thought it was about darn time to share them more publicly, enjoy!

3 Tips For Finding The Right VC Firm For Your Startup

  1. Identify three other startups that you think are similar to yours but are not direct competitors. Now go to Crunchbase and take a look at who invested in them, this is a great initial list to start with. See if you can go a bit deeper and understand how big their fund is, how much they’ve already deployed, and how much they have left – this is critical information to have.
  2. Be stage-specific. If you’re raising a Seed round, don’t approach investors that mostly do early-stage deals (which means Series A and beyond) – you’re raising a Seed, you want investors who focus on Seed deals. Take a look at the investors you found in my first tip and consolidate your list so you’re just looking at investors that invested in similar companies at the stage that you’re at.
  3. Don’t just reach out or attend an event and wait in line to talk with a VC. To get a meaningful meeting with a VC you’ll need a warm intro, and not from a lawyer. Don’t know anyone who can intro you? Then it might be good to consider applying for an accelerator like Techstars or Y Combinator, these accelerators are very well connected and can help you get tons of warm intros.

Last but not least, and I leave this out of my tips section because I think it’s just a general rule that everyone should think about all the time – make sure you’re really starting a startup and not a small business. Small businesses are all about profits, startups are all about growth, decide which path is right for you. Forbes says it best:

Small businesses are driven by profitability and stable long-term value, while startups are focused on top-end revenue and growth potential. Steve Blank’s three-minute definition provides great insight. (Source – Forbes)

If you find yourself in the small business camp, don’t worry, there are still lots of ways to get funding, banks can be a great place to start or even sites like Kickstarter. Just know that VCs invest in startups, so they want to see you present to them something that isn’t going to be a nice safe business that keeps making more money every year, they want to see a rocketship, it might be incredibly risky, but if it works they make a lot of money.

I hope this is helpful and as always, feel free to comment below with any questions, comments, or to share your own experiences.

Google’s focus on the Mobile Web is making apps less relevant, and domains more relevant

Sat, 2018-07-07 14:45

When Apple first announced the App Store everyone’s first thought was, this could be the beginning of the end for domain names. Fast forward to 2018 and it looks like the exact opposite has happened…not because of apps, but instead because of the popularity of mobile responsive design.

When the concept of “Apps” was introduced mobile responsive web design just wasn’t where it is today. Mobile sites were often clunky and hard to navigate, apps offered a much better mobile experience. Thanks to major progress in front-end design world (i.e. HTML, CSS, and Javascript) mobile websites now are almost indistinguishable from apps, and some brands are starting to deprecate their apps in favor of a mobile responsive site.

Google has also helped to accelerate this trend by updating their algorithm to actually rank sites better that load faster on mobile…and the change goes into effect this month.

Is your company’s mobile site quick to load? If not, don’t be surprised if its ranking plummets on Google search results. In July, Google’s algorithm will change so that slow-loading mobile sites will suffer the consequences.While this has been a call for action for quite some time, Google will now use loading speed as a metric for mobile search result ranking. (Source – Business News Daily)

But it’s not just fast load times, Google has gone even further to pave the way for the growth in focus on mobile responsive design:

As of April 21, there will be more mobile-friendly websites in your search results. Google Webmasters write, “…we will be expanding our use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal. This change will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact in our search results. Consequently, users will find it easier to get relevant, high-quality search results that are optimized for their devices.” (Source – DTelepathy)

These changes mean that companies are going to be more serious about their mobile experience than ever before. Rewind a few years ago and companies could say, “well our mobile experience isn’t great, but that’s why we have an app!” Those days are gone, mobile responsive has won.

This means that every domain investors greatest fear has been mostly dashed (for now) since it’s clear that every company needs a good domain name, whether they target mobile or desktop. Also, think a little about the apps on your phone. How many of them to you use regularly? The reality is that most people only use around 5 apps on their smartphone, compare this to the number of mobile sites someone visits and, well, there really is no comparison.

New research on mobile behavior released today points to the growing struggle that app businesses face in establishing themselves as a must-have download on users’ smartphones. Today’s consumers are spending over 85 percent of their time on their smartphones using native applications, but the majority of their time – 84 percent – is spent using just five non-native apps they’ve installed from the App Store. (Source – TechCrunch)

If you’re reading my blog on a mobile device you probably notice that it looks nothing like the desktop version. Years ago I decided to put a focus on mobile which meant killing banner ads for mobile users to instead focus on what matters – content.

So take a deep breath, it’s going to be okay, while apps certainly do play an important role in our lives, it’s really only a handful of apps that do. The web plays a much bigger role in all of our lives, and at the core of the web is domain names.

What do you think? I want to hear from you, comment and let your voice be heard!

The one video you should watch if you want to learn about SEO in 2018

Sat, 2018-07-07 06:00

If there’s one thing that’s always true about SEO, it’s that it is always changing. A lot of this change is driven by Google who makes changes to their algorithms which means that SEO advice needs to be updated.

When it comes to reliable sources of information about SEO I typically put Moz at the top of the list. Back at the very end of 2017 they wrote an article with an SEO checklist for 2018 and I think it’s a darn good one and worth sharing.

While you’re of course welcome to read the article, I recommend just hitting play on the video and soaking it all in. In most cases I think you’ll find a lot of things you already knew, but I’d be surprised if one or two things don’t jump out at you as nuggets that you can use to improve your SEO.

One easy change but one that I’m still seeing many sites missing is the move to HTTPS. Two years ago Google didn’t really care if you used HTTPS or not, or well, they cared, but they didn’t punish you for not using HTTPS. Fast-forward to 2018 and Chrome will actually show a warning if the site you’re visiting isn’t using HTTPS – yikes!

To help users browse the web safely, Chrome indicates connection security with an icon in the address bar. Historically, Chrome has not explicitly labelled HTTP connections as non-secure. Beginning in January 2017 (Chrome 56), we’ll mark HTTP pages that collect passwords or credit cards as non-secure, as part of a long-term plan to mark all HTTP sites as non-secure. (Source – Google Blog)

At the end of the day, the big shift in SEO over the last decade has been a move away from optimizing for keyword density and a focus instead on quality content. Of course, like most things in life, the devil is in the details which is why Moz’s checklist is a must-read/watch for anyone who hasn’t thought about SEO in a while.

PublicAuction.com is about to cross the $10,000 mark on Go Daddy Auctions

Fri, 2018-07-06 03:28

Go Daddy auctions has been one of the main places I look for expired domain names for some time now. Like most domain investors, this means I actually spend a lot more time looking at expired domains, the bidding activity, and prices, than I do buying them. I try to do as much homework as possible when I buy an expired domain – does it potentially infringe on a trademark? What have similar names sold for? When I do a Google search for the keywords in the domain, what do I see?

Every once and a while I find a domain that really seems to take off at auction, and ironically enough this time around it’s PublicAuction.com which is currently sitting at $9,200 with 117 bids and still over four days left to go.

What makes this auction particularly interesting is that while it has 117 bids, those are coming from only 14 bidders so it has turned into quite the bidding war. This is also a case where everyone is clearly ignoring Go Daddy’s “Estimated Value” since it’s pretty clear this domain is going to sell for more than Go Daddy’s algorithms estimate.

I think this is a solid name myself but I also wonder, for the domain investors bidding in the auction (there’s no way all 14 bidders are end-users), how much room are they giving themselves when it comes to potential ROI?

What do you think? Is PublicAuction.com still a steal at $10k or is the bidding getting a bit out of control here? I want to hear from you, comment and let your voice be heard!

 

When buying a .IO domain, watch out for this one big red flag

Wed, 2018-07-04 23:35

While most of my focus is on .COM, I’m also a pretty big fan of .IO which I’ve talked about quite a bit on my blog over the past few years. When it comes to a .COM alternative for tech startups, .IO is very high on the list, often put ahead of .NET which was the second choice for so many companies for decades.

Like I said above, my focus is .COM so when I do buy a .IO domain, I do even more homework than usual to make sure that it has some real potential. I also look out for any red flags that could let me know that it’s likely to be a dud.

One of the biggest red flags I look for is if the .NET, .ORG, .ME, and .CO are all either parked (i.e. owned by other investors) or not registered, then I often look the other way. If the other top 2nd-choice extensions are parked, to me, this is a sign that a lot of other people also thought an end-user would be interested but so far they’ve all been wrong, so far.

In the case that the .NET, .CO, or .ME  is still available to register I usually will pass since it feels like an end-user could just say, “why buy the .IO if the .NET is available?” I think that buyers look at .IO typically start by looking at the .COM, they find out it’s too expensive and so they start going with their second choice.

While they might see .IO as the next in line, most people will check other extensions like .NET, .ME, and .CO and if one is available to register, they’ll probably just snag it. In the case that none of these are available to register, that’s where I think .IO really shines since it is often seen as the top choice more and more now over other .COM alternatives TLDs.

Just to make sure people don’t confuse what I’m saying here. By no means should you read this post and think, okay I’m going to go buy a bunch of .IO domains. I really only recommend that people invest in .COM because I think any other extension is significantly more risky. That being said, if you do buy .IO and want to try your hand in non .COM sales, make sure to do a lot more homework and look out for the red flag I mentioned in this post.

Are product-related domain names slowly dying?

Wed, 2018-07-04 01:20

When I first started buying domains the notion of a “category killer” domain was all the rage. You could pick a niche, let’s say roofing, and go buy a domain like RoofingCompany.com and think – either a roofing company will buy this, or someone will put a directory on it, and people did.

Then the world changed and companies like Yelp, Angie’s List, etc. became the go-to directories leaving a lot of these niche so-called “category killers” in the dust. When businesses didn’t come knocking to buy these domain names, Domainers often turned to development and tried their hand at directory sites…but these rarely took off because the idea of – “if you build it they will come” really doesn’t apply.

I wrote a post seven years ago about why most Domainers won’t make a dime with directory sites and I think it still rings pretty darn true today. So I know a lot of people that got stuck with huge portfolios full of product-related domains with nobody to sell them to. Now you see these names dropping all the time and yes, Domainers are still bidding on them and repeating the same mistakes.

IMHO we now live in a word where one-word domains with massively broad use cases and brandable one and two-word domain names have won. Best Buy could have called their company ElectronicsStore.com but they went the brandable route, Home Depot could have been called HomeStore.com and heck, Amazon could have branded on SuperStore.com…but instead they went the brandable route and domains like SuperStore.com sit parked with their owners hoping that their day will come.

Now I’m sure I will get some comments with people sharing examples of successful companies that have build their brands on product names, and I agree – some have, but the majority are going the way of the brandable or the ever-broad one-word .COM.

Just look at the top three domain sales so far this year:

  1. Super.com – $1.2M
  2. Great.com – $900,000
  3. Liquid.com – $750,000

You could build just about anything on these domains. Liquid.com doesn’t have to be a site that sells something liquid, it could be a ride sharing company, it could be a hosting company, a new blogging platform, it could be anything. The same goes for Super.com and Great.com. Rewind to the early 90’s and when you heard the word “Amazon” you probably thought of a jungle, not a shopping destination, but that’s the power of a generic one-word domain, it can be anything you want it to be.

One of the best most recent examples of this is Bird, a scooter company now valued at over a billion dollars. When you think of a “Bird” you think of something that flies and so you might say – well they shouldn’t have named their company Bird because nobody thinks of scooters when they hear the word Bird, but it’s generic and now, honestly when I hear the word Bird, I think of a scooter.

So here’s the question, do you think product-related domains will come back, will we start using the words “category killer” again, or has that ship sailed?

If you had one sentence to describe the domain industry right now…what would it be?

Tue, 2018-07-03 04:15

There has been a lot of talk lately about the state of the domain industry, and like most things involving people and opinions, there’s no right answers but there sure are a lot of perspectives. I’ve heard from all ends of the spectrum from people who think things are getting better by the day to those who think the sky is falling, and of course everything in between.

If you’ve been reading my blog for the last 10+ years then you know I’m an optimist in just about all areas of my life…Domaining included. In this case my optimism isn’t really based on anything outside of my own personal experience, which as been very positive and I haven’t seen anything suggesting that’s going to change anytime soon.

I’m just one person, and I’m also not a full-time Domainer so my perspective is likely different from someone who buys, sells, or brokers domains as their full time job. So I’m very interested to hear what you, my readers think, but to keep it digestible, I’d like to you to try to boil it down to one sentence.

Of course, it’s not fair for me to ask a question without answering it myself, so here’s my sentence.

I think this is a great time to be in the domain industry, mostly because of all the incredible .COM domains that are dropping every single day, and all the people that are distracted by new gTLDs, leaving more .COMs for the rest of us.

Okay – there’s my sentence, now I want to hear from you – comment and let your voice be heard!

Who buys expired domains more, Domainers or end-users?

Mon, 2018-07-02 05:04

An interesting question came up in a post I wrote a couple of days ago about .IO sales. I said that I think the sales we see on Park.io are mostly investors, a reader of mine chimed in and suggested that they’re actually likely end-users.

Now I don’t have any official data from Park.io but my assumption has always been that expired domains are bought mostly by Domainers. When I say mostly of course I don’t mean 100% but I personally believe that a majority (i.e. well over 50%) of expired domains are purchased by domain investors.

When I talk to startup founders or generally anyone trying to understand the domain name market, I always bring up the option of buying expired domains…and it’s like explaining an entirely new world to them that they never knew existed. I just don’t think that many end-users are aware of the concept of buying expired expired domain names.

For those that do, I think they might know marketplaces like Go Daddy but I really don’t think they would know Park.io. Of course this is just my assumptions, and heck – sometimes assumptions are wrong. So I thought I’d ask you.

What do you think? Are expired domains being bought on Park.io mostly Domainers or end-users? I want to hear from you – comment and let your voice be heard!

Startup Saturday: One of the hottest startups, valued at over $1B is branding on a .CO domain

Sat, 2018-06-30 14:17

One of, if not the, hottest companies in the startup world right now is Bird Scooters. The startup launched less than two years ago and recently raised a monster $300M round of funding at a valuation north of $1B. This has left many people scratching their heads but some of the top VCs in the world have chimed in to share why they believe in the company and don’t think it’s valuation is as crazy as you might think.

Count me in the initial skeptics. The company launched a trial service in Santa Monica just last year and when I first saw the scooters (parked literally outside of our office) I was convinced nobody would want to ride them. Over the course of the first few months I saw a few people out on the street taking Birds and then a steady uptick in riders. The initial usage ramped up to such a heavy level that I would stare out of my 6th floor office while on phone calls and literally watch 5 Birds pass our office every 2–3 minutes. The volume grew so steady that I finally hopped on one, rode down to Bird’s offices and pleaded with Travis to take money from us. I had literally never seen a consumer phenomenon take off so quickly. (Source – Both Sides Of The Table)

I personally have experienced the Bird phenomenon living in SF. At first I thought, okay all these scooters are stupid, why not just ride a bike? But I kept seeing them, everywhere, and I just couldn’t help myself, so I downloaded the app, created my account and hopped on a scooter.

It blew my mind. Yes, it sounds crazy but it is completely different from riding a bike. San Francisco has a LOT of hills which makes biking a pretty challenging form of personal transportation since you’re likely to arrive at your destination sweating through your shirt and completely out of breath. With a scooter I can zip around the city from one place to another and usually at about one fifth of the cost of Uber/Lyft.

What also surprised me about Bird is that they build a billion dollar company in under two years, and they did it all while branding on a .CO domain – Bird.co. As I’ve said many times before, I think that all companies should own their .COM, especially consumer-facing companies, but if you’re an APP I do think it’s a lot less important since people typically aren’t looking for you online, they’re searching in the app store.

If you go to the iTunes app store on your phone and search for Bird, Bird Scooters is at the top, and that’s really all they have needed to make it easy for consumers to find and download their app. I thought it would be interesting to see what was on Bird.com, and not surprisingly, it’s a bird-related site.

Will Bird Scooters ever buy Bird.com? That is still to be seen, but I can tell you, it doesn’t look like not having the .COM is holding them back in any way.

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