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Do Keywords On A Domain Name Still Matter?

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The decision whether or not keywords in domain names positively influence a website’s search rankings has been debated for long, long time.

While that debate will likely continue for some time, there is some definitive proof that the share of keyword domains in the search results has decreased continuously in recent years. In its 2015 Google ranking factors study, Searchmetrics has analysed the top 30 search results for 10,000 relevant keywords and 300,000 websites appearing on Google.com and found that while 9 percent of the URLs (in the top 30 results) included the keyword in the domain in 2014, this figure is down to just 6 percent in 2015.

As a refresher, domain owners, and those looking to give their sites an organic boost, would choose “www.cheapairfairtoeurope.com” if they were in fact selling cheap airfare to Europe.

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The data from above certainly shows a decline in keyword-rich domains in the top 30 search results, but also, wisely, points out that this drop also likely has to do with the poor user experience that these websites (especially exact-matching ones), in most cases, provide. For those companies offering strong user experiences (indicative of low bounce rates, high time on site, etc.) on their keyword-rich domains, may still appear high on the SERPs.

Dot PRO Domains Are Now Available For Everyone

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Want to look like an expert in front of your prospects? The .PRO domain name extension is now an unrestricted top-level domain and open to all registrants.

With the high number of the new top-level domains, interest in domains like (dot) PRO has likely waned, as there are so many viable alternatives. Today, (dot) PRO has just over 120,000 registrations (primarily engineers, doctors and lawyers – those with some type of formal accreditation. That changes with the move to make (dot) PRO an unrestricted top-level domain.

“The very name .PRO communicates professionalism of the highest order,” said Roland LaPlante, CMO at Afilias. “Now pros of all types can quickly and easily communicate their expertise in their email and web addresses with a .PRO name. Beginning today, .PRO names can be registered without the hassle of additional paperwork, making .PRO easy for registrars to service and easy for registrants to buy” he added.

Registration is now available at all .PRO accredited registrars.

A Variety of Businesses Interested in .XXX


Businesses are rushing to protect their identity from the new .XXX domain names that will be available soon. According to Easyspace, one of the UK’s largest Web hosting companies, 8 out of 10 businesses that are pre-registering their interest in the triple X domain names are not part of the adult industry. “As we expected, the early indications are that non-adult industry businesses have realized the need to protect trademarks and brands in dot XXX. As an officially accredited registrar of the new domain we are encouraging businesses to pre-register with us so we can submit their claims to ICM Registry quickly and efficiently,” says Sarah Haran, managing director of Easyspace. The new domain name registration will take place in a series of controlled phases starting in September and running through December. “To increase your chance of securing .XXX it’s important to pre-order your preferred domain before general availability begins,” says Haran.

Domain Theft and Security in Focus


Have you ever had a domain stolen? While not all that common, it is for many domain name owners – both buyers and sellers – a serious problem in need of a solution. New service DomainTheft.org, founded by domain name investor Morgan Linton, aims to curb domain theft, one of the Internet’s most serious cybercrimes. DomainTheft.org is a centralized database of stolen domains which are verified by a proprietary algorithm called DTVS or the Domain Theft Verification System. DTVS does an initial check to ensure that the theft being committed is valid (by looking at when the last Whois change took place) and then sends it along to a member of DomainTheft.org’s task force for investigation. No thefts are added to the database as Verified Stolen unless they are verified manually by a member of the investigative task force. Registrars and domain name marketplaces have tended to avoid the situation in the past and law enforcement has taken the same approach. Whether there is a valid need for such a service is anyone’s guess but even if it stops one crime from happening it will be worth it for some. “If every marketplace checks our database before listing a domain for sale it will not only dramatically reduce the number of stolen domains, but also improve the chance of recovery,” says Linton.  

 

.CO is Exceeding Expectations after One Year


On the heels of .co’s first anniversary, it has proven a very successful year for the young domain extension. A year after .co’s global launch, more than 1 million domain names have been registered, and the first time renewal rate is exceeding expectations, which is currently at 66 percent— and that is without counting late renewals yet. Typically first year domains have a renewal rate in the low to mid 60 percent range, however .co’s renewal rate is expected to be around 68 to 69 percent when all is said and done. Companies that have joined the .co bandwagon include Google, Amazon, Twitter and Overstock, as well as entrepreneurs from more than 200 countries. Currently the U.S. has the most .co domain names registered with almost 52 percent, followed by the U.K. at 13.7 percent, and Canada rounds out the top three with just over 4 percent. During the next year, .co claims that it will focus on enhancing the registrar marketing portal, expanding the global reseller network, launching new marketing campaigns and making tracking progress easier with reports and charts.      

Finessing the Domain Flip

Domain names are big business – they represent our businesses, they relate to the topics and memes we are interested in and passionate about and, with a little knowledge, they serve as an exciting investment opportunity. It becomes more difficult to find available domains, consumers will ultimately turn to the “aftermarket” to find domain names they can use. As such, Web professionals are poised to generate immense profits from the retooling, or flipping, of websites for profit. If you are skilled at Web design, content development, link building or affiliate marketing, you are far ahead of the game. But in order to successfully flip a domain you must find one with the potential to turn a few dollars into hundreds or thousands of dollars; separating those with potential from those without.

Locating Low-Value Domains for a High-Value Flip

Finding domain names for sale is the easy part of the flip. Sites such as BoxCar.com, Devsa.com, Sedo.com, Flippa.com, SnapNames.com, Afternic.com, NamePros.com, BuyDomains. com and GoDaddy Auctions all provide viable opportunities to acquire domains. Know well before you sign up for these services, however, that you will often encounter domain owners selling their assets for what a reasonable person might consider outlandish prices. In the end, domains are worth what someone is willing to pay for them. Knowing the key qualities that buyers look for in a domain will set you on a course to profit from the flip, and not get burned in the process.

Key Qualities of Domains and How They Affect Price

All domain names (and websites) are not created equal. Outside of being short and memorable, there are several well defined qualities of domain names that present the best possible opportunity when turning an investment into a profit. ? Keywords in the Domain: It has been proven over the years that using keywords within a domain provides a tremendous advantage for ranking highly for those terms. Both non-hyphenated and hyphenated domains can gain this advantage. More often than not, an exact match keyword domain can claim the top position on Google with very little effort. This is one of the best reasons for owning a generic keyword domain, and what makes them so valuable. ? Natural Search/Social/Advertising Traffic: The domain names that sell for the most amount of money (outside of single-word domains like Sex.com, which recently sold for $13 million) have one thing in common — visitors and pageviews. While there are different stages of development for the domains you will find for sale, having some traffic — from natural search, social networks or even advertising — will provide a measure of the site’s potential. The optimal domain to buy is one that receives a modest level of natural search traffic. Selecting domain names with traffic from social networks or advertising requires an investment either in time or money; not necessarily ideal if you need to ensure visitors keep arriving or if managing dozens of domains. ? Website Earnings/Potential: The domain name aftermarket is flooded with those of low quality and questionable potential. Domains that typically sell on the aftermarket are those with a track record of monetary performance or the ability to develop revenue streams. When a domain name has demonstrated its ability to profit from the traffic received it will ultimately raise the price. The challenge of buying websites with existing revenue, however, is the due diligence that is required. Is there some legacy effect, such as users’ bookmarks who might not respond to new ownership or content? Are existing revenues a result of well-managed PPC campaigns? It is imperative to understand any and all sources of revenues, as well as the cost or upkeep required to maintain them. These are just a few of the qualities you should look for when purchasing a domain name to flip for a profit. But what domains are right for whom?

Domain Flipping for Design, SEO and PPC Experts

You might be a Web design maven but not be skilled at driving traffic through social media. Or, you might be the PPC guru of your company but couldn’t design a square. The solution is to select domain names aligned with your skill set. ? Domains for Designers: There are thousands of domain names in the aftermarket begging for a professional Web design to be applied. If you possess skills in template design for WordPress, Joomla or Drupal, you might be surprised how much of an increase in value you can get by applying a more aggressive and compelling layout to existing content. Consider purchasing a few $1 domains on eBay, applying your design expertise then listing them for sale for a quick, inexpensive flip. ? Domains for Content Developers: If skilled with copywriting and content development then the world of domaining is your digital oyster. Because low-quality content abounds on the Internet, if you are able to develop creative content on a variety of topics related to a domain name, your domains will be in high demand. Consider acquiring a few quality, modestly priced domain names and start writing. Choose content themes wisely by identifying keywords and phrases with the highest commercial intent, and the sites you develop will be positioned for substantial profits. ? Domains for SEO Masters: Those who specialize in search engine optimization stand to generate the greatest profit from flipping domains. Being able to take a website (or domain) with little or no traffic and securing placement for even long-tail keywords can make almost any domain profitable. SEOs skilled at link building in particular are well suited to flipping domain names as the number of inbound links is a common variable in website valuation. ? Domains for Affiliates: Affiliates have an inherent edge when it comes to flipping domains. Identifying the best, most relevant offers for a website’s incoming traffic can turn a “no profit” website into a “high profit” one. Domains can then be sold at upwards of 10 times monthly earnings. Flipping domains is not for the cautious as a great deal of risk is involved. Applying appealing visual themes, writing compelling content, building links and establishing revenue streams is no guarantee that domains will ever sell, even if purchased at a premium. For this reason, it is not uncommon to see domains listed for thousands of dollars, as desperate domainers make an effort to recoup at least some of the funds they have sunk into the domain. However, by using the formal skills you have acquired as a Web professional, domain flipping is a legitimate possibility for added income.