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Archive for the ‘domain’ Category

How Far Can You Trust the Internet?

Monday, October 29th, 2012

If something is critical, make sure you own the real estate. This is a good principle to keep in mind when building a reputation, a business or whatever is important to you on the Internet.

Yes, there are popular platforms, such as YouTube and FaceBook, where you might want to be active. But these sites do not belong to you.  You never know when they might shut down (stranger things have happened), change their focus, fall from grace, or decide that you are a spammer or even some minor infraction in the terms of service that you were not even aware of (with no recourse for you to protest).

I was reminded of the importance of owning your own space, when Larry Ludwig had his Bogleheads account terminated.  Basically, after 250 posts, 20 of which he referenced articles he had written that were relevant to the discussion, his account was terminated.  From model community member to pariah in zero easy steps.  All that work – or most of it – down the drain.

Readers with a bit of memory will recall how my account at BlogEngage was terminated, when I was the third top member listed there and had just a few weeks earlier been praised by the owner for  how I conducted myself.  From model community member to pariah in zero easy steps.   I am still guessing that he noticed my free account (grandfathered as an early member) was generating much more success than were the spammer accounts he was selling automated submissions to.  So on a whim, I lost all the work I had put into my account and the site as a whole.

In between these two minor catastrophic events, a new social site called Thruzt came along and was steamrolling ahead to success in its second or third month.  I tried to login to my Thruzt account, when all of a sudden – “Poof!”  Unless you have just wished for a loaded buffet table, “Poof!” is not a sound effect most webmasters like to hear.  Thruzt was hosted on the Cloud (or is it “in” the Cloud?).  And the Cloud lost it.  The entire site.  Yes, from social site of the hour to blank page of the hour in zero easy steps.

These are each individual cases, and they are not specifically instructive to any of our individual activities.  But they do provide a combined perspective of the importance of owning space that cannot be summarily deleted.

  • Your own domain, not a freebie blog hosting or website service.
  • Cloud, OK, but backups, backups, backups.
  • Your own hosting service.
  • Offline backups of all information.
  • Offsite backups.
  • Own your own social site or forum if you want to be certain that nobody will give you the boot.  Nobody can boot me from Zoomit Canada, for instance.

And now for the latest news, I tried to login to my Diigo account last week, but it was gone – but not for reasons similar to those above. In fact, the whole site was gone, but not because the site was terminated (as was the case with Mixx, Propeller and so many other social sharing sites).  I just learned that Diigo’s domain was stolen. That is much like owning a car or cottage, vulnerable to thieves.  But it does give us reason to ponder how much trust we should place in the Internet.

You be the judge of what measures you need to take, but whatever measures, take control.  You cannot control everything, and if you want to reach large audiences, you need to be all over other people’s property.  But make sure that what really counts is on your own real estate – or at least a copy.

Have a story of your own? Feel free to share it in the comments below.

* Featured in the Working At Home Blog Carnival.

 

 


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Pros and cons of country-specific domains

Friday, May 21st, 2010

Many times I have seen questions posted at forums similar to…”I want to sell to these three countries.  Should I set up a domain in each country, or should I just have a different section of my website for each language?”

I know this might seem obvious, but often it is not: language and country are not the same thing.  Spanish is spoken in many countries.  English is, too.  Canada has two official languages.  There are two languages in the USA, too, even if the second one is not official.  The point being, you cannot segregate nationality on your website by language; you can segregate it only by country.

How you approach a multi-national, multilingual market will depend on a number of factors:

  • Languages you can serve them in
  • Countries you can ship to
  • Countries you wish to target
  • Currencies you can accept
  • Whether you can appear local enough that a country-specific website will appear credible
  • Whether you want to manage multiple websites.
  • Which countries you are marketing to (read on to see what a difference this can make)

This post addresses strictly the aspects related to country domains, such as .ca for Canada or .es for Spain.

How search engines view country-specific domains

I recently wrote a guest post on whether to adopt a .ca domain for a Canadian website.  I provided examples of the advantage a .ca domain has with Google.ca rankings beyond where it would rank at Google.com.  A country-specific doain is likely the clearest signal you can send the search engines that your website relates to a specific country. There is no question that for many searches, a country-specific domain helps reach searchers in a local market.

How people view country-specific domains

Does that mean you should set up a domains with .fr, .de, .ca, .co.uk, etc. for every country you serve?  That could be an effective strategy, but there are obviously drawbacks, too.  From an SEO perspective, it is probably worth your while to have a country-specific domain for any major market. But SEO isn’t everything.  You really need to know your market and how you plan to promote your domain.  In Canada, for instance, word-of-mouth traffic, including people who hear a domain on the radio, will tend to type .com even if they hear .ca .  This even happens sometimes when they see a URL in print.  Canadians are so accustomed to websites beginning with “www” and ending with “.com”.

Not so in Europe, where people expect to see their own country domain.  In fact, in many countries the domain tells them whether they are likely to be able to read the website – whether it is even worth visiting.  For instance, wander a little around Budapest and observe how many website URLs are advertised – every one a .hu domain.

Beyond language, consider the alternative to a country-specific domain, that being every country and/or every language on a single .com site.  (Here is where it is wise to consider which markets you are addressing.)

In Latin America, .com means “international”.  There is a certain trust level that comes from dealing with a big international company that in many countries would be seen as above the local corruption.  .com is not the way to go if you wish to appear local.

In Europe, .com is very often seen as “American”.  And in Europe, that generally isn’t good.  A site likely will have a lower trust level, given the American image of being out for a fast buck.

And as I said earlier, in Canada .com is simply seen as the default for a website, just as it is in the USA.

There is no simple answer whether to choose .com or a series of country-specific domains.  Like so many things in running a business, there are many factors to consider and the final decision can be no more than a guess.  But with the information above, at least it will be an educated guess.

 


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Want a link on a throw-away domain?

Wednesday, June 24th, 2009

A while back, I wrote about why to ignore three-way link requests.  Many of the reasons I listed had to do with the quality of the site linking back to you.  But what if it’s a PR3 home page.  Sounds like a juicy link to score, doesn’t it?  Well, maybe not.  I don’t want to pick on one domain or another, but I need an example, so the one that came in today will do.  In the words of the link-exchanger:

Mate its PR 3 schoolsprepared.org
 
Check it again..not throwaway… :-(

There are so many domains like this, and while a link from that page might not carry zero value, it’s caveat emptor.  Here are seven reasons why this is not a ” Wow! A PR3 home-page link!”

The domain will get dumped.Like so many others, this domain used to be a real website, but no longer. One glance at it with naked eyes shows that it was nicely set up and had a purpose. It accumulated a PageRank of 3, which means it was somewhat active on the Internet. And like so many others, the owners bailed out and sold the domain to someone who thought a PR3 website would be great for three-way link exchanges. So what happens once the site is “used up”? Once it is so stuffed with links that it is no longer useful for attracting link-exchanges, what do you think will happen to that website (and your link on it)? Come on, be honest, do you really trust that they will continue to maintain the website?

The page will fail to keep up. Let’s suppose they do maintain the website, honestly remaining committed to protecting the link they posted to your website, as promised. How long will the page remain PR3. Remember, PageRank is relative; as the total number of web pages and the total number of links on the Internet increase, so too does the link juice required to maintain a given PageRank. But the owners are not building links to this site; they are building links to another site.

The page will not attract new links. The eyeball test tells you this is a link farm. Even if it isn’t technically a link farm, it looks like one on first glance. Nobody will want to link to it. No bloggers. No industry sites. Nobody. The owner could be less careless and format the links nicely. But, as with most such situations, the owners did not.

The page will suffer link attrition. OK, let’s take this one step further. Over time, all websites suffer from link-attrition. That is to say, links die every day (websites close down, links pages are cleaned up, links get pushed deeper and deeper on directory pages, etc.), and links pointing to the page your link is on will die. In the case of a website that looks cheap like this, it stand to suffer accelerated attrition, as some websites linking to it will remove their links when they realize what they are now linking to.

No targeted traffic. As Yura Filimonov pointed out to me, sites like this won’t deliver targeted traffic.  Anyone who lands on such a page will quickly see that it is useless and back out the door.  Of course many links don’t deliver much traffic, but one of the benefits expected from a home page link is some targeted traffic.

PageRank will be diluted. Eventually there will be dozens, maybe hundreds of links on the page. The PR from PR3 (what’s left of it) will be diluted before the domain gets recycled, is dumped or simply disappears.

You are not fooling the search engines. If I can see with a glance that this is a flipped website turned link farm, do you really believe that Google and Yahoo are being fooled? Please, don’t flatter me; I know they are smarter than I am.

“So, OK, David…would my link on a page like this place my website at risk?” you ask.

I doubt it.  If you have 100 inbound links and 80 of them are from home page link farms, that might throw up a pretty big red flag.  But if you have a dozen links on silly pages like this amongst 500 links of various quality, I can’t imagine it harming your rankings.  Just don’t go jumping for joy thinking you’ve struck gold.  You’ve just found a penny.

Related reading on a humerous note: a spammer link exchange note.

 


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Effect of a Domain Name on SEO

Wednesday, October 8th, 2008

What is the effect of a domain name on SEO?

Over at the High Rankings Forum, where I like to hang out when I have the time, this debate has burst forth (again!).   It began exactly two weeks ago, and Jill Whalen, the forum’s owner, rekindled the spark by choosing it as the thread of the month in her newsletter. 

On the one side, there are people who quite ardently and categorically believe that the domain name has no effect on rankings.  Zero.  Zilch.  No way.

On the other side, there are people who swear that a domain name can make all the difference.  All the way.

And there are of course, those (like me) who think the whole things is fairly non categorical and that domain names play an uncertain role.

Catch the debate here.

My suggestion for an experiment here, if anyone has more time than I to run a real-life test or two.

 


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Earlybird Link Building

Wednesday, September 24th, 2008

POP QUIZ:  How do you build links to a website that is not yet live?

Those who are new to the Web might wonder why you would want to do that.  Let’s suppose your website takes 4 months to develop.  If you build some links to your domain, then SEO-wise you can hit the ground running when you are ready to go live.  Imagine going live and already having 100 links indexed by Google.  You have a head start.

But who wants to link to a non-website?  Nobody, of course, except…

Let me tell the story of a shy little girl named Melanie.  Her parents moved to a new town, and let’s just say that the kids at her new school were a little less than welcoming.  What’s a girl to do when nobody wants to be your friend?

Be your own friend, of course.

Eventually, anybody who is a good friend to herself will radiate confidence and self-esteem and will emit an aura of worthiness.  Soon, Melanie had plenty of friends, just because she was a good friend to herself.

So, too, with link-building.  If you are not yet ready to seek links from other people, set up links to yourself.  Here are a few ideas how to do this:

Set up pages at Social bookmarking and social networking sites.  Most of them allow links in your profile, and the more friends you have and the more items you vote on, the more link juice your profile will have.  LinkedIn is great for SEO .  FaceBook is good.  Squidoo is ideal (Set up lots of topical pages and network, network, network).  MySpace is useless from an SEO perspective.

Submit articles to general article directories and how-to/expert websites.  In the resource box, you can place a link.  These links are hardly ever checked by the website administrators, unless something looks fishy.  Make yours an exquisitly useful, quality article and most places will accept it.

Submit comments on DoFollow blogs.  Some blogs automatically add all comments. Some bloggers will read your comment and approve it if it adds value, without looking at your website.  Some bloggers will follow your link and nuke your comment.  (I did just that a few minutes ago, which is what inspired me to write this post.)  Ah…but if the commenter had posted a lengthy comment that really added to the discussion, I might have approved it, and I think most bloggers would … although some might remove the active link to a non-functioning domain.  Keep in mind that who you link to matters.

Set up blogs on other domains.  You can set up blogs on Blogspot and WordPress and on hundreds of smaller websites that allow users to set up blogs.  many of these overlap with the advice above to set up profiles at social networking sites.

Buy blog posts.  There are plenty of paid blog review websites, such as Blogsvertise.  And there are self-serve paid blogging sites like LinkVana

In fact, you can build hundreds of links before you even have a website.  All you need is to harness the power of user-generated content on other websites.  However, there are a few caveats.

1.  It still requires work.  You might not yet have content on your own site, but you have to put quality content on the other sites, and the better the quality the more links you can build.

2.  It helps if your site is live.  It might take 4 months to develop, but in 24 hours you can have a nicely designed on-topic interim home page live on your domain.  I suggest you do this.

3. This is not hoity toity SEO.  This is guerilla SEO.  There is nothing wrong.  There is nothing shady.  It leaves a bad taste because it should not be like this, but given that the longevity of links and the gradual accumulation of links does count to your success, it would be foolish not to take advantage of these opportunities to quickly position your new website to compete with the established players.

 


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Mature Domains – Ranking Advantage at Google

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2008

Those of us who have been paying attention new about the importance of domain maturity already a couple years ago.  But it looks like 2008 might be the year that the webmaster community starts to realize the importance of the issue, with Google’s United States Patent Application: 0080086467 being publicized.

The bottom line is that it is to your advantage to hold a domain that has been around — and in your ownership — for several years.  Maturity counts, and SEO gets easier as your domain ages.  It is also to your advantage to see links from mature domains, although I don’t think I would waste time checking the ages of every domain I hoped to get a link from (more on this in a moment).

Why are mature domains better?  Like so many things, especially on the Internet where much is ephemeral, a mature domain has stood the test of time and therefore is more likely than average to provide useful information or services.  An established domain is much, much less likely to be a spam site set up to turn a quick profit and disappear.  The bottom line is that a mature domain is more likely to be a trustworthy one.

And trust is what it is about.  When Google sends traffic to your site, it is placing trust in the site.  Maturity is one way Google can measure trust.  However, it is far from the only way.  PageRank is another.   There are likely dozens of measures of trust that Google employs, which is why I would not waste my time checking domain age.  A much better trust test is too see how well a site ranks for its own target search phrases.  If it ranks well, Google must trust it at least a fair amount, and therefore it is a good website to be associated with.

 


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5 Reasons to Shorten Your URLs

Wednesday, April 16th, 2008

Here is a great list of reasons why you would want to shorten your URLs.  Here is the abridged version of the list, but the link above gives a more detailed explanation, well-thought out and pretty obvious for anyone trying to spread their website by means other than links. 

  • Avoid broken links in your emails/messenger text
  • Save characters in your SMS
  • Tell others your links via phone
  • Hide your affiliate links
  • Much better for audio recirdings or repeating the URL over the phone

 


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