Excellent Domain Buying and Usage Advice

John RomaineMy friend and SEO expert John Romaine produces an excellent podcast, and in this episode he discusses what to do and not do when it comes to domain names. VERY informative.

I’ve posted the transcript below, but please listen to the audio podcast for the full experience. You can find it here: Works Media Podcast


Podcast Episode 2 – Domain Names, Good Ones, Bad Ones and Others to Simply Avoid



John:    Hi guys, welcome back to another episode of The Works Media Podcast.  I’m your host John Romaine and joining me is…

Byron:    Byron Trzeciak.

John:    This is Episode Number 2 and in today’s Podcast we’ll be talking about domain names; exciting stuff.  How are you again Byron?

Byron:    Very well thanks John.  Thanks for having me back.

John:    Yeah.

Byron:    Obviously I survived the first – the induction.  The chopping block is still awaiting.

John:    You made the cut, you made the cut.  Yeah.  Okay, cool.  So, I wanted to talk about domain names today because I think when it comes to domain names, especially for business owners, there’s really more considerations that need to be thought out than I think a lot of business owners are really aware of.

Byron:    Yep, we touched on it a bit in the last podcast, I mentioned the difference between .com and the .com.au domains so we’re going to expand a bit on that today.

John:    That sounds good so, this – actually this recording has come about as a result of an article that I wrote back in September 2013 and I figured this would make for a good episode because I was fairly comprehensive in that article and, yeah, I thought let’s expand upon it, yeah?  Like you’ve got the article there.  Have you had a chance to go over it?

Byron:    Yeah, no, I’ve been through this one and so it will be good to talk about, you know, what the landscape was like back then and any changes you’re seeing in it, you know, 2014, a year on I suppose.

John:    Sure.

Byron:    So yeah, in terms of domain registration where do we start?  You know, what’s the best place to start if you’re a new business or maybe venturing into a new area and you want a new domain; what’s the best place to get stuck into it and get involved?

John:    Okay, well the best place to start.  I mean, if you’re a business owner and you’re looking at registering a domain for use within Australia, obviously, you’d be registering a .com.au and for any .com.au registrations I use Crazy Domains.

Byron:    Yep.

John:    There’s a couple of key points here that is should probably mention.  Always go with a registrar that’s well known.  Occasionally I’ll work with business owners and they’ll have their domain name registered with someone I’ve just never heard of and that’s probably not always going to be a problem but I would encourage business owners to try and stick with well known brands or domain name registrars.  It just makes it – just for that peace of mind and knowing that you’re not going to wake up tomorrow and the domain name registrar is gone; you’ve lost your domain or it’s been on-sold to someone else and now it’s sitting in auction somewhere, some Chinese auction, and you’ve got to pay $10,000 to get it back.

Byron:    Yeah, exactly.

John:    So for .com.au domains I always register all of my own .com.au’s through Crazy Domains.  Yeah, so go with a registrar that’s well known.

Byron:    What are some of the things you’re looking out for with registering a domain name?  Yeah, what’s – can you determine the quality of the domain name?  Should it be something that has your keyword in it or something to do with your target market or, you know, what are some of the things that you should think about when registering a domain?

John:    Okay, well that’s a pretty long list.

Byron:    Yeah.

John:    That’s quite a long list of stuff that I could certainly cover.  The first thing that I would say to business owners, right, is because I see this a lot is people regardless of whether or not they’re a business owner, people seem to get excited about domain names, right?  And they’ll think ah, I’ve thought of this great domain name, it’s perfect for our business or our Web site and they’ll register it and then five minutes later they’ll think, oh, I’ve spelt that wrong or wait a minute I’ve come up with something that could be better so they’ll go and register something else and in the end you’ll end up with like half a dozen different domain names and you’ll probably only ever end up using one.

Byron:    Yeah, exactly.

John:    So, you know, I don’t know if you’ve read all of the article that I’ve published.  I have a saying when it comes to registering domain names and that is hurry up and take your time.

Byron:    Yep.

John:    And I know that sounds contradictory but by that I mean, you know, really have a good think about the domain name that you’re potentially interested in using but have a good think about it.  Think about everything like how it’s going to look on screen, how easy will it be to remember, how will it look on your business cards?  How easy is it to – you know, does it pass the phone test which I’ll get to in a moment.  Is it close to other domain names?  All of these things.

So think, take your time to think all of these things through but at the same time don’t take too long because, as you know, like I mean, I’ve had domain names on screen that I’m about to register and I’ll go and make a cup of tea, come back and they’re gone and, in fact, I’ve heard of stories where, you know, if you’re searching for a particular domain name and you search for it repeatedly that sometimes they’ll slip from being available to suddenly being at auction.  And I know that sounds – cue the X Files background music, but it’s kind of like a conspiracy.  Yeah.  It’s like a conspiracy theory.  So, yeah, hurry up and take your time like think everything through.  Like think twice.  Think twice and register once that’s my advice.

Byron:    One of the tricks I sometimes look at, I’ll forget the tool, I’ll send it to you after the podcast but there’s a certain tool that you can run a particular business name through and see where it’s available across all the different social media sites, the .com.au, all that kind of stuff.  So it can give you a good overview of whether a business name might fit and how much you’re going to have to butcher that in case usernames and things like that have already been taken.

Sidenote – That tool is http://namechk.com (Thanks Byron!)

So, that’s always a good step and it can sometimes be the difference between me buying a domain or not.

John:    Right.  Yeah, I mean – yeah.  You would think that the process of registering a domain name is pretty straightforward and there’s not too much to think about, and in most cases that’s probably true, but there’s definitely a number of things, I mean, I can cover in this Podcast that will just give business owners something to think about in advance because, I mean, when it comes to registering your domain name it’s something that – especially for business owners that have a long-term strategy, it’s something that you’ve got to live with for a long time.  So make sure that you get it right from the beginning.

Byron:    Yep.

John:    Something else that – oh, here’s a great question I get asked a lot.  How long should I register my domain name for?

Byron:    Yep.

John:    And that’s something that I’ll usually say to business owners like if you can register it for five years in advance, I mean, do it!  There’s nothing wrong with registering your domain name 12 months at a time but then you’ve got to be mindful of, you know, hey, is my – is the expiration date coming up?  This is something that I really want to stress in this episode especially when it comes to domain names is making sure that your contact information or your contact details are up-to-date when you register your domain name because registrars will start sending out notifications, right?  They’ll start sending out notifications saying, hey, Byron, you know, pixelrushstudios.com.au is about to expire and if your contact information is wrong then you’re not going to get those notifications and eventually that thing will just roll over and go back to being, you know…  I mean, it goes – there’s whole different stages the domain name goes through.  It doesn’t just go from being taken to being available.

Byron:    Yeah, exactly.

John:    Yeah, I’m not domain name expert but it goes through a number of stages and usually that process takes a couple of months but the last thing that you want to happen is to find that you sit down at the computer one morning and your entire business is wiped out because you’ve lost your domain name, someone else has picked it up and now they’re asking for $50,000 ransom money for you to get it back because you didn’t keep your contact information up-to-date.

And while on that point, business owners should always try and register all of their domain names in the one place, if possible.

Byron:    That’s a challenging thing when you start out I think you just tend to register here and there or you move your hosting and then you register another domain name at the new hosting provider so, yeah, committing to a single location is a good thing to do.

John:    Absolutely because it centralizes all of your domains, you know where everything is and you’ve only got to update your details in one place.

Byron:    Yeah, exactly.

John:    As opposed – I mean, I’ve worked with business owners that I’ll say, well, what’s the domain management console username and password?  Ah gee, don’t know, oh here it is, we’ve found it.  And it’s – wait, that doesn’t work.  Oh, hang on that’s for these other guys, for some other domains that we registered and they’ve got six domains with domain register A and I’ve got five domains with domain register B and I’ve got another four domains over here and they’re all using different contact information, it’s a freaking mess.

Byron:    Yeah.

John:    So always try and centralize where you’ve got your domain names registered.

Byron:    Yep.  So in terms of like, you know, registering a domain name, you know, standard might be for two years.  Are there any advantages for registering a domain for ten years?  Am I going to get more love because I’ve registered for ten years or, you know, as long as you’ve got it in your name and it doesn’t expire, they’re the main points?

John:    More love from who?

Byron:    Certain – I’ve seen certain tools in the past where you might run an audit for say SEO purposes and the tool might say you’ve only registered for two years.  Google tends to like it more when you’ve registered it for a longer period showing that you’re more committed to the Web site.

John:    Yeah, you know what, that is a myth.

Byron:    Yeah.

John:    It’s a myth.  It’s complete – it’s nonsense.  It’s not true.  It’s a myth that has been circulating for forever and it’s something that I asked someone who is experienced and highly knowledgeable in the domain name space whose name is Gene Pimentel I think, I hope I pronounced that right; he’ll choke me if not but, yeah, I asked him because he’s been buying and selling domains for quite some time, you know, over a decade and he said, no, there’s no truth in it whatsoever and I take his word to the bank because he knows what he’s talking about and, I mean, I’ve registered sites for 12 months and I’ve registered sites for ten years and I’ve never seen any indication of there being any sort of SEO benefits at all.

So my answer to that is from what I’ve seen and from the people that I’ve spoken to, I mean, I haven’t just only spoken to Gene and asked him some of the biggest SEO communities as well and all of the big names have said no, there’s no SEO benefits to registering your domain name for longer periods of time.

Byron:    Yep.  So on that topic, what about reused domain names?  Some people tout domain names as, you know, you can have something that’s already got some search engine juice to it, you know, it’s got some backing and power behind it, is that something that you recommend at all?

John:    That’s a really, really good question especially given the current SEO environment that we’re in with penalties flying all over the place, you know, people, business owners, getting penalized for unnatural back links and low quality content and, I mean, yeah, that’s such a great question I’m so glad that you brought it up.

For business owners that are thinking about that strategy be very, very careful.  There’s a whole bunch of different metrics that need to be looked at before you throw money at a domain.

I mean, okay, let’s look at the why first.  Why would a business owner be interested in picking up a domain name that, you know, they’re buying it from its existing owner?  The simple answer is they’re looking to pick up, not just the domain name itself, but all of the SEO attributes that that domain name has acquired during its lifespan.  So if it’s been registered for say ten years chances are it’s going to have a lot of links, it’s going to have page authority, domain authority, it’s going to have a whole bunch of metrics that might expedite the process of you achieving better or your site doing better in terms of performance within the search engines.

Byron:    Yeah, sure.

John:    So it makes sense to consider that strategy but you really need to know what you’re doing otherwise it can explode in your face and if that happens you could potentially be paying, you know, several thousand dollars for a domain name that has a completely unnatural link profile, bad links, it’s been smashed by Panda or Penguin, it’ll rank for a week and then it will just drop off, you know, the face of the earth and you’ll be thinking, what’s happened?  I’ve just spent all of this money and now this thing isn’t performing.

So, I’m not sure…

Byron:    It’s like a used car or something isn’t it?  You know, you’ve got to do your research on it.

John:    Absolutely.

Byron:    Check that you haven’t got a dud or you’ve got sand in the petrol tank or something that’s going to affect your performance down the track.

John:    Yeah.  When it comes to – you know, this is what’s really grinding my gears at the moment with Google and them throwing, well, applying, penalties at the domain level is that, you know, there are a lot of business owners that are picking up domain names because they just like the name and then finding out that the domain is worthless even though it’s a great name or even though it’s catchy and it’s easy to remember and spell, the domain is potentially worthless, or it is worthless, because it’s been penalized.

I’ve always used – you know, if you think about it like if I buy a car and I’m speeding everywhere in that car and driving like a, just being completely reckless, and I get done for speeding and reckless driving and dangerous driving or whatever else and I get fines and then I go on to sell that car like all of those penalties or the history of having, being, a complete idiot behind the wheel, that stays with me, that doesn’t go with the motor vehicle.

So if someone else buys that car, they’re not pulled over a week later by the police saying, hey, this car is well known for drifting through the suburbs of Neutral Bay Sydney, step out of the car so we can slap you around with a wet fish.

Byron:    Yeah.

John:    So, yeah, that’s something that I just – it’s a bit of a mess.  I shouldn’t say it’s a bit of a mess, it’s a huge mess because I’ve looked at hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of domain names and there are so many domains out there that have just been absolutely burnt and dumped.

Byron:    Yeah.

John:    And in fact I’m working with a business owner right now who unfortunately worked with a low-end SEO service provider and they have to go through a complete rebrand of their entire business, drop the domain and start with a new domain because their existing domain has been penalized.

Byron:    Yep.

John:    I don’t know how far into like the metrics – I mean, my advice is this, I mean, I don’t want to spend ten minutes talking about the metrics that need to be checked but if the business owners are considering buying a domain, a previously owned domain name, go to someone that can check all of this stuff for you and make sure that it’s clean.

Byron:    Yep absolutely.

John:    Yeah.

Byron:    I mean, if you’re buying from somewhere like CrazyDomain’s, GoDaddy I suppose, are they reputable places to buy from or do they also resell?  Do you have to be wary of the domains that are on offer on sites like this as well or are they typically fresh or unused?

John:    The majority of domains that you’ll pick up will probably be – well, there’s no real right or wrong answer you’ve just got to use some – do your due diligence and have a look.

Byron:    I agree.

John:    Probably the easiest place to look is by having a look at the Wayback Machine, that’s probably one thing that comes to mind.  Look at the Wayback Machine, Google the Wayback Machine and just enter in the URL and see if there’s any historical data.  And the beauty of the Wayback Machine is that you can look and see, okay, what was this thing used for previously and if it comes up with like a Viagra site or something stay right away from it.

Byron:    Yeah, exactly.

John:    In terms of checking all the metrics, well, that’s something that, you know, someone like – it’s not a service that I provide but you’d need to go to an SEO agency or an SEO consultant or expert and say, look, I’m thinking about buying this domain.  Its $1500 I don’t want to waste my money, can you please take a look at it for me and let me know if it’s safe to use?

Byron:    Yep.

John:    So, in terms of – for myself I use GoDaddy for all of my .coms.  I use CrazyDomains for all of my .com.au’s.  Registering a brand new domain then you don’t need to check any of that stuff but if you’re buying from auction, which I quite often do at GoDaddy, I mean, I’ll spend, just looking at one domain, I might spend half an hour checking all of the metrics, you know, looking at the link profile, looking at the sites that link to it, looking at the metrics of those sites, looking at historical information through the Wayback Machine, domain age, trust flow, citation flow, page authority, domain authority, all of that stuff, page rank as well.

Byron:    Yeah.

John:    So there’s a lot to be mindful of.

Byron:    Yeah, so I think to any business owners out there that when you hear John reel off all of the things that you just reeled off then, you know, it’s a pretty comprehensive task so it certainly helps to call out to a professional and get someone to help you out with that kind of stuff otherwise you don’t want to be 12 months down the track and be at a disadvantage.

John:    It’s not so bad if you’re just running a small hobby business from home, you can just dump the domain and start over.  But if you’re running a big business, I mean, I’m working, like I said, with a client now who’s got multiple staff, they’re working in the real estate industry and they’ve got to dump everything and start over.  You know, I’m talking down to like their branding of their flyers and their business cards and their letters – all of their office equipment, everything needs to be rebranded now because the site that, sorry, their domain has been penalized.

Byron:    Yeah, exactly.

John:    So, yeah, business owners be careful.  Don’t just go out there and buy domains willy-nilly.  I mean, I’m not using scare tactics here to frighten people.  If you go and register a brand new domain then you’ll be fine but if you’re going to spend a couple of grand and buy a previously owned domain make sure you spend the time to check it out or hire someone that can check it out for you.

Byron:    Yeah, exactly.  All right, so the last Podcast we talked about kick starting an SEO campaign.  In terms of your domain names, how important is it to have your keyword in your domain name?  So if you’re a home gardener you might have Johnshomegardening.com.au.  How critical is that?  Is it important for early success?

John:    Look, keywords in domain names – having the keyword in your domain name is not essential but it’s something that so many people seem to obsess about.

If I’m selling ice cream then I need to register johnsicecreams.com.au.  My advice is this, if I makes sense do it but don’t just jam keywords into your domain name just for the sake of trying to rank within Google for that one term.  I mean, just looking now at the article that I wrote I’ve got it on screen.  I said, avoid the temptation to register exact match keyword rich domains.  I’ve seen all sorts of ridiculous domains like the examples that I’ve got here.  North Sydney Dental Practice, (Cremorne), New South Wales.  You know, melbourneresumingwritingservices.com.au – you know all of these…  You know what I think?  When I see domains like that I think this person has got an online marketing strategy that is paper thin.  They’re essentially trying to rank for one term in Google.  I mean, that is completely ridiculous.

The problem is, is that exact match domains were are given a bit of a smack back in 2012, Google came out and openly admitted that having the keywords in your domain isn’t going to – it’ll be given less weight as a ranking factor and that seemed to sort of remedy the problem for a while because if you typed in, just for examples sake, weight loss, Central Coast, you would get the first page of results within Google would be WeightLossCentralCoast.com.au, WeightLossCentralCoast.com, WeightLossCentralCoast.net.au, and then you would get silly domains like WeightLoss-CentralCoast and then WeightLossCentralCoastX and then – so you had people jamming anything and everything like, you know, stop words and letters and numbers and hyphens and all sorts of crap into their domain names just to try and get it to the first page in Google.  That sort of got flushed and that’s calmed down for a while but, again, it’s become a problem because I’ve seen a site just recently, I can’t remember what the search term was off the top of my head, but I typed in a certain search query and the first result was my search query as a domain name and I looked at it closer.  Actually now I think it was – actually, no, I don’t want to say but I looked at it closer and it was just a splash page.  It was just a blank page that had on it the domain name.  If you’re interested in registering this domain name please contact us with a contact form or an email or something.  Like, that’s just ridiculous.

Byron:    Yeah.

John:    And when it comes to an online business think about your online business as a brand.  You want to be promoting your brand not just – I mean, can you imagine going to a conference or even a weekend barbeque or something and telling someone about your online business and they say, oh, so what’s the domain name and you say, CheapSamsungRepairsNorthSydney.com.au.  they’re going to look at you like, who is this Muppet?

Byron:    It’s pretty difficult to remember isn’t it?  Like we talk about optimizing for humans and not search engines and I think the same goes for your URL.  If you can’t remember it or if there’s multiple different possibilities of the way somebody would think about that whether – is it JohnsCarWorkshop or is it JohnsCarWorkshops?  Did you put an S on the end of it, did you put a hyphen in there?

John:    Yeah.

Byron:    It makes it very confusing; simple is better.

John:    Yeah, so branding is really important.  I mean, take a look around; eBay, PayPal, Google, Amazon, I mean, you don’t go – you don’t type in the address bar BuyCheapBooksOnline.com when you want to go to Amazon.  You know what I mean?  These are all big, big names and none of them have the keyword in the domain name.  And even if you take a look at my site, WorksMedia.com.au, which there’s a reason why I chose that domain which I’ll touch on in just a moment, it doesn’t say anything about SEO.

So you don’t need to have the keywords in the domains.  I don’t know how many times I’ve pulled up behind vans and delivery vehicles and utes or whatever else on the motorway and they’ve got CheapBooksSydney.com.au and I just shake my head and I think that’s so ridiculous.

Byron:    They’re not going to hold up.  They might have held up, as you say, back in the day but these days it’s all about content, you know?  So these domains, who knows what will happen to them in the future if they don’t have strong content.

John:    That’s exactly right because Google can just turn the knob, turn down the dial and those things can slide straight off the first page back to page ten and then what have you got?  You’ve got nothing!

Byron:    Yeah.

John:    Another strategy that a lot of business owners, for whatever reason, take onboard is using what I call bridging domains.  So they’ll go and buy, they’ll go and register 20 exact match domains, you know, if they’re selling swing sets they might go and register ChildrensSwingSets.com.au, CheapSwingSets.com.au, SafeSwingSetsforChildren.com.au and they just park all of these domains and drive traffic from these domains through to their main site and it’s just such – it’s so ridiculous because you can rank for all of these terms just with one site and invest your efforts into building one authority site rather than buying all of these thin bridging domains.

I mean, I’ve spoken to business owners that have said to me, ah, you know, my last SEO firm said just to go and buy as many exact match domains as possible and just point them to my site.  Forget about that, it’s ridiculous!

Byron:    Yeah.  Yeah, I think you still see it a lot and fortunately some of them still rank well but it is only a matter of time I think of seeing less and less of them in Google these days.  And the ones that are still there are probably ones that have some content to back them up.  But, yeah, I think Bing is one that still lacking some maturity in that area, that’s Microsoft’s search engine and I’ve seen that exact match domains in Bing can still rank very well but I always say, you know, who’s actually using Bing to search and not many people like it’s still a source of traffic but the majority of it is coming through Google.

John:    Well, you know, even Bing is a brand name.  You don’t type in SearchEngine.com, they’re using a brand.  So, you know, think about registering and building a brand.  You know, exact match domains, unfortunately are still working and this is why people are using them but it’s not a long-term strategy and, you know, like you said, in five years time like if you’ve got a thin ten page Web site with an exact match domain, sure it might be working today but that thing could be gone tomorrow and you’re going to have this ridiculous domain name.  So, you know, try and – don’t fuss about with keywords in the domain, it’s not going to give you any advantage long-term.

Byron:    Yeah, no I totally agree with you and I think as well if you – I’ve seen some businesses will, rather than just have it as a re-direct or some sort of default page, some of them might build a landing page or something like that that, you know, you’re giving yourself a big headache by having to manage more than one Web site, having to manage 20 domains rather than one domain.  Put your time into the content and develop the content and you’ll see a lot more success.

John:    Build site authority.  Something else that business owners need to be mindful of is if you’ve got 20 bridging domains out there and someone lands on one of them and say, oh, this is such a great site or whatever and they link to it, all of your link equity is going to be spread around over 20 domains rather than all driving towards one property.

Byron:    Yep.

John:    So you’re diluting any potential link equity across multiple thin domains whereas if you just have one, I mean, it’s like – you know, it’s like having 20 buckets in your backyard and you’ve got hoses splashed around all over the place.  It makes sense to just have one big bucket and get as many hoses in that thing and fill it up.

Byron:    Yeah, exactly.

John:    That might be a weird analogy but essentially you want to make sure that all of that link equity is pointing to one property because overtime that property will perform better and that’s not going to happen if you’ve got people linking to silly bridging domains spread around all over the place.

Byron:    Yeah, exactly.  It just gets messy to go and clean it up as well.

John:    Oh, and it is, it’s messy.

Byron:    Keep it simple.

John:    It is, it’s so messy and, you know, especially like I’ve worked with business owners that have up to 80 domains and I think how on earth do you sleep at night?  Like, how do you keep on top of all of this stuff?  It’s just – ah…

Do you want to cover misspelled domains next?

Byron:    Yeah, so this is probably a Gen Y kind of thing now isn’t it where a lot of businesses are coming out with, I don’t know, (Coolz) Shoes or something and you’ll put a Z instead of an S or – you know, you’re starting to develop spelling mistakes or just misspellings on purpose to get a domain name that you want or just to seem like it’s a more hip or cool and new-age company, I’m not really sure, but I think there’s some degree of trendiness in those kind of domain names.

John:    Yeah.  What are my thoughts, is that what you’re asking?

Byron:    Yeah, exactly.

John:    I’ll tell you what my thoughts are…blblblblblbppphhh!  Yeah, misspelled domains; just look, business owners stop it, just stop it.  I pulled up behind a van on my way to Sydney just recently and I can’t remember what the domain name was now but instead of KS they had an X in the domain name and I thought, I don’t know how old this business is or how long they’ve been running with that domain name but chances are I bet you they’re regretting it now because every damn time you would say to someone, ah – in fact, let’s use Works Media as an example.  Let’s just say for instance sakes I had Works Media instead of the KS I had an X, right?

Byron:    Yep.

John:    Every damn time I’d be telling someone, ah, go to Works Media I guarantee you they’d be typing in Works as in fireworks and I’d have to stop and say, no, no, no, it’s X.  Or over the phone especially.  If I told someone and they went home and typed it in, they could potentially end up anywhere so misspelled domain names, while you think they might be cool are just plain horrible because, you know, when you say to someone, you give them your domain name, 99% of people will just type it in as they think it should be spelt.  They’re not going to know that you’ve put some silly – a Z instead of an S or an X instead of a KS or even worse.  I mean, I’ll probably cover this in just a moment but domain names with numbers are even worse.

Byron:    Yeah.

John:    Again, I went past a place just recently – I mean, I’m always aware of this stuff but they had – they were selling roses I think, roses to go or something and instead of TO they had 2.

Byron:    Yeah.

John:    I mean, if you…

Byron:    You wonder how much business they’re missing out on don’t ya?  If only you could get a metric on that.

John:    I mean, if I said to you right now go to RosesToGo.com.au would you type in a two?

Byron:    Yeah, I don’t know it might depend on what day of the week it is I’d say but most likely yeah, I’d go, no, they wouldn’t use a 2, I’ll go with a TO you know?

John:    See even the slightest little bit of uncertainty is enough reason not to use a domain name with a number in it because people – you’re going to lose a percentage.  There will always be a percentage of people who just won’t type the number in.  So it doesn’t make sense.  And I always talk about something called the phone test.  Does your domain name pass the phone test?  This is really important!  I want business owners to pay attention.  If you’re on the phone, right, and you say, you know, wedding invitations for you, what’s the other person on the other end going to think?  Are they thinking is it for as in FOR or is it four as in FOUR or is it the number 4…  You know what I mean?  It creates – it just complicates something that doesn’t need to be complicated.

Byron:    Yeah.

John:    So misspellings and domains with numbers just stay right away from them, it’s just horrible.

Byron:    Yep, I agree.

John:    Because they don’t pass the phone test and the last thing that you want to be doing especially if you’re registered a domain name for ten years is spend ten years telling someone, oh, it’s with an X.  It’s bad enough when you’ve got to tell people, I’m sure you do it right now with your last name…

Byron:    I was going to say, yeah, that was my next thing that I was going to bring up is just having a last name that’s from a Polish background that’s – you certainly figure out to keep it simple for yourself in the future.

John:    Yeah, I mean, for you…

Byron:    Even with my first name because there’s a lot of Brian’s and things like that so Byron is, you know, a very – it’s not as common.  So even for that is a problem for me.  So yeah, anybody out there listening, unless you want 30 years of pain that I’ve had on the phone stay away from it.

John:    Yeah, how do you spell your last name?

Byron:    Spelt T-R-Z-E-C-I-A-K.

John:    And how is it pronounced?

Byron:    Well the real name, now this is a trick for you John, the real…  It’s Checkchuck???

John:    Right, see it’s complicated already.

Byron:    But to match up you know – it is, it’s complicated, you know.  So I have to say Trzeciak just so that people can actually look at the name and go, okay, that sounds somewhat similar to the way it looks.

John:    But I’m sure you’d use a stage name or just a handle so you’d register something like Byron Smith or something like that as opposed to trying to make…  The simple message is here, just keep it simple.

Byron:    Absolutely.

John:    Avoid misspellings and numbers because it just adds in a level of confusion that is going to cost you money.

Byron:    All right, so we talked about the phone test, making your domain easy to remember.  Geographical targeting, I suppose that’s something we spoke a little bit in the last Podcast that whether you go the .com or the .com.au, what else do you see around being an Australian business John and picking the right domain name?

John:    Yeah, well that one’s pretty easy.  I mean, if you’re trading in Australia just grab the .com.au and, again, like I said in the previous episode, grab the .com if you can as well because a lot of people might just type in .com.  So I’m sure – I mean, I haven’t looked.  I mean, sometimes the .com isn’t available, that’s no big deal, just make sure that you get the .com.au and, you know, I’ve seen a lot of business owners, and this is just personal choice.  For me it seems a bit paranoid.  I’ll see a lot of people registering the .net, the .net.au, the .org, the .info, they’ll cover every sort of – any instance of their domain name which to me is a little bit paranoid.  It’s not something that needs to be done.  Just get the main ones like the .com.au and the .com if you can.

Byron:    Yeah, exactly.

John:    Yeah and geographical targeting, Google by default, if you’re running a .com.au will just – it will emphasize your, well it will emphasize your site to be shown in Australia.  But if you do register the .com and you use that as your primary, especially if you’re trading in Australia then you’ll have to set geographical targeting and you do that within Webmaster tools to say – essentially you just pick a country and say this is where we are.

Byron:    Yep.  All right, one thing, the last thing, as we finish up on this one is, you know, cost.  We haven’t spoken about the cost yet in terms of registering a domain name.  This is still something that I’ve personally seen a lot of variance in in terms of pricing.  Can you talk about, John, are there premium domain names, are there domains that are worth more or are people just charging more?

John:    Well it starts getting expensive when you start looking at auctions.  For really highly desirable domain names, yeah, it can get really expensive.  I mean, I remember spending $9000 on a domain name back in 2005 and, you know, at the time I crapped my dacks because I thought have I made the right decision?  This is a lot of money for a domain name so I’ve spent everything from, you know, $3.00 right through to $9,000 for a domain name so the price can really vary but for highly desirable domains that price will be higher.

Byron:    Yeah.

John:    Nowadays I just typically – you know, I’ll just go to CrazyDomains or GoDaddy and pick up a $9.00 domain.  You know, if I’m buying a domain for a specific purpose I might spend $500 or $600 but for business owners if they’re just picking up their brand or registering a domain, you don’t need to spend a lot of money.  Nine bucks will take care of you over at CrazyDomains or six bucks or something at GoDaddy.  So, no, you don’t need to spend a lot of money but if you do – if you are looking at spending a lot of money then be sure to get the domain name checked out.

It’s always worthwhile spending $500 to have someone check out a domain or whatever that fee might be to save yourself a lot of lost money and time later on potentially buying a dud.

Byron:    It’s a little bit like property inspection or buying a property and having your termite inspection done for you, sink your hard earned cash into it.

John:    Yeah, exactly.  It’s very similar.  Yeah.  Something else I should probably mention as well before we wrap this episode up is trademarks because I think that’s really important to mention.  A good friend of mine received a get lost notice from Google.  He registered a domain name, GoogleMe.com.au and started this blog and essentially received a, I think, written letter saying, you know, you don’t have the rights to use the Google name.  So – and this is a question that comes up a lot especially in forums.  I intend on selling Canon printers on eBay and I want to potentially set up my own store.  Can I register cheapcanonprinters.com.au and my advice for people that are thinking about doing anything like that is just stay right away from it because, I mean, I’m not in a position of giving legal advice but when you start mucking around or thinking about incorporating brand names or business names into your domain and you don’t have the rights to use that name, your – it’s going to end in tears.  So just stay right away from it.

Byron:    That might seem like a smart idea at the time but, I mean, if you look back over the past ten years and the way that technology has gone, ten years ago we hardly knew what Apple was.  These days Apple was a big name player in the industry, you know, so what might seem like a good idea at the time to have a brand name in it such as Canon, it’s not necessarily that Canon will still exist in another five years, you know, especially with the way technologies moving.  So you have to be very careful if you commit to a brand.  You are stuck with it, you know?  And that’s something that you’ll have to do some considerable work in the future if you want to get rid of it.

John:    Yeah, just stay away from brands man, it’s dangerous.  Dangerous!  Can I just cover something else, and this is something else that I mentioned just a moment ago with my Works Media domain, remember I said I was going to tell you why I chose that domain?

Byron:    Yeah, yeah.

John:    I chose that domain because it’s generic and this is advice that I give to business owners that are working within a business that may still be evolving or it could potentially change at some point and this is where it doesn’t make sense to register a domain like, I don’t know, CheapNokiaPhones or something like that because when you register a domain, I mean, you’re talking about home gardening.  So if I registered JohnsHomeGardening and I was mowing lawns or something, if you register a domain like that and your business model changes or the service or product that you provide changes then your domain name no longer applies.

So if I was running a business, JohnsLawnMowing.com.au and I was mowing lawns and after five years I’d had enough and I thought to myself, hmm, there seems to be more money here maybe detailing cars my domain name is completely useless.  I have to start over.

Byron:    Yep.

John:    So by registering a generic domain like I’ve done here at Works Media, which could potentially cater for any type of service offering, right, my business can grow and evolve and move in different directions and I can retain the same domain name.

Byron:    Yeah, exactly.

John:    So that’s a pretty good tip I think I’ll share with the listeners.

Byron:    Yeah, I think it’s important too for new businesses starting out.  I know that you and I have spoken about similar things John but, you know, when you’re a new business sometimes you’re inclined to offer a wide breadth of services and sometimes it is good to hone in on certain things or as that business develops you drop things that aren’t working.  So what you think you know when you first start out in business can definitely change and adapt as you’re going along.

So using anything like that in your domain name can cause some big headaches.

John:    Yeah, so if you just keep your domain generic, make it brandable, and then it can grow and evolve with you.  I mean, you can always dump the domain and do a 301 to a new domain but that’s my preference is to just register a generic domain so that you can hang on to it and you can essentially do whatever you want if you choose to and you don’t have to go about rebranding all of your stationary and your staff uniforms and your vehicle decals and, depending on how much you’re spending in the offline space, especially if you’re doing like TV adverts or something like that, it would be an absolute nightmare.

Byron:    Yeah, exactly.  Yeah, no, that’s very good advice.  So I think we’ve covered almost everything there but if the listeners have anything to ask obviously they can shout out on the blog, ask you any questions John.

John:    Yeah, I’m still keen to take on questions.  I’d like to get some listeners questions if possible and we’ll just incorporate them into the episode and go through them.  That would be good.

Byron:    Can we finish – can I put you on the spot and ask you over your years of experience what’s the funniest domain name you’ve seen, or the worst domain name?

John:    Oh, yeah that’s…  Yeah, good question.  Yeah, there was one years ago back in I think 2004 or 2005 that at the time I was working for local government and the guy sitting opposite me said to me, oh my God, what is this?  And I said, what is it?  Because the back of his monitor – he said, come have a look at this and I went around to his desk and he said, look how long this domain name is?  And no joke, every now and then like I looked – every now and then I’ll look it up and see if they’re still using it, they’ve changed it since but it was something ridiculously long like www.queenslandautomatictransmissionrepairsspecialists.com.au.  Now, if you type that all out, I mean, it wasn’t abbreviated either, so it was Queensland, all of the letters.  It was just this massively long domain name.  I’ve never seen anything like it.  It was ridiculous.  It was…

Byron:    I mean, maybe back in the day somebody gave them that advice, I don’t know.  That’s a shocker isn’t it?

John:    Yeah.

Byron:    The funny story I’ve got is, I don’t know, like I was a child of the 90’s really, late 80’s we had a bit of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and we went into the 90’s and we hit things like Captain Planet and I remember seeing it on eBay one day, somebody was offering the Captain Planet domain name which was basically the saying and I can’t remember how it goes, something like Earth, Wind, Fire, Earth or something, our powers combined, we are Captain Planet.  So it was all of that finishing with .com and they were selling that on eBay.  Yeah.  Maybe for a big Captain Planet fan that might be a good thing but anybody else I don’t think you’re going to see much success.

John:    No, a good friend of mine years ago, this is probably going back ten years ago, actually it was when the segways were released, remember those things?  You stand on them and you sort of wheel yourself around.

Byron:    Yeah.

John:    You always see them at the 40 and the Cricket or whatever else, cameramen use them.  Ah, this is going to be the next big thing like I’m going to sell these things as an affiliate online.

So he went about registering all of these domains and he was sitting there and I can still remember it clearly.  We were in the office and he’s going, ah, man, this is available; register, register.  And he kept – these domain names are available, quick, I’m going to register.  He registered about ten domains and I said, you’ve got to be kidding, they’re all available?  And I went over and had a look over his shoulder because by this stage he registered, you know, ten domain names and spent about $100 or whatever it was and I wandered over and I looked at them on screen and I said, ah, man, you’ve spelt that wrong!  That’s the wrong spelling.  He went what?  No!

Byron:    That happens a lot too, people just don’t realize it.

John:    So he got all excited thinking man I’m going to rake in the cash.  He spelt them all wrong.

Byron:    Yeah, that seems a little too easy.

John:    He misspelled bargain or something wrong in all of them but that’s – when you register a domain name like seriously take your time and read it and look at the letters individually on screen before you press that…

Byron:    Run the words through Microsoft Word or something, spell check it.

John:    Absolutely!

Byron:    Absolutely because sometimes – do you know sometimes you look at a word too and then after a while it stops looking like the right way to spell it.  I think they had that.

John:    That’s right.

Byron:    I mean, I think if you look at someone’s face long enough or anything long enough sometimes it stops looking the way it should look.

John:    Well that’s right, I mean, if you look at your partner long enough you think who is this person?  You wake up next to a stranger.

Byron:    Yeah, exactly.

John:    Yeah.

Byron:    So that’s your other tip, don’t stare at your partner for too long.

John:    No, try and avoid that.  Actually another tip I’ll give the listeners is try and avoid words that are joined with the same letters so I’ve got some examples actually that I think I noted in this article here.  Oh, yeah, adjoining letters in your domain name.  So here’s a couple, hollowwheels.com.au, chairsspecials.com.au, beachholidays.com.au and businessspecials.  Now, you can’t visualize it of course through the audio but if you were to look at these domain names visually you’ll see that there are adjoining letters so let’s just look at business specials.  You’ve got three S’s joined up there because of the end of business you’ve got two and then you’ve got specials.  So when you look at that visually it doesn’t look right.  There is a way of getting around that, you can use, especially on vehicle signage, you’ll see a lot of places that have this problem and they’ll use different coloring between the two words.  So business might be blue and specials might be yellow.  So visually it makes it easier to digest especially on the road because you’ve only got a split second to look at it.

Byron:    Yeah, exactly.

John:    But as a general rule I would always encourage business owners to avoid domain names with adjoining letters because, like you were just saying, the longer you look at it the – it just doesn’t look right.

Byron:    No, exactly.

John:    Because you wouldn’t see a word that’s got two H’s in it side by side or three S’s.

Byron:    Yeah, exactly.

John:    So try and…

Byron:    You always tend to go, ah, God, have I put enough S’s in or, you know.

John:    Yeah…

Byron:    It only takes, you know, a visitor to miss one S, get a page not found, that’s it, you’ve lost that traffic so…

John:    Yeah, I don’t know.  I don’t think I’ve got any more funny domain name stories.

Byron:    No.  I think we’ve covered a decent chunk of them there.

John:    I’ve registered and lost so many domain – I don’t know how many thousands of domains I’ve owned over the years but, I mean, I’ve looked at a lot of domains as well that I’ve been interested in buying.  You know, this is probably another tip I could give to the listeners if they’re looking at buying a domain that they’re interested in, and the buyer comes back with just a ridiculous offer.  I mean, I’ve looked at domains that are a catchy name but they don’t have any SEO attributes or real value except for the fact that I like the name and the business owner will come back and say I want $50,000.  Like just forget about it!  Just go and register a $9.00 domain and forget about it.

Byron:    Yep.

John:    Because there’s plenty of people sitting on domains out there that think they have got a bag of gold under their bed and they haven’t.

Byron:    I always look at it from the band perspective, music and rock bands and things like that.  I mean, no one ever would have thought that the Rolling Stones would have been a good band name, you know, but if you associate it with the music you go, okay, the music is rock n’ roll, it’s going through your blood.  So sometimes I think it’s the brand and it’s the type of business that you are that will make your – that will fill that domain name.

John:    Yeah, brand is super important especially now.  Google is giving a lot more emphasis to brands and I know that because I can look at link profiles and sites that are pushing or promoting their brands with a lot of – you know, using the brand in their anchor text link pushing to the actual brand name.  Those sites are performing really well, not just exact match domains pushing commercial terms.  Those days are dying.

So brand…  Yep.

Byron:    Perfect!  All right.

John:    All right, let’s get out of here.

Byron:    Podcast Number 2.

John:    Let’s get out of here.

Byron:    Yeah, exactly.  Well thanks again for your time John answering my questions.

John:    No, all good.

Byron:    And we’ll see everyone again in Podcast Number 3.

John:    Yeah, next Wednesday.

Byron:    Beautiful.

John:    Cool, thanks Byron.

Byron:    Thanks John.

John:    See you mate.

Byron:    See you mate.

John:    Bye.

Byron:    Bye.

Listen to the PodCast here: WorksMedia

2 Responses to “Excellent Domain Buying and Usage Advice”

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  1. John Romaine says:

    Thanks so much for sharing this Gene, really appreciate it!

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