20 Aug 2007

SEO’s are from Mars – Domainers are from Uranus

I’m at SES in San Jose this week, but I’ve got a post from my COO, Chuck Price, who was a the Domain Roundtable Conference in Seattle last week. Jim


Hey there – I’m Chuck Price, COO at We Build Pages. Please don’t take offense at the title of this post. As a marketing guy, I just couldn’t resist! I just returned from the Domain Roundtable Conference in Seattle. This event was produced by Jay Westerdal’s company – name intelligence. Jay is probably best known in SEO circles for his website domaintools.com. For the record, all of the domainers that I met at this conference were bright guys with endless ambition.


Jay Westerdal CEO Name intelligence

I was first turned onto the conference by Stuntdubl, during a late night brainstorming / fishing session on the Hudson River. He convinced Jim & myself that domainers and SEO’s went together like peanut butter & jelly and should be internet super friends. Hey – I’m always interested in making new friends, so a trip to Seattle sounded like a good idea. ( Plus, with SES the following week, Jim’s wife would have killed him if he went).

Chuck with some new friends At Sugar in Seattle (pics removed)

The thing that struck me immediately was what most domainers and SEO’s have in common – nothing. Domainers are primarily traders and speculators in the domain name market. Values are determined by subjective traits like how a name looks on a business card, how it sounds on the radio & the amount of type in traffic it generates. But what about age, content and backlinks? As they say here in New York – Fuhget abaht it. (Google: Did you mean: Forget about it. )

Domaining Experts like Stephen Douglas view domains as "internet real estate and an “appreciable marketing asset.” Domain investors and the domain industry in general consist of legitimate businessmen seeing the value in this online real estate and the marketing of such real estate". This is a pretty interesting concept, but I find one flaw in this view. Unlike real estate, where they aren’t making any more of it, they actually are making more domains on a pretty regular basis. Is it possible that dot com real estate could feel the same effects as the real estate along route 66 after interstate highways were introduced? I don’t know what the equivalent of an interstate highway could be in this case, but a .web or standard international domain extension just might do it.


Stephen Douglas – Executive Producer

A notable exception was Keynote speaker Mike "Zappy" Zapolin. He started his career by purchasing Beer.com for 80K and flipping it in less than 12 months for $7Million. Not a bad return – even for a guy with a Drexel Burnham & Bear – Stearns background. Zappy learned a hard lesson with his next deal – CreditCards.com. After investing 6 figures in this name he was able to flip it for 2.75M. So what’s the problem? The guys that he sold it to actually developed the site & sold the business for $140 Million. Don’t expect to see chocolate.com, sweepstakes.com or any other domains that Zappy owns being sold any time soon without a full blown business model attached to it.


  Photo of: Mike Zapolin

Mike Zapolin

I believe that a number of domainers really want to develop some domains, but just have no idea how. Some of the best attended sessions were the SEO sessions. If SEO’s and Domainers are to become "super friends", the real question is this: what is the model for a Successful domainer:SEO partnership? That is the question that I am pondering. What do you think?


Aaron Wall

Since I’ve been on the road all week, I’m keeping this brief, so I can get back to work. If there is enough interest in this topic I will write a follow up detailing the conflict of interest & unfair advantages that the top registrars have over the average domain buyer. I will also detail what opportunities I think really do exist in the area of domaining.