In this Freedom Ocean episode, James and Timbo review the year, tell you how to get rid of your unwanted domains, and share best practices for staying on top of the changing SEO landscape.
Discussed this week:
00:56 – Who’s on the giant pink pelican li-lo?
03:05 – The best of 2014 for James
05:00 – Surfing as a training ground for SEO
05:49 – Training to deal with change
07:04 – 2014’s big Timbo moments
12:30 – How James ended up with 2,000 domains
15:58 – The impact of Google updates
20:03 – An easy way to get rid of domains
21:48 – How to value a domain
23:20 – James’ domain-dumping methodology
27:11 – For domains over $1,000
29:30 – Letting buyers come to you
31:43 – The less domains, the better
34:27 – Bright, shiny objects
36:59 – Winning the SEO game
39:19 – Your action steps
Internet Marketing Products & Resources
Here you’ll find Tim and James have some things to help your business become more powerful.
Tim: Welcome back, listeners, to Episode 76 of the very warm, and hopefully motivating waters of Freedom Ocean. I am Timbo Reid, and over there, on the other li-lo, is…
James: James Schramko. It was almost like you were going to say my name that time.
Tim: I know. I wanted to say Jimmy James Schramko, I just kind of like the syntax of that, but I like kind of handballing over to you to introduce yourself.
James: Well, you’ve got like, the Timbo Reid thing.
Tim: I have, mate. You need the Jimmy James thing.
Tim: Lovely li-lo you’re on. Sort of a big pink pelican, giant pink pelican type setup.
Some li-lo trivia
James: You know, interestingly, when I’m watching some of these surfing documentaries, li-los were a big deal back in the day, back in the 60’s. They were doing some pretty spectacular stunts on li-los, the old…
James: …rubber mats, and they were filming inside the tubes on these things. There was a guy called George Greenough, who pretty much designed the modern fin for the surfboard, that sort of sharkish, rakish thing. He was a real pioneer, and he used to have one of those li-lo mats. And then I was watching a recent documentary, about our mate Wayne Lynch down there, the guy who used to off the coast with those huge sharks… He’s using those rubber mats now, with his kids.
Tim: Wow. I can still smell them. I did have a li-lo, I had a little surf mat, go down to surf beach with the family, i can still smell that material. Brings back very fond memories.
James: You wouldn’t think they’d be that hydrodynamic, but it’s pretty much like they’ve got multiple concaves, just channeling the water between the tubes, so they can pretty much stay on track.
Tim: I want a photo, Jimmy, of you down at Manly…
James: On my pink pelican li-lo?
James: You know, I do ride a foamy sometimes, just for fun. That is actually like the uber-cool craze now, is to surf really well on one of those foam boards, like the surf school has, but a lot of them are using slightly shorter ones. The instructors, they’re doing some unbelievably spectacular moves like dragging your hand, getting tubed, grabbing a rail, on these foam boards. I can put a picture on the post if you want.
Tim: Do, mate. But right now I think new listeners will probably think we…
James: Lost them all.
Tim: …do a surfing podcast…
Tim: …which wouldn’t be a bad thing, but I’d have very limited kind of input there because I don’t surf. I do love surfing, but don’t.
James: You ride bikes. We covered that in the last episode.
Tim: Yeah, we did, mate. I’m still in plaster.
James: Spectacular injuries, from your learning curve.
Tim: Hey, what’s the most… this is not an interview show, I don’t whether we’re going to do an interview show, you’re about to head off and travel, but for you, we are in mid-December. What’s the most amazing thing that’s happened to you this year? And it doesn’t have to be business-related, just something where you look back and go, “Wow.”
James: It’s definitely, I dropped 10 kilos, I’m fitter than I have been for 15 years, and I am recently competent of a new skill. I love surfing. It’s just like completely life-changing. It really is. The dramatic thing is how far you can go in one year.
Tim: Yeah, yeah. How many hours do you reckon you’ve done? You haven’t done 10,000, but how many have you done?
James: Oh, not even close. Yeah, I was trying to calculate how long it would take me to get 10,000 hours. Like if you were able to go twice a day for a whole year, that’s like 700 surfs, and you generally, it could be somewhere half an hour to one hour on average. Let’s say you manage to put in 700 hours a year, which is pretty optimistic, it’s going to take you a decade to get even close to a masterful level. And the experienced surfers that I know, they say, look, you’re still learning, even after 20, 30 years you’re still getting challenged. It’s not an easy sport. If people knew how hard it is, they wouldn’t even start it.
Tim: I think you never stop getting challenged. I reckon anyone, you know? We both speak to a lot of successful people, and I think one of their great gifts is that they love continually to be challenged. I very rarely meet someone who goes, I know it all. In fact, I don’t think I actually have met someone who said, “I know it all.” You know?
James: Well, that’s likely the most dangerous words in the English language: “I know.” As soon as you know, you’re closed off.
The reality of constant change
Here’s the thing about surfing and a little bit about the sport that I used to do, which was sailing. You’re up against continually changing elements, and I think that is the perfect training ground, and a wonderful segue to what we’re talking about today, is SEO and domain names. Because I have built a reflex to be able to deal with constant change. Changing of environment is how you master the game these days.
And other sports, some other sports, let’s say pingpong, tennis, whatever, like you’re dealing with the same criteria every time, it’s not exactly the same. You got the same board, same bat, same ball, so it’s a different type of skill set that you’re developing.
Tim: Well, we both certainly live in a landscape that is constantly changing. From my point of view with just the general marketing of Small Business and from yours, which is the online world. It’s pretty tidal. You know? It is constantly changing, and it causes a lot of stress and anxiety to business owners.
James: Because people aren’t, they’re not trained to deal with change. In fact…
Tim: Well, they just kind of like, they’re trying to batten down the hatches with their business, and then they look across to the marketing landscape or to the financial landscape or all these other landscapes, and they’re just constantly on the move. So they’re trying to get their business under control. Maybe they should try to introduce a little bit more flexibility in the way they view things.
James: Oh, I’ve said it before. Like, encourage change. Celebrate change. Everything’s moving. A plant grows into a tree. The tides move in and out. The sun goes up and down… well, it actually stays where it is, we’re spinning. But the point is, everything’s always moving. Why would we get fixated on this idea that things should be static? That’s where comfort creeps in and that’s where all this wastage happens where people get too comfortable and they expect things to stay the same and they don’t. The stress is optional, that’s my main point.
Timbo’s big 2014 moments
What was your big thing for the year? What was the big Timbo moment?
Tim: Oh, I’m going to give you two. One personal one, one business. The personal one was only last week. I was getting out and attempting to do this nine-day bike ride with my daughter. Only three days in and busted my arm, but realized at what a good thing it is to have a big personal goal and it’s kind of set me up for next year where I’m already going to do it next year and just kind of making sure I have some personal focus.
I’m one of those ones that can get stuck in the busyness of business and forget to do some personal stuff, so I loved what I did last week. The community, the achievement, people’s stories, just a whole lot of stuff. And I’m not a bike rider, I literally bought a bike three months ago. So to me, that was a wonderful thing to do. Disappointed I didn’t finish it, but I’ll look back on that as already a powerful part of my year.
The other one was checking into the Beverly Hills Hilton at the same time as Barack Obama. His men were doing it, and I literally just had to stop and reflect and go, how did I get here? And it was just a direct result of really leaning into my podcasting for five years. I was asked to speak over at a conference at the Disneyland Convention Center, and I did that, we spent the last night at the Beverly Hills Hilton for a gala ball, and the president was checking in.
I just thought that was weird. Only to be topped by on the same day walking into the Ralph Lauren store on Rodeo Drive and Jennifer Aniston was standing there. I think that actually topped the president.
James: Did she recognize you?
Tim: She said, “Timbo from Small Business Big Marketing”, I said, “Jennifer, stop it. You’re not Jennifer from Bad Bosses, are you?” Have you seen “Bad Bosses?”
Tim: Goodness me, doesn’t she look wonderful in that film? But that’s another story.
James: She’s doing really well, you know? It’s like, through the whole “Friends” series she just gets better and better and better.
James: Like a fine wine, like Penfolds Grange.
Tim: Correct, correct.
James: Big hello to Jennifer. I know she listens to the show.
Tim: Hello, Jen.
James: And Barack. Did Timbo pop in?
Tim: Yeah, that’s right.
James: Did you give up your room for him?
Tim: Aw, mate, Beverly Hills Hilton has two towers, and he had, not the entire tower, he took three floors. He was in the middle floor, and obviously they emptied the one below and above him.
James: So it was a president sandwich.
Tim: It was a president sandwich. Blokes on the roof, they had mobile metal detectors going into each lift, they had dogs and men in black and you know, it was everything you expected. And then when he left… For local people, it wasn’t that big a deal. It’d be like checking into a hotel and our prime minister being there, which, you know, there’s the PM, but you know, whatever. But he did leave, the cavalcade, they blocked off the road, and you know, there were bloody, a hundred black cars, you don’t know which one’s his… It was exciting.
James: So it was hide the president.
Tim: It was hide the president.
James: It’s all these games. It sounds like so much fun.
Tim: Yeah, yeah, that’s right. Someone’s got to do it. So there you go, mate, it’s been a good year. I think we’ve both had a really good year, and hopefully we can share some of our insights into how others can have a good year.
So Jimmy, let’s get stuck in, then, to the topic of this episode of Freedom Ocean. And in the last episode, you talked about the fact that you dumped a whole lot of domain names, and I certainly am about to renew a whole lot, and I’m sure that there’s listeners out there who are sitting on a few, not knowing what to do. So I’d like to cover that, and the question really is, when should you decide to dump a domain name and how do you do it in order to optimize how much you get for that domain name.
James: OK, so…
Tim: Should we do that? And then we’ll hop into SEO.
James: Yeah, let’s have a look at it, they’re kind of interrelated, and it also sort of ties in with my biggest finding this year, and it’s just the continual refinement of how few things you really need to keep the core of the business going and a lot of the stuff we’re focused on is just a waste, you know?
Tim: Can I just – this is going to be a digression, but can I just say something that I’ve been mucking around with this week a lot, and it’s that, in saying “No” to things, the world really does open up and bring opportunities. And like, so, for example, domain names. I don’t know, I reckon I’ve got certainly a hundred, probably more, sitting there, and whilst they cost money to roll over, not big money, but they cost money to roll over, but they also sit there in an intangible sense, weighing you down.
James: They do. They’re keeping you strung to that hope, that opportunistic idea that you had when you purchased it at 3 in the morning.
Tim: Yeah, yeah. About 2:30.
James’ 2,000 domains
James: When you were the smartest guy in the room, and you thought, I’ve got the best idea ever, you go and register this domain, it’s 2 or 3, your willpower’s completely gone, you’ve got no resistance, and then you probably tick auto renew, and it ticks over and before you know it, a few years down the track you’ve blown $40 or $50 on this thing. Now you’re invested in it, it’s hard to let go because you think, well, I’m going to lose that, so… Probably need a little bit of backstory as to how I ended up with 2,000 domains.
Tim: Yeah, yeah.
James: The short version is, I could see that it makes sense to build out your own properties. I certainly did, five or six years ago, because it made sense that it’s an asset. It’s like, green fields with houses, you can develop, you can rent them, you can sell them, you can build them.
So in the beginning, I bought quite a few domains to put my primary properties on, but also I had some redirects for affiliate products. My rule was, if I was going to make more than $10 a year from an affiliate program, I’d just get a domain that matches it, because it’s very easy to remember. I later moved to my own link shortener, so I don’t worry about that business model anymore.
The next thing was, I had a small team, and we were building out these websites, and sometimes we were building them out to sell. And I did sell quite a few. I also bought quite a few pre-done websites, so a couple of hundred at a time, I got good deals on those.
And I ended up at sort of the maximum – I had close to 20 servers, I had about, I think 1,800 of the domains were developed, and we were running a private blog network. And what that means is, I had my own empire, and because this had good content, they were WordPress sites, they were optimized well, I was able to create links to point to anywhere I wanted, and that was very beneficial for search engine optimization.
So over the last several years, we were able to rank just about anything very easily by putting content on these sites that we had complete control over, that no one else was playing with, no one else was contaminating, no one else was disrupting. And we were able to rank these sites, keep them clean, and it was just such a great game, because we could charge people to have their site improved, which is what happened, and it was a wonderful business in that business.
Tim: So basically you would charge people for backlinks on your blog network.
James: We were charging people for SEO.
Tim: Part of that was.
James: But one of the primary special sources, I mean there’s a lot of other elements, but one of the special sources was these links that only we could access. No one in the world could get them. Now there’s a lot of other private blog networks which were too public, and they got taken out, like big time. They just got decimated, pulled out like, they suspected that people reported them, especially competitors.
It’s quite a nasty game, but the competitor will go in, find their sites, look for patterns and footprints and then report them to Google and have them completely disrupted and take out the competitor. And there were a few famous ones. But I saw some sale documents for one of them, it sold for millions of dollars, and it was encouraging.
So I invested quite a lot on building out domains, and some of the things I did differently to everyone else, I bought used domains that were premium names that were good, clean backlink history, and we built on them with good quality content. So that’s why the site stood. And they still stood, the whole time we used them with clients, they stood.
And we very rarely lost a site. When everyone else got slapped, we’d lose one site here or there but nothing like the others. And it was fantastic.
How the SEO game has changed
But that period’s finished now, because with the tightening of SEO, one of the major changes that Google did was this Penguin, and that puts a lot of focus on backlink ratios and the number of links and the anchor text used. And that effectively made links a little bit less easy to manipulate than they were before. And then they’ve continually updated their algorithm, like pretty much every day, the algorithm’s updated.
Tim: One and a half times a day, apparently.
James: Yeah, so it’s a constantly moving game. The big animal weapon of theirs is this Penguin, and it gets updated often and I think it’s up to its sixth release now.
Tim: I thought they did, like, because Penguin was replaced by Hummingbird was replaced by Pigeon.
James: No, no. Penguin is like, it’s like a side one.
Tim: Yeah, it’s like Yosemite. It’s like the big, what, like Apple have Yosemite, or Mavericks, or that’s the kind of main operating system and then…
James: Penguin is the one that really goes for spammy, optimized SEO things. That’s the most dangerous one for SEO companies, because it’s the one that sort of put a restriction. It says, Hey, if you have more than X amount of links present, then it’s being manipulated.
So they look for mass solicitation of link exchanges. They look for buying and selling links on high pagerank sites. They’re specifically after link networks, auto-generated stuff. So that was the really dangerous one for SEOs.
Now when that came out, most of our clients improved results, because we weren’t doing the things that other companies do. We don’t do automation. We didn’t do spammy links, we weren’t using publicly available networks.
But the underlying theme for Google is actually Panda. And the Panda is like the main operating system that they’re using. That’s basically the one that you’re sort of constantly updated. That’s the overlying one.
The other ones were just sort of micro ones, and quite often when they update it, they say it’s going to affect like 1% of things on the Web. So it’s the little ones attacking specific things. It was the Penguin that really went for SEO companies. Panda is just sort of a major one.
Adjusting to Google
But what does it mean? Ultimately, it means that less manipulation, more focus on-page. So our company’s metamorphosized, to the point where we knew this was happening years ago, and we took our own websites out of our linking maps and decided not to rely on them because we could see a time where they weren’t going to be allowed to be used, or we wouldn’t get away with it. So what we did is we pushed them off to the side.
And then some of these link reporting tools came out, like Toxic Links, and they show webmasters links that they think aren’t the right sort of links. And then people submit this to Google and it’s like a policing system that Google created for people to report sites. And some of our sites got fingered in that, which meant we couldn’t use those and we effectively had to turn them off. And turning them off was no penalty to the client, because we were effectively doing them a favor.
If Google didn’t like those links and we turned them off, it was exactly the same as if they’d have them removed. And what happens is Google will keep updating. They refresh their algorithmic updates, and they go back and say, OK, let’s refresh it, let’s see if you’ve still got those – oh, they’re gone, we’re going to give you a boost.
Getting rid of domains the easy way
For the few sites that got tainted by that process, it sort of resolved itself. So what we’ve done lately is decided that the effort to sell the websites themselves is greater than the effort to sell just the domains. So I’m going to offer you an easy way to get rid of domains, without having to worry about trying to sell websites.
You know, if you want to sell websites for a lot of money, be prepared to work at it. Like if you’re selling a house, like if you’re selling any other business. You’re going to have to prepare a sale book, you’ll have to show people analytics, statistics, you’ll have to reassure them, go through the sales process.
Or you can do what I do, and we just log onto the server, we delete the site, and then we list the domain for sale in the marketplace and it sells automatically. And it gets transferred automatically and the money gets put into your account. And that’s the way that I’ve preferred to sell the majority of them, and then the other option is I just let them lapse. I don’t even renew them because I don’t think they’re worth $10.
You know, we’ve all got domains that aren’t worth 10 bucks. Horribly hyphenated ones, dot-biz’s, or ones that have trademarks, those ones you just let go. They’re not worth anything.
Tim: I got to laugh. Can I just tell you? There’s one that I’m toying with this week. And you don’t know this, so listeners, James didn’t know that I had this domain, and it is both hyphenated and dot-biz.
James: What a classic.
Tim: I’ll tell you what it is. Yeah, yeah, yeah.
James: Tell me it’s got a trademark and we’ll get the hat trick, you know?
Tim: No, no, it hasn’t got, well, I don’t think it has. It’s w-w-w.biz.
Tim: Right? And I’ve gone, it’s one of those ones I go, that’s a good one! World Wide Web, dot biz! What Internet developer or designer wouldn’t want that puppy?
James: I may be the first to put my hand up and say it. Not me!
Tim: So that one’s gone.
James: Yeah, look, there’s a few tests you can do. There’s a great website, list this resource, called DN Sale Price. And DN Sale Price allows you to just get some basic education on how to value a domain. And it certainly lists previous domain. It tells you how to value domains.
Sometimes it’s based on prices paid in the past. In any case, it might be what someone paid for a domain before, it might be what it’s worth to somebody else, so like Coke.com would be worth a lot to Coke, but they could just come and take it from you anyway, because they would definitely own the trademark for it. Big rookie mistake: people go and register names like iPhone, Apple, Site.com. Don’t waste your time registering a trademarked domain, it can be taken from you. It’s not smart to make money off someone else’s name.
If it’s got lots of hyphens, it’s not going to pass the phone test. It’s very hard to explain over the telephone. Then there’s ones where you’ve got multiple variations. If you have the word “four,” for example, is it the number four, is it “for,” is it “fore”?
There’s so many variations that you have to register like seven or eight to own that property, so they’re generally quite tricky domains. And you’ve also got this proliferation of top level domains come in. You’ve got clubs, and memberships, and all this sort of stuff – ninja. So this has sort of made the marketplace a little bit crowded and messy.
James’ methodology with domains
I still think .com is the king, and I’ve got a simple methodology now with all of the domains. I simply split them in two groups – ones I want to keep, and ones I want to get rid of, right? That’s the first one. If I’m going to keep it, then obviously it’s a core site, like my primary domain where my blog is, or it’s an essential redirect or it’s a link tracker or something.
Now I reckon I’ve probably only got 50 domains that I would actually need to keep, like my personal name, etc. But everything else is to get rid of. Now in the get rid of, I classify it into three main categories. One is to just dump it, second is to list it for sale as a domain only, and the third one is to list it for sale as a domain but in a more premium marketplace because I really think it’s valuable.
The ones I put in the premium marketplace, I keep on auto renew, because I won’t let them lapse. The ones that I list the domain for sale in the regular marketplace, I will actually let the auto renew switch it off, and if it doesn’t sell, it goes. And the dump is where I just delete it out of my account, because no one’s going to buy it, and it’s not even worth the effort to list it for sale.
Tim: Which is the best standard marketplace, and which is the best premium marketplace?
James: Right, the easy way to get rid of a domain. Let’s say your cracker there, w-w-w.biz, where is it currently held?
James: Right. So GoDaddy has an auction marketplace, so you could just go into your account, you could turn off auto renew, so that if it doesn’t sell, you’re not renewing it. Because you don’t want to, like, put it this way, my renewal every year is 20 grand. And my service to host that many sites, $1,600 a month. So it is kind of expensive. So turn off auto renew, then you click on it and list it for sale in the GoDaddy marketplace, and you can put a price on it or you could send it off to auction, and see what happens. If someone buys it, then you’ll have to do a little bit of work. They’ll need you to enter some codes and stuff.
Now another place that a lot of people have stored sites is Namecheap, and that’s a much easier marketplace. With Namecheap, you just click on it, list it for sale, put the price. I don’t let them negotiate, I say that’s the price. You can list the period that you want it sitting there for.
Don’t worry if it’s longer than… you know, if you want to do something with it in between when it sells, you can always go and un-sell it. You can list it, take it off the market again.
Tim: Does the domain have to be with Namecheap in order to sell it on Namecheap?
James: Not necessarily. I think I’ll explain another way to do this, but with Namecheap you just list it for sale. If somebody buys it, this is the cool part, they’ll just transfer it into the other person’s account and put the money into your account. There’s no paperwork required, no click and confirms, nothing, it just disappears, and the money appears. And for me, that’s been fantastic.
So most mornings, I’ll wake up and see a domain sale. And on this marketplace, I’m selling anything that I think’s not worth more than a few hundred bucks. I think the maximum they allow is like a thousand dollars.
Tim: Oh, a thousand dollars. They won’t sell anything for more than a thousand?
James: No. I don’t think you’re going to sell yours for more than a thousand dollars.
Tim: Oh, come on.
James: But if I was selling yours, I’d probably list it for like $17 or something. I’d just get out of it for the last two renewals and think I was lucky.
Tim: And I’d get a burger.
James: Yeah. Anything that you sell between $10 and $20 is going to sell pretty quickly, and it usually sells just before the expiry date on the listing, because they show the about to expires on their feature page.
James: Now for a domain that’s worth more than a thousand dollars, I’d go over to Afternic and I’ll list it there.
James: And you can list it no matter where it’s hosted. And this is more of an escrow service, so if you list your domain, you put the price, you put what you want for it, you put the minimum you’ll accept for it if their sales service gets involved.
And basically if it sells, which I had one recently sell, for a couple of thousand bucks, someone bought it, I get sent a note saying they’ve bought it, they’ve put the money into an escrow account, now you have to release the domain to them, and then let us know when you’ve done that. So I go and release it, and then I say I’ve done it, and then they say, OK, we’ve released the funds for you. There’s a little more steps, but it’s worth it because the domain costs more.
Tim: How much do they take?
James: I can’t remember. It’s like 10% or something, no, I just made that up.
Tim: The big question is still then, OK, so you’ve given us the premium marketplace, you’ve given us the cheapo marketplace…
James: Yeah, and remember, you’ve got to work out, is this effort worth it for this crappy domain? In most cases, you’re better just to turn off auto renew and list it for sale for three minutes, and then just forget about it. It either sells or it gets lapsed. That’s probably the easiest way.
Pricing a domain
Tim: Yeah. I think the outstanding question is, and I would certainly feel like, I don’t know what they’re worth. Like you’ve given us some criteria for valuing a domain, .coms are the best, the more hyphens, the harder it is for the phone test…
James: Well, any hyphens pretty much sucks.
Tim: …sucks at the phone test…
James: Other things are, like if it has backlinks, or pagerank, but Google’s phasing out public pagerank updates, they’re probably never going to update it again, does it get traffic, is it a type-in word? Now obviously brandables like kitchensinks.com or something like that could suit an e-commerce store. So is it worth something to someone?
Now other ways to sell it, I would go and actually approach people and say, hey, I’ve got the domain… like you probably get those emails, I get them every day, we’ve got a similar name to yours, do you want to buy it? I just hit spam button, seriously. And the other thing is, I turned off my privacy so that people can see my contact details, and often I’ll be approached by someone wanting to buy it.
The last 10 premium domains that I’ve sold, people came to me asking if I’d sell it, and I replied back, yes I would. I look at how much I paid for it, I look at how much I think it’s worth to them, I do a bit of research, and I’ll set a price that I think is a good price for me, but that they will pay, and then they buy it. And that’s happened several times and I use escrow.com to facilitate that. Don’t just take a PayPal payment, because they can get the domain and then reverse it. So be careful with payment on this, just treat it like any other transaction.
Tim: Is it es-crow, or es-cro?
James: I don’t know.
Tim: I think it’s es-cro. Es-cro, es-crow…
James: It’s a pretty crazy name.
Sales commission – I think it’s 15% for Afternic, which is fine. But basically, that’s going to put it across all the websites.
Tim: Yeah, right.
James: There’s like two levels. You’d have a 20% premium, or just through the network. That’s still lots and lots of sites. Massive exposure, compared to the other one.
James: Now, of course some people just go and type in the domain they want, and they see yours is there. And so one little step I left out is when I list a domain for sale, I delete it off my server, and then I re-point the domain back to the domain registrar. And quite often, they’ll say, this domain’s for sale, and it links to its marketplace.
Tim: Don’t understand that, go through that again?
James: Your domain at the registrar quite often is pointed to your server. I point it back to the domain registrar. Usually there’s a button that says, “Transfer the DNS back to us.” And it will then allow you to, basically when people type in that domain, it’s just going to show the registrar and it might have a note that this is for sale, and it will point to its listing. You’ve probably seen those.
Tim: Doesn’t it by default point back to the registrar?
James: By default, when you register one, yes, but mostly some of these domains you probably point it to your server, or built a site, had a go with it. I’m talking about ones that I’ve developed and we just delete them.
Tim: So I point it back to the registrar, I got you. So they’ve got a default page.
The payoff of fewer domains
James: And the big thing for us is, it’s cost a lot of resource to update, manage, host and run a website, much more than people think. So the goal these days is to have the least amount of sites possible, ideally one authority site, a big powerful site like Small Business Big Marketing is, or SuperFastBusiness.com. Those are powerful authority sites. If you’d put all your energy into that, there’s the least resource required, it’s the easiest to do, and all the rest are just, they’re just ideas and pipe dreams that aren’t going to come to fruition.
Get real about it and just, like you said, everytime you say “No” to something, it opens up opportunities, and that’s because it means that it’s no longer weighing you down, it’s no longer consuming energy, it’s no longer taking financial resource. It’s not there anymore, and for us, we had a great run with our domains. We invested in it, we built them out, we monetized it with SEO, we’ve found a new way to do it, a few years ago, that doesn’t require that asset.
So we’re able to sell off the assets, close down the servers, recoup that cash, continue on with the SEO business, importantly, because we’ve adapted and changed to the way that Google want it to work now. We don’t need these private blog networks because no one else can use them either. So it’s like the arms race has come to a manageable level, where you don’t need these expensive machines anymore.
Tim: Love it. Well, there’s a sort of task to do over the Christmas break, New Year break. Depending on how many you’ve got, of course.
James: You know what, it takes us a surprisingly long time to list them.
Tim: Yeah, I can imagine.
James: It took me I think five hours to list 200 domains for sale, because you have to put in a description, you have to price it, I have to go and check how much I paid for it, I have to get it deleted off the server and I have to point it back to the registrar and turn off auto renew. If you’re using GoDaddy, it’s much easier to do this stuff in bulk. If you’re using Namecheap, it really sucks as an interface for bulk transactions.
This is the thing. When you commit to a domain, you’re actually committing future time to have to manage the thing, and even to get out of these things is very, very time-intensive and labor intensive. So I’m going to be really looking forward to the day when I’ve just got a few left. I’ll focus my attention in less places, and less risk, less resource, less manageability. And you know, some of the domains will go on and find a happy life with a new owner and I’m happy if I can get back a year or two’s worth of domain renewals on exit, I’ve done well.
Tim: They’re a classic example, Jimmy, of bright shiny objects, for many people. If you’re not in the business of domains, then why would you actually go – and in that, I’m as guilty as anyone – why would you go and actually do it in the first place? You sort of see this bright, shiny object, you’re thinking it may generate a bit of cash flow, but in actual fact it’s almost done the opposite, it’s been a bit of a cash flow suck, and it’s a whole lot of future time to what you’re going to have to do.
James: Yes, you probably don’t need all the domains in your portfolio.
James: I’m happy to review your domains and give you my opinion on what they might be worth, Timbo, because I’ve really seen a lot, I’ve bought a lot, sold a lot, and I’ve observed the auctions for probably five years now.
.com still rules
Tim: have you gone and bought any TLDs beyond .com? Like I noticed, there’s a bit of a proliferation of recent times with dot. There’s like .melbourne, .sydney, there’s .club, there’s dot…
James: No. I’m not interested in them. The only couple I got were a couple of .me’s, and some .co’s when this first sort of round came through. But apart from james.me, I don’t really rate me’s or co’s or any other top level domain other than .com. For me, .com is king.
James: It’s still the king, it’s definitely the blue chip stock.
Tim: Yeah, it is, always will be. We think in Australia that .au’s really valuable, but you speak to someone in America and they go, I’ve never heard of .au.
James: It’s valuable to an Australian market and business, it does give you an edge with your search engine optimization, if you have a local region, and if you have local hosting, that can also help. It helps Google understand who you’re trying to reach, and it can give you an edge. So if you’re predominantly an Australian business, like a tax firm or a car dealership, you want to be using a .com.au. Same goes for New Zealand, NZ, you know, .co.nz, or U.K., .co.uk. If you’re worldwide, I’d say .com is still going to be the way to go.
Tim: The Pigeon update of a couple of months ago did kind of help local businesses a lot, didn’t it? So if you are a local business and have a .com.au for example in Australia, then it’s going to work to your advantage.
James: Yes, because it seems to have benefitted local directories.
Winning at SEO
James: So if you’re using local directories, the good ones, not the crappy ones, that gave it a little bit of a boost. But ultimately, if you want to win the SEO game, just give Google what they want. Give them high-quality content, make it relevant, make it fresh, make it real, have your site loading fast, make it work on any device, make it obvious what people should do on the site when they get there. Don’t go and get spammy links, Fiverr gigs, cheap tools, any type of robot automation or low-priced thing, or anything from India, don’t touch it, it will probably kill your site.
Tim: Hello to all you Indian listeners.
James: Yeah, no offense, but there is a proliferation of bad practice coming from that region and I just wanted to say that’s a general thing. It’s not going to help you, especially if they’re coming into your inbox offering you services and their English is so bad that you can’t even understand what it’s trying to sell you. It’s not going to be good content for your website.
Hot tip: Use a high quality content service if you’re going to get help with this. Start with your own site, and then work outwards from there.
Tim: It’s a wonderful thing about SEO, that it has got to that. And you know, it seems quite obvious, isn’t it? I reckon we said this 12 months ago – that Google wants really useful content.
James: If you were to look at what I was saying five years ago, it’s pretty much the same message, it’s just that some of the ways you could achieve the result had, there were some little shortcuts that were available that, they’ve all been removed. This is no doubt, this is a manual labor business now of actual humans doing actual content and any kind of shortcut or cheat is, there’s massive penalties, like if you trip the wire, your site can just drop out of the search engine, and that’s the danger.
When we’re doing SEO for clients, we do a full report before we work on their site to make sure they don’t have any of the basic errors. We don’t touch jobs where we think someone’s got a tainted website, and we only do ethical, white hat organic, by-hand work because it’s all about preservation and sustaining the results that we get rather than short-term tricks.
Tim: Love it. Well that wraps it up, Jimmy, I reckon. It’s a wonderfully long and important description of how to get rid of domains, or whether you should.
Your action step
James: I think the action step would be to reduce your domain portfolio, either sell off or dump unwanted domains and focus more energy on the winners that are working for you already.
Tim: And from SEO point of view, create helpful content. Create content that is going to make the Internet a more interesting place and Google will reward you accordingly.
James: And put it on a domain that makes sense for your market.
Tim: Aha. Imagine that. Very obvious. All right my friend, that’s about it. You still on the li-lo?
James: Oh yes, very relaxed.
Tim: Very relaxed, dangling the feet? Mate, well done, have a lovely year off away shortly. I’m sure we’ll talk over the next month or two.
James: That’ll be wonderful.
Tim: We’ve done two episodes in a week. We’ve actually recorded two episodes in a week, listeners, so we hope that will get you through.
James: Yeah, exciting.
Tim: Very exciting.
James: It’s awesome to catch up.
Tim: I’ll make sure to do another couple of episodes today.
James: Yeah, I think maybe this injury’s done you some good business-wise.
Tim: No doubt. There is no doubt about that, it is absolutely… Well, sometimes things forced upon us, I mean, you can look at…
James: Like when I went away and I had no Internet. I got someone else to edit my videos and never did it since.
Tim: Well, you choose how to react to something, you know? And I could have chosen to react to this in a way that was like, aw, you know what? Absolute bummer, December’s a waste. Now I can’t do anything. Or I can focus on what I can do. I’m using voice…
James: Just talk!
Tim: Just talk.
James: Oh, my God, this is designed for you.
Tim: I’m using voice to text on my Mac, I am recording episodes of Freedom Ocean and Small Business Big Marketing, I’m making a lot of phone calls to people that I’ve been putting off, ramping up some business for next year, and you know, it’s good. Sometimes we need, someone needs to force things upon us, and that’s what my broken arm is.
James: Well, happy recovery.
Tim: All good, mate.
James: I hope you get a repaired arm for Christmas. All right.
Tim: Good on you, Jimmy. See you, listeners. We’ll see you next time on Freedom Ocean. If you want to catch some of the links James mentioned, and there were quite a few in this episode, head over to FreedomOcean.com. Probably the best thing to do is register there and we’ll get you on our list, and you’ll be the first to know when an episode comes out. You will get the transcript to the episode, all the links to the things that we mentioned, and the resources. That is a good thing to do, and until next time, have a wonderful week in your business. Thanks, Jimmy.
James: Take care.