Domains and SEO – Are you doing these three simple things?


James Richardson started his online career running online Sports Fan sites, with the pinnacle being a write up in the Sunday Herald Sun ‘Wired’ column. His professional career began at ASX listed company Melbourne IT where he held various senior roles across the Sales and Marketing teams, before deciding to venture out on his own. Running several successful online websites and businesses himself, he is well placed at understanding what your business needs.


Mike: James, you founded Excellent keyword domain to say the least. How does compare to .com?

James: is the primary domain name used by Australian businesses. As we are mainly focused on the AU market – this work great for us and conveys trust to our customers. In the au market, as a general rule you have to be a registered business to be able to register a domain name, and you must also list all your details publicly, so with that comes an element of security.

You get all the benefits of a great .com domain name, but obviously a slightly smaller market!

Obviously when we are talking about value, it doesn’t compare to the .com which sold for $5 Million in 2007, but the domain name still carries some great value in our smaller market from a resale perspective.


Mike: Tell us what you do at

James: is as the name suggests, an SEO company. Our main brand is, and we use as our higher level brand.
We’re focused on high quality in house SEO, with a big focus on technical audits. At the moment the website acts more as a lead generator than a stand alone website, but we have plans to expend the brand more fully in the future.


Mike: In your experience as an SEO expert, how important is a keyword domain to a businesses success?

James:  Google has rolled out lots of updates to curb the benefits of EMD’s, but we still see a nice bump from having one. In addition EMD’s are usually older domains with some good authority and history behind them which always helps!

I would not say it’s a deal breaker to business success, but its certainly beneficial. The domain creates a great ice breaker in conversations and also gives the impression we have been around for a long time to get such a great domain name.


Mike: Knowing that keyword domains have a high level of importance, explain how businesses based on brandable domains often do well.

James:  I would actually say it can actually be more difficult to build your business around a generic domain name. It can actually make it more difficult to build a ‘brand’ as the domain name is not ‘unique’, the other issue you have is all the other in your industry using the term. If it is a dictionary word, it’s going to be tough to stop them using it and confusing your customers!

When we bought the domain, it had previously had an old website on it that had been up for about 10 years. When we took ownership we redid the branding, and created a website that better aligned with what our company was. The biggest benefit we see overall with using such a great domain name is its memorable. Clients can easily remember it if they meet you at an event, it’s say to remember when someone wants to mention it a a colleague, and it’s really going to stand out in any advertising we do.


Mike: What are the top 3 SEO tips you have for small businesses trying to get their sites ranked in Google?

James:  The biggest thing overall is that SEO can be done by anyone, it just takes time and effort (I am talking about the basics here. There is so much business owners can do themselves so easily, but most do not even bother. People need to start really utilising their website, which is a huge potential asset as a marketing and branding channel.

  1. Build great content: Get great content on your website that visitors to your site would want, and expect to see. When they get to your website you want to ensure they can find everything they could potentially need to make a decision.
  2. Great code: Ensure that your website is built well, loads fast, and works seamlessly on all devices.
  3. Build great links: Links are still a HUGE part of ranking well on Google so ensure that there are other websites out there linking to your pages, and the great content you are writing.



Mike: How did you get the name Can you talk me through the process you followed to purchase the name?

James:   We actually suited this domain name about 4 years ago when it came on the market. Myself and my business partner Daniel felt that it was an opportunity too good to pass up and one that only comes up once in a lifetime.

We had been talking to the seller for a reasonable amount of time before he sold it, and when he was ready to sell he came straight to us and we were ready to acquire it quickly.


Mike: What type of traffic do you see?

James:  Without putting in any real effort, we see a few thousand uniques a month, which as you can imagine converts to a very tidy lead source for us. This comes through pure organic searches, as well as Google Maps. We have plans to expand the link building efforts and flesh out the website some more which would further increase organic traffic. could use your SEO tips


After graduating from the University of Minnesota, Ginger Venable started her business career in the wild world of Direct Mail in the mid 1980s. Fast forward to the dawn of the internet in the late 90’s where she  quickly jumped into online marketing, corporate communications and specialized in event planning. She loves to host parties. In 1998 she co-wrote a book on graduation party planning with a friend. Her 3 children and many of their friends have enjoyed very well planned and well attended parties. In addition to running the website, she is an event planner. She is usually juggling 3-6 projects at the same time. Ginger live in Minnesota and has attended over 100 graduation parties! When planning a celebration her main goal is to make the guests feel welcome. That is what they try to do with their website as well.

Ginger Venable, co-owns and maintains, with Susan Kielly, another mom with graduation party and web design experience.

Mike: Explain what the site, is.

Ginger: is the go-to site for people planning a graduation party. We provide advice on everything from start to finish: selecting a date, time, location, what to serve, how to decorate and who to invite are addressed along with helpful tips to make the celebration special and low stress. With over 3.3 million students graduating from high school every year parents are looking for insider advice, creative ideas & fun products. Our website is filled with tons of graduation party needs, from graduation invitations to graduation decorations to catering ideas and so much more! Most of our content comes from moms who share their party details and our party product affiliates.

Mike: is a dream name, how did you come across it? Were you the first to register the name or did you buy it from someone? If the latter, can you share the price?

Ginger: I registered the name and developed this site back in 1998. At that time the name was available, so our timing was perfect. I had just co-wrote the book, Graduation Parties: Everything You Need to Know from Start to Finish. Our original intention was to sell the books, but over time we realized that content was king and moved most of the book content onto the website.

Mike: The book is available on the site. What will the book teach us that the site won’t?

Ginger: The benefits of having a web page (full color images, the ability to update as trends change and to generate income) made the book somewhat obsolete. Some people appreciate the structure and checklists that come in the book. There are more details in the book than online as web pages need to be short to keep people’s attention.

Mike: Do you use social media to promote the site? If so, what are some examples.

Ginger: We have a blog and Facebook page . We have also conducted a few contests for graduating seniors and have published the results of surveys we’ve conducted with our customers.

Mike: How much traffic does the site receive month to month?

Ginger: Graduation Party planning is a very seasonal business. Our visits peak in May with over over 87,000 visitors this year. Back in 2010, in our peak year, we had 210,000 visitors in May. Getting higher ranking in search engines is so darn tricky. We were number one or two on all the major search engines for many years, but then the logic changed and we’ve slipped. Maybe you could ask your readers for suggestions!

Mike: It looks like you link to some affiliate sites. What is the main way you generate revenue on the site?

Ginger: We sell advertising on our site and generate revenue through affiliate sales. The internet sales tax issue here in Minnesota has dramatically reduced our income as many of our largest affiliates have stopped offering affiliate programs in our state. We are hoping to sell the business to someone outside of Minnesota so they can partner with these affiliates again.

Mike: What do you find to be the most rewarding part of running an online business?

Ginger: Being at the top of the search engines for many years was very exciting. As search engines changed we’ve slipped a bit recently and are trying to figure out how to get back on top. Working with various advertisers and affiliates on new products every year is also an exciting challenge. Helping other parents plan their celebrations is rewarding as well. Many parents appreciate our prompt responses to their many questions.

If you have any SEO suggestions for Ginger, please post them in the comments.  I’ll be sure to follow up in the future and see how your tips have impacted rankings.

Walk this way…

By Source, Fair use,

John Z Wetmore was born in a neighborhood in Minnesota with 6-foot-wide sidewalks. After his family moved to Illinois, starting in kindergarten he walked to school along 5-foot-wide sidewalks. When he was in sixth grade, his family moved to a suburban neighborhood in Maryland … half a mile from the nearest sidewalk! Thirty years later, his family celebrated when the County finally built a sidewalk along their street.

Mr. Wetmore received a B.A. with High Honors from Princeton University and an M.A. and M. Phil. in economics from Yale University. He is an independent television producer, specializing in documentaries when he isn’t working on Perils For Pedestrians.


Mike: is home to the television series “Perils for Pedestrians.” Tell me a bit about the program.

John: “Perils For Pedestrians” is a public affairs series that looks at problems confronting pedestrians in communities like yours, and solutions to those problems from across the United States and around the world. It’s on 150 Public Access Cable Stations around the country. The title is a little misleading, because we also look at bicycles, transit, and urban design. And we look at good examples when we find them, not just “perils”.

Mike: Is this a for profit or not-for-profit endeavor?If for profit, what is your business model?  How do you generate revenue?

John: “Perils For Pedestrians” is not-for-profit. Since it runs on non-commercial public access channels, there is no advertising to support it. We keep production costs low and get some donations, particularly in-kind donations to help with travel costs. I make my living with the other video projects I work on.

Mike: Were you the first to register the domain name or did you purchase it from a third party?

John: We were the first to register the domain in 1998. I had struggled for a year with a long URL full of slashes and tildes. When my web manager pointed out that was available, I followed her advice and obtained it. I plug my site at the end of every television episode, and it is essential to have something that viewers can remember without writing it down.

Mike: The dot com and dot net are both parked pages, available for sale.Have you inquired about purchasing either of those? Why or why not?

John: I don’t think there is a high level of confusion between my URL ending with dot org and the alternatives. Back in 1998 when I told people my new URL, people rarely said, “dot org or dot com?”. What they did say was, “pedestrian or pedestrians?”. A week after I got, I got About a fourth of my traffic comes through even though I only promote

Mike: Where did your passion for sidewalks develop?

John: It all started when I was a wee little lad, literally. I went to grade school in a town with sidewalks on every street, and I walked to school starting in kindergarten. In the middle of sixth grade, my family moved to a suburb where I was half a mile from the nearest sidewalk, and I had to take a bus to school. By the time I graduated from high school, I realized the government wasn’t going to build sidewalks until people asked them to build sidewalks. It took 17 years to get the county to put in a sidewalk so that my elderly aunt could walk to the bus stop and the drug store without struggling on uneven grass.

Mike: The episodes show copyright of 2012 and the site looks like it may not have been updated in a while.Are you still maintaining it?Is it active? Are there more recent episodes?

John: The site underwent a major overhaul a few years ago. Prior to that, the design had not changed much since the 1990s. I added a couple of new sections last year. The part that needs attention most right now is the “Episodes” section, which is missing the last couple of dozen episodes. They are all available on my YouTube channel, but have not been embedded on my site yet. My web manager does a good job, but she has limited time to work on the site. That’s one of the perils of having a limited budget.

Mike: You mentioned to me that your web manager really understands SEO.Can you elaborate?

John: We have consistently shown up on the first page of results for [pedestrians] since Google was started, although as Google personalizes search results that is more difficult to measure. The most important part of that is having good content that encourages organic incoming links. However, there are design details that matter. For example, since the site relates to a tv series, it is very visual and I have pictures throughout the site. Each jpg has alt text, which helps out blind users but also helps out the search engines. We also have pages devoted to specific topics. Once again, that is good for the user, but it also helps us show up for search strings like [sidewalk obstruction] or [sidewalk setback].

Darren Rowse from Talks Domains and Blogging


Blogging was a medium that Darren Rowse stumbled upon by accident in 2002 as he was researching a new project – little did he know that just 18 months later he’d be one of the world’s first professional bloggers and making a living from his blogs.  Darren works mainly on two blogs – and Digital Photography School where he’s also published a growing library of eBooks. was my go to website when I was learning how to start a blog for my domain blog and it’s still a valuable resource for me today.  I am excited to ask a few questions of Darren and share his answers with you.

Mike:  Since my focus is domain names, lets start there.   ProBlogger is an excellent name for a Professional Blogging site.  Were you the first to register the name or was it acquired on the aftermarket?

Darren: The name ProBlogger was one that I came up with when brainstorming with a friend and trying to come up with a name for monetising blogs. I remember saying during that session that it was similar to an amateur golfer wanting to turn Pro. Within moments of saying it I was checking to see if was registered.

Turns out it was but it was not being used for anything and so my next stop was to buy which I began ProBlogger on.

I tried for quite a few years to get the domain but the person who owned it originally had plans to use it to develop a blogging platform (like WordPress). They never ended up doing anything with it but I had the challenge of trying to buy it while all the time making it a more and more valuable domain name because the more I blogged the brand grew and the more people started to refer to bloggers who went full time as ProBloggers.

Luckily I ended up getting it in an auction of the domain. it didn’t come cheap but it was well worth grabbing.

We initially used as the home for a membership area but on closing that down 2 years ago have now slowly been transitioning the rest of what we do to that domain from (a slow process as we have many many thousands of articles on the .net site).

Mike:  You also .net, .com, .org and perhaps other TLDs for your site.  What are your thoughts on the importance of other online businesses doing the same?

Darren: The main reason I grabbed a few main domains other than the .com and the .net was as a bit of a defensive moved I guess. I didn’t want to see other ProBlogger blogs start up while I was getting established.

Having said that – there have been many copycats over the years with a number of them using similar names and one even completely replicating my design, logo and content! However ever time someone has tried to use the ProBlogger name my readers have been my best defence so it’s not been too much of an issue.

Mike: As I mentioned, ProBlogger has been a fantastic resource for me.  Being among the first bloggers, I imagine you’ve learned a great deal from trial and error.  What would you say your biggest learning has been as a professional blogger?

Darren: There have been many lessons and much experimentation along the way. Let me give you a few really quick ones:

1. It’s so important to start. So many PreBloggers have great ideas for blogs but sit on them so long and never do anything with them because the idea isn’t fully formed or they don’t think they can do it perfectly. No blog is perfect when it starts – the key is to get going and let it evolve!

2. Consistency is so important. Establish a regular rhythm of posting. You don’t need to publish daily but regularity is key as it helps you as a writer get into the rhythm of creating content but also your readers come to expect content from you and will show up expecting it at the intervals you tend to publish.

3. Take your readers on a journey. Tie one piece of content to another and your readers have more reason to stick around and will come to appreciate that you’re being thoughtful with your content.

4. Bring about Change – great blogs change the lives of their readers. Do some thinking about who you want to reach and how you want to change their live. It could be by educating them (as I do on my blogs) but it could be inspiring them, giving them a sense of belonging, entertaining them etc. Focus upon bringing about change and you’ll find readers will be attracted to your blog and will share it with others.

5. Get off your blog and promote it. Don’t just have a ‘build it and they will come’ mentality. You do need to put a lot of work into building a great blog but nobody will promote it for you (especially in the early days) so you’ll need to get off your blog and promote it. Write content for other sites, leave comments on other blogs, engage on social media, attend events and join forums relevant to your niche. Work out where your potential readers are gathering and go be useful in those places.

Mike:  You also have a podcast.  How are you using that to supplement the site?

Darren: Some people love to read – others prefer to learn through the spoken word. Others till prefer video and or visual learning. So one way to reach more people is to use different forms of content.

One thing to consider when you choose what medium to use is your own skills and preferred styles of communication. My first love in communication was public speaking so I long wanted to start a podcast to practice that.

I create two teaching episodes a week (and occasionally feature guests) and a segment of my readers really enjoy that addition to ProBlogger. We also create transcripts of the episodes for those who prefer to read.

By adding the podcast we’ve grown our reach but also it seems to have personalised the ProBlogger brand a lot as podcasting is a very personal form of communication.

Mike:  The dot blog TLD (.blog) will soon be available.  In your professional opinion, will that be the route to go fro blogs of the future?

Darren: I’m not overly sold on the idea of TLD’s. While it might be useful for some who struggle to get the .com I still think .com is the ideal home for most people’s blogs. It ranks well in Google and is so easy to remember.

Having said that I’m not really a domaines so have not researched it too much!

Mike:  What do you believe is required of an individual to make blogging, a lucrative, full-time career?

Darren: Many things but let me try to sum up some of it in a sentence or two.

A long term dedicate to serving your readers, the ability to communicate effectively, a topic that there is demand for information on, a willingness to experiment and learn from what you find and a willingness to put yourself out there for public critique.

There’s so much more of course but they were the first things that came to mind.

Mike:   What words do you have for anyone considering writing a professional blog?

Darren: Give it a go but be ready to work hard and work at it for several years while your traffic builds up! – A $4,000 Drop in the Bucket

Rentec Direct provides affordable property management software solutions to property managers and landlords. Other popular solutions offered by Rentec Direct include online tenant rent payments, professional websites and domain registration, tenant credit check services, and electronic lease signing.

Mike:  Nathan, tell me a little bit about your background.

Nathan:  I began my career in the internet industry as a partner in VISP.NET, an Oregon internet based business, growing it from a client base of less than 10 to the largest nationwide wholesale internet provider in the country.  As my real-estate portfolio grew I required a management platform designed for private landlords to manage the day-to-day operations of renting properties.  At the time nothing existed that was good enough and nothing was cost focused towards private landlords.  From my software development roots, I developed and founded Rentec Direct in 2009 which today provides property management software and tenant screening services to over 12,000 landlords and property managers.  Rentec Direct has quickly grown to be the third largest software platform within their market.


Mike:  You recently purchased the domain name  What are your intentions for this domain?  What can we expect to see once it’s developed?

Nathan:  We have big plans for, with our primary intention of using it to assist our existing client base with growth.  Currently the market has many pay-per-lead services for property managers to buy prospective tenant leads, and most of these services just aren’t cost effective for smaller managers.  We plan on building into the nations largest free tenant to property manager connection service.  We grow when our clients grow, so we’ll begin offering this service free to our existing clients followed by all other property managers nationwide.


Mike:  Can you share what you paid for the name and the process you went through to acquire it?

Nathan:  Initially we purchased the domain from a broker called NameJet; however, the sale fell through because their records were inaccurate and they did not possess the domain at the time of our purchase.  The domain had purchased by a Chinese based company from it’s previous owner (who listed it on NameJet) and subsequently listed on SEDO with a substantial markup.  We ended up paying $4,000 USD for it.  We anticipate this investment to be a drop in the bucket compared to the growth benefit our clients will receive from it.


Mike:  What are your thoughts on the .cc tld or any other non-dot-com tld?  How do they compare to dot com

Nathan:  Well, .com is clearly the leader and most recognizable TLD on the internet; however, it’s near impossible to register a single or double word .com these days since they are all taken.  A .com of the same wording and length can cost 1000% more than a .co or .cc domain.  Some of the more recent TLD such as .cc and .co have been gaining popularity and value every year.  The shorter the domain the easier it is to remember, so when a startup is choosing a domain or an existing company is getting online these .cc, .co and other popular TLDs are a very attractive option.

That said, .com is still king of the hill when it comes to domains and familiarity.  We have and and we choose to still rely upon even though it’s longer just because there’s no question about the end of it.


Mike:  You also have a couple of other domains pointing to your main site at  Those other domains are,   How much traffic do you gain from doing this or what advantage does this have?

Nathan: and are for our clients so they can have professional websites hosted on our system.  We use these domains as generic hosting for property managers to give them a free and quick website to promote their business prior to hiring a professional web design firm.  An example is  Other domains such as and were purchased to save words on the phone when somebody asks for our email or website.  I can just say “go to” to see our products which can, at times, be easier than asking somebody to go to  Aside from that, they do not provide us any additional value other than maintaining our brand and keeping our options open in the future if we ever wanted to re-brand as just “Rentec”.


Mike:  Do you plan on any other domain purchases in the future to supplement your business or start a new business?

Nathan:  I’m always on the lookout for short or meaningful domains that can benefit the property management industry; however, was a very recent purchase and we’re just getting our development resources ramped up to jump on that project so I don’t have any new companies or domains in mind at the moment.  Give me a few months. 🙂