Tools

Domain Finder

The argument can be convincingly made, as Mark Fulton has written at DotSauce, that the age of domain mining tools has come and gone.  As true as that is, I still love using domain generators and, if nothing else, I am inspired by some of the results.  Sometimes, not always, I come across a name that seems solid or that inspires a thought of a domain that I’d like to acquire.  I’ll admit that the vast majority of results from these tools, upwards of 99%, tend to be useless.  But I enjoy the inspiration they provide.

Recently, I discovered a new tool by Jason Ling from Singapore.  Jason is a digital media specialist with a strong background in digital media sales, online media, and e-commerce. He founded one of Singapore’s first and largest online communities, SgForums.com in 1999, and has a portfolio of websites to his name including SgBlogs.com and Lah.cc. He also spent 2 years launching e-commerce site Fish4Parts.co.uk in the UK.  He is working on, as he puts it, a domain name ‘suggestion engine’ called DomFinder.com.

To start, a user enters a couple of key words.  Then, the engine kicks in.  As you watch, the engine spins through a list of possibilities and separates available names from those that are taken.  It starts with trying to find the best related key words and then ranks them according to a factor of relevancy and value.  What’s nice about this tool is that it not only checks the availability of the domain name, but includes the Facebook and Twitter user IDs as part of that process.  Not only will you be able to secure the name, but you can be sure to secure the social media counter parts as well.

An upcoming feature Jason is working is to releases a ‘domain a day’ where it tries to discover the highest quality available domains.  I encourage you to visit DomFinder.com and spend some time trying it out.  While domain generators may be dying, I think DomFinder breathes some life back into them.

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Two Ways to Protect Your Social Reputation

As domainers, we’re all business people, like it or not.  You’re either trying to sell domains at a profit or develop domains to make a revenue stream.  That said, you have a reputation in the market place.  Some have bigger or more well known reputations than others.  For example, Rick Latona is on the “bigger” end of that scale.  But whether you’re well known by many or mentioned by a few, it’s important monitor and influence what is going on around you.  I have been hearing a lot about companies getting into the Online or Social Reputation Management business.  What exactly is that?   Let me answer with an example.

A couple of weeks ago, I was having trouble with my Comcast cable tv service.  While I was on hold with the company, I sent out a tweet along the lines of “On hold with a Comcast Rep is India for my TV in Chicago.”  Within minutes, I received a reply form @ComcastMelissa asking if there is some way she can help.  Clearly, Comcast is monitoring Twitter, and probably other social networks, in order to stay on top of customer comments.

If you’re in a position similar to mine, it’s not economically feasible to hire a company to monitor mentions of “Sully’s Blog” and their probably isn’t a whole lot being said anyway.  But It would be nice to pick up on the couple instances where there is so I could diffuse any issue or take advantage of a possible opportunity.  There may also be some other key words or phrases that would be nice to monitor and this goes beyond Twitter and hash tags, a specific domain name I have my eye on perhaps.

There are some free tools that can help you monitor and manage your online reputation.

Google Alerts

Here’s a quick and easy solution.  Just go to google.com/alerts.  Here you can enter key words and Google will do the leg work of locating the information and e-mailing it to you daily, weekly, or as it happens.  You can also preview the results for your query before saving it to ensure it is providing the types of results that you’d expect.

Google Alert

Yext Rep

Yext Rep is another free tool.  It requires a bit more set up, but not complicated.  Yext Rep finds posts where users have reviewed your business.  It monitors Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, CitySearch, FourSquare and more.  You’re notified from with in Yext Rep when a post mentions you and you can respond to the post from your dashboard.  Users will be impressed by your ability to stay current with what is being said and you can promote your business or respond to issues easily.

Yext Rep

There is a multitude of pay tools out there that will help you manage your reputation as well.  There may also be other free tools out there, but these are the two I have experimented with.  I encourage you to take a look at these and at a minimum, do regular searches in Google and social media platforms to see what the buzz is around you, your domains, and your business.

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New Domain App

There aren’t a whole lot of apps available for mobile device that I would consider essential for domainers.   The latest app from Network Solutions doesn’t qualify as essential either, but it’s nice too see a new mobile device tool that actually has some value.

Domain Storm, by Network Solutions, is an iPhone app that allows you to search for domain names quickly, showing which TLDs are available and at what price.  While Network Solutions doesn’t have the most competitive domain registration prices, the tool is decent.  The app also allows you to check alternate, expired, and premium domains based on your original search term.

The next feature is “Brainstorm,” which requires one or two keywords.  Then give your iPhone a quick shake and in Vegas style slots, you wait for the two word combination to appear from the spinning windows.  There you have a suggested new domain name with availability per TLD.  The Brainstorm feature also has the ability to check alternate, expired, and premium domains based on your search terms.  There are other options as well.  You can turn hyphenation  on and off as well as adult terms.  There is also a geo option that will append the city, state, or country to your possible names based on your current location.

The WHOIS serach didn’t work for me.  After hanging for about 30 seconds, it crashed the app on my first attempt.  It worked with the second try, but the disclaimer information took up just about all of the available text and left me with no real WHOIS data at all.

By the way, the name DomainStorm.com is registered and has been since 2004.  I wonder how this would play out in a trademark case.

Overall, I like it.  I wish I could use this app but set my registrar of choice to make a purchase.  While it doesn’t show any search volume stats or valuation estimates, it still has a place in my app collection.  There are a limited number of TLDs listed, and .CO isn’t one of them.  Are there other apps that you like to use as part of your domain toolbox?  If so, I’d like to hear about them.

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Redirecting Domains

When you are the end user of a domain, you might decide to develop it or to redirect it to an existing website.  Even if you plan to develop the domain, you can make good use of it during the development process by forwarding any traffic the domain receives to your current site.  Another good example of redirecting is also used for misspellings.  Google has its bases covered with common misspellings.  Googel.com redirects to Google.com.

There are several types of redirects and several ways to achieve them.  The most common being the 301 redirect.  This isn’t ground breaking news to any experienced domainers or developers, but worth a post none the less.  The 301 redirect code indicates the permanent move of a page to a new address.  It is also the only redirect fully understood by search engines when indexing a site.  This makes it highly important when taking SEO into consideration.

The 301 redirect can often be setup right in the cpanel of your hosting service as pictured below, if supported there.  Otherwise, you can use different methods using code such as PHP or Java.  You can also make the change in your htaccess file.  Check out this page at WebConfs.com for further coding examples and a nice tool to check for the proper search engine friendly configuration of your redirect.

301 Redirect

There are also pay services available that offer to redirect your domain, but those are not necessary if your server is properly configured and the options above are available to you.

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Twitter Template

Last month, I posted an article on “The Power of the Twitter Background,” which was basically about how to make the most of your background to promote your image.  I have gotten a couple of emails on this, so I thought it would be helpful to provide a little more information.  There are a some services that allow you to make custom or semi-custom twitter backgrounds for free.  I haven’t used these, so I am just providing these without reviewed.  One free site is twitbacks, which after signing up, allows you to created  a branded background.  There are plenty more free sites, so do some searching and see what you find.

A site that customizes for a fee is mytweetspace.com.  I have actually heard some good feedback about this site, so might be worth a try.  Personalized backgrounds under 5 bucks and custom backgrounds under $80.

If you are at all creative, you can download my background here as a Photoshop file and customized it to your liking.  The benefit of downloading mine as a template is only that is shows  the positioning for the right and left sidebars.  Enjoy.  Feel free to ask if you have any questions.

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Father’s Day And A Gift For You

Father’s Day is Sunday, so remember to be kind to your old man.  As I’m sure millions of Americans will be doing this weekend, I typed in “Father’s Day” into my Google search bar to see what ideas might be available for this fine day.  I was expecting to find FathersDay.com at the top of the list… or at least on the first page.  But to my surprise, (well, not really) FathersDay.com is a parked page.  The closest keyword domain name that ranked on page one of Google was FathersdayCelebration.com, and it was at the bottom of the page.

Clearly keyword domains are king and I am sure FathersDay.com will get plenty of type-in traffic to that parked page, but without some quality content, that’s likely all it will get.  Once it is developed, I would fully expect to see it on the top half on Google’s first page results for “Father’s Day.”  There is a fathers-day.com site that looks to have been whipped up in a WordPress theme early this month, but the content isn’t really there for a great ranking.  I didn’t do the search on Bing or Yahoo, due to sheer laziness, but it did get me thinking.  When developing a site, it would be great to track your efforts and see how well you are ranking over time across multiple search engines, and to see how your SEO investment is paying off.  Even better, you’ll want to know how you rank among those sites you are competing against.

I spoke with Korina Stark at WebPosition, an all-online service that offers a way to easily track keyword performance, position changes and trends in your search engine placement.  Korina provided some sample reports based on the key words “Father’s Day,” using Wikipedia.com as the benchmark.  Here are the results from the all-new, all-online WebPosition® Reporter.  Notice the spike as we get closer to Father’s Day?

Website Ranking Chart

Click to Enlarge

Webposition is a online subscription tool that offers a free version as well.  Additionally, Korina is providing free vouchers to 3 readers who will be selected at random. Each is valued at $45.  To be eligible, just post a comment on this article and I will contact you next week.  After using the service, I’d love to hear your comments and possibly even do a follow up post.

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Great Tool For Finding Good Domain Names

There are several tools for domainers. One of my current favorites is the “recently deleted” tool from Name.com.  The tool allows you to enter a search string and adjust some other inputs such as allowing names with hyphens , string position in the domain name, and domain length.  You can also decide how far back in the deleted queue you want to search, from hours to days.

Lets say that you favor real estate names.  You could search on the string “real estate” telling the tool you only want names ending in “.com” and that the string should be at the end of the domain name (ie. xxxRealEstate.com).  Also enter how far back you want to look in the “Deleted within” field, and you’re set.  Sure, someone could snatch the good names on the drop, but I assure you that some gems make it through.  It’s up to you to sift through them and grab them.  This tool makes it a whole lot easier.

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The Power of The Twitter Background

I’ll admit I’m pretty new to Twitter.  In fact, I actually kind of resisted it for the longest time.  I just didn’t get it.  But once I spent a little time following people, I realized what an amazing tool it was.  If you’re a domainer it’s a must!  In fact, if you own a business, work for a business, freelance, or have absolutely any need to network at all (and who doesn’t?), Twitter is a must.

But let me focus in… I recently realized the value of the Twitter background.  Just like a web page, your Twitter page has a background image that you can control.  Twitter offers some colors and patterns, and there are also some other free service that offer the same.  Let me tell you, if you are using those, you are missing out on a huge marketing opportunity.  Think about it… that space has enormous value.

I happened to notice how some of the people I was following had made great use of this space.  Here are some good examples:

@BuyDomains tiles their logo and domain name across the page.  No mistaking that.
@iDotz clearly states their business in the left column of their page.
@gdomains has a background that is super clean and elegant.  I really like this because they utilize both the left and right columns of the page.
@mashable, with Pete Cashmore looking a little like Justin Timberlake in this pic, or is it just me?
@ChattyGalBlog makes good use of her background to promote her blog and gain some personal identity.

As a domainer, you can use this space to list some of your domain names that are for sale, or draw attention to your website where a complete list can be found.  I just created a simple background and popped it onto my Twitter page just  before publishing this post.  It’s a plain and simple background, but I didn’t want to waste any time capitalizing on the space.  In time, I’ll make some updates and include a more professionally designed background, but for now, it will do.  I may even add a few sites for sale.  Tell me what YOU think of my simple background.

Use this competitive advantage.  Have a look, the majority of Tweeters aren’t.

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Don’t Forget Anything About Your Domains

The internet has brought us some great tools.  I wonder how I ever survived without some of them.  My favorite, so far, is Evernote.  This is not a paid posting, an affiliate link, or anything like that.  I promise to disclose if I ever make a post like that.  I truly like this tool so much that I think it’s well worth sharing.  Let’s start with the best part about this tool, it’s free, although I use the paid version that allows for more storage space and a couple of extra features.

Evernote, if you are unfamiliar, is a note taking application, sort of similar to Microsoft OneNote.  Only better.  You can check out all the details and features at Evernote.com, but let me tell you how I use it for domaining.

  1. Keep all of my domains in order – I use an Excel spreadsheet file to track all of my domains.  Evernote allows me to attach a file of any type, in the paid version, but you could just as easily paste a list as text within a note in the free version.  The coolest part of this is that you can launch it from ANYWHERE and save your changes.  More on this in a bit.
  2. Keep notes for my blog – When I have ideas about what I might want to write about, I jot them down in my “Blog” notebook.  Evernote allows you to create an unlimited number of notebooks for all of your needs.  When I come across a good idea, I type it in or use the web clipper if I need a snapshot from my browser to remind me later.
  3. Save snapshots of Whois records – When I come across a domain that interests me either to inquire about purchasing, or reaching out to for an interview, I take a quick snapshot of the screen to contact them later.
  4. Keep snapshots of pages I like – If I see a website that I think has a great look or a unique concept behind it, I’ll take a quick snapshot of it and save it off for future reference.  Evernote automatically saves the URL along with the image on the note so you can always find your way back to it.
  5. Sample Emails – I also use Evernote to store the sales email I use to send out to prospects, and the list of prospects I contacted as well.  This helps me avoid sending to the same person more than once if the domain doesn’t sell the first time around.  Keeping the email in Evernote allows me to modify my writing style and hone in on which email verbiage is most effective.
  6. Access information from anywhere – This is one of the most important reasons.  Evernote resides on your pc or Mac as an application.  But you can access it from the web anywhere you happen to be.  Have an iPhone or iPad?  Then you can also access it from those with excellent apps.  Blackberry has an app too, but I’m not too fond of that one.  I can pull up files on my pc, iPhone, my friends Mac, or a client’s pc if I need to.  So convenient.

There are so many other features (like hand writing recognition, voice notes) and uses (storing photos, mp3s, code snippets) that I could probably write a full book on it, but I won’t.  Try it out and I’m pretty sure you’re going to like it.

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