What should I do with Bells.org

A few weeks back, I picked up bells.org on the drop.  I grabbed it because it’s a short  keyword domain name with a decent exact global monthly search volume of 27,000 and cpc of .49 cents, depending on where you look.  I haven’t owned, developed or sold any .org names in the past, but I couldn’t resist this one after seeing it on Shane’s drop list.  Now that I’ve had it and tossed around a few ideas, I’d like to ask you what your thoughts are.  Here are a few things I am thinking of, but open to suggestions.

1.  Flip it

Initially, I was thinking I should just sell the name.  There are plenty of companies by the name of “Bell” or “Bells,” not to mention family surnames.  It could make a cool short email address if nothing else.  I think it’s worth more than I paid for it.

2.   Develop it

I’ve been interested in setting up an e-commerce / drop ship site and this might be a good one to start with.  There are a couple of options here.  First, there are those huge bells you see in parks and churches.  I’m sure those suckers are pretty expensive (and tough to ship).  Another option could be smaller bells, hand  bells, collectible bells, and electric bells.  I haven’t done any drop shipping before, so finding a good partner may be difficult.  Another challenge here is that .org has historically been used for not-for-profit organizations.  This is changing and there is a push from Public Interest Registry, the official manager of .ORG, to raise brand awareness as I reported back in July.  Another favorable fact is the success Morgan Linton has had with kayaking.org (although I don’t know the specific figures).

3.  Hang on to it

There’s always the option of just hanging on to the name for future use.  Be it for investment or for future development.  Seems like a safe option, but not too much fun.

4. Build a mini site on it

I have also though about just developing a few pages of content and working on some pay-per-click ads.  I need to experiment more with this type of monetization and I’d expect this domain to rank fairly well.

What would you do if you had this domain?  One of the options above or something else?  Let’s assume dropping it is not one of the options I’m looking for here.  I’m look forward to your comments on this one.  Whichever direction I go, I’ll blog about it along the way.

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Being Catchy with Dot CC

Sharon Siegel writes a blog at Sharon.cc.  I found this to be an interesting domain choice and discussed the site and it’s purpose with Sharon.

Mike:  Can you give a little background on your business?

Sharon:  Sharon.cc is a Social Good platform. It’s not a business, it’s a collaborative site which helps people, companies, and places optimally market themselves. Guest posters are encouraged – just send me what you’d like to share with my readers & I’ll post it if I feel they’ll benefit from it.

I’ve been career coaching for about 8 years now, and started sharon.cc to publicly answer all the questions I get asked regularly. I work as a corporate recruiter full time, but have a passion for writing & helping people that I cannot hire (if I hired all my friends I’d be out of a job pretty quickly – not that they’re not all talented people…).

I network job seekers/career changers to advance within their fields & counsel them on overcoming barriers to desired positions/industries. I edit/optimize resumes for marketability and ideal career placement and provide coaching for interviews. In my free time I present at resume workshops for unemployed individuals and like to blog about technology within government and hiring. You can follow me on twitter: @sharondotcc or connect on linkedin. I’m available for speaking engagements, individual coaching, and am seeking a more challenging position myself within the organizational development/social media/HR/ communications fields if anyone has any leads for me…

Mike:  How did you get involved in the job hunting industry?

Sharon:  People have always confided in me & looked to me for advice, even as a child.  My mother would tell you it started when I was in 5th grade, getting a haircut. My hairdresser was telling me her life story, and about how her real passion was to work with the elderly, and she had just completed her degree in recreation therapy. My mother was a director of recreation at a nursing home looking for staff…they ended up working together for 8 years.

I don’t do executive recruiting – I have yet to charge a company for a placement, although I have been told many times I should – so I’m not sure if ‘job hunting’ is the correct term, I’m more of a ‘job placer’. I’ve always found the job search & attainment process to be very logical, and use common sense to help people who aren’t naturals at it.

Mike:  Sharon.cc is your domain.  What made you decide to select a .cc domain?  How has it been working for you?

Sharon:  I wanted a short, easy to remember website that contained my name that would help me stand out of the crowd. Most websites/people/companies nowadays sounding just like everyone else. I try especially hard not to come across as generic (more on that topic here http://wp.me/pWfpN-q).

As that most short urls are owned by people looking to make a profit, most .com’s were taken. As that the type of site I was planning for career coaching & advice, cc = career coaching I thought would be both easy to remember and relevant. I had a feeling I might change my host some day, so I wanted my own domain for it.

Mike:  Did you seek any advice before selecting a name for your blog?

Sharon:  I ran ideas by my husband who’s a marketing and creative genius (http://designsdesigns.com plug for his freelance design firm while we’re at it). He generally has a good idea if something will be successful or not. “.CC” is technically for Cocos (Keeling) Islands, which is an Australian territory as per wikipedia. As that’s an unknown to NY’ers, my primary audience, I felt I was able to ‘make it my own’.

Mike:  Can you share the volume of traffic that your site receives?

Sharon:  I don’t have the heaviest volume, as that I don’t actively seek readers. It’s rather when people come to me seeking career or resume advice, or help finding a job, that I send them to my blog. Although it’s not quite as helpful as 1-on-1 career coaching, generally these are people who only want free advice. Very few people out of work are willing to pay for help (yet then they complain and wonder why they stay unemployed…).

I think everyone knows someone unemployed or underemployed nowadays – and if you send them to my site, it’ll help them.

Mike:  Do you have any other online marketing strategies?

Sharon:  I tag my postings which does bring me some SEO searches that are relevant. I’ve never paid or made any strong attempts to market myself. I can’t see paying for advertising or google ads in the future either. This is a hobby/social good cause, not a business for me as of now. I can’t say I’d never end up career counseling full time, but as of now I’m not monetizing the site.

Mike:  Any other information you’d like to share?

The best advice I can give about domains (or company names, which should be the same thing) is to pick something as short as possible, easy to remember, with no variations of spelling possible (and if so buy the other variation domain(s) as well). No hyphens either. A name that people can remember without writing down and share will get the most visibility. Bringing traffic to someone else’s parked domain or domain for sale will not accomplish much.  I even blogged about it when I created it.

I personally do not believe a .com is required for that…not that thesharoncareercoachingsite.com wouldn’t have been catchy. Oh wait, it wouldn’t be, but sharon.cc sure is…

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Is a TLD Important if You Rely on Links?

Brian Blum, Founder & President of Maverick Solutions IT, Inc, providing all types of technology consulting & support, including computer networks, surveillance systems, telephone/voicemail systems, intercom/access systems, burglar & fire alarm systems, and online services. They are a Microsoft Registered Partner and Small Business Specialist and are considered the economic alternative to keeping an in-house IT staff. They work primarily with schools, NFPs, and SO/HOs in the New York metro area, helping them get more value from their technology budgets. Brian runs his business on a dot Biz domain at MaverickSolutions.biz.

Mike: Tell me what elements led to you decision to register the .biz name for your business?

Brian: That’s easy – the .com version was already reserved, and as a small startup, we weren’t in a position to shell out thousands of dollars to acquire it. We considered various other combinations of hyphens, dots, and TLDs (.us, .ms, .info, etc), but thought this would be the easiest for our clients and prospects to remember.

Mike: Do you own any other domains or have you in the past?

Brian: Having nothing to do with Maverick Solutions, I personally have registered MaverickStructures.com for my real estate investing, rental, and management business. We’re also domain name registration resellers and DDNS hosts, so we’re registered over two dozen domains for clients of ours, mostly .orgs.

Mike: Have you experienced any challenges going with a .biz over .com or .net? Do customers ever mistype “.com” by default?

Brian: Not really. I’m sure clients and prospects have accidentally used .com in trying to reach us, but for our business model, it’s not a big deal. Most of our business is long-term client relationships, rather than one-time customers, so our clients constantly receive mail and email with links to our correct URL, and many have set up favorites, shortcuts, and email address book entries for us so they don’t have to actively remember our address. When prospects find us, it’s usually by a link rather than by a name search.

Mike: Do you have any marketing strategies for your site? SEO, PPC, offline marketing, etc?

Brian: Certainly! (As every business should!) We use Website grading tools to track our SEO rankings and frequently make changes and upgrades to improve that score. We blog (although probably not as frequently as we should), we publish articles to help establish ourselves as experts in our field (as well as for the inbound links), and we change up the Website content from time to time to keep it “current” as far as the last-update dates go.

We’ve tried PPC marketing on Yahoo, Google, and Facebook, but felt that burning our money would get us more attention, so we stopped. We may reevaluate that decision in the future, but for now, we’re making the investment of time and effort in improving our SEO rather than our SEM. We also offer SEO consulting as part of our services offerings, so we’ve taken the time and trouble to become pretty good at it.

We also still do offline marketing, too – we send out quarterly snail-mail campaigns to prospects and clients to try to highlight services we can provide. We made an investment in a good printer, folding machine, semi-automatic postage meter with sealer attachment, and bulk-rate mail permit early on in our game plan, so it’s relatively inexpensive for us to continue our postal mailing campaigns. Even so, we’re giving more serious thought to adding (or eventually transitioning to) email marketing in the near future … but we hate spam, and are reluctant to become offenders ourselves.

Mike: Are you aware of any Search Engine result ranking for key words for your site?

Brian: We have looked at these numbers from time to time, and are aware of (and pleased with) the direction in which we’re heading, but I couldn’t quote the exact index or ranking numbers to you.

Mike: Can you share the visitation statistics?

Brian: We check on these from time to time, too, and are pleased with the direction we’re headed there, as well, but again, I couldn’t quote exact numbers for you. Our ISP provides these stats, and we also use free Google analytics tools to track our visitors.

Mike: What advice would you give a fellow business owner when it comes to domain selection for business?

Brian: I can’t speak for all businesses, however, if you’ve got the sort of business where one-time customers are going to find your links via a search engine or where you’ve got recurring clients rather than one-time customers, don’t get too hung up on the domain name, because it’s not going to be a big factor in them finding you. Take an address that reads nicely (without dashes or dots), and then spend your efforts on SEO to put your links in front of your prospects.

Mike: Anything else you would like to share?

Brian: If you’re a well-established business with excellent national or regional brand name recognition, it’s probably worth ponying up the cash to get YourName.com, but for the rest of us small- to medium-sized companies, if your preferred name is already taken, don’t lose sleep over it – just move on with plan B.

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Is Your .INFO Worth $7,500

Afilias, registry for the .INFO TLD announced the opening of its fourth annual .INFO Awards program. The best .INFO websites from around the world can submit their entries from August 10th to September 10th.

Roland LaPlante, Chief Marketing Officer for Afilias stated, “.INFO has been the most successful new TLD ever launched, as evidenced by the millions of sites now operating worldwide. The .INFO Awards program not only gives us the opportunity to highlight the best .INFO sites from around the world, but also to allow Internet users to voice their support for their favorite ones.”

A panel of online media experts will judge the sites based on five key criteria including: presentation of content, functionality of the website, design, usability, and originality. Prizes will be US$7,500 for first place, US$5,000 for second place, and US$3,000 for third place.

Submit your site at www.INFO-award.info.

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