When a domain is not just a domain name – Unraveling high value websites

Valuable domain names

I´m constantly quizzed by non internet luddites about domain names and their value. The most common misconception is “why is this domain being sold for 250K when I can register a domain for 10 bucks?”. My patience is thin at best but, assuming naiveté, I endeavor to explain that a domain name is merely a vehicle with which to obtain internet traffic and, traffic (usually) generates revenue. To put this into simple terms for you dazed readers, imagine wanting to open a clothing boutique on a high street. You are left with two simple choices, rent commercial premises on the outskirts of the city at a low rate, then spend the money you saved on rent for constant and permanent advertising to remind people you exist. Or, rent premises on, for example, 5th Avenue New York (you can choose any major city’s top high streets), pay more for the premises and rarely have to advertise due to the fact that passing ambulant trade is always present.

A good domain names is the 5th Avenue location and a bad domain is on the outskirts of the city. The same bricks and mortar logic applies to domains, with the cheap nondescript ones you’ll be eternally advertising, whereas the expensive ones will usually have “free” web traffic you can use to generate increased revenue.

To take this a step further, consider this. You decide to rent a space on 5th avenue but this space was previously a coffee house, yet your intention is to open a clothing boutique at the same location. Since the coffee house location provides no historic “good-will” for your planned business, the customers of a coffee house went there for coffee or a sandwich, not to buy clothes. Therefore, using the same logic, if you buy a popular domain with tons of traffic, but this domain was used to sell coffee and you want to use it to sell clothing, you have an immediate identity crisis. This misnomer will mean that the traffic volume you are essentially buying within the domains purported value, may not translate into the desired revenue you foresee.

If you have read right up to this point you will deduce that a domain name utilized during an extended period of time in the desired commercial sphere and, with significant traffic, will often result in reduced future marketing costs and lower publicity spending. In a nutshell, you should anticipate that your upfront domain value and cost is simply an investment you will recoup going forward by way of reduced promotional costs. Essentially, paying now for something you will receive in the future. Because internet advertising is so expensive, inflation linked and continuous, you may recoup your initial high value domain purchase through lowered marketing costs in say 3 years, but from there on out, your marketing savings are like my in the bank, each day saving more and more money which, invariably, creates a better bottom line for your business.

That’s my take on high value domains…

Domain names sales | what’s next?

New domain gTLD

With the world on the verge of getting 1000´s of new TLD´s (top-level domain), adding to the already bewildering array of available domain extensions, domain brokers and resellers worldwide are awaiting the tsunami effect this may have on their domain portfolios.

Names like .shop, .adult, .ATTORNEY and 1930 others are currently being considered by ICANN for inclusion into our world wide web.

Yes, coming to a web browser near you very soon, the companies promoting this myriad of new TLDs think that you´ll soon be searching for things like “” instead of

Many pundits say that the www is exasperated by name squatters and, to a greater extent, domain resellers who hold on to good top levels in the .com arena, never develop these sites and simply own them for resale. So, what will happen to these domain brokers and their business model if there´s a mass exodus to these new TLD´s?

Well, oddly it’s not ICANN who will decide the fate of domain resellers, but Google. You see if Google decides that, for instance, all searches for attorneys would be better directed to a prevalent .ATTORNEY domain, the whole house of cards could fall abruptly on the entire domain resale market, literally overnight.

I wouldn´t hold my breath regarding this happening but it’s a risk and, as such, it’s that “risk factor” that will prompt companies with deep pockets to go out and buy every domain TLD that is created for their brand name. Yes, like a modern day stage coach ransom, they´ll buy the new TLD, if only to redirect it to their .com, yup, a “just in case” scenario worth millions. As a business model, for the proponents of these new TLD´s, this is a tasty ransom and one that could make them serious bucks. But, as I’ve said, millions of new domains being redirected to old .com´s or .net´s aren´t going to change the landscape of the internet are they?

As a case in point, let’s look at the $99 per year .travel extension. When was the last time you saw a .travel domain appearing in a search engine query? Yet, these domains sold like hot cakes to trademark owners in the travel sector. Apparently with zero upside, other than ensuring their trademark was protected. But, with 1930 new TLD´s on the horizon, will trademark owners simply give up? Will the whole “fancy TLD” phenomenon fall flat? I tend to think so (sorry ICANN)…

Google and, its lesser search brethren, are going to have a hard task in the coming years. Maybe not a task but a decision they´ll need to make. Should they start giving prevalence to domains that apparently relate to a sector or, will the venerable three still rule the roost? I am, of course, referring to the .com, .net, .info search killer trio.

It’s going to be interesting to see when this whole “vanity url” domain thing finally implodes.

Dead Content | Why Google has stopped showing it

Marshall marketing

So you created a website, it has lots of traffic and you simply moved onto another project or website. Next time you get the chance to look, your website bombed in serps and you have no traffic. Why?


Well Google is placing more and more emphasis on new content these days and, those who don´t refresh content or add new pages suffer. In the past, placing an rss aggregator on your webpage garnered some new content for Google to look at and consider that you´re updating, not any more. RSS feeds are no longer the holy grail of old content rejuvenation.


There´s really no quick solution to this problem at the moment. Basically, unless your website is updated regularly you´ll end up way down in the annals of organic search faster than you can say Panda.


But all is not lost. If you don´t need/want to add information to your website and simply want to offer Google an artificial freshener then link backs from social feeds could be just what you´re look for.


Dredging your old website for images and posting on pinterest is one method. Another is to use the link post on Facebook and, both of these social networks offer automatic posting to twitter anyway. So no point in positing from twitter if you already get the twitter post “thrown in” with the aforementioned, right?


An alternative to the above would be to go back and check your website over. Start naming images to coincide with what the images represent instead of the dreaded “image 1.jpg, image 2.jpg” still plaguing many older websites. You´ll be surprised how this quick “refresh” will garner organic results from previously unranked or low ranked pages on your site.


Finally, although a little more comprehensive, your best bet would be to switch your old asp, php or html page over to wordpress. While this is a larger undertaking it will garner the complete “makeover” Google craves, along with the caveat of facilitating your future site updates.


Beware the dead content…


Social networks, a necessary evil?

Social Media

Google´s latest search engine updates have imposed a specific emphasis on Social Networks and, what we in the industry call “social signals”. For many businesses who´ve shied away from Social media or, stayed on the fence about whether to incorporate it into their marketing efforts, Google´s recent changes are a rude awakening to what is now a compulsory facet of online marketing.

Social signals are those links and comments emanating from social media. Whether this be a link from twitter or a post on facebook, if you´re not getting them, you´re set to lose rank on Google, if you have not already done so…Yes, if your website is to be looked on favorably by Google, you had better be getting your daily “fix” of social media signals back to your site, or else!

None of us know how long this latest “requirement” will last, or if social media will be forever part of our lives but, one thing’s for sure, right now you need it in order to maintain rankings, whether you like it or not.

My recommendation if you´re not too familiar with Social networks or, simply don´t know how they fit into your business niche, is to utilize rss feeds to harness their potential. The best way of going about this is to get an rss feed straight from your website and use this to automatically update twitter, facebook, pinterest and such. All of these social networks allow an rss feed to be utilized as a mechanism to update their varied timelines. If you do this, every time new content is added to your website or blog, the rss feed will automatically relay this to your social media outlets. Of course, this achieves the desired results by:

a) Ensuring your content is displayed on social networks

b) A link back to the new content is provided from the social media platform

c) Your fresh content is aggregated across multiple platforms

d) The RSS feed is “add and forget” and will do its job all by itself

By choosing this route, you manage your social media profile “in the back ground” and only seldom enter these networks directly when a unique message needs to be transmitted to followers on that particular network. For instance, you could have 20 automated RSS feeds updating your facebook profile and enter every now and again to add a single post directly.

The aforementioned is also a good “let it grow” approach, meaning that you don´t divert valuable people resources to the social platforms until you have some followers, that have been naturally drawn by your automated and systematic reposting via RSS of your habitual content updates on your normal website.

Using your website image content to update pinterest and then using the pinterest automation of posting the update straight to your facebook and twitter profile also allows you to dredge your “old” website content of all past information and freshen up back links from social media platforms to your old content.

My personal take on social networks is that it’s a new wave of the internet. Its age based, like going out to clubs and partying. Older people will use social media to communicate with loved ones but won´t “leave the door open” to outside influences like a younger person would.

Therefore, social networks will become generational and, as such, less effective when your target audience grows older. Buy hey, if you´re selling things to young people, being “social” is a must.

Google algorithm changes & updates

Internet Search

Over the past 24 months, we´ve all been reading about Google´s panda and penguin updates and their unprecedented effects on organic serps, however, few grasp why Google makes changes or why their business model requires them.

For the internet outsider, Google´s changes are apparently designed for the “good of the web”, to garner more accurate results for users and keep Google competitive in the search market. Nevertheless, web insiders know that Google has little if any real competition as of 2013 and their market share is slowly but surely raking away the miniscule amounts of search done elsewhere on Bing, Yahoo etc. So, what’s my take on Google’s algorithm changes designed to impact serp´s (search engine results pages)?

In order to answer the above question we need to first look at a grass roots business and, how businesses evolve and grow. Right off the bat, most business people have a firm grasp on the economics of businesses and their fixed costs. Fixed costs are things like power, office space, staff and other intangible but required costs in order to run a business. It’s a known fact that as a business grows, it assumes more of the aforementioned costs, in order to handle increased commercial activity (e.g sales/services). Businesses operating exclusively online rely dangerously on their websites being both efficient and highly ranked on search results in order to amass visitors and, as such, increase sales. These increased sales translate into increased fixed cost spending, staff increases and other costs to match the increased sales. As a result, fixed costs are notoriously difficult to mitigate so, if for instance, the business in question has taken on more staff, increased its office size and matched fixed cost spending to sales, it becomes less flexible and therefore reliant on the sales volumes which imposed the increase in fixed cost spending. The vicious circle of economics…

When a business has been successful online for a reasonable amount of time and has augmented its fixed costs in line with sales, abruptly experiences a drop in sales due to losses in ranking on serp´s, it finds to hard, if not impossible, to quickly shed the staff and increased infrastructure associated with its past sales volumes. As panic hits and losses surmount, the most common solution is to return to the top of ranking and, logically, garner the sales lost through dropping in rankings. Common SEO techniques, although applicable, do not (usually) “work” speedily enough to overt monthly losses incurred through having an infrastructure (fixed costs) larger than those currently required. Therefore, most businesses will turn to Google for help, a help Google is only too keen to offer by way of its Adwords campaigns which, at a cost, will return the company to its former search position and, hopefully, sales volumes.

This new partnership with Google then becomes a “requirement” until:

a) Fixed costs are reduced

b) SEO practices return the company to its previous serp ranking

You´ll note I used the word “requirement” because, in my eyes, there is quite simply no other solution to the problem over the short term.

Therefore, by introducing algorithm ranges, Google systematically tosses around the ranking so that those who have become accustomed to high natural search listings, are directly affected by such changes and, as a result, require “search assistance” and, in Google speak, this assistance is called “adwords” which, as we all know, means dividing part of your profits with your new partner called Google.

For many who work in the internet industry, partnering with Google from the outset is probably the best recipe. Why? Well, as I have explained, building an online business which relies on Serp´s is a risky one. Whereas, building a business with Google´s adword program already built into its fixed costs can, at least generally, rely upon the results and sales generated over the longer term.

So, back to the panda and penguin updates which have been causing so much controversy? In my eyes, if Google has chosen animals to designate the names of its algorithm updates, get prepared for Cat, Dog, Fox and any others that could be coming our way any time soon.

Yes, you guessed it; these “tweaks” to search results have a reason…



About Us

Marshall Marketing

Welcome to Marshall Marketing

We remember when .com domains names cost $74, when BBS networks were the latest fashion and when the Internet had no search engines. Can anyone say overture?

Things have certainly changed since those nascent first steps of the WWW but, we´re still here, revelling in the changes, always looking forward and creating new and more interesting ways to engage visitors.

It’s going to take you several weeks to visit all the websites we’ve helped create and, even longer to get a handle on all of our past successes. There’ve been a few failures but, thankfully, they´re the minority.

We´re referrals only, so sadly we don´t work through solicitation of our services but, you can contact us for some free help and we´d be glad to offer our knowledge.

Over 1200 websites created since 1995, millions of daily visitors and,

Always looking forward