The Best Domain Names For PPC and SEO

May. 30

I’m a huge fan of domain names and now own several hundred domains across the dot com, dot net, dot org, dot me, dot us, dot co, dot biz, and dot info extensions. I also own over 100 developed websites across these same TLDs. Domains are the real estate of the future and one of the best investments around, in my opinion. I recently got an excellent question from a PPC Ian reader, Anthony, which I paste below.

Red and Green Apples

Hello Ian,
I came by your site via a dot co article you wrote some time ago. I am in the process of deciding wether to purchase a .co or launch a site under a .info, which the article was critical off. How has you experience been with .co, have they ranked well?
Any advice would be welcome.

The post Anthony is referring to is my piece titled Dot CO Domain Names Rock. I’m thrilled to answer Anthony’s question about dot info and dot co domains in today’s post.

PPC Domain Names

The first point I want to call out here is the difference between PPC (pay per click) versus SEO (search engine optimization). If you know up front the domain will be primarily used for paid search, you will have a lot more flexibility. If you’re building a PPC only site, you can really build it on any TLD you’d like.

My main advice for paid search domains: Make sure they are keyword rich. If the keywords you’re buying are in the domain, your display URL will display bold, which in turn helps you earn a higher CTR. These days, keyword rich domains are table stakes in paid search (unless you already have a hugely recognized brand name within your industry). Of course, I always prefer an exact match dot com. Those, however, can be pricey. Quinstreet, my old employer, recently purchased CarInsurance dot com for a cool $49.7 million (domain name plus existing business). By contrast, your going to be able to pick up the same name with a dot me or dot co TLD for considerably less.

In sum: Get the best, keyword rich domain you can find for PPC. Don’t worry as much about TLD as long as it’s one of the big ones mentioned at the top of this article. Want to learn more about paid search domains? Check out my article all about PPC Domain Strategies.

Best SEO Domain Names

Let’s now look at domains for SEO (or for a hybrid PPC and SEO strategy). First and foremost, I’ve had success with all TLDs in SEO, some more than others. Of the second tier domains, dot us, dot me, and dot co are my favorites when I just can’t get the dot com dot net, or dot org (although I’m less of a dot org fan versus dot com and dot net).

There are really two point that go into this. First, I have found that search engines have a higher affinity for certain TLDs, with dot com and dot net topping the charts on Google. On Yahoo, dot com, dot net, and dot us rank the quickest and the best. You might pay more for these domains but they will rank quicker and higher, helping you recoup your investment.

Second, SEO is all about branding these days. Build a great brand and you will do quite well. Gains are exponential so I’m really focused on my top sites and recommend a single site strategy (or handful of sites strategy). I personally own over 100 active websites, but that’s because I love testing new stuff and I’m addicted to big numbers (even though this might not be the best financial decision). In my experience, it’s much easier to build a brand on a dot com or dot net domain. Therefore, if Anthony is going for an authority SEO site, I’d recommend going after a good dot com or dot net. (Side note: Check out my guide for Buying Domains on Sedo. This will come in particularly handy when buying high quality domains on the aftermarket.)

A quick distinction: While my bias is dot com, dot net, and sometimes dot us for authority SEO sites, I’m much more flexible when it comes to smaller minisites. In the case of minisites, I’d consider all the domains listed in the intro and definitely rank dot co ahead of dot info. Dot co has a ton of marketing dollars behind it and is a hot TLD right now. It screams ©commerce" and "e;commercial", making it perfect for most sites. Dot info is regarded as a cheaper domain name and has many questionable sites on it due to its ultra-cheap price for the first year on GoDaddy.

Intent of The Domain Name

I’d like to close out today with one last word of advice: Buy the TLD that most closely matches your business. Let’s say your are going to build a pure, informational site. In this case, dot info could make sense. Let’s say on the other hand, you are building a site for a non-profit organization. Of course, dot org makes the most sense. Let’s now say you are building a personal blog. In this case, dot me might be best. Last, dot us makes a ton of sense for sites that are strictly about the United States. I’ve had a ton of success with finance-oriented sites on dot us. I’m a huge fan of making sure my website strategy aligns with the true intent of the domain TLD.

As you can see, there is no clear answer since there are so many sub-questions that go into choosing the right domain name. The best news: The opportunities in domain names right now are unparalleled. My closing advice is to really think it through, but at the same time just go for it! The sooner you start, the quicker you will achieve success!

Image of red and green apples © iStockPhoto – pederk

Inflection: The Hottest Bay Area Startup

May. 23

Last Friday, my wife and I went to an amazing party at Pampas Palo Alto hosted by Inflection (formerly People Search Media). In my opinion, Inflection is the hottest startup in the Bay Area. I’m proud to say that I used to be Director of SEM at Inflection and am excited today to share my high level thoughts about the future of this fast-growing business.

I Used To Work At Inflection

PPC Ian and Matthew Monahan

PPC Ian and Matthew Monahan (CEO)

As mentioned in my post I own shares in Inflection, I used to work at Inflection and own shares in this awesome company. I’m a very proud shareholder, indeed. Inflection is one of the best companies I worked for and I had a true blast managing their entire search marketing team, the backbone of the business.

You can read all about Inflection on their corporate website and particularly their about us page. Inflection is a true force in the Bay Area right now. They operate some of the largest sites on the Internet such as Archives and People Smart. They are very profitable, and have an amazing team. Perhaps most excitingly, they just raised $30 million in funding and are moving to a new office because of their rapid growth. The best part of it all: Inflection did not need to raise funding, they were self funded and profitable from their early days due to good old fashioned sweat equity.

As portrayed throughout this post, Inflection threw an awesome party for both current employees and also graduates (like me) last Friday to celebrate their new office. They are truly growing fast!

Inflection Is An Amazing Employer and Investment

PPC Ian, Don, and Brian Monahan

PPC Ian, Don, and Brian Monahan (VP & Co-Founder)

Anyone who says employee stock options are worthless is a fool! I feel strongly about this. When I was a senior at Stanford someone told me that I shouldn’t worry about stock options because they had friends who worked hard and their options didn’t pan out. Well, I proved them wrong and went onto several companies that each had major liquidity events. My options did extremely well! This is how I made it big in online marketing.

My advice: Ignore the naysayers. If you pick your employers wisely (which you can when you’re in PPC because of the huge demand for our profession), you can accumulate stock option positions that will become a great source of your income. In my opinion, Inflection is the perfect company to consider if you’re looking to accumulate some really special stock options. If you’re interested in a job at Inflection, you’ll definitely want to check out their careers page and benefits page. Also, please feel free to contact me and I can pass your resume along directly.

Pay Per Click Jobs Are Fun

Inflection Party at Pampas Palo Alto

Inflection Party at Pampas Palo Alto

I couldn’t be more excited about the pay per click career path. Over the years, I’ve attended a plethora of Inflection parties, just like the one featured in this post. I even joined Inflection in Las Vegas (paid for by the company) to celebrate a milestone.

My current job also provides truly amazing opportunities, I couldn’t be happier! We had a team offsite in Las Vegas, I get the opportunity to travel quite a bit, and I attend tons of conferences such as SMX West and SMX Advanced. Check out my post A day in the life of PPC Ian and you’ll see just how amazing the search marketing career path can be. My closing thoughts: This is the best career path around, and think strategically about your employer as an investment. Pick a winner like Inflection and you’ll make a very wise investment in your future and your happiness!

All images in this post ©

Check Me Out In The Pay Per Click Mindmeld

May. 18

Today I’m thrilled today to announce an exciting project I’m involved in, The Pay Per Click Mindmeld. The idea is simple, yet extremely powerful. The PPC Mindmeld hand selected the top 60 experts in the pay per click field (I’m one of them). Then, they had each expert record a 1-2 minute soundbite with their top PPC tips (specifically, what makes or breaks a successful PPC campaign). The result: An amazing mp3 file with 60 pay per click experts each sharing their favorite PPC tips.

Pay Per Click Mindmeld

The end product is a truly invaluable resource and I couldn’t be more excited about it. Not only am I thrilled to be personally involved in such an extraordinary project, but I’m excited about the tips I personally took away from the other speakers. The best part of it all: The Pay Per Click Mindmeld is 100% free. All you have to do is enter your email address and then you will be emailed a link to download the mp3 file and listen for yourself.

Now, The PPC Mindmeld officially launches soon (Thursday). However, I have a special link exclusively for PPC Ian readers. If you Click This Pay Per Click Mindmeld Link, you get exclusive pre-release access to the Mindmeld and can download the file right away. Once you download the file, you can skip directly to my soundbite by going to 1:35:30. That said, I really encourage you to listen to the entire project because the tips from all the speakers are truly amazing!

A closing tip from my friend running the Pay Per Click Mindmeld: There will be a tweet-to-win iPad 3 (due out in September) contest. It’s really easy: Just download the PPC Mindmeld. Then, click the twitter button on the Pay Per Click Mindmeld homepage. Once you tweet, you are entered to win – it’s that easy! I hope you enjoy my tips and all the tips in this great project.

Image in this post © Pay Per Click Mindmeld

Showtime Capturing Email Leads In Las Vegas

May. 16

I’m a huge fan of Las Vegas! One of my current personal goals is spending a good amount of time vacationing and working remotely from Las Vegas within the next few years. Recently, I took an amazing trip to Las Vegas with my wife. We had a great time! Also, we happened across a really cool Showtime photo booth that captures email leads. Today, I’m going to discuss both!

Another Awesome Trip To Las Vegas

PPC Ian Las Vegas 2011

My wife and I try to visit Las Vegas a few times each year. In 2010, we made it there 4 times! We typically like to go when the weather is warm, and that’s exactly why we visited Las Vegas at the end of April. While it was still a bit chilly here in the Bay Area, we enjoyed 70-80 degree weather in sunny Las Vegas.

This time, we decided to stay at the MGM Signature. It was my 2nd time at this hotel, and I highly recommend it. At the Signature, you get to enjoy all the amenities of a condo hotel. The rooms are amazing, the hotel is smoke free and quiet, but you are connected to MGM Grand and all its amenities as well. We really enjoyed the MGM pool and especially the lazy river. I’ve stayed literally everywhere in Las Vegas (Wynn, Aria, Bellagio, Caesar’s, Paris, etc.) and rank the MGM Signature towards the top of my list. It’s great if you’re going to Vegas to relax!

Showtime Las Vegas

In addition to relaxing at the MGM Signature, we did a lot of fun stuff in Vegas including shopping, eating out, a little bit of gambling, and enjoying a great show! In the picture above, you can see us right before The Lion King show at Mandalay Bay. Going into the show, I didn’t know if I’d like it, but must say The Lion King was great. The show was rather long, but definitely worth seeing. I’m also pleased to announce that I actually walked out of the casino making money this trip, always a great thing! It’s always fun coming home from Las Vegas because I now have some new clothes to enjoy as well.

My blog is called PPC Ian, so you know I’ve got online marketing at the top of my mind, even when I’m vacationing. This brings me to my next point: Email lead capture, Las Vegas style!

Capturing Email Leads Via The Showtime Photo Booth

Showtime Photo Booth

Connecting the Signature to MGM Grand is a tunnel with moving walkways. The tunnel connects to MGM right near the pool, a variety of restaurants, some shops, and a Showtime store. You can see a picture above where I’m in front of the Showtime store. We’re fans of Showtime, especially Dexter. Having a store dedicated to Showtime is a really great opportunity for branding. However, that’s not what really caught my eye.

Right across from the Showtime store, we discovered a photo booth. Upon first glance, it looked pretty standard. Then, however, we noticed it was completely free. How could this be? So, we decided to investigate and learned that it was a truly unique, interesting marketing ploy. Here’s how it works: You go in the booth, take a picture with whatever background you want, enter your email address, and then the booth emails you the picture with some special Showtime offers as well. How cool is that? We had a lot of fun, although the picture did turn out a bit crazy!

Showtime Photo Booth Dexter

I’m a huge fan of both online marketing and also offline marketing. (A while back, I wrote about a really neat WebEx offline campaign.) This is a neat case of online marketing and offline marketing converging. Basically, Showtime is capturing thousands of valuable email leads while branding their shows. Email leads are amazingly valuable. Search engines can change their algorithms and traffic levels from SEO and paid search will fluctuate. However, email leads are yours forever. For that reason, Showtime’s strategy makes perfect sense!

We’re now planning our next trip to Las Vegas and I’m thinking maybe we’ll stay at The Cosmopolitan next time. What’s your favorite place to stay in Las Vegas?

All images in this post ©

Marin Software’s Free Guide To Facebook Ads

May. 11

I’m a huge fan of Marin Software and have personally leveraged this amazing SEM platform to manage multi-million dollar campaigns. Not only does Marin have an amazing platform and team (including Matt Lawson who I interviewed here on PPC Ian), but they have been offering some seriously great whitepapers – for free! Last time, I reviewed Marin’s Optimization Beyond Bidding whitepaper. Today, I’m absolutely thrilled to review Marin’s brand new whitepaper: The Search Marketer’s Guide to Successful Facebook Ads.

Highlights From Marin’s Facebook Ads Whitepaper

The Search Marketer's Guide To Successful Facebook Ads

There’s no doubt about it: Facebook Ads are taking off. Whether you’re an affiliate marketer or a corporate marketing professional, Facebook has become critical to the success of any marketing program. For this reason, I highly recommend downloading Marin’s free whitepaper. Here are some of my favorite highlights:

  • Marin’s whitepaper is free and super easy to download it. You can download right after filling out some really easy info (no email confirmation required).
  • Marin interviewed the largest Facebook advetisers around and compiled their tips and tricks into an easy to digest format.
  • You’ll learn how to leverage your existing fan base to build powerful paid campaigns.
  • You get to tap into an exclusive Razorfish case study, one of the top online marketing agencies around.
  • Marin shares a really neat root analysis concept, a creative and algorithmic way of generating new likes and interests.
  • In addition to tactical tips anyone can put to good use, Marin discusses some of the amazing Facebook features available in their application (with screenshots): Audience segmentation and creative rotation.

So there you have it! One of the can’t miss whitepapers of 2011. I highly recommend downloading The Search Marketer’s Guide to Successful Facebook Ads. I’m going to leave you with an awesome quote from Marin’s whitepaper: “Consumers exposed to a brand’s social media content are actually 50% more likely to click on paid search ads and 1.7 times more likely to purchase through search.”

Image in this post ©