Think about the experience that you go through when you’re buying a house. While you care about the structure itself, the condition of the roof, foundation, etc. without a doubt one of the most important factors in the neighborhood the house is in. A beautiful house in a terrible neighborhood can easily nullify all the benefits of the home itself.

The same is true for domain name extensions. With close to 2,000 domain extensions out there it can be almost impossible to keep track of how each one has scaled, what they’re used for, and in the end, what kind of domain neighborhood you’ll be in if you buy a particular extension.

Some domain extensions have become overrun with spammers which means that even if you’re the first person to register the domain name you picked, your emails will still likely end up getting labeled as SPAM. More importantly, some domain extensions end up being used for illegal activities, and IMO none are worse than those that end up promoting child pornography or sexual abuse.

At the end of the day, I’m all for free speech, but child pornography and sexual abuse have absolutely no home online or anywhere. I’ve always been a fan of domain extensions that have strong leadership and a focus on building an ecosystem for entrepreneurs – that’s why I was very happy to read this article on Neustar’s blog about “How a zero-tolerance approach” resulted in 0% of .CO domains with child sexual abuse content. The great results relate to a partnership between Neustar and The Internet Watch Foundation, a not-for-profit organization that works to eliminate child sexual abuse imagery online.

You can read the full story about the Neustar/IWF partnership, and a variety of other steps Neustar is taking to keep its TLDs safe from scammers, spammers, phishers, child pornographers and others in a new report (appropriately) called “SAFER DOMAINS,” which you can download right here.

So how can you figure out if you’re picking a domain extension in a good neighborhood?

There are a few different sites that track spam use of TLDs. My go-to has always been SpamHaus which keeps a top ten list of the most abused top level domains. You can also reach out to the registry directly if you want to know more about a particular TLD, if they are working hard to make sure their extension isn’t abused, they will be happy to tell you more about it. I applaud Neustar for everything they are doing to be a true leader when it comes to making sure the neighborhoods they operate meet the same standards we’d all have for a neighborhood we live in.

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Well, you know me – I take a lot of pictures and a lot of video, more video now than ever – just not of me as much any more.

I still have a handful of videos to share with all of you from NamesCon Europe and this one is of a very polarizing topic – typo domains.

I personally don’t own any typo domains, it has never been my jam…but there are still quite few people in the domain industry who make money off of typo domains.

On one side you have the domain owners, on the other side – monetization devices, and well – sometimes you find people on both sides who are essentially printing money.

Love it or hate it here’s a short clip from NamesCon Europe where typo domains took center stage. Enjoy!

Do you own any typo domains or like me have you stayed far far away? I want to hear from you, comment and let your voice be heard!

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Here’s a question that’s worth pondering over the weekend. Can a domain extension be good for a company but bad for a Domainer? This is top of mind for me because yesterday I wrote an article about .BANK, and people seemed to get confused about why I thought it was a good domain extension for banks.

With an extension like .BANK, domain investors actually can’t own it, you have to be a bank to buy it, so no – it’s not something for investors. That being said, it has a rigorous verification process that allows you and me as consumers to know that if a company is on a .BANK domain, they’re a real bank and not a scam.

As a domain investor my focus is .COM, period, the end. If you’re investing in domains I think your focus should also be .COM. I don’t think there’s any argument there.

Now, going back to my point above. If I’m a software developer and I want to build a portfolio site, what’s wrong with Morgan.dev? If I run a subscription service for wine, doesn’t Wine.club make a lot of sense?

All this being said, yes – I think companies should brand on a .COM in many cases. However let’s be honest, in some cases it’s not possible. So then the question is, do you pick a different name or pick a different extension? There are a TON of startups that have raised tens of millions of dollars on a .CO, .IO, .ME and many other extensions. Will they eventually buy the .COM? Maybe, but it’s clear that you can still build a great company without one.

Zoom bought Zoom.com only after they were a billion dollar company. They build a billion dollar company on a .US domain. While they now own the .COM, having a .US domain didn’t stop them from growing like crazy and becoming the company they are today. Of course, I wouldn’t invest in .US and I don’t think you should too.

Going back to my example from yesterday. With an extension like .BANK does that extra validation build trust over time? Sure, it may not have the brand recognition now but is it so crazy to think that it might over time?

Like I said, as an investor, I’m .COM all day, but when it comes to a business branding on a domain, do we really think that now and forever everyone has to pick .COM and that will never change?

I know this is a hot topic and a bunch of people are going to call me a “new gTLD lover” but I’m not, I’m a .COM lover, I just think that there are some domain extensions out there, like .BANK that aren’t for domain investors but could be a great fit for a bank. Make sense or did I lose my mind?

I want to hear from you, good or bad (and oh yeah, I know some bad is coming!) – comment and let your voice be heard!

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I was talking with a friend last week about a scam website that had tricked him into thinking he was signing up for a bank account, when really scammers were stealing confidential information like his social security number. He trusted the website because it was on a .COM and had a valid SSL Certificate so seemed legitimate. Now he’s going through the nightmarish process of safeguarding against identity theft.

Unfortunately this kind of thing happens all the time, and while yes, as consumers we should do our research, scammers are getting more sophisticated every day.

After hearing about this I started to do some research of my own and stumbled on .BANK which honestly I didn’t even know existed. First – it does exist, and second – it has some very interesting requirements that make it a pretty logical choice for, well, a bank.

Unlike most domain extensions, you can’t just register a .BANK, the only way to get a .BANK domain is to go through a verification process where you actually prove that you are indeed running a real legitimate bank. On top of this, companies operating on .BANK domains have mandatory security compliance means that customers accessing a site running on a .BANK domain know that any information they send will be kept secure.

Of course if you’re an existing bank running on a .COM, moving to a .BANK might seem like a crazy process…but it turns out there’s something called RAMP, which stands for Registrar Assisted Migration Program. Essentially, RAMP provides a completely streamlined solution for banks to move their web presence.

In searching around a bit more I found that popular domain registrar 101Domain offers a full suite of services to help banks get setup with a .BANK domain. They seem to cover the entire end-to-end process from Project Management all the way to Cloudflare setup and DMARC Record Configuration.

Now if you’re a domain investor, .BANK definitely isn’t for you since well, you’re not a bank. If you’re a startup in the banking space, and you’re trying to build trust with people that have never heard of you, I see .BANK as a very logical choice. Here’s a few examples of banks that have already started using the .BANK TLD:

And if you feel like doing a deeper dive, here’s a case study that does a good job of highlighting what’s involved in moving to .BANK and some of the key advantages. There’s also a handy site to see the adoption rate of .BANK domains which you can also check-out here.

After hearing about what my friend went through I’m definitely going to be a lot more cautious and now that I know about .BANK, I definitely know one way to validate if some new cool banking startup is legit or not.

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Here’s a question I find myself pondering all the time – what percentage of your portfolio is (or should be) numeric domains? As I’ve pointed out many times before, numeric domains are selling for five figures all the time at Go Daddy auctions, and the prices only seem to be getting higher.

Numeric domain names have a nice bonus built in – they fall into the category of “liquid” domains which means they can actually be sold when you want to sell them vs. having to wait for the “perfect” buyer.

Okay, now all that being said – the challenge with liquid domains is that while they are liquid, the multiples that you sell them for are often significantly less than with generic .COMs. While you can buy a two-word .COM and sell it for 10x what you paid for it, liquid domains might sell for 1.2x or 1.4x (just examples – don’t hold me to these exact numbers).

I’ve always believed that some percentage of your portfolio should be liquid domains, say 10% – 15% – since at some point you might need money, now, and this will allow you to get that from your portfolio without taking a major haircut.

As for building a portfolio that’s balanced more towards liquid domains, I’d say that’s undermining the wonderful thing about domains which is the incredible ROI they offer. But that’s just me, and what do I know.

So now I want to hear from you. Do you have liquid domains in your portfolio? If so, what % of your portfolio do they represent?  I want to hear from you – comment and let your voice be heard!

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There were a lot of really interesting talks at NamesCon Europe and one that I found particularly interesting was titled – Dark Horses & Long Shot Opportunities: Where to Invest in Today’s nTLD Market.

Now first things first. I don’t personally invest in new TLDs and I don’t recommend it to other investors. After watching this talk, my view didn’t change. Now that being said – I think new domain extensions can be great for companies to build on, just not stellar for investors.

So I don’t want anyone to read this and think that suddenly I’ve changed my tune. When it comes to investing in domains, my opinion is – go .COM or go home. Got it?

Okay, now back to the topic of this post. During the talk, Toby from MMX, which operates a number of new gTLDs talked about an interesting experience they had with .FIT. I don’t want to give-away everything that’s in the video, and it’s short (less than two minutes) so you can watch it and hear for yourself.

It got me thinking about how the use, not investment, but use of new gTLDs can spur awareness and growth in ways I hand’t thought of before. The reality is, these are still the early days, and in the early days of anything the biggest challenge is awareness. In this video you’ll hear Toby share an interesting story from his experience that I found pretty interesting myself. Enjoy!

I do have other clips from this talk as well so if you find this interesting and want me to post more, just let me know and I will. Either way, I want to hear from you – comment and let your voice be heard!

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Afternic and DNAcademy

Today news broke that Afternic picked DNAcademy’s Accelerated Learning Program to be part of their broker training program. This is a huge accolade for Michael Cyger who has built DNAcademy from the ground up and is now seeing major players in the domain name world using it as part of their core training curriculum.

Before I go any further I want to mention that DNAcademy is not a sponsor of my blog so I don’t get a penny if you sign up for it. This is not a promotional post even though it might read a bit like one…instead, I’ve known Michael for years, I just surfed with him in Portugal, and I know what a great education resource he’s built.

When people ask me how to get started in the Domaining world, I send them to DNAcademy, it really is one of the best resources out there. So, enough about that – let’s get to the good stuff!

When I found out the news I sent Michael a text and asked him, “hey Mike, would you be game for a little Q&A about the Afternic deal on my blog?” And he said yes – so here it is, enjoy!

[Morgan]
How did the Go Daddy/Afternic deal get started, was something kicked off at NamesCon Europe or did it start before that?

[Michael]
GoDaddy started investigating DNAcademy and the benefits we can provide to their on-boarding and broker training processes early in 2019. 

I think their interest might have resulted from my Domain Investing 101 and 201 presentations at NamesCon Global in Las Vegas in January 2019.

The entire Afternic division has been a pleasure to work with so far and I’m honored they’ve chosen our educational platform.

[Morgan]
Do you have any other companies that use DNAcademy as part of their broker education process?

[Michael]
Uniregistry has been using DNAcademy since early 2016. Jeff Gabriel and Dan Adamson have been fantastic partners — they are very clear in what they want training for, how it should be delivered, and what skills their brokers need to be successful. So we’ve worked very closely to deliver a customized program that couples our standard training with their company-specific educational needs, like how to use their in-house CRM and follow their specific internal processes.

Just prior to NamesCon Europe in June 2019, I delivered a live, virtual training session to the WorldHostingDays/NamesCon staff who are primarily based in Germany. It was customized to their needs, and focused on the overall industry, how the different pieces fit together, and a general overview of how investing works with domain names. The objective was to enable their staff to better understand and communicate with attendees, sponsors and partners. We plan a follow-up training session, and we created a video that they can use to onboard new employees to their team as they continue to grow. Timo Kargas and Helga Neumer have been wonderful to work with.

When Payoneer was investigating and entering the domain name industry, we provided an overview training course to their entire staff.

Many other companies have sent employees through our standard training course because they didn’t have a need for customized training.

[Morgan]
When you structure deals like these, do they have exclusive content that is not part of the standard DNAcademy curriculum?

[Michael]
Yes. Customized training programs for corporations and teams include both standard and exclusive content designed to meet the specific needs of teams.

All DNAcademy courses, whether standard or customized, include:

  • Organized modules and lesson plans covering everything from A to Z in the domain name industry.
  • A printable reference guide for each module that provides a summary of important concepts and allows students to take additional notes and save for future reference. (Throughout the course, we also provide additional downloadable guides that make domain name buying and selling more efficient.)
  • A self-check quiz at the conclusion of each module that allows the student to test their knowledge and skills in a no-pressure situation (all correct answers and reasoning is shared when the quiz is completed).
  • Finally, because we are TLD agnostic and focus on the fundamentals of domain names and investing (rather than trends that change), we ask each student to complete a full valuation using our DNAcademy Valuation Worksheet for each of the six types of domain names (https://www.dnacademy.com/six-types-of-domain-names-and-what-they-sell-for). In this way, students learn which of the 23 characteristics are most important for each type of domain name, how it affects the comparable sales, and how a domain name’s valuation can increase or decrease as a result.

Those are all the standard benefits of choosing DNAcademy and our proven system for education.

But we customize every corporate training program to include only the topics, tools and functionality that the company desires. For example, we offer access to paid software tools as part of our standard student program that would not be included in the corporate training programs because they likely have standardized on another set of tools. Or we might include a whole new section of training that shows how a broker would make best use of their phone, automated dialing, email and customer relationship management systems.

In the cases where DNAcademy is brought in to document, edit, design and present processes within a customized training program, we sign a non-disclosure agreement to ensure that intellectual property is protected.

Congrats to both Michael and Afternic, this definitely sounds like a big win for both of them!

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UK domains

Now I didn’t intend to do two days with back-to-back blog posts about .UK, especially since I intend on buying zero .UK domains…but here we are, and it’s happening.

Today Jag Singh posted the following on Twitter:

Converting that to USD the final sale price comes out to $25,466. The domain sold through DomainLore.uk a marketplace focused on .UK domains that I honestly hadn’t heard of until today.

Looking at the site it seems that they have a lot of bidding activity on a whole range of .UK domains with names like Insure.uk already exceeding $5,000 USD.

One of my readers Snoopy, shared some interesting insights on .UK domains in the comment section yesterday:

The last sentence stuck with me. It’s not like .UK is new, it’s been out for five years and still .CO.UK seems to be the overwhelmingly popular choice. So why now would .UK become so valuable?

Looking on NameBio, the highest recorded .CO.UK domain is Cruises.co.uk which went for $1.09M, followed by Furniture.co.uk for $650,000. For .UK on the other hand, the highest recorded sale is Campings.uk $12,675. Why anyone would pay so much for the key word “campings” is actually baffling to me but the point is, today’s sale of Gay.uk was 2x the highest reported .UK sale.

My initial thought is that there’s too much hype about .UK and it’s causing people to do foolish things, i.e. overpay for domains that they’re never going to be able to sell for a profit.

That being said, as these sales continue it’s going to create a whole new set of comps, the question is – does that make a difference? I’m still staying away from .UK domains myself, but I’ll be keeping a close eye on the sales data because this is officially getting interesting.

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As many of you know (or are about to learn) a bunch of .UK domain names just flooded the market. Companies that had the matching .co.uk domains got first crack at their .UK, and if they didn’t take it – onto the open market it went.

Now over 40,000 .UK domains have been registered and while it’s a relatively small number when it comes to domain names, it’s not meaningless.

Right now it’s hard to know what the split is between people who registered the domains to put to use vs. people who bought them as an investment…but I’ll use my crystal ball and say more than half are now owned by investors hoping to resell them later down the road.

I wrote about .UK domains a couple of weeks ago and based on the comments it seems like most of my readers feel like these are junk. For me personally, I’m pretty much laser focused on .COM at this point in my life but I am interested in understanding if there is an opportunity here for investors.

If there is an opportunity, it’s probably not to buy and flip now but instead to bet that say five to ten years from now, people in the UK will favor .UK over .co.uk…which kinda makes sense to me since it’s shorter and sounds better. That being said, old habits die hard and getting an entire country to move from their go-to domain extension to something different is a big task.

But people are registering these names and my guess is we’ll continue to see this number grow. So what am I missing? Is there an opportunity here or has speculation just gone rampant and we’ll find all these people kicking themselves a few years from now.

What do you think? I want to hear from you, comment and let your voice be heard!

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Every once in a while I hear someone talking about buying an aged domain so they can rank better in search. I usually jump in to let them know that this is probably one of the biggest myths in the SEO and domain world – it’s not true, and every SEO expert and even Google themselves have confirmed over, and over, and over again that domain age does nothing for SEO.

Well it looks like someone who still believe domain age matters hopped on Twitter to perpetuate the myth…and well, John Mueller from Google hopped in to say – sorry but you’re wrong. Here’s the tweet:

Domain Age and SEO

There’s also been a debate in the domain industry about the impact that domain age has on value…and many prominent domain investors have also come out to say that old domains aren’t worth more. The reality is, a lot of junk was registered back in 1996, 1997, 1998, etc.

Just because someone registered elephantxl756.com in 1996, doesn’t make it a “premium aged domain name.”

The reality is, you can’t compare domains to wine, they don’t get better with age. Instead, a crappy domain name from 1999 is still a crappy domain name in 2009.

So not only does domain age not increase value but as Google has verified a million times, it also doesn’t help with SEO. Let’s put these two myths to rest once and for all because they’re not helping anyone…except I guess people who own old crappy domains and want to sell them, sorry to screw it up for you if you’re in that category.

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