Coronavirus Scams

It’s always sad to see people try to profit off of tragedy, but then again that’s why they call scammers – scammers. Domain names can give people the outward appearance of being an authority, but the cost of admission is often under $10 which sets a low bar. Now New York Attorney General Letitia James is asking registrars to help stop scammers registering launching website on coronavirus-related domain names.

New York attorney general Letitia James has asked GoDaddy and other domain name registrars to find out how they are guarding against the registration and misuse of coronavirus-related domains for deceptive advertising, phishing schemes, malware, and other virus-related hoaxes.

“While online scams tailored to major news events have been around for more than a decade, and there are legitimate uses of domain names with coronavirus in it, the current environment demands the highest vigilance,” she told GoDaddy. 

(Source – Multichannel News)

Over the last couple of weeks there have been a number of articles covering the registration and misuse of coronavirus domain names. While not every domain related to the coronavirus is being used by scammers, far too many are and consumers are getting scammed at the worst time possible.

Go Daddy themselves owns Coronavirus.com which they are currently forwarding to the World Health Organization, i.e. they’ve kept the domain out of scammers hands and are using it for good. That being said, there has been a high-volume of coronavirus-related domains registered over the past couple of months and consumers need to be more vigilant than ever now in verifying that the site they’re on is what it says it is.

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As many of you know, since well, you’re here reading my blog. I have a blog, and I’ve been blogging for thirteen years now. When I first started this blog I never thought in a million years I’d be sitting here today, blogging, every single day. Yes, writing has become a daily ritual for me and I truly love it.

I was talking with a friend last week and we were both trying to think of ways we could help people at this incredibly challenging time and be a positive force in the world. While I’ve been researching charities and other places I can make a direct donation, I also wanted to do something that I could do to help people who may have lost their jobs and find themselves at home do something to bring more joy to their life.

Additionally, I wanted to help people who might not have something they can do to generate income from home build up a little money as they look for their next path in life. Blogging is something that anyone can do, but that can be very hard to get started and to stay consistent with. WordPress can be intimidating at first and understanding where to start when it comes to generating revenue can and often is a complete mystery.

So I’ve decided to start a completely free newsletter through substack, an awesome startup that makes it easy to publish a newsletter that is available both via email and in blog-like form. They have an option to do a paid newsletter which a lot of people are embracing for premium content (my current favorite is A Ticker A Day from Danielle Morrill), but you can also do it for free and leverage their awesome publishing tools.

The first newsletter hasn’t gone out yet so if you join now you’ll get the first one sent directly to your inbox. At the same time, the content will also be available, just like a normal blog post on Substack’s site – I was able to get my top choice – blogging.substack.com.

If you’ve ever wanted to start a blog or know someone who might have recently lost their job and is looking for a way to potentially add a bit more joy to their life by starting a daily writing practice (and hopefully make a few bucks while doing it), you can sign-up below:


I know this is a hard time for so many people, I’ll be writing a post next week about the charities I’ve found and that I’m personally donating to. If you have a skill or experience with something you think could help someone either make a little extra money, find a bit more joy in their life, or both, I encourage you to start a free newsletter or online course. There is an opportunity for all of us to help each other now, because we’re all in this together.

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Yesterday I wrote an article about how to quickly check to see if the domain you’re buying might violate a known trademark. I think I write a post like this twice a year to keep the topic fresh and make sure new readers who are just getting started in the domain investing world see it.

One of my readers wrote me an email asking the following:

Hi Morgan. I read your blog article on trademarks. I have a question.

Lets say you win a .com domain on a godaddy auction and once in your possession the create date on whois says 2003 for example. Then you do a tess search and find a company who has live tm from 2012. Is this issue for me?

(Question from a blog reader via email)

I think this is a great question and one that many people have. The answer is – yes, this would be a trademark issue and you could lose the domain name in a UDRP.

The thing is, while the domain was originally registered before the trademark was granted, if you buy the domain in 2020, you became the owner after so it’s going to be an uphill battle to prove you bought the domain in good faith.

While you might think companies like Go Daddy Auctions would only sell names that don’t violate trademarks, this would be a herculean task, if you look at their user agreement, it’s your responsibility. The reality is, domains that violate trademarks expire and are sold by companies like Go Daddy all the time, so yes – it’s true companies that sell domains do profit off of trademark violations, but it’s more accidental than intentional.

That being said, you, as an individual domain investor don’t have the same luxury – you do need to do your homework or you could end up on the losing end of a UDRP.

Thanks to my reader who emailed me with this question. I respond to every single email I get from readers, always have, always will. If you take the time to read my blog, I’ll take the time to read your email. Seems only fair right?

So next time you find a great domain name that’s expiring and you think it might violate an existing trademark, do your best to do some homework on your end before you buy. Better safe than sorry.

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Domain Trademark Violations

One of the biggest mistakes I see new domain investors make is registering trademarks. In most people’s defense, they honestly don’t know any better. The problem is, this means that rather than starting out as a domain investor, they begin their journey as a cybersquatter…

I recently had a blog reader send me an email, he was excited about a handful of domains he had just hand registered. All of them were clear Trademark violations – I told him to force drop them right away, lesson learned.

It can seem like a great opportunity at first. Here’s how it usually goes. You read about domain investing on blogs like mine or on a forum like NamePros. You get excited, head over to your favorite registrar, and start buying names. This is called the famous domain name buying spree…for most investors, all of these names will be worthless, you’ll probably hold onto them too long and eventually drop all of them as they get replaced with investment-grade domains.

Along the way, domains in your portfolio that violate existing trademarks can cause all kinds of issues. Here’s the challenge, in some cases it’s obvious, for example – register a domain with the word “Microsoft” in it – yup, you’re violating a trademark. But what should you do if you’re not sure?

USPTO.gov has a handy little site you can do to take a quick look.

Once you’re on the site, simply go to “Trademarks” and select “Searching trademarks” – then on the following page click the grey button that says “TESS Trademark Search”

On the next screen just type the word you’re thinking might have a trademark associated with it and search away. If you see a trademark show up, make sure it’s a live trademark, dead trademarks are, like they sound, dead.

Now as you all know, I’m not a lawyer, and I don’t even play one on TV so you don’t want to take legal advice from me. Any lawyer will tell you, a simple search like this won’t mean you’re completely free and clear, there could still be TM issues lurking. That being said, it’s still helpful to do a guy check because if you do find a Trademark, then you’ll stop yourself right away.

At the end of the day, domain names can be incredible assets, for many of us, investing in domain names has been a life changing investment strategy. But registering a trademark can be a setback and you want to avoid it at all costs, it only takes a minute to check so why not at least do the bare minimum if you think you might be in the danger zone?

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Domain Investors Come Together

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, as domain investors, in so many ways we’re like a big family. Domain Conferences, yeah – those are our family reunions. Just like real family reunions, that’s our time to get together in-person and catch-up, and also there’s always that one cousin who gets too drunk and makes a fool of himself. Ah – family.

When I started buying and selling domains back in 2007 I was really amazed at how many people welcomed me into the community. Today I’m proud to call some of these people my closest friends. A number of you were at my wedding, and one of you cried during our vows…but I won’t say who!

What I think makes the domain investing community so interesting is that it is truly global. Over the last week I’ve talked with friends in Europe, China, Japan, South Korea, Australia, Canada, Latin America, England, and of course here in the US. It’s clear we all care about each other, and like a big family, while we might have our differences at time, when it comes down to it, we’re all here for each other, through thick and through thin.

Given all the doom and gloom in the news, I thought I’d take a minute to highlight a few positive things I’m seeing domain investors around the world doing.

Michael Cyger held a “Domain Name Quarantine Social”

Johan’s continuing to keep us laughing with some comic relief

Rick Schwartz has been buying supplies for people in need

Josh Reason is reminding us why we’re all lucky to be domain investors

James Booth is finding the silver lining

And the list goes on. As many of you know, my wife and I started self-quarantine two weeks ago. At that time people told us we were crazy, now it’s required for everyone living in San Francisco and will likely happen in New York City any moment now.

While it might be tough to be stuck at home, remember, you aren’t alone, we’re all in this together and if you’re a domain investor, your family is right here by your side. I couldn’t be more proud to be a part of this global community, now let’s all stay the f&$@ck inside and stay safe.

Feel free to comment below and share something positive from your life. I’ll kick it off. With the extra time at home I’m tripling the amount of time I study Japanese! Learning a new language is a lot of fun, I’ve been studying for a year but will use this as an opportunity to really take my language learning to the next level.

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Okay, so I don’t often write a post specifically about watching (or listening) to an episode of DomainSherpa, but I have to say, the most recent episode with Jason Sheppard is one of the best I’ve ever heard. There’s a few things I really like about it:

  • Jason himself. Honestly, if anyone deserves to see success in this business it’s Jason. Clearly an incredibly bright guy who also really cares about what he’s doing and takes the time to do it right. I root for everyone but I find myself really getting exciting seeing Jason crush it like he is!
  • Pricing strategy. This is pure gold, honestly it changed the way I’m thinking about pricing my names.
  • The kinds of domains Jason buys. I listen to every episode of DomainSherpa, have for years, this one has some real gems when it comes to understanding what domains have real, meaningful, flip potential.
  • Candid thoughts on platforms. Jason isn’t being paid to talk about any specific platform, he’s just telling it like it is.

As you can tell, I REALLY liked this episode of DomainSherpa and whether you’re a brand new domain investor or a seasoned pro, I think this one will have something valuable for you.

Huge congrats to Jason, I’d say, “next time you’re in SF I’d love to buy you a beer,” but we just went into lockdown so, let’s just shoot for sharing a beer over Zoom sometime in the near future. Okay, stop reading this and go watch this episode of DomainSherpa.

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James Booth just sold 151.com for $415,000

Well it’s starting to feel like not a week goes by without another blockbuster sales by one of the Booth Brothers. Tonight James Booth announced the sale of the numeric domain name 151.com for a whopping $415,000. James made the announcement on Twitter:

While I’m no numeric domains expert this does seem like a pretty stellar sale for a 3N .com. Based on the data I was able to find on NameBio this would rank as the 12th highest NNN.com sale of all time. For those wondering what the top ten NNN sales are, here ya go:

If you look at the dates on these sales this makes 151.com the largest NNN .COM sale in the last three years. While I don’t have any more details on the sale I’m going to ping James on Twitter now and see if he’ll share any more tidbits with me, if he does, I’ll update this post and share on here or in the comment section.

No matter how you slice it, this is one heck of a domain and one awesome sale. Congrats to James, safe to say there’s no slowing this guy down!

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As many of you know, I’ve been doing a series over the last week focused on launching a WordPress site on one of my traffic domains, TagManager.com. If you haven’t been keeping up with the series, here’s the first three posts in the series (note – two more are coming up):

Part 1: Overview of the process, theme, and hosting provider
Part 2: Configuring Jetpack and Akismet
Part 3: Configuring All-In-One-SEO-Pack

Since it has now been a week since I launched the website I thought I’d share what traffic has looked like. Like I said, this is an interesting development project because it’s not just about building a WordPress site, it’s also about leveraging the traffic that the domain name already has built-into it. What’s interesting is that I see two different numbers (and they’re pretty darn different) when I look at Cloudfare vs. Google Analytics. Here’s the two for comparison:

CloudFlare Analytics

Google Analytics

As you can see, CloudFlare is showing more than 5x the number of Unique Visitors. I’m wondering if any of my readers who are more SEO savvy than me can tell me why there’s a difference and which one I should trust?

One additional note, as you can see, theres a spike in traffic from Saturday through Wednesday, this is coming from additional traffic that my blog sent to the site. So I’d expect the traffic to level off and be lower than this as time goes on, and then hopefully climb back up once the site starts ranging in search engines.

To begin tracking the search rankings of the site I have started tracking the site using Moz. It’s been a while since I’ve used a tool like Moz so I’m still re-orienting myself with it. Rewind ten years ago and I used Moz (then called SEOMoz) all the time, but I’m a bit rusty so it’s going to take some time to get back up to speed and start leveraging all the cool stuff they’ve added over the years.

Okay, that’s it for now, thanks for reading and stay-tuned for Part 4 of my series where I’ll cover the initial blog posts I wrote, pages I setup, and some more details on how I brought this site to life in a weekend.

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I just finished my second brokerage deal of the year and thought I’d share some reflections on these two deals. I’m still trying to see if there’s a way I can share the domain for one or both, if I can swing it, I’ll do it. That being said, these were relatively small deals so I don’t think it’s going to blow anyone’s mind.

The first deal I did was a one-word .CO domain for $15,000, the second was a one-word .IO for $14,500. What’s interesting about both deals is that in both cases my client, the buyer, wanted the .COM but it was either out of their budget or off the market. In both cases they said, eh – no big deal, let’s go with the .IO or .CO.

In the first deal, the .CO happened to be owned by Afternic which made it an incredibly smooth transaction. Honestly, every time I do a deal with Afternic I’m more and more impressed with the people over there – they have some serious A Players.

The second deal was an interesting one. I kept emailing the owners of the .CO and .IO (because the .COM turned out to be off the market forever as my buddy Drew would say) and I got no response, for months. So I started increasing my offer, once I hit the $10k mark the owner of the .IO responded and came back with $18k, I countered at $12k and we landed at $14,500.

Both of these companies had six-figure budgets for a domain, but when the .COM they wanted wasn’t available, neither would consider changing the word they were set on. They both wanted that one word and told me they would rather have that word in a .IO or .CO than to pick a different word and get that in .COM.

Sample size of two so there’s no need to extract this into any general trend, but I did think this was interesting and wanted to share my insights from these two deals with all of you. Of course, on the brokerage side, what could have been $500,000+ of deals turned into $29,500 in deals…so yeah, not a ton of commission for me. That being said, my motto has always been, “got a job big or small, do it right or not at all.”

When a big deal turns into a small deal, I still hustle my butt off to make it happen and get my client the best deal. Both companies are happy and I’m really excited to see what each does with their new name. Like I said above, if I can get the a-okay to share the names, I will, but for now the insights will have to do.

Thanks for reading and stay safe everyone.

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Wordpress Sites

Welcome to Part Three of my series on building a WordPress site in a weekend. If you missed the first two parts you can check them out below:

Part 1: Overview of the process, theme, and hosting provider

Part 2: Configuring Jetpack and Akismet

One element to this weekend build that makes it unique is that I built the site on a domain that already gets a fair amount of direct navigation (type-in) traffic. What’s cool about this is that instantly there’s already a steady flow of visitors coming to the site even before it starts ranking in search engines.

Note, I am not doing anything to monetize the site yet so I’m not converting that traffic to revenue. My goal was to build the site in a weekend getting the first three blog posts up, the initial pages live, and all the plugins setup on the backend to build a solid foundation.

In this article I will be talking about one of my favorite WordPress plugins, All-In-One-SEO-Pack, I know the name sounds a little goofy but trust me, it’s been a go-to for WordPress peeps for a long time.

While you can go nuts and configure a million different options in the All-In-One-SEO-Pack plugin, for a weekend website build I’m just doing the basics. With that here’s what I did.

First things first – I check the box to enable Canonical URLs. What the heck is that you ask? Here’s a good explanation from the SEO pro’s over at Moz:

A canonical tag (aka “rel canonical”) is a way of telling search engines that a specific URL represents the master copy of a page. Using the canonical tag prevents problems caused by identical or “duplicate” content appearing on multiple URLs. Practically speaking, the canonical tag tells search engines which version of a URL you want to appear in search results.

(Source – Moz)

Next I setup the title and description for the Home Page and I keep “Use Static Front Page instead” disabled. Like I said earlier, I’m not an SEO expert so if you think I could do a better job with my title tag, let me know. If you want to learn more about how to make a good title tag, once again, I refer to my buddies over at Moz and this article on title tags and SEO.

Speaking of title tags, All-In-One-SEO-Pack (jeez that takes a long time to write!) has some great defaults to make your title tags of your internal pages, blog posts, etc. get optimized right away. Some people might change these settings, I keep them as-is.

Next up is Google Analytics, as you can see there are tons of things you could configure here but like I said above, this is a quick weekend build so I’m just putting in my Google Analytics ID and moving on. If you want to read more about how to tweak all the Google Analytics settings, go nuts in this deeper dive here.

And that’s about it. Are there more things you can do to optimize All-In-One-SEO-Pack, absolutely. That being said, what I really like about this plugin is that you can install it (for free) and within two minutes it’s working its magic.

Okay, that’s it for now, I’m spacing these posts out because I think my readers would get annoyed if I just wrote about my weekend development project for five days in a row so stay tuned for Part 4 coming up on Saturday where I’ll cover the initial pages and posts I created.

Of course, the site is live now so if you want to get a look at it, feel free to head on over to TagManager.com to see what it looks like. Yes, it’s not pretty, but I built it in about three hours in a weekend. Over the coming weeks I’ll be doing things to turn it into a full-fledged blog and start tracking search rankings, revenue, and all the fun stuff that comes with a developed site. Stay-tuned and thanks for reading!

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