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April 01, 2007



Very insightful. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.


I can just see the ripple affects that this post can have – bloggers linking to your site exponentially multiplying the amount of readers to your post that eventually will include (if not already) many top Internet/Media executives. Interesting to see how they react – does this serve as a wake up call and a realization of the power that an aggregation of thousands of generic domains can hold and if so, what risk-adverse strategies will they try to drum up to minimize the possible threats that you’ve theorized?

It’s very scary to think that 6 humans control this type of power….but I’m incredulous to think that Google, Yahoo or Microsoft will make a move to buy out the big domain holders because of the negative publicity that they would receive. We all know that domainers are often criticized and look on as squatters with no creative value (which I don’t agree with) and if Google were to hog up all these domains – there would be a public outcry and they would take a major PR hit (one similar to Microsoft’s tarnished image because of their antitrust issues). By rolling up these big portfolio holders their “Don’t be Evil” slogan would be severely scrutinized – which I think keep them from making such acquisitions.

Regarding you paragraph:

“Use the lever of arbitrage to purchase additional web-traffic from the very search engine which would hope to position itself at the center of the World; then channel those visits to a Jimmy Wales centric nucleus, with paid search links of its own to offset arbitrage costs and THAT is when the balance of power slips from the engine's grasp. Of course it only slips under that one key-phrase.. in that one vertical. Own enough popular domain name key-phrases and the unraveling inertia snowballs.”

I’m trying to understand how “the balance of power slips from the engine’s grasp” – are you saying that once the viewer clicks on google’s paid advertisement and lands on your user created content site (through a wiki application) that the viewer is less inclined to search that term in google’s search box in the future since they now know where to find the relevant information (your wiki site) for that particular keyword? And by replicating this over a few hundred thousand keywords – eventually there will be a significant decrease in demand for using Google search tool?

***FS*** Thanks Gabe.. Google organizes the world's information. If you create relevant content at a domain name (such as wiki content which Google relies on more and more), you basically reinforce user behavior: "Type in Name ---> Get what you arwe looking for." When you buy traffic from the engine you begin to drain visits away and reinforce that people could have just typed the name in the first place. Practically speaking GOOG is a very good search engine. But they reach millions using a search box, Domain owners can reach the same people faster better cheaper.

Sahar Sarid

you've done what many before you tried for many years to do - to summarize Google's fundamental keys to success.

The main component imho is as you wrote..

"How did this happen?.. How did Google seemingly run the length of the field unimpeded and best everyone? How did they take the crown of search and relegate all other comers to ashes? Well.. a lot of it happened for the same reason that I'm a big domain owner. Back in 2001/2 when everyone declared the Internet dead (and then went back to using it every day), Google decided to re-double it's efforts and focus on paid search ... I focused on grabbing expiring generic domain names, Google focused on improving their algorithm and building a sales force. Most of us where busy duct-taping our windows after 911 / the Anthrax attacks. Google hired every underpaid PhD without tenure while their former would-be competitors tried to sublet office space on Sandhill Road."

And as many of us know, we've done exactly the same with domain names. I clearly recall those days in 2000-2001 when I mentioned we ran an internet company and first question was .. "how's the effect of dot com bust is on you??". For many years we put every penny we had back in the business against all odds.. and of course, it paid off big.
It's those defining moments which make or break your future. If there's one lesson here is watch what everyone is doing and search for the opportunities on the exact opposite line.
Reminds me when Rick S. bought Flowers.com he came to me and said (from memory).. "I know I've made a good decision because so many are now laughing at me - it must be a good sign then!"
Thanks Franky for a truly thought provoking post, especially on a day I thought I would see nothing but lame pranks :)

***FS*** Thanks sincerely Sahar.

Sahar Sarid

"Reminds me when Rick S. bought Flowers.com he came to me and said (from memory).. "I know I've made a good decision because so many are now laughing at me - it must be a good sign then!""

-- Illustrates the power of a dot com name. I meant of course flowers.mobi

Rob Sequin

Contract with one expert blogger per domain and give them a share in rev. Many would just love to the resident expert on xyz.com subject too.

Within months you'll have tens of thousands of sites with good original content. Now launch your own search engine across every developed domain and you don't need search engines at all.

Then, the next logical step is to build your own advertising network for your own sites AND let other domain owners in on your feed so your reach is even farther.

The advertisers would be knocking down your doors to get in.

Now you don't need search engines or ad feeds!

Sahar Sarid

"Then, the next logical step is to build your own advertising network for your own sites AND let other domain owners in on your feed so your reach is even farther.

The advertisers would be knocking down your doors to get in.

Now you don't need search engines or ad feeds!

Posted by: Rob Sequin | April 01, 2007 at 12:16 PM "


""I'm a Harvard MBA and could help you. Here's what you should do: Spend more time fishing. You get more money, and with that, you buy a bigger boat. Then you can catch more fish, and buy an even bigger boat. If you work hard, then soon you would have a fleet of fishing boats. Instead of selling your catch to a middleman you would sell directly to the processor. If that works out, then you open your own cannery. At that point you would control the product, the processing and the distribution. And, you could leave this little town and move to Mexico City, or LA and or even New York City. From there you could run the whole thing by phone, Fedex and the Internet."



"The buying of domain names by a search-engine has historically been frowned on as weak or overly simplistic (it's too easy after all), so more likely the industry will be consolidated from within." and " There are people who have had that 'moment of awakening'."

With just your [colelctive/top guys] "10 million unique visits a day" and your statements above, I want to thank you for either confirming that I am not totally insane, or at least if I am then I have company (you). I have seen what you see and describe and I still see it now. I just wonder why search engines like MSN Search(that are begging users for help), or perplexed media companies (like newspapers and magazines), or corporations (that would benefit from related generic key word type-ins) can't see the same thing. Is it because they have not had "moment of awakening"?

***FS*** Not many folks get to experience the domain owning side of it .. I think things are going to begin to play out rather evocatively over the next 36 mos.

aaron wall

But they are already thinking about the low cost content route...generally they don't like it and don't want to index it


***FS*** YTou'd think they have to index it.. 10 million organic type-ins across the largest portfolio holders.. if each site has content.. they can't say no.. its like ignoring the 800 pound gorilla in the room. No? Watch what happens with the domain webhealth.com over the next three months. Its not indexed real well now, but site gets tens of thousands of unique a day from names like rettsyndrome.com or headcolds.com pointed to different pages within the site. There are too many visitors typing the names for the parent not to get indexed. Kinda a neat experiment actually. I got the idea when google indexed frankschilling.com as frankschilling.typepad.com/ ... I am building the 'typad' brand by refreshing the core name over. If you did that with millions of domains .. what would happen?

Michael Feeley

You’re right on Frank. One of the questions I was pushing in Vegas was of the same thought. Why wouldn’t Yahoo, Google or more importantly MSN or IAC make the big buy and own a hefty percent of internet traffic allowing them to become an instant leader with high level quality traffic?

When I asked the companies directly (which I have quite a few times over the years) they all give the same responses which I'd like to share if it weren’t for those pesky NDAs. :)

Regardless of their reasoning’s the bottom line is I think one of them will eventually step in. I believe they are waiting for the smaller third parties - iReit, Demand, Name, etc. to do the dirty work and scrub the lists and do the minor consolidation deals prior to stepping in and swallowing up the whole (pre-screened/worthwhile) industry.


Consider this my 'what?' post.

What Google did then is not so easy to duplicate now. Things were nowhere near as entranched as they are now, and the bubble bursting only further helped Google (during a time when companies were throwing up as many ads as possible, Google was a welcome respite).

Those conditions no longer exist. No one ever said "Why don't you altavista it" or even "Just Yahoo it".

The other thing is Google is not only successful because it has traffic, but because it was able to connect advertisers to those people. Google deals in more foreign currencies than any other company but Western Union. They are the largest internet advertising company in the world (both by breadth and by 'depth' [revenue]).

"I would estimate that at least half (perhaps two-thirds/more) of Google's 'earnings' come from syndication across other websites on the net." - http://www.webmasterworld.com/goog/3238826.htm - 62% of their revenue was 'in-house', whereas 37% was not.

Sorry, starting to go incoherent, but jut wanted to get that thought out there ...

***FS*** Depends how you define "in house" .. we all search google and we all see google syndication ads all over the net do you really think 67% of google's money comes from people visiting google.com the search engine and clicking on the little pink/blue ads? I do not. Google has syndication across tens of millions of sites. is Blogger internal?

Western Union seemed unstoppable until paypal came along .. nothing is forever


Hey I'm just quoting #s that they released to the market :)

My point about WU wasn't about PayPal - it was how Google has *massive* reach that is beyond just their name/traffic - their logistics system is something to behold.

***FS*** It is truly amazing Ahmed great comment. I'm just struck by how many folks fear them so.. perhaps I'm foolish not to.. I don't think they are unbeatable.


No kudos to not fearing - it paralyzes too many people.

All I'm saying is that the ... conditions that transpired to help make Google #1 are no longer around. It isn't just about building a better search engine - the entire infrastructure and advertising network they've built is their real strength (imo).

At the same time, they are growing at a very rapid paid in local, blogsearch, maps, calendar, spreadsheet, docs, and more!

***FS*** I think those last points are a sideshow at the moment.. Google is a search/syndication business and they are worth what? 140Bil? At what point does somebody say I can rebuild that cheaper.. Buy every domain name, hire 100,000 sales people, Buy all the dark fiber, build data centers of your own, start 300,000 developers down the development path.. The more expensive Google gets the greater the leverage to go around rather than come through. See the disconnect? If Google is fairly valued as many assume.. then the dichotomy between 'them' and 'recreating them' is huge.


After years of thought-frenzied research, I finally found someone with the balls to say it: "Perfect Search" meets "The Long Tail"....

Thank you, Frank!

Hairy Ape Like Creature

What happens when the URL Search bar dissapears from our browsers, and all we are left is MS/Google... search bar instead?

***FS*** Some of that could happen one day. Ultimately if a user types website.COM and the browser or engine refuses to allow the visitor to pass as you suggest, it would render the engine/browser broken. I think people would get pissed.. There would be domainer lawsuits. There would be user lawsuits and there would ultimately be a new browser. That's the core reason I have talked about generic type-in traffic names. If a user types domainname.com in their broswer and the engine persists in forcing: "Are you sure you want to go"? "This could be a parking page!" "We won't let you go!" "Go here instead!" it's aggravating to a society accustomed to browsing freely.

I have heard talk about potential class actions based on what's happening already in the browser. More shaping just = bigger suit.


one of the best articles i read in the last few days !
i think that there is a lot of sense in what was written but there is one logical flow, it seems to me (IMHO) that the amount of type-in traffic is reduced by the day (looking at public reports by big domainers like marchex etc.) it seems that the public starts to get use to the fact that google (or any other SE that he likes) is his gateway to the internet and this is how your traffic (even the type-in) one is starting to be controled by them as well.
i do think that there are many valid points in your post, but even if you are taking the arbitrage way, google still becomes stronger in that process by taking parts of your revenues.

***FS*** You are right.. Google is the gateway to the Internet. But domain names are what the gateway leads to. Whether your domain name is at the top of the google rank is largely irrelevant. For example if you type eatingdisorders.com at Google and they don't make it the top link, then those users ultimately type it in. It weakens their engine because the name is the content the user is looking for.. but they'll figure that out eventually.

Steven Harris

First, I want to say that I really enjoy reading your blog.

Secondly, based upon your comment reply that is located right under my last sentence below, would you say that type in traffic is on the decline (according to stats/analytics)?

I ask this because if you type a keyword into Mozilla Firefox's browser, it takes you to Google's search results. I.E. 7 also has a search engine 'search box' prominently displayed at the top. I guess I can't see how traditional type in traffic is going to remain as high as it is, since all of the browsers are continually changing and I.E. can at any given time turn off type in traffic and do what Mozilla Firefox does with Google - direct type in traffic right to MSN Live.

I do understand your point about visitors becoming annoyed and that someone searching for eating disorders may want to see eatingdisorders.com, but overall I don't think that the average surfer really cares.

I think most will and do accept where the browsers take them and they also deal with the results that are displayed via the search engines – without ever questioning how or why. These same surfers, which I think are the masses, also click on whatever link they think is the solution/answer to their question without regard to the underlying url.

What's your opinion on all of this?

***FS*** This is a very very good question (series of questiosn) I think true type in traffic is climbing a few percent a year as experienced users opt to type (guestype) url's outside the framework of traditional search.. I think these savvy surfers are less inclined to click if they don't like what they see (traditional parking pages). Alongside that dynamic I think we are seeing a decline in error traffic and insencere browser searches as a result of gaming at the search engine and browser level. In the future you will have less people accidentally showing up at domains, but those who do will be much more sincere and smarter.

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