(Transcript continued from the Episode 108 show notes and audio podcast)

Late Night Listener Feedback

This is a really cool piece of feedback that I got on iTunes. You guys know that I love iTunes reviews, you can leave one over at LateNightIM.com/itunes. Why do I love them? Because that’s how iTunes decides how heavily to weight the importance of the Late Night Internet Marketing Podcast and it helps people find me. That’s the only way I can help people is if they find me, so go on over there and leave a review like Kim Sutton did.

Kim says:

Mark, I’ve been listening for a couple of weeks now. Although it’s 2016, I started way back at the beginning. The amount of information that I’ve learned is phenomenal. While some may be worried that the information would be out of date [talking about the old back catalog episodes] I love how you give updates on what is working on and what is not. It’s information every entrepreneur or digital marketer needs to know and you’ve taken so much work out of the process for me while giving me 100,000 new ideas to implement.

Thank you. ~ Kim Sutton, Strategic Solutions.

You can find Kim over at TheKimSutton.com. What’s exciting is she just launched a podcast and I was honored to be guest on Episode 2 of the podcast over there. Head on over there and check that out and check out Episode 2.

It was really cool of Kim to have me on her new show. She has accomplished a tremendous amount in the time that she has been online and now she’s launching a show. I’m very excited for her and I was very honored to be asked to be on her show.

Thanks so much, Kim.

Speaking of shows, if you have a favorite podcast that you think that I would be a great fit on, let me know. I love doing podcast interviews. You can send me an email to [email protected]. I’m especially interested in helping out new podcasters, because once upon a time I was a new podcaster. So if you are a new podcaster and you’re looking for a guest for your show or you know someone who is, let me know. If I have time I will try to squeeze in an interview for them if they would find that helpful.

This Week in Internet Marketing News

The last couple of weeks we’ve been talking about news of the new Penguin update. I think we finally figured out what is going on here, based on some comments that Google made. In Episode 109 next week I’m going to devote a big chunk of that to the current state of search engine optimization so we can talk about this in more detail.

Basically what’s going on now is we have Penguin 4.0 in the wild out there. What’s going on is they’ve switched Penguin 4.0 to a real-time algorithm, which means that unlike past versions of Penguin where they would update Penguin every six months, year, or couple of years, they have made Penguin 4.0 something that they can update live. The presumption is every time Google crawls your site, which can be from daily to weekly to once a month depending on what page on your site you’re talking about, they’ll make a new assessment of your Penguinness.

You’ll remember that Panda is the algorithm that talks about what your site is like, what’s the quality of your site, whether or not it is spammy and so forth, it’s kind of an artificial intelligence algorithm that uses input from thousands, or perhaps tens of thousands, of human reviews and tries to learn the difference between a really good authoritative site and a spammy not so good site based on what’s on the site.

The Penguin algorithm is the algorithm that looks more at what kind of links are coming into your site, your anchor text mix, stuff like that, and it has been going on since April 2012 when the first version of Penguin was released. There were some subsequent tweaks released, the second version of Penguin was released a year later in May 2013, and then the third version was released in October 2014, and it has been quiet on the Penguin front.

This has been a really tough algorithm for people to deal with because this was back in the timeframe when a lot of internet marketers (including me) were able to game the system by buying links from places like link farms. You could literally build a good site or maybe even a not so good site, maybe an average site, but then spend money to have people link to your site.

You could buy these incoming links to your site and that would send a signal to Google that would have them rank the site, maybe higher than it should be ranked. Obviously that’s a bad thing in general, it does not make the internet a better place, which I think you should always be doing.

Google has been fighting that for the reasons that we’ve talked about many times, Google has to deliver the best possible search results if they want to stay on top as the best search engine on the internet and if they want to continue to attract advertisers. Penguin 4.0 is the latest evolution. I think when it’s all said and done and the dust clears we’ll say that Penguin came at the end of September 2016. This is now four and a half years later.

What’s interesting besides this idea that it’s a real-time thing, in other words every time it recrawls your site it reevaluates whether or not it needs to adjust its ranking of your site based on this Penguin part of the algorithm, they’ve also come out and said in a Facebook chat with a reporter that they no longer are going to penalize sites for spammy backlinks. We’ll talk about this more next week.

I just said that one of the big things that Penguin did was if it saw these purchased or spammy links coming in to your site it would drag your site down like a boat anchor, it would derate your site. Maybe for other reasons your site would be ranking on page one, but if you had this spammy kind of behavior the Penguin algorithm would add a weight to you and you would sink in the rankings.

Now I guess the supposition that Google has is they know what these spammy links are so rather than penalizing you they’re just going to ignore them. I think that one of the reasons they’re doing that is because the problem this has started a war. I know Pat has told me this has happened to some of his sites before.

If you have a really popular site and someone wants to compete with you, one of the things that they could do is what is called a negative SEO campaign. They could attack your site by buying these spammy links from offshore spam websites and driving them to your site not with the purpose of making your site rank, but with the purpose of triggering this Penguin algorithm in an attack.

So Google has said they’re not going to penalize you anymore, but they’re also not going to count these anymore. This is a really good thing for SEO and that’s something else that we’re going to talk about next week. That’s where we are on that, that’s what is going on in the news, and there will be links to a couple of these Penguin articles in the show notes if you’re interested in understanding more about this prior to Episode 109 next week.




Late Night Niche Site – Choosing a Domain

Now it’s time to work on collecting up the domain, choosing a domain for the Late Night Niche Site. As you’ll recall one of the things we’re trying to do is build a niche site right on the air here at the Late Night Internet Marketing Podcast.

We’ve talked about how you pick a niche, if you’ve never picked a niche before what to do. We talked about my niche that we’re going to pick for this purpose. We decided that we needed something that we cared about, because it’s probably our first niche site. A lot of times we need to pick something we’re interested in because we’re going to have to fight through a lot of issues to get our first site up, we need to maintain our interest in the site, and so we want to pick something that we care about.

We also need to pick something that is commercially viable. In my case the cross of those two things we decided was youth baseball, because I have a 9-year-old kid named Zach and it’s something that I’m working on three times a week, we have baseball practice twice a week and then we play a game every Saturday, and we’ve been doing this for the last four or five years. Baseball is something that we care about a great deal around here, so why not build a niche site on baseball.

From a commercial perspective, the question is are there people out there selling stuff around baseball or people that have a need about baseball? We talked about all the different kinds of equipment and things you can buy.

If you go into a sporting goods store you’ll see aisles of stuff that is related to baseball. Some of that stuff is quite expensive. We know that baseball bats go up to $200 or $300, even $400 a piece. Baseball gloves, likewise, easy to spend a couple of hundred dollars on a baseball glove. We know that there are training programs out there, both for coaches and players, that you can buy online.

There’s all kinds of stuff to buy, so commercially this is a viable topic. We also know that there is existing stuff online. If we go out and search for youth baseball related things we see ads and so forth, we see lots of products for sale on Amazon, so we have a pretty good idea that this is a commercially viable thing so that’s what we picked.

The next thing that we need is a home for our business, we need a domain name. What we’re going to do is build a website full of tons of helpful information about youth baseball. We’re going to talk about how to decide what that information is and how to come up with topics to write about, how to find products to review and promote and so forth in a later episode. We know that this website is going to be about youth baseball, so we have to pick a domain name.

Now, there are a lot of things that you could consider in buying a domain name and we’re not going to discuss all of them in this episode, but I have created for you what I consider to be the ultimate domain name checklist as a free download. If you go to LateNightIM.com/108 you’ll find the show notes for this episode and in the show notes there will be a big button to download the domain name checklist and that will be delivered straight to your email inbox. I hope that will be super helpful for you, be sure to check that out. I am going to cover the highlights here, but we also have to cover some of the big picture stuff, which is not in the checklist so I want to talk about that as well.

What are the characteristics of a good domain name?

Once upon a time a good domain name needed to be stuffed full of the main keywords that you wanted to rank for, at least that was one consideration. It turns out that exact matching of the domain name to whatever keyword you’re going to try to rank for is no longer really necessary. The data out there from people who track this indicates that the matching of the domain name is not necessarily a critical item anymore.

It still has a little bit of weight, it’s hard to say exactly how important it is, but people track this. SEO agencies look at and review programmatically, they have these scrapers that go out and look at what is ranking for particular keywords, then they look at those websites and look at how many of the websites actually have those keywords in the domain name.

You can test this for yourself. You can go out and Google various youth baseball terms and you can see how many websites actually have youth baseball in the title. Some of them do and some of them don’t. Be careful with this, because a lot of times, especially for generic keywords, this is correlated automatically because what are youth baseball sites, they’re about youth baseball, so of course they’re ranking for youth baseball.

The bottom line is people with scientific methods have looked at this and this is a much less important thing in terms of the Google algorithm. However, when you consider how your website URL (your domain name) is going to be used, it’s going to be used primarily in two ways.

One way it’s going to be used is when people are searching for something online, which is important, they’re going to look at the listings that come back from Google and they’re going to try to decide whether or not to click on your link. We’ve all done this. We have 10 or maybe 20 choices in front of us and we’re trying to decide what to click.

We have three things that we can look at. One is the title of the listing, the title of the article that Google has picked up off of your website. The second thing we have to look at is actually the URL which is there. The third thing that we have to look at is the description that describes what the page is about.

Let’s put the page title and the description aside. That’s something we’re going to talk about in a later episode. Let’s talk about what we’re talking about right now, which is the URL, the domain name. They’re looking at that and trying to decide, “Does it look spammy? Does it look like it’s related to what I’m talking about? Is it professional sounding?” and so forth.

For my money, I think this is one of the more important things. Having a good domain name, one that makes sense to people, one that doesn’t look spammy, one that is maybe a little catchy is important for click through rate on the search engine results page. We’re going to talk about this more later when we talk about SEO, but this idea that there is a search engine results page on hopefully which your page will be listed and that you’re competing with people to get that click from Google is a really important idea. You want to choose a domain name that looks good from that perspective.

Since we all use search every day, you can kind of understand that really long domain names, domain names that don’t seem to have anything to do with the search topic, domain names that seem spammy for one reason or another or that are hard to read, or that don’t make sense, all of those seem to get fewer clicks than good solid domain names that make it clear what the website is about. That’s one thing.

By the way, that idea goes for anywhere that your URL is seen, whether you’re driving traffic from Facebook or whatever. If your URL makes sense for the topic people are going to be more likely to click through to see your website.

The second thing is this idea that we want people to be able to remember your website. Be clear about what it’s about, but also something that could be remembered. These are kind of related ideas. If it has something to do with something that people can remember as associated with your key topic then it probably makes sense and you’re on the right track. Being rememberable is a thing that you need to consider when you’re choosing a domain name.

The final thing I would say is make sure that it’s not anything you have to explain. If you tell somebody your domain name in conversation and then you find yourself having to spell it or explain it because what you just said and the words that came out of your mouth weren’t clear enough, then you’ve made a mistake.

Late Night Internet Marketing – very clear. Sometimes I say Late Night IM for short, very clear. If it’s a baseball site and you decide you want to name it HotDogFan.com because baseball fans like to eat hot dogs, well, that might not be the best choice. If it’s Baseball Fan 7 and we’re not sure whether it’s the number seven or spelled out, also not a good choice. You want to make sure that when you say the domain name you don’t have to explain yourself.

There are other great checks that you can run. If you want to take a look at those, take a look at the domain name checklist that I’ve created for you at LateNightIM.com/108, you can click the big button there to download that.

One other thing I want to mention to you about domain names is you need to make sure that whatever domain name you choose is not a trademark. By make sure, I mean do some due diligence.

An attorney would tell you the only way that you can make sure that you’re not violating a trademark is to hire an attorney to do a trademark search, and that is absolutely true. (I am not an attorney.) If that is something that concerns you then you should do that. You can do that at LegalZoom or you can hire an intellectual property attorney in your town to do that.

At the very least, whether you choose to do that or not for your business, you should Google around and make sure that your website is not obviously impinging on someone else’s trademark rights.

There is a really good example here for baseball. A lot of people when they say their kid plays baseball they say they play little league baseball. The term ‘little league’ and Little League Baseball is actually a thing, that’s a company. That phrase, Little League Baseball, is actually a trademark of this company that we talk about when we talk about kids playing baseball. The Little League World Series, all of that comes from this company that Little League Baseball is their trademark product.

My kids play youth baseball, but we don’t play in a Little League baseball league, we play in a youth baseball league. In other words, we’re not playing under the auspices of Little League Baseball. If I were to name my website Little League Baseball Guy or something like that, I would be violating Little League Baseball’s trademark probably. That’s a real concern. You have to watch out for that and make sure that you’re not violating trademark.

How do find this domain name? Again, check the domain name checklist for all of the different kinds of stuff that you should check when you’re buying a domain name.

One more thing that is on the domain checklist that I’ll tell you about is I really feel strongly that the best websites are .com. You can certainly use .net and .org very successfully if that makes sense for you. I recommend that you get the .com. I recommend that you stay away from the dot everything else. There are specific cases where you might want to do that, but for search engine optimization I definitely recommend if possible that you stay with .com.

Maybe we’ll talk about that in another episode. It’s not a hard and fast rule. If you have a reason for wanting to use some other top level domain name other than a .com – for example perhaps you live in the UK and you want to use .co.uk domain name, that’s fine. In the general case, I recommend .com.

Usually the way I like to get started when I’m buying a domain is with a domain name generator. Because these things come and go, I’ll go right to Google and type in domain name generator.

I’ve listed a few of my favorites in the show notes for you, but one that I’ve been using lately is called Lean Domain Search. In our case I’m just going to go there and type in youth baseball. The cool thing is that in less than half a second Lean Domain Search comes back and tells me that it has been able to find 4,800 available domain names containing the phrase youth baseball.

There’s one thing that I don’t love about youth baseball in the domain name, and that is that it’s pretty long. One of the things about long domain names is if they get too long they can be spammy. If you decided you wanted your domain name to be TheYouthBaseballProShopofDallas.com that would be too long.

Usually a good standard is to make your domain name legal for Twitter, that’s 15 characters. If you make a domain name of 15 characters or less then you can have your domain name also be an available Twitter name, and that is really good for branding. That’s another thing that’s in the domain checklist, you need to check your domain name for availability on social media.

Unfortunately, youth baseball all by itself is 13 letters, leaving only two if we wanted to stay under the 15 character limit. For example, you could do GoYouthBaseball, which pops up at the top of the Lean Domain Search. I don’t love that domain name, but it’s certainly an option to stay under 15 characters.

I think in this particular case I’ll just advise you that you should stay under 15 if you can, if you have a good option. I’m probably going to go over 15. As I look through this list there is some stuff that I like and stuff that I don’t like.

Youth Baseball Online; that’s not too bad. I don’t love ‘online’ or ‘web’ or other generic ones like that, but that’s not really something that jumps out at me.

Youth Baseball Shop would be great if we were only going to be selling youth baseball gear, but we’re going to be so much more than that. We’re going to try to help coaches, we’re going to write articles of interest about baseball, we’re going to be a lot wider than just a baseball shop.

Youth Baseball News; again we’re going to have news but we’re going to be more than just a news site, so that’s not great.

Youth Baseball Site; that’s sort of okay but I don’t love it, just like I don’t like online.

Youth Baseball City; that’s pretty cool.

Youth Baseball Life.

Youth Baseball Home.

Mr. Youth Baseball; that’s actually 15. If you wanted to brand yourself as ‘Mr. Youth Baseball,’ kind of like Cliff Ravenscraft used to be primarily The Podcast Answer Man (he still is, but he’s so much more now) that could be a good one. If you could imagine this avatar of you as Mr. Youth Baseball that could be pretty cool. That’s a branding question.

Real Youth Baseball is here as an option.

Youth Baseball One, that’s kind of cool.

Youth Baseball Man; again the branding kind of idea.

There are 5,000 of these on this page, lots of stuff here.

Just a note, you’ll see that if you click on one of these, for affiliate marketing this is something to think about, this is a really helpful site, this site (Lean Domain Search) is helping me and it’s delivering value. This is kind of an aside here, but how does this site make money? It works great, it’s super fast, it gave me 5,000 domain name ideas in half a second, and if I click on one I can easily register the domain with Bluehost, GoDaddy, or a couple of other options, including Namecheap.

This is an affiliate marketing website. It ranks high in the search engine results for domain name generator and when people click on it some of those people will click through and buy the domain name through the affiliate link on this website. This is exactly the same principal that your website is going to work on, just as an interesting aside.

When I dig down through here the one that I like that appeals to me is Youth Baseball Zone.

There’s one more thing that I need to do before I decide to go over to Namecheap, which is who I use for domain names, and buy YouthBaseballZone.com. I want to do a quick check and see if Youth Baseball Zone has been used.

What I’ll do is I’ll type into Google ‘whois YouthBaseballZone.com’ because that’s the website that I am considering purchasing and that will allow me to look at the WhoIs record for YouthBaseballZone.com. When I look at that, it looks like some time in the past this website was owned by someone else. That’s interesting.

I can check some other resources to see how this was used. You could do exhaustive searches to understand. It used to be, until a couple weeks ago, that one of the primary things you were trying to understand was did this website have a spammy history where it was being used for SEO in a way that was not okay with Google. But since this Penguin 4.0 update Google has come out and said they’re just going to ignore spammy links to websites, they’re just not going to count them. So unless it’s really egregious, unless you see something that really looks junky and spammy, it’s not something that I would worry about.

I think a simple test that you can do with free tools is to look in The Wayback Machine. If you go to Archive.org and you put in YouthBaseballZone.com you see that there is nothing there.

I might do some other digging around and see if I can find any reason that this website might upset me, but on first blush I would say this website was never used for much, it hasn’t been used in a long time, and so YouthBaseballZone.com looks okay to me to use.

Then what I do is go over to Namecheap to purchase YouthBaseballZone.com, which I’m going to do right now. That’s going to be the URL for our Late Night Niche Site.

One question that might come up now is since I’m going to build a site, why don’t I go ahead and take advantage of the offer that companies like Bluehost have when you sign up for website hosting you can get a free domain name. The answer is a best practice in this space of building websites is to not have your domain name registered with your website host.

Here’s the thing with keeping those separate. If you have a problem with either your webhost or your domain name service, you can use the fact that you have control of the other to fix it. For example, if Bluehost goes down or goes out of business or you get into a disagreement with Bluehost, you can go to another website provider, generate a new site from your backups very quickly, and then simply change your domain name settings at Namecheap to point to your new host provider in a day and be back up and running. If Bluehost is not reachable or you’re somehow in a disagreement with them, if they have control of both you’re just stuck. That’s the very simple reason that I like to do that, it’s just sort of an insurance policy; not creating a single point of failure.

So you go over to Namecheap and you pay your $9 for the domain and you are off and running. Now I own YouthBaseballZone.com and it is the URL for our Late Night Niche Site. If you go over there, you’ll see nothing because the next step is to secure website hosting and we’ll do that on a future episode of the Late Night Internet Marketing Podcast.

Remember, if you’re buying domain names go to the show notes for this episode at LateNightIM.com/108 and download the ultimate domain name checklist. Leave it on your hard drive so it will be available to you at all times. I hope that it helps.

Wrapping Things Up…

This has been a fun episode. It’s gone a little bit over time, I hope that’s okay. Hopefully if you are on the brink of creating your very first affiliate marketing website you have gone through these last couple of episodes and you have an idea in your head and now you’re brave enough to go spend the $10 on a domain name. Go do that and play along with us. A couple episodes from now, perhaps in 110 or 111, we’ll go buy website hosting, talk about how to do that, and we’ll get a website up and running for the Late Night Niche Site.

I hope you have a fantastic week and you get something done on your internet business this week. I hope you have an absolutely fantastic week. Go get ‘em.

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