April/May 2011 - Issue #68
 
 
Google's Algorithm Update Goes Global, Hurts Keyword Domains

Earlier this week Google Google extended the algorithm change that penalized content farms to the rest of the world. They also incorporated user feedback - dropping the rank of sites that users block in their search results. Domainers have been reporting that his change has significantly hurt their keyword traffic - especially the traffic of international sites that weren't hurt as badly by the first Farmer/Panda update.  According to Google

We’ve rolled out this improvement globally to all English-language Google users, and we’ve also incorporated new user feedback signals to help people find better search results. In some high-confidence situations, we are beginning to incorporate data about the sites that users block into our algorithms. In addition, this change also goes deeper into the “long tail” of low-quality websites to return higher-quality results where the algorithm might not have been able to make an assessment before. The impact of these new signals is smaller in scope than the original change: about 2% of U.S. queries are affected by a reasonable amount, compared with almost 12% of U.S. queries for the original change. (Official Google Blog 4/11/11)

In addition to penalizing "low quality content" the change appears to reduce the value of having a keyword in the domain title.  The value is not zero, but without accompanying strong content a keyword domain may find it self on page 4 instead of page 1. 

This change argues in favor of content-rich solutions such as WhyPark over traditional parking companies for certain domains.  If you have seen your parked domain income drop on some of your best keyword domains, give WhyPark a try.

 
Court Orders Google to Release Parked Domain Metrics
 
Online Media Daily reported on Friday that U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge Howard Lloyd has ordered Google to release metrics related to it's domain parking and "errors" program.  The judge is presiding over a potential class-action lawsuit by search marketers against Google.  According to the report
Google must disclose concerns its assessment of the quality of sites within its AdSense network, including its parked domain and errors pages. Among other information, Google must reveal the "conversion score value of the property source" -- defined in the court order as "a metric Google uses to price clicks from Web sites contained in its network." Also, Google must reveal the "smart pricing discount," or the discount that Google applies to clicks on some of its AdSense properties. The theory is that it sheds light into Google's pricing formula for its parked domain program.
This battle started in 2008, when several companies filed lawsuits asserting that Google shouldn't have placed their ads in Google's AdSense for Domains and AdSense for Errors programs which often serve ads on typo sites that people tend to visit by accident.  The complaint asserts that these programs include low-quality pages and sites that yield fewer conversions than ads that appear on Google's search results pages.
According to the article
The marketers also said they believed that clicks on ads on parked domains "were unlikely to lead to desirable business outcomes, and that placement on such pages could damage their brands." Google counters that parked-domain ads "perform as well as or better than ads on Search and Display Network sites."
 
 
AfterNIC Bug Deleting Domains?

When you get a nibble on a domain you have listed at Afternic you get an email asking you to set a "Floor Price" and a "Buy Now price."  The last two times I went into my account to set these prices I ended-up accidently deleting the domains from my account.  The first time this happened I assumed that I had made an error.  The second time I was much more careful and the domain was still deleted from my account.  If you get an email like this one, be very careful when you edit the prices in your account:

You have received a sales lead on DOMAINNAME.COM through one of Afternic's Expanded Promotion partner sites. 

A lead indicates that someone is interested in the domain, but is not prepared to buy it yet. In order to proceed with this buyer, please take the following steps now:

1.  Set a Floor Price and Buy Now price in the next 48 hours.

To remain a robust marketplace of premium domain names for both buyers and sellers, we require that every domain have a Floor Price and Buy Now Price within 48 hours of receiving a sales lead.

The Buy Now Price is the price you want for your domain and at which it is promoted. Your domain sells immediately when a buyer meets the buy now price.

The Floor Price is the absolute minimum price at which you are willing to sell your domain.  It is a binding price. 

Online Media Daily reported on Friday that U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge Howard Lloyd has ordered Google to release metrics related to it's domain parking and "errors" program.  The judge is presiding over a potential class-action lawsuit by search marketers against Google.  According to the reportThe marketers also said they believed that clicks on ads on parked domains "were unlikely to lead to desirable business outcomes, and that placement on such pages could damage their brands." Google counters that parked-domain ads "perform as well as or better than ads on Search and Display Network sites."