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Topix Worries About Domain Change

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After paying $1 million to purchase the rights to the Topix.com domain, Topix.net CEO Rich Skrenta now has to deal with a couple of daily realities in the search world: changing domains could cause a dropoff in search engine-driven traffic, and Google isn’t exactly Nordstrom or L.L. Bean when it comes to customer service.

Several top level domains have come along in recent years to complement the .com, .net, and .org that have been available to the public. Dot com started life as the domain for commercial organizations, and over the years has become the must-have domain for one’s business name.

Topix has been Topix.net for quite some time. Skrenta wants the dot com credibility, not to mention making it easier for people to find the news aggregator site. When it comes to the Web, people tend to think in terms of dot com.

Skrenta told the Wall Street Journal about the concerns he has with the change. Sites that make name changes without accounting for the ways search engines look for them could make a website invisible to searchers.

Redirection, particularly the issues with using 302 redirects, has been an issue of contention between webmasters and Google in particular. As the dominant search engine, Google can determine a website’s success. Skrenta fears what a mishap with redirecting people from Topix.net to Topix.com could do for the site:

Even if traffic to Topix, which gets about 10 million visitors a month, dropped just 10%, that would essentially be a 10% loss in ad revenue, Mr. Skrenta says. "Because of this little mechanical issue, it could be a catastrophe for us," he says.

Skrenta also experienced the palpable frustration shared by many site publishers when dealing with Google:

Further frustrating him is that Google’s response to Topix’s plea for help was an email recommending that, if the switchover were to go badly, the company should post a message on an online user-support forum; a Google engineer might come along to help out. "This can’t be the process," Mr. Skrenta says. "You’re cast into this amusing, Kafkaesque world to run your business."

Amusing, maybe, but no one at Topix will be laughing if Topix vanishes from the Google realm. In the same article, Google’s Matt Cutts said the post-and-wait support strategy ‘is more reliable than it sounds.’

Fortunately, the issue of pleasing the search engines with a redirect can be addressed. Search engines like 301 redirects, which unlike the 302 redirect tells the search engine crawler that the redirect is permanent.

WebProNews Blog Talk contributor Eric Enge discussed 301 redirects in a recent article. In Google, a site Enge moved managed to be recognized properly within two to three weeks.

Skrenta probably will choke on a Pop Tart at the prospect of two to three weeks of uneven traffic. But we see no reason to think Matt isn’t giving Topix good advice, so perhaps Skrenta should just drop in on the relevant Google Group and send out the SOS.

Topix Worries About Domain Change
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  • Anonymous

    Why can’t Topix just create an alias so that both domains point at the same server?

    • Anonymous

      I guess because it is obvious who ever is the CIO at Topix is not that smart. Maybe they need to re-evaluate their staff

    • Anonymous

      Graphix.mobi was sold this year in a pvt sale for $90,000
      i do not buy Graphix.mobi for more than $50
      The domain was sold by a company called Media Web Plus.com
      http://www.mediawebplus.com/main/premiumDomains.html

  • Anonymous

    THEY SHOULD NEVER HAVE WASTED THEIR MONEY BUYING IT for $1 MIL WHEN IT COST SOMEONE $1.99 THAT WAS A REAL STUPID MOVE ESPECIALLY WHEN EVERYONE KNEW THEM AS TOPIX.NET. SOMETIMES CHANGE IS GOOD AND SOMETIMES CHANGE IS FOR THE WORST, ESPECIALLY SINCE GOOGLE CHANGED ITS SEARCHING TACTICS. SINCE GOOGLE CHANGED ITS POLICIES EVERYONE IS DOOMED BECAUSE ALL THAT GOOGLE BRINGS UP IS JUNK WHEN SEARCHING. UNLESS YOU PAY GOOGLE YOU ARE AT THE BOTTOM. DONT GET ME WRONG I THINK GOOGLE WAS TRYING TO DO WHAT WAS BEST FOR THEIR CUSTOMERS. WHY WOULD ANYONE WANT TO WASTE $1 MILL DOLLARS TO CAUSE THEMSELVES MORE HEADACHES WOULDNT YOU THINK THEY WOULD HAVE THOUGHT IT THROUGH. I THINK SOMEONE IS GOING TO GET FIRED THANK GOODNESS IT IS NOT ME.

    • David A. Utter

      If it weren’t for anonymous comments we might have missed out on that ALL CAPS gem of insight. Any of the other oldies out there remember B1FF?

    • tsunDay

      TRY THE DECAF.

      Thank you for yet another example of the glaring need for some qualification exam or minimum standards of intelligence before access to the internet is granted.

  • Anonymous

    pretty scary they rely so heavily on google to make money.

  • Anonymous

    Like so many netpreneurs and even established businesses are finding out, planning is not a lost art when it comes to building an internet empire.

    In fact, if people planned their internet communications programs with the same diligence that they plan other aspects of their life, they would probably find it easy to succeed online.

  • Anonymous

    Well,…. have you tried putting products up on Google Base… ?

    I know that this is a free service, but you seem to get the traffic that you paid for…

    I have had , just a few products there for quite some time now and the results are quite Pathetic…

    I get far more “redirects” from the occasional Blog that either I connect with… or that I find searching our site… I am convinced that the day of the advertising BLOG is here to stay.. and that is encouraging since as a small Textile manufacturer of High end products.. ( the only Linen weaver in USA )… I kind of like that word of mouth rather than the Generic stuff

    http://www.brahmsmount.com

  • Anonymous

    The obvious solution is to keep both names pointing to the same site. Then you gain your new traffic while not losing the old. I did that when I changed living-room.org to bicyclefixation.com, and used redirects as well. Traffic increased.

    Rick

  • Anonymous

    I went to Topix.com and Topix.net today 03/13/2007 and they are still 2 different Websites!

  • Anonymous

    I presume he still has the topix.net domain name so why not use both with mirror sites. This way he keeps his google rating and gets to use the .com tag too

  • Anonymous

    Why not just forward the .COM name to the existing name and then gradually cross over?

  • Anonymous

    So he’s going to lose 10% revenue! After paying $1000000. My heart is bleeding for the poor man. However like many people with money they are surprised to find that the world doesn’t revolve around them sometimes and not everything is for sale.

    Why buy the .com if he’s not sure it will recoup the investment. Sounds like someone didn’t do his research properly. If so he shouldn’t be complaining about Google but his advisors.

    If he is going to recoup the investment, why complain anyway.

  • Anonymous

    Just a pity to Mr. Skrenta possible problem and welcome to our world. We have felt the Google pain after changing just software i.e.. shopping cart software. Google dropped us dead as a rock. We don’t even have a page rank anymore. Every time you turn around you spend all of your recourses in figuring out how to tell Google that no I’m not trying to cheat you in anyway.

    We never would have thought we would loose as much traffic and sales as we did. Count this one 30% down in 6-months after changing software. Google seems to believe we are a new company and the date of url registration ownership doesn’t mean diddly!

    Mr. Skrenta my advise to you is to check all of your Pea’s Que’s before making any changes or you may feel our pain as well as others who have had this problem.

    Regards,
    Rick Lopez
    President/CEO
    Boating Solutions, Inc.

  • Anonymous

    READING ABOUT THE POWER HOUSE CALLED GOOGLE REMINDS ME OF OLD TIMES OF THE EASTERN CONGLOMAERATES IN EUROPE BEFORE THE BERLIN WALL FELL 1989.
    It must come a day when the big guys must compromise and become more collegiate and kinder to each other.
    Isn’t Google turning the internet and the www into a ‘cut throat’ environment where billions are today treated as we used to treat millions in the past years; I have been around since 1996?
    As a publisher and affiliate marketing student of the web I am afraid the ‘horse and carriage’ has traveled too far. I leave ‘Il Presidente Google’ to ponder over is soon too sooon demise and self destruction within 10 years if not sooner.
    Googles challenges lies dormant soon to be awakened and available for a ‘spurt in cyberspace’ coming from the European hinterlands; this to the enormous surprise to many.Thank you for letting me contribute in a small but honest way.
    Johan Sandstrom,BComm.
    Publisher
    www.johansandstrom.com
    johanpublisher@gmail.com

  • Anonymous

    None of the domains was working when I tried to check them out. With this kind of articles Topix get a lot of free commercial that they wouldn’t otherwise. The problem is actually not a problem. Let both the domain names point to the same location. Done properly, after a while everything will transfer to .com instead of .net.

  • Anonymous

    I think this is a very important discussion, and perhaps because Google has a vested interest they’ll move fast to find a solution. Here’s what I reckon they should do:
    http://www.search-engine-war.co.uk/2007/03/topixcom_or_top.html

  • Anonymous

    WWW.Graphix.mobi was sold this year in a pvt sale for $90,000

    I do not buy Graphix.mobi for more than $50
    The domain was sold by a company called Media Web Plus.com

    http://www.mediawebplus.com/main/premiumDomains.html

    • tsunDay

      And this has what to do with what?

      hey web news. wheres the zap the spammer button?

  • http://7seo.com Troy

    If they do not have topix.com, Yeah I agree..
    But now.. They should act smart ..
    Do not worry Topix, just do some brain-storming…

    Troy
    http://7seo.com

  • http://7seo.com Angeline and Daniel Gleed

    Changing domain in the business world is indeed 1 crucial move in online marketing. Its advisable to think it over a 100 hours to have a great result.

    http://7seo.com

  • Guest

    ———————————————————————-
    SnapNames.com – Scam Company & Shady Registrar Partners – Protondomains & Media Web Plus

    ICANN has to do something about Snapnames and their Shady Registrar Partners – Protondomains & Media Web Plus, and what they get away with.

    For several months we’ve had to contend with registrars that includes Directnic, Intercosmos, DirectI, Snapnames, Protondomains, and now Media Web Plus.

    Back in July, My company asked DirectNIC/Intercosmos (through emails and faxes) to release a specific inactive and parked domain name to the public because of our trademark. They did so by expiring and deleting the domain (Thank you Intercosmos!) and we waited patiently for over thirty days to purchase the name when it became available.

    Snapnames grabbed it first through their domain drop and snatch service and then auctioned it off to THEIR shady registry partner and SUBSIDIARY – PROTONDOMAINS. According to Whois:

    “Domain Name: *.COM
    Registrar: PROTONDOMAINS.COM LLC
    Whois Server: whois.protondomains.com
    Referral URL:
    Name Server: NS1.SEDOPARKING.COM
    Name Server: NS2.SEDOPARKING.COM
    Status: ok
    Updated Date: 20-dec-2008
    Creation Date: 10-dec-2008
    Expiration Date: 10-dec-2009″

    So first it was under the name of DirectI, a company in India. We called them, and they informed us that they weren’t the owners, and then we contacted Oversee and they said that the domain name was being managed by Snapnames under its subsidiary: Prontodomains.

    We then made numerous attempts to reach Protondomains. The Whois information was incorrect, so we made a formal complaint with ICANN about their phony Whois information. The recently restored accurate information to the whois, so hopefully we’ve led to helping to prevent them from misleading the public in the future.

    We made attempts to contact KJEL HOLMBERG over at Snapnames, but he hasn’t replied since December of 2008 (It’s now approaching April 2009), only to our surprise that Protondomains might share an office with the folk at Snapnames.

    Recently, the name was sold to or registered by MEDIA WEB PLUS, cybersquatters in the search optimization business. We did reach out to them and they have asked us for $5000 for the name and then to f*ck off when we refused to pay. We forwarded their request as well as our response to legal@moniker.com. I spoke to a couple of folk at Moniker, as they were the only ones answering their phones and they were wondering why Snapnames hadn’t responded to our voicemail messages and emails.

    Next We learned that the same domain name is on the Moniker marketplace being sold for $1600 as of 1:38PM EST. Dec. 22nd, 2008. We were confused and so we contacted their customer support line and Moniker explained that Media Web Plus is most likely involved in a practice that is in likelihood violating their terms and agreement as customers of theirs. The domain name also appears on the SEDO marketplace for an unknown bid amount.

    All we want is our name. Media Web Plus along with SEOSEO and OnlineDomains.mobi are also the owners and administrators of websites that would tarnish our brand name, and for what, so they can make a quick buck?

    We have rights to THIS domain through our business registration in the State of New York and we hold a USPTO trademark and relevant pseudo-mark registration for THIS name, and have engaged in commerce under THIS name, and we were also issued a Tax ID by the IRS number under THIS name and will be filing for our company 2008 tax returns under THIS name.

    On March 26, 2009, Media Web Plus informed us that the name will be sold through SEDO. That means they’ve had literally no traffic on the name and have been attempting to sell it for their outrageous sum since December 22, 2008!!!

    This was our response (sent the same day):

    “As I mentioned on my previous email, we have a trademark for the name, so anyone who, to their misfortune purchases the name, we will inform them of our rights over the name and what they do from there to get there money back is up to them. I don’t think it’s even fair for them to be buying into a domain dispute and then delivered cease and desist letters by our lawyers. As long as they want to engage in any activity involving the United States, they’ll be confronted by the USPTO as using our name illegally. Who wants that? Is that worth $5000?

    There’s a reason why it has taken you so long to sell the name. No one wants it and would have to be reckless to buy it if they did their research. We are cool with buying the name for a $100 and that’s it – quick & easy. We already have money set aside for the legal fees and arbitration fees to pursue this issue from start to finish.

    Do what you have to do in the name of business and commerce. Best of luck to you and I hope you guys are successful in your accomplishing your wishes and hopes. We will still always be {inserted domain name}, and doing good by that name for all our world’s kids.”

    We want our name and won’t stop fighting until a transfer is made.WE sent ALL our supporting documents to the above parties, and we will not send them again. We wanted to avoid an arbitration process (it’s expensive), but it may come to that. However, we will make sure that any customer, ICANN and anyone who has to deal with SNAPNAMES, PROTONDOMAINS, and MEDIA WEB PLUS will find this board posting, and be fearless in the pursuit of their dreams.

    Fight them!!!

    Anyone wishing to contact me about resolving this matter or have any questions or tips, please do so (to avoid spam) through this site’s messaging process. We will get back to you as soon as we can.

    —————————————
    Email addresses of those mentioned in this posting. Contact them if you face similar issues Good luck future business owners and social entrepreneurs, and thank you ICANN for establishing new policies against those who are a part of why our US economy is bad. We need more oversight and regulations. This issue has made me an advocate for them. Here are the email addresses you won’t find as available on the web:

    Also try:

    Attn: Legal (Moniker)
    1600 Southwest 4th Avenue, Suite 400
    Portland, Oregon, 97201
    ————————————————————————————–
    If you have trouble with MEDIA WEB PLUS, their public whois information (made public) is:

    Registration Service Provided By: MANAGE.SNAPNAMES.COM
    Contact: +1.5034595739
    Website:

    Domain Name

    Registrant:
    Media Web Plus
    nidal elkadri
    125 marcel chaput
    gatineau
    qc,j9a 3b3
    CA
    Tel. +1.8197761113
    ————————————————————————————-

    Kjel P. Holmberg
    SnapNames, Business Development Manager
    115 NW 1st Ave, 3rd Floor
    Portland, Oregon 97209
    503.219.9990 ext. 236

  • http://www.scorpioinfotech.com Website Designing Services Usa

    I found your site is very informative and enjoyable. Keep up good work.

  • Guest

    Topix should be more concerned about the way the forums have gone downhill. They have managed to run off many good users and the forums are now filled with a ton of libel, defamation and cyberbullying. Some of the forums like the Human Sexuality one are beyond ridiculous and the community forums are out of control. How irresponsible of Topix to not moderate their forums and require registration. You can’t do that in this day and age and no it is not a violation of freedom of speech. When illegal drug sales and sexual predators are roaming your boards you better do something.

    More and more people seem like they are getting fed up with their business practices. Http://toxictopix.webs.com in particular seems useful but there are some other groups and sites out there as well. Thousands are being brutalized everyday in the forums and that is ridiculous.

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