Domain Name Scams

by demtron on Tuesday, November 18, 2008 09:04 AM

Over the last 10 years or so, we've received various forms of domain name scams.  They usually involve some sort of fear tactic stating one of the following:

  • Your domain name will (expire / be overtaken / be transferred) unless it's renewed through a certain registrar
  • Other variations of your domain will be registered with other top-level domains (such as .net, .org, .biz, .info)
  • Your trademark or tradename may not be protected unless you register other variations yourself
  • We (a domain registrar) are giving you a certain period of time to stop this activity or we'll allow our client to go through with the registrations

There are so many issues with this that it's not even funny:

  • Anyone can register any domain name at any time without seeking your permission
  • ICANN, the international oversight body on domain registrations, has rules governing registrations that are abusive or not done in good faith
  • So what if someone else publishes web sites with these other domain names?  It's highly unlikely that they would affect your business unless you have a significant on-line presence.

All one has to do is search for "domain name scams" and find all sorts of resources on the topic such as http://www.firetrust.com/en/blog/chris/domain-name-scams and http://successfulsoftware.net/2008/04/19/chinese-domain-scam/ .

Here's the one I just got this morning:

 

Dear demtron ,

   We are Beijing Himense Technology Co.,Ltd, a domain name register organization in china. We received a formal application from a company who is applying to register” demtron ” as their domain name and Internet keyword on Nov 17,2008. Because this involves your company name or trade mark so we inform you in no time. If you consider these domain names and internet keyword are important to you and it is necessary to protect them by registering them first. Please contact us within 7 workdays. If out of the deadline, we will approve the their application unconditionally.


Kind Regards,
Alice.Yang
Auditing Department
Tel:+86-10-81128599
Fax:+86-10-81493938
Email:alice.yang@himense.cn
Beijing Himense Technology Co.,Ltd
http://www.himense.cn
 


If you have any other examples of the scams, post them here and help get the word out!

(Updated 14-Jan-2009 - find out if anything else happened in Part Two of this series!)


Web Site Traffic Quantity vs. Quality

by demtron on Monday, November 17, 2008 09:19 AM

I've had numerous people approach me about how to bring traffic to their Web sites.  Of course, everyone wants more traffic, but is traffic volume really the ultimate goal?

Attracting and retaining the right audience is the most important consideration for any Web site, whether for a business, government, school, non-profit, or informational resource.  Without the right audience, there's no real purpose for a Web site.  Here’s a set of basic steps for getting a handle on understanding traffic quality.

First, determine your target audience.  If you organization has significant off-line operations, does your Web site target the same type of customer or a different one?  For example, a law firm may offer services in several facets of law but only promote one of them on their site, making their off-line marketing needs different from those on-line.

Second, find out the source of your traffic.  This is where a good traffic analytics tool can help out.  A popular and free tool for this is Google Analytics.  Think about the attributes that make up your desired traffic.  Is local traffic or regional traffic important?  Are you advertising on sites related to your industry?  How much traffic is coming from keyword advertisements versus natural searches?

The next question is perhaps the most important.  Which type of traffic is most valuable?  Again, an analytics tool can be used to track conversions.  A conversion is a specific action that the visitor is expected to make, such as purchasing one or more items, requesting more information or free written materials, or becoming a subscriber to a service offered.  Matching conversion rate to traffic types is critical to a site’s success.  Which would you rather have – 10000 hits per month with a 1% conversion rate or 3000 hits per month with a 7% conversation rate?  I'll take the higher quality traffic any day of the week!

Finally, consider whether the current traffic aligns with the strategy of the site.  There are three possibilities: 1) traffic does not align well and produces poor conversions, 2) traffic does align well and produces good conversions, or 3) traffic aligns well in an unintended area yet still products good conversions.  The third scenario is intriguing.  I’ve seen a number of situations where a site generates quality organic search traffic based on keywords or themes not previously considered.  After additional research, it’s possible that this traffic arrives because the topic is poorly represented in search results, meaning that it could be ripe for exploitation on your site by adding more related content.

Web site traffic generation is more that just an exercise in "playing the numbers".  Web site visitors know when they’ve found a site with quality content that separates itself from those that favor extreme traffic generation.  Those visitors will be the most loyal, buying goods and services and returning in the future for more great content.  Understanding how to identify, track and measure your exposure to this target audience is crucial to an effective web site.


Broken Link Checking for Your Web Site

by demtron on Friday, November 14, 2008 04:54 PM
Broken links are one of the most frustrating experiences for a web site visitor.  A broken link is one that leads to a non-existent page, either on the site or an external site.  Unless special code or custom error pages have been added to a site, the visitor is presented with a bland "404 Page not found" error or an equivalent that gives the user no indication of what to do next.  This is a surefire way to encourage a visitor to go away and maybe not visit again.

For a designer, finding broken links on a site can be a vexing problem.  There’s no visual indication of a problem on the site, and neither design tools nor markup editors will expose these problems while they’re being designed.  Finding broken links can be a tedious and time-consuming task without automated tools.

Some of the best tools for this purpose are available on the web for free.  One of my favorites is available at http://validator.w3.org/checklink.  The World Wide Web consortium develops the specifications and guidelines for Web design standards, so you can be sure that this tool works!

Upon opening the page, all that's needed to start is to type in the URL to examine and click the Check button.  This process will take between 20 seconds and several minutes depending on the number of links it needs to examine and the responsiveness of the pages represented by those links.  During this time, it examines the page markup for the existence of anchors and links then makes a call for each page to determine its status.  It also checks for redundant links and can provide warnings for indicating when destination pages have been moved and redirected.

Both a detail and summary output is provided.  The list of links examined is shown for each copy and pasting into a spreadsheet or other tracking document.  Following the detail section is summary of all problems shown in both tabular format and list format.  They identify the problem, the HTTP error code, the count of occurrences, what corrective actions to take, and even the line number of HTML code that caused the problem.

All site designers and webmasters should consider using this tool to find errors on their sites.  An error-free site improves visitor retention and maintains the professional image of your organization.

IT Consultants and 5 Things They Won’t Tell Clients

by demtron on Friday, November 14, 2008 11:02 AM

Over the years, I've heard a number of stories from clients about their challenges with their IT consultants.  The stories range from the mundane, such as checking stock prices online dozens of times a day, to involving legal liabilities, such as operating a personal auction site on the company's Web server.  Most issues fall somewhere between but have the potential to cause problems for business owners if they're not rooted out.

As I am working with a client to pick of the pieces from another consultant's departure, I began thinking about what consultants don't tell their clients about their expertise, accounting for their time on the job, and how they structure the results of their work.  Here are a few that came to mind right away.

Knowledge Inflation: Some of the worst problems I've seen come from consultants who take on a project that's beyond their area of knowledge hoping to "wing it" and look like a rock star.  This can be very dangerous for a client on a number of levels.

Underestimation of Effort: Many tasks in IT, especially those surrounding programming or data analysis, look easy on the surface but quickly become very involved as the details are uncovered.  A consultant eager to please the client may give a low estimate on the work involved only to find that the task is taking days or weeks instead of hours to complete.

Technology is a Distraction: Social networking, text messaging, on-line gaming, and mindless Web surfing are a part of practically all IT workers lives, especially those under 40 years old.  In moderation, these activities can be useful for stress relief and may keep them in touch with family and friends when working varying shifts.  However, there's a fine line between utility and draining productivity.

Something Isn't Working Right: It's hard for anyone for admit mistakes or problems, but it's especially hard when IT systems have underlying problems due to an oversight, lack of knowledge, or lack of testing.  These problems are often swept under the rug because the clients don't have access to the reports, administrative tools and logging systems that would otherwise uncover the problems.

I Am Not a Coding Machine: Programmers are especially prone to this one.  Some of the best coding, useful business ideas and best practices come out of spending time to reflect a problem and using "down time" to solve problems.  Poor consultants will crank out code or check off tasks to create the appearance of productivity at the expense of considering efficiency and developing better approaches to their work.

After reading these, one may think that IT consultants should be viewed with suspicion.  It's important to note that these concerns exist in all professions and with employees and consultants alike.  Unlike most workers, IT consultants are less likely to be discovered for a number or reasons, such as:


  • The IT consultant might control the logging, auditing, and reporting of issues and reports
  • The client doesn't have a clear sense of reasonable expectations from its consultants
  • IT worker activities seem cryptic and foreign to clients, so it's better to just leave well enough alone

Whether hiring a new consultant, reviewing the work of an existing consultant or auditing the costs and efforts put into a project, it's important to keep these issues in mind and be aware of the many issues that surround a realistic evaluation of a consultant's work, abilities and habits.


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