Recently on this fine website I wrote my sad story how I told a relative about a great .CO domain I purchased. He had no idea what I was talking about or what the .CO domain extension was in general. I realized as I was writing that post there is an even worse extension I've had experience with, .IO which is the country code top level domain (ccTLD) for the Indian Ocean. Why? I've lost a TON of money because of .IO domains and these ridiculously tech savy, annoying, start-up mofos trying to be all original.
No, I haven't actually bought any .IO domain names. That doesn't mean that I can't be negatively affected though. I was out of town at this conference once and someone who had a medium-sized company was interested in talking with me about possibly having me to do some web consulting work for them. I can't remember what this person's position was but she was Vice President or something along those lines. The company was about 100 people or so it was not large but not small either.
Usually at conferences if people have questions I try to give free and useful advice as much as possible. Most consultants don't but this is why people go to conferences honestly. To get advice you can't get anywhere else. Even though most aren't not going to hire me, I am always hopeful in the future someone will. Anyway, this executive handled marketing had expressed interested in having lunch with me. I did not realize this until she approached me but I had given advice to a few people and there was chatter about how awesome I was to do that without expecting anything in return.
When she initially approached she made it clear they were looking for help with web marketing, even though she had a lot of marketing experience. The company in her mind had made some vital mistakes online and she wanted to talk over things I thought could be improved. I said to myself, “Wow, this could really turn into something for me here.” That assumption was wrong, very wrong all because of a mention of .IO domains.
When I had lunch with her the next day she started explaining some problems the company was having. They had tried Facebook advertising and were having horrible results. I sent her the link so she could watch the Facebook Fraud video by Derek Mueller. I then explained that most likely those Likes and Shares were not authentic, even if paid through Facebook, as mostly it seems to be bot accounts or from click farm countries. I also made small suggestions about website improvements (yes, I know this blog needs a refresh) the company could make, various paid and free tools that might be helpful, some books she might want to read, and recommended they switch hosting providers (they were using NoDaddy hosting). Then she started asking questions about search engine optimization (SEO) and was relaying to me the company was having a hell of a hard time against competitors. She also felt like an SEO firm they had used had not delivered.
It sounded like the SEO firm “Guaranteed” a 1st place ranking in Google which is not really possible. (I encourage everyone to read my 6 Questions to Ask a Search Optimizer if you haven't.) I had to start explaining basic SEO principles, since she did not understand them, and that most professional marketers and search optimizers make wrong suggestions to new clients. Most of the time they will recommend 3rd party SEO resources instead of Google and this really only confuses people. I explained that Google tries, but does not do a great job, of providing resources for normal webmasters to understand how Google views search. I suggested that she follow the Google Webmaster Central Blog and watch some of Matt Cutts videos. (We all know those are marginally helpful.) While it is useful to follow search news I said, “The major tech and SEO websites make assumptions from reading and watching both of these. Sometimes what they write is not wrong but it is guessing honestly. If you want to hear the information unfiltered it is best to get it from the source. That way, hopefully, you will be less confused. ” She seemed to get what I was saying here and nodded in approval. I continued my spiel, “You probably won't understand everything reading and watching those but it is good to be aware of these. Keep in mind Google claims they want to help small and medium sized businesses but they don't really. The main reason to follow Google is that you will stay updated with their news and requirements.” Since she had her iPad out on the table I was showing here exactly where to find everything. She was amazed how little she knew in this new digital age and through our exchange she even said that the company would probably be expanding soon and could use someone like me. I thought I had this in the bag.
I let her soak in the videos and some of other resources I suggested on her iPad. After awhile she asked,”What have you learned watching these videos?” I thought it was a good question and started to explain that Matt Cutts, Google's head of Webspam and the guy that built Google's family filter engine, said he didn't recommend country code top level domain hacks or usage. I said, “This includes .IO which is a popular domain extension among start-ups. Originally he said that .IO specifically would be considered by Google only for those that live in the Indian Ocean. There are not that many people that live in the Indian Ocean though and now .IO is considered generic by Google and not country specific. It would be bad if I wasn't aware of this especially if someone was looking into buying a .IO domains and they came to be for advice about it.”
After I said all this… there was a long blank stare. It was clear she was starting to question who she was sitting down with. The stare was really to say, “Who is this guy?” She then softly asked, “.IO?” This lead to me to try to explain ccTLDs in regards to search engines and how Google views them. This, I think, she sort of understood but the whole .IO domain extension clearly made no sense to her. I don't remember entirely what I said because I was trying to move the conversation out of domains at that point. There was a definite mention of I/O in computer terms. (For those that are not aware the IO refers to input/output, which is pretty geeky.) At this point I knew I had lost any hope of consulting work or a future position at that company.
She did not seem to understand .IO and her eyes and facial expression were a definite indication of confusion. It just didn't make sense to her why someone would buy a .IO let alone what the hell it meant. I believe me even bringing it up in the conversation even baffled her.
While the rest of the lunch went ok, I could tell that mentioning .IO domains really hurt me. My chances of consulting work or scoring a full time job at this company went down in flames just because of one mention of IO domains. She emailed me later thanking me for the suggestions and taking the time out of my day and said she'd be in touch. Never happened. I even tried to reconnect with her a few weeks ago but I got no reply.
She did genuinely seem like she was going to offer me something but mentioning this super nerdy extension basically ruined any chances I had. So that's the story of how I lost money because of friggin .IO domains.
To all those f$@)@& annoying ass hip start-ups using a .IO domain you made me LOOSE a LOT of money. After this post if you use a .IO domain and I think your product is good and use it, I still won't mention your company or service to ANYONE. You make me loose money, I make you loose money. How does that feel? Buy a real domain extension at NameSilo.
I once heard someone explain that the reason he choose a .IO domain was because he wanted to be in the “SoHo of the internet.” Well honestly that's great but I certainly don't live in the SoHo of the internet. Even if I did live in the SoHo of the internet it would be too expensive for me. I believe .IO domains are $60 the first year through NameCheap and $100 a year to renew. That's damn expensive for a domain name and I'd rather buy a quality domain in domain auctions or the domain aftermarket. The SoHo of the internet does not pay my bills.
To be fair to IO domains, it is hard to know whether that truly hurt me in the conversation and lost me consulting work. However, things were going really well up until that point. I can only assume what was going through her heard after the lunch. I'm pretty sure it was not all positive after mentioning a weird domain extension though.
If a client is using a .IO domain and loves it I probably won't say anything. In the future I'll refrain from even mentioning .IO domains. I'll just look confused and awkward. If a someone asks about using a .IO domain for a web service or app I'll reply, “Say Hell No to .IO!” 🙂
What do you think about .IO domains? Annoying, cool, fun, or it is a passing domain fad? What do you think of my sad story of losing money because of silly .IO domains?