Bill Hartzer


Source: SEOSignalsLab

Pick His Brain!

I’d like to introduce one of our members, Bill Hartzer, for our next ‘Pick His Brain’ session and I want to thank him for the participation.

Bill has been doing SEO since 1996 and has been buying/selling domain names since then.

By his own admission, he is a new gTLD domain expert. Please feel free to pick his brain on SEO and domain names.

Here are the rules.

1) I’ll let the thread go on until he asks me to stop. Theoretically, this thread can continue until the FaceBook stock value goes to zero.

2) Please, no snarky remarks. I will not tolerate any intentional negativity. We are here to learn from each other’s success and strategies.

3) Please do not PM him and bother him. If you have a private question, ask for his permission on this thread when appropriate.


Table of Contents

What is your number one consideration when deciding a TLD for a local business?

They have to realize that when it comes to actual search engine rankings, the domain and TLD doesn’t really matter.

There are cases, however, where having the keyword in the ending has helped rankings.

Keep in mind that in the USA, that many are still used to using dot com, and if you choose a new TLD that already has a similar dot com registered (and used), there might be some confusion.

The number one consideration, though, would be whether or not there’s a keyword rich TLD that matches the business.

For dentists, .dental would be great, for luxury homes, .luxury would be good, for a car dealer .cars would be great.

1 – History through web archive machine making sure it hasn’t been redirected too much. 2 – Anchors text ration in backlinks should be 30 to 50 % branded domain term, or my niche or a close niche. For example, if I am selling -bed sheets*, it should be *beds*. 3 – Number of referring domains. In general, the more there is the better it is. But I was able to find domains with 80 or 90 referring domains. 4 – Per referring domain if the number of link is 8 or 10 or more, I was dropping it. Let me know what am I doing wrong here? What else should I check? Any other key factors to think?

1 – History through web archive machine making sure it hasn’t been redirected too much.

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If it was a website before and not redirected, that is good.

Even if it was redirected at some time that’s okay, it’s more important that the links still exist.

2 – Anchors text ration in backlinks should be 30 to 50 % branded domain term, or my niche or a close niche.

For example, if I am selling -bed sheets*, it should be *beds*.

I’m more concerned that the anchor text is natural–that it wasn’t a dropped domain or expired domain and someone else used it for a spam site.

It is OK as long as it’s on the same general topic or theme. If it’s in the same category then that is fine.

I use Majestic topics and topic flow to review the links. Websites do get links from different topics, so that’s OK.

3 – Number of referring domains. In general, the more there is the better it is.

But I was able to find domains with 80 or 90 referring domains.

I look for the number of referring domains rather than the number of backlinks.

A site with 10,000 backlinks on 100 domains would be better than 100,000 links on 20 domains.

But the domain/link count doesn’t really matter that much.

If the domain is cheaper than buying the links or creating a site for the links, then I would still buy the domain. Even if it has 10 links.

4 – Per referring domain if the number of link is 8 or 10 or more, I was dropping it.

In many cases a domain that has links that have been there for a long time are worth keeping.

I like links that have been around for a long time. Let me know what am I doing wrong here? What else should I check?

I check the Majestic Trust Flow vs. the Citation Flow.

I never want to see CF higher than 10 points higher than TF.

Any other key factors to think?

What are you going to do with the domain? Do you want it for the traffic?

Do you want it for the links?

Do you plan on redirecting it to an internal page or do you want to put the old site back up and just use it as a link partner?

Getting an expired domain to increase traffic is I guess much difficult. What do you say?

It doesn’t have to increase traffic by a lot, it just needs the right traffic–one that converts for you.

If you plan on building PBNs, then I still would look at the Majestic Trust Flow and Citation Flow numbers and the topics.

And if you’re using the domain for a PBN or redirecting it, then make sure it’s an expired domain where the “create date” on the domain name doesn’t change.

That’s important.

If the domain actually does expire and goes pending delete status, then you’ll need to put up a site on it, wait until it has the traffic and links back.

Then possibly redirect it in the future.

I don’t normally mention services, but I’m really liking the Domain Name service ( where you can find expired domains based on anchor text (sites that already rank for a keyword), and then host the domain as well.

Any thoughts on how the domain name in URL can be improved upon?

You can use on-page optimization to your advantage on sites. Like using POP to do the on-page.

People have been successful with building links to the

If you have semrush, you can actually run through it and see what people are doing, how they’re ranking.

You can also use majestic to see all of the links that people are building to, you can look at the subdomains.

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What kind of website design have a good conversion rate in your experience? Old school design from 1995-2006 or website design using google material design etc ..

I remember back in the 1990s I got a really great conversion rate by putting one single banner ad on a white page.

They had no choice but to click on that banner ad (or hit the back button). The CTR was really, really good, like 80 percent.

Conversions were really good, too.

The old web designs I think got a good conversion rate because they loaded really fast.

A lot of people do have fast connections now, but a more static site that loads fast will convert better.

How many 301 redirects do you find safe enough in a time frame?

You safely 301 redirect 50 domains/sites to one site. Once you get over 100 domains, Google starts to take notice of that.

I have a client that had 300 domains redirected to his home page (he kept buying really good domains), and that started to be a problem and have an effect on rankings.

We chose the best ones (there were only about 15 that had backlinks) and parked the rest of them.

I was working with a client a while back and rankings and traffic were going up steadily.

One day the rankings tanked. Bad.

We checked the links and he had redirected 90,000 domains to his home page.

He thought it wasn’t happening quick enough, and thought we needed more links.

What would be your process for evaluating the value of a domain name in terms of brandability, forget keywords and SEO, just on the name itself and how brandable it could be?

I honestly really like branding good, keyword rich domain names.

For example, one that comes to mind is Ring dot com.

Domains need to pass the “radio test”.

If you mention the word, can people spell it correctly?

Domains need not be trademarked words.

The shorter the better.Another great one? Bobbleheads dot com (one of my SEO clients).

They bought that domain at a domain auction for like $26k and made it into a multi million dollar business.

The name and the branding really helped that.

What makes a domain premium ?

To be honest, every single registrar and domain owner has a different definition of the word “premium”.

New TLDs always hold back a certain number of domains that aren’t for sale to anyone, marked as “premium”.

The have to do that per ICANN rules when they launch a new TLD. Then, they do hold back some premium domains and sell them for a premium price.

In my opinion it’s based on research, such as keyword research and some variation of the average CPC.

So, a domain that has over 100,000 searches a month at $10 CPC would be a premium domain and a domain that has 1,000 searches a month at $5 a click would not be premium.

There’s also type-in traffic that’s considered, as well.

Would love to hear your opinion on which you feel works better from a global seo perspective.

Of course I have to start off by saying that “it depends” on the country and the situation.

But, I do think it comes down to whether or not you want to spend the time and resources to have separate sites and domains for another country.

So, for example, do you have enough content and brand awareness in the UK to warrant having a separate site?

Does the audience in the UK think of the brand as a UK brand or a worldwide brand?

Do you want to keep the local branding that way, as a UK brand and not a global brand? (I’m just using as an example of a ccTLD here.)

In certain countries, consumers in that market would expect to see a local presence, and they’re more comfortable dealing with what they think is a more “local” brand. In Ireland, I would expect to see a .IE domain used, for example.

The same goes for .CA for Canada, as well.

Another consideration is the current trademark situation in that particular country.

I’ve been involved with situations where there’s a strong “global” brand, but the company doesn’t own the trademark on their name in certain countries.

Someone else does. So, it gets tricky in certain cases.

Do you have a good place to park domains?

It depends on whether you want to sell the domain or not. I have been able to park and sell a good number of domains at afternic.

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They have a really good distributional reach.

I really like for parking and a registrar as well. But mainly for parking.

Don’t forget that you can also “park” the emails that go to a domain as well.

Do you think a domain like would be very beneficial for a pressure washing company that operates in three states to rank in serps, and to generate leads for companies?Can you offer any suggestions on the best way to do it?

If you can get a domain like that, I do think there is some benefit to using it.

It’s more about the anchor text in links that helps, and it’s natural for people to link to you with those keywords.

You can run into an issue if you have too much exact match anchor text in links, so I’d try to mix it up with the brand name or company name.

I also kind a domain like which is another option.

Any loopholes to find the domain owner of an anonymously (proxy) registered domain? If you are lucky you can Google the domain name & find a person and sometimes you can recognize the ad template of a large domainer – any other tricks?

I cant go into too many details here, as I deal a lot with recovering stolen domain names and tracking down the real owners.

If you are trying to find an owner to make an offer on a domain, most registrars will contact their customer on your behalf and send them a message.

Then it’s up to them whether they respond to you.

You can look at ip addresses and other data like Adsense ids, google analytics ids, and even link profiles to figure it out.

Whois history is also very very helpful.

I have to say, though, that gdpr has caused a lot of havoc lately and made my job more difficult.

How best to find out if a domain was previously dropped?

Look at the whois history.

If you had to pick 5, what 5 things would you say have the most impact on an SEO campaign?

Most sites overlook the on-page factors and on-page optimization. Re-think your use of on-page optimization, it can make a huge difference now.

What ways should we rethink on page?

Compare what your competitors are doing on-page and what you’re doing. There are tools like POP and Cora that will help you do that.

Where’s the best place to look for expired domains?

Best place to look (that people forget about) is your competitors’ site(s).

Crawl their sites and the best sites that are linking to them.

Look for 404 errors and where DNS doesn’t resolve.

Buy expired domains that your competitors are linking to, and they are suddenly linking to YOU if you redirect it to your site.

For years I’ve been using Fresh Drop and The.Domain.Name looks really promising.

There are hundreds of TLDs and gTLDs out there. What are the best ones for buying and selling? .com? Are you just buying them and sell them after some years? Or are you doing something for price-rising of domains?

Many of the new gTLDs are less than 5 years old now (some are about 5 years old now).

With anything new, it’s a new opportunity for investment. .COM, though is well over 20 years old.

Many in the USA still want a .COM domain.

Right now the number domains and short names, as well as premiums are selling very well.

I have seen the geo .com domains go down in value lately, as many small biz don’t want them right now.

You might want to take a look at the recent Domain Industry report, there’s a lot of good info in there:…/

What’s your favorite tool for evaluating the value and power of a domain, outside of eyes and brain? What signal do you see and go….oh that’s gem, or that looks great…but the devils in the details?

I typically first look at majestic trust flow and the links.




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