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.IE Domain Name Strategies – Using Aged & Trusted Domains to Establish Your Website

Posted in: General,Google by Richard Hearne on January 29, 2007
Internet Marketing Ireland

Domain strategy is a very important element of any on-line campaign. The need to acquire great domain names for new sites is evidenced by the very buoyant domain name aftermarket. So if you can pick up a recently expired .IE domain (and the .IE registry is managed so you cant ‘grab’ a .IE) with a good history you can achieve an immediate competitive advantage over your competitors.

Automated competitive analysis ‘radar’

First a word about keeping tabs on your competitive landscape. For many, many years I’ve been receiving e-mail alerts from www.googlealerts.com. GoogleAlerts is a service that allows you to automatically track Google results for your targeted search phrases. You receive automated e-mails if a new site enters the competitive SERPs for your phrases.

A new site comes onto my radar for ‘seo ireland’

The search phrase ‘seo ireland’ is one I set up in GoogleAlerts a long time ago. The phrase itself doesn’t generate much decent traffic at all, but seems to be targeted by most newcomers to the field. (Funny, but the longer I watch my stats, the more convinced I am that search traffic is not quality traffic for my line of work. Buzz and word-of-mouth are far better signals.)


Yesterday I got an alert that a new site had appeared at rank #20 for ‘seo ireland’. The site is www.actvate.ie. I decided to take a peek at who they were and what they were up to.

Under construction, but still high PR?

The first thing that got my attention was the fact that a thin-content ‘under construction’ site had a toolbar PR of 5. So a quick look at the WHOIS:

% Rights restricted by copyright; http://www.domainregistry.ie/copyright.html
% Do not remove this notice

domain: activate.ie
descr: Martina Skelly
descr: Sole Trader
admin-c: ACS958-IEDR
tech-c: AAM456-IEDR
renewal: 07-December-2006
status: Active - LOCKED
source: IEDR

person: Martina Skelly
nic-hdl: ACS958-IEDR
source: IEDR

person: Blacknight.ie Hostmaster
nic-hdl: AAM456-IEDR
source: IEDR

Hmm… I’m not a domain expert. But even for me that doesn’t provide much to go on. In fact it looks like this is an old domain that looks set to be dropped.

Before I go any further a word about domain age and trust. Domain age is a very strong variable in Google’s ‘trustrank’ algo. In many competitive niches the top spots are virtually insurmountable as a result of the aged domains that reside there. So much so that Google has been accused of forfeiting relevancy in an effort to tackle the spam that has entered their index on so many occasions.

On the Internet time travel is possible :grin:

Did you know you can look at the historical contents of a website? You can look back and see what the site owner published over time. And that’s exactly what I did next.

http://web.archive.org/web/*/http://activate.ie gives me snapshots of the content that resided on this site over time. I can see results going back to November 2001. So this domain is well aged. But the next bit is interesting. From the Archive snapshot for November 2003:

ACTIVATE is a year long EU funded research project which started in July 2001 and based in Ireland. More in Project Description. This project is being tested by libraries in Cork and Clare who are creating local history websites linked to a portal. These can be viewed through the Irish Local Studies Portal link. To create a similar network click here.

So the domain not only has age, but it has provenance – a former EU funded research project. Unless they did something really nasty this domain probably has oodles of trust over at Google.

A little bit more digging…

So I mentioned that I’m no domaining expert (I know enough to get me by :mrgreen: ). But I know someone whois (excuse the double pun). John McCormac was probably at this stuff when I was just a mere twinkle (ok, I’m not that young any more… *sigh*). And John was able to give me the following:

activate | 2001-09-24 00:00:00 | NEW |
activate | 2004-11-25 00:00:00 | DEL |
activate | 2004-12-09 00:00:00 | NEW |
activate | 2006-11-16 00:00:00 | DEL |
activate | 2006-12-07 00:00:00 | NEW |

The 20010924 whois is:
domain: activate.ie
descr: An Chomairle Leabharlanna
descr: Statutory Body
descr: Discretionary Name
admin-c: Annette Kelly
tech-c: Register. ie Hostmaster
zone-c: Register. ie Hostmaster
nserver: knox.host.ie
nserver: quark.host.ie
source: IEDR

Sweet. The domain was originally owned by a statutory body. It rarely gets any better.

So who is Martina Skelly?

It can be quite humorous running vanity checks on your own name. You’d be surprised just how much info there is on-line. After searching for “Martina Skelly” (with the quotes) found a couple of references.

The most likely candidate is a Martina Skelly who works for Digino, an Irish Internet marketing agency. I see a lot of Adwords ads for Digino targeting SEM type phrases – Digino is one of the better established SM agencies here in Ireland.


Regardless of the owner, the domain itself has given quite an advantage to the current website by way of its history and providence. By picking up a domain that previously hosted such a well trusted website, Activate.ie can now compete for Search Engine traffic that a new domain could take a number of years to acquire.

It might be time to cosy up with Mr McCormac to see if his vast databases can throw up other potential .IE domain gems.

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  1. Google is pretty clueless when it comes to handling IE domains. I’ve several previously owned ones that maintain PR even without any content. Once you start putting content on them the rank does change though…

    Comment by Michele — January 30, 2007 @ 3:44 pm

  2. Interesting to hear, and I know you have one or three .ie domains :grin:

    The most notable thing about this domain in my view was that it ranked for a moderately competitive term, even with such limited content.

    Having fun I imagine?

    Comment by Richard Hearne — January 30, 2007 @ 3:54 pm

  3. Well researched – and yes you did pinpoint the right person!

    I was hoping the site wouldn’t actually start ranking until I had put some proper design and content up there – looks like I am going to have to bring that forward :)

    Comment by Martina Skelly — February 2, 2007 @ 5:06 pm

  4. Hi Martina

    The Internet really is a difficult place to hide anything :grin:


    Comment by Richard Hearne — February 2, 2007 @ 5:26 pm

  5. Hi Richard – so I see – I’m just glad I had already handed my notice in! Regards,

    Comment by Martina Skelly — February 2, 2007 @ 9:03 pm

  6. Excellent article Richard. I must look further into domaining when i have a chance. I’ll be using your article as a reference. :)

    Comment by Cormac — February 3, 2007 @ 7:21 pm

  7. [...] Richard shows how Google Alerts is used for finding aged & trusted domains to establish your website. [...]

    Pingback by Ireland SEO Marketing :: Using Google Alerts For Finding Domains — February 6, 2007 @ 12:47 am

  8. [...] I wrote previously about using aged and trusted .ie domains to bolsteryour search engine rankings. Well now comes further confirmation of the value of the .ie ccTLD. [...]

    Pingback by Ireland .ie ccTLD Safest In The World | Search Engine Optimisation Ireland .:. Red Cardinal — March 19, 2007 @ 1:16 pm

  9. I know its an oldish post but this explains a lot of how my domain shot from n/a to 5 in the space of a month or two. That said I’d been using the .com for a good while before that so getting the .ie just made sense and wasn’t intentional :)

    Comment by James Larkin — May 9, 2008 @ 3:23 pm

  10. A quick question rearding domains that are expiring.
    date is renewal: 26-October-2008
    does any one know when the drop is suspected to happen ?

    Comment by Delboy — October 31, 2008 @ 11:13 am

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