TECHKNOW: Lessons from Web Alley

TECHKNOW: Lessons from Web Alley - Those who seek to turn an easy e-profit have in the past registered desirable names. And sometimes this has paid off tidily: a while ago business.com went under the hammer for dollars 7 million. But the dot.com suffix is

by RHYMER RIGBY..BL.- By
Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

Those who seek to turn an easy e-profit have in the past registered desirable names. And sometimes this has paid off tidily: a while ago business.com went under the hammer for dollars 7 million. But the dot.com suffix is pretty much worked out. So the name game has moved on to greener and weirder pastures. For example, the South Pacific island nation of Tuavalu (until recently known mainly for exporting stamps and fishing licences) has sold its whole .tv suffix to DotTV (an Idealab start-up). And savvy Europeans have turned to Italy, which, although something of a Latin laggard in web matters, has one great advantage.

The country's suffix is .it, allowing clever site names such as justdo.it and clickon.it. Amusing though these may be, MT suspects that with the proliferation of platforms and the growing realisation that (a la boo.com) what you do is more important than a cute name, this particular moneyspinner has had its day. Our advice? Forgetabout.it

Most people tend to assume that when search engines sift through the web they look at a site's entire content. Mostly, though, they look at something called a meta-tag, a group of 99 key words tagged to the site.

So, if you had a site selling holidays your meta-tag might include 'flights' and 'tickets'. But the cyber cognescenti soon noticed that the most popular search terms were words like 'sex' - and that you could make your site pop up in many more searches by including such terms in your meta-tags.

Web pros also realised that they could perform this trick on other people's sites and charge them for it. So, if someone offers you a simple way to boost your site traffic, make sure they're doing something useful, rather than turning your meta-tag into an electronic lavatory wall.

Already hot and bothered about MP3, the music industry is finding its problems compounded by a little piece of software called Napster, brainchild of a 19-year-old US college student. Once you've downloaded Napster, you type in a song title and it will tell you which other Napster users (there are now over nine million) have that ditty on their hard drive; you can then download it on to yours. US universities have already found Napster-users clogging up their networks. The music industry sees no royalties from this and is trying to squash Napster, using laws designed to fight racketeering. Will this tactic work? Probably not. The net is no respecter of national laws. Besides, another piece of software, Gnutella, is now available and is far more resistant to legislative controls. The industry will have to take a long hard look at where its cash comes from.

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