Every now and then, while making a site online, you get a lesson on “how not to do things” and it normally hurts. Either it will result in loss of time or money, or maybe both.
Recently I received one of those lessons. A lesson in organization (or lack thereof, on my part) which has cost me both time and money.
Let me explain. A while ago I set up a site to exchange links for other sites to list themselves as available to exchange lists with others. It used a great piece of software which did all the work for me and was 100% search engine friendly. After a year or so, it had a number 5 listing under “link exchange directory” in Google and happily continued building itself. It had reached a PageRank of 5 in Google and was doing very well.
During this time I was buying other domains and had sold a couple of them.
Anyway, I took some time out to check my exchange links site's ranking. Yes, it was still there, so I decided to take a look around as a normal visitor would. This is where the shock started…
The pages were not mine
As I clicked into the site, I discovered the pages were not mine! They were holding pages from the company I purchased my domain from (GoDaddy.com).
On contacting GoDaddy, they informed me that they had contacted me via my email address I had listed and had not received a reply. Now it would cost me $80 to relist the domain name. I realized the email address listed used a domain name I had sold and that was why I didn't receive GoDaddy's messages. (Yes it was a Homer Simpson moment.)
OK, having almost no choice, I agreed to pay, only to find out I was too late. The domain name had been bought by someone else! I did some more digging … and found out the new owner was based in Canada. Or was he? The address was in China, the name was of a Chinese likeness and the contact phone number didn't work.
Finding his site was the easy part: ExpiredTraffic.com, at which he has a project in which he buys expired domains and puts pay per click links up. So I emailed him but there was no answer. I went to his site to contact him again – still no answer. I was keen to buy the domain back at a healthy profit for him, but it seems there is no interest, and he seems to be hiding from contact.
The guy is a traffic vulture. Someone, somewhere is paying for the worthless PPC traffic! I reveal his domain only to make sure that others are aware of what this guy is doing and to keep clear!
The lesson for me? Keep a much closer eye on domain names and email addresses I am using and also enable “auto renew” for domains for payments, using either a credit card, or more likely PayPal.
On the good side, I still have a database of the sites which were listed on the site and will contact the owners to let them know what happened. Happily the domain is losing its ranking – Google is not stupid.
I will set up another domain with the goal of attracting many more users than the original did, providing a valuable service, including some free software to manage links for the sites listed. I will be back, stronger than ever!