New Top Level Domains Are Available: Be A Savvy Marketer

Top level domains – you know them without really being able to define them – they are the .com, .org, .net, .edu, .gov, and even .mil. Top level domains also include the country domains – you’ll see, for example, and know that’s a domain related to Canada. .jp is for Japan and so on.

Now there are a whole host of new top level domains available for purchase and the benefits for marketing and differentiating yourself are compelling.

What Are the New Top Level Domains?

There are about 1300 new top level domains and they are being released to the general public slowly. There are 111 that are now available for purchase. The new top level domains cover a wide range of topics. Here are a few examples:

  • .academy
  • .agency
  • .bargains
  • .bid
  • .bike
  • .build
  • .builders
  • .catering
  • .cleaning
  • .club
  • .construction
  • .democrat
  • .education
  • .expert
  • .guru
  • .marketing

Top level domains like .law, .lawyer, and .attorney will be available for pre-registration soon. What should a savvy marketer do to take advantage of these new domains?

1. Innovate Your Brand

I’m sure we can all agree that your domain name is important for the branding of your company. After all, you would expect to find Connect4 Consulting at,  right? And the same is likely true for your business domain.

But what if the game changed so that your business domain could be more aligned with your business? We could be or Connect4.consultant. Own a car dealership? How about Have a law firm? How about or Are you a politician? How about or

These changes and more are all coming in 2014. Savvy marketers need to get in front of this new domain landscape and line up to protect their brands (or even consider re-branding).

2. Protect Your Brand

If you have a domain that is your company name or a domain that reflects your branding, it’s time to protect variations of that brand that are becoming available.

For example, Connect4 Consulting only works with companies in the US and Canada, so we’d probably be okay with a foreign entity owning <a “href=””> But we definitely would not like another agency to grab

3. Get Up For The Sunrise

As each new top level domain becomes available, there’s a 60 day “sunrise” period for trademark holders to purchase their domains. For example, this will allow Hertz to scoop up and Amazon to get Trademark holders still have to purchase the domains but they get first pick.

To view the list of all the new TLDs, take a look at’s TLD Watchlist Here you can see all the new TLDs and also mark the ones you’re interested in so that you can be notified when they become available. Your domain registrar may offer a similar service. As these new domains become available, you can purchase them for prices similar to those for your existing domains. Tip: Go to’s TLD Watchlist and see what TLDs are of interest to you. Then add these names to your Watchlist (right on the same page).

4. New Top Level Domains and SEO

According to Google’s Matt Cutts, the new top level domains won’t have an SEO advantage over existing domains. What will matter, however is the memory of the end user and your branding. Which is better or or Today it’s easy to say that .com is better for brand recall, but over time I think we’ll see a shift as brands use the top level domains as part of their overall branding strategy.

The Bottom Line on New Top Level Domains

Our suggestion is that you register new top level domains that match your business objectives or that you want to protect, either because of your own trademarks or for future use.

How to create a podcast

The Internet has leveled the playing field and removed many barriers to entry in a wide variety of industries. Creating your own broadcast for radio used to be a highly complex and expensive undertaking. Now anyone with an internet connection and some inexpensive equipment can produce a podcast and make it available online.

Why Podcast?

People podcast for many different reasons. Most people podcast because they have a love (or a hate) for something that they want to express. Here are a few:

  1. knowledge about technology
  2. love for a certain tv show or topic
  3. marketing  – a band could do a podcast to get more listeners for their music or a technology company could do a podcast to advertise itself
  4. radio stations use podcasting as an alternative way to distribute their content

What Topic Should My Podcast Be About? lists podcasts by category. Once you begin to explore the world of podcasts you’ll discover very quickly that there are niche categories you never thought existed. The most important thing is to pick something that you are passionate about.

What Kind of Equipment Do I Need to Create a Podcast?

When it comes to choosing the equipment for recording a podcast, there’s no right or wrong. You can spend as little or as much as you want on equipment, with the primary differences showing up in sound or video quality and ease of editing. There are some key pieces of equipment you’ll absolutely need to create a podcast, however.

  1. Microphone  – There is a huge variation in the price and quality of microphones. While it’s possible to record a podcast with the small plastic microphone that probably came with your computer, the sound quality will not be very good. If you’re serious about your podcast, you will want a durable, dynamic microphone. If you plan to conduct interviews with two or more people using one microphone, an omnidirectional mic is key. The Shure SM-58 is a very good all-purpose microphone that won’t eat your entire podcasting budget. If you plan to record in the field or record musical performances, you will have different mic requirements.
  2. Recorder/mixer – You’ll also need a recorder or mixer to mix multiple inputs, if you have them, and actually record the podcast. There are hundreds of mixers available, but smaller units with around four inputs will suit all but the most ambitious podcasts. Some mixers have outputs designed for sending data to a computer via USB or Firewire. The recording can also be sent to a separate recording device — either a tape or a hard disk recorder — then transferred to the computer later. These are especially helpful for recording away from home. Some mixers come with built-in recorders. This area is where you will find the most variation between podcasts, because there are several possible mixer/recorder/computer input combinations.
  3. Sound Card – Simple podcasts can be recorded directly into the computer, but if you plan to have multiple people on your podcast, you might need a more robust soundcard that can handle multiple inputs (more than one microphone)
  4. Telephone Connections – Many podcasts follow a talk-show format with people calling in and asking questions. This type of podcast needs a way for multiple people on multiple phone lines to hear each other and a way to record the conversation. One solution is to use a phone service capable of running a conference call, then run a tap from the phone to the recording device.
  5. Audio Software – Software is a key element of recording a podcast, and it serves multiple functions. Good audio software allows you to set the proper recording levels, record the podcast and save it in a useful audio format. You can also edit the podcast using software. Very few podcasts are recorded live in one take and sent straight to the Web. We recommend that you visit They review most of the podcasting software.

How Do I Broadcast My Podcast?

Once your podcast is mixed, recorded and edited, and you’re ready for the world to hear you, there’s one crucial step remaining: getting it out there so other people can listen to it. The podcast itself should be saved as an MP3 file. The higher the encoded bit rate, the higher the sound quality. A bit rate of 128 kbps is probably sufficient for a talk-show podcast, but podcasts featuring music will want bit rates of 192 kbps or better.

Then you have to upload the podcast to the internet. If you have your own website, you could upload the podcast to your website, but it’s important to remember that every time someone downloads your podcast they are using up bandwidth and you could easily exceed bandwidth limits by doing this.

One of the cool things about podcasting is that once someone subscribes to a podcast, they don’t have to continually check back to the podcast’s Web page to see if a new episode has been posted. Software known as a feed aggregator automatically downloads new episodes when they appear. This is done by creating an RSS feed for the podcast. The RSS feed is what people will click on to subscribe to your podcast.

There are many services that automate the process of creating RSS feeds. You simply plug in the link to the MP3 file, and the feed link is generated for you. Some services, such as LibSyn, even host the MP3 file and give you cool tools like an app creator so you can add a smartphone app to your podcast (for a monthly fee – Libsyn starts at $5/month. $20/month gets you the app package as well). Feedburner is another service that offers additional features to podcasters. Many blogging Web sites have integrated RSS feed plug-ins as well. Apple’s suite of productivity software, iLife, includes the programs GarageBand and iWeb, with podcast creation and feed creation integrated with iTunes.

Related Podcasting Information & Resources

How to build website traffic through forum marketing

Forum marketing may be the most underutilized website traffic generation strategy. Industry forums are brimming with potential leads and customers. However, to build build traffic to your website and have success, you have to do more than simply creating a signature and leaving generic posts.

Strategies & Techniques for Forum Marketing

1. Find Active Forums in Your Niche

The first step is to find active forums in your niche. This is the best search string you can probably use. You want to go to Google and use your keyword in quotes plus forum. As an example, “website design” + “forum”.

Depending on your specific niche, this search string may or may not work really well. If it doesn’t work and you don’t get a ton of forum results, you can use another search string on Google – your keyword plus Powered by vBulletin. vBulletin is forum software that is used for creating and managing forums.

If that doesn’t get you the forum results you’re looking for, you can also try this search string on Google – your keyword plus “hot thread with new post”.

These are three really reliable search strings and you can usually find plenty of forums in your niche, but if these aren’t yielding enough results or you just want more, there’s yet another trick to find more forums. What you want to do is use a niche specific keyword.

Once you’ve found a forum, you want to see if it’s even worth your time. The first thing you want to do is look at the latest post info and look at when the last post was posted. Basically, what you’re doing is seeing how often people are posting on this site and how active it is, because there is no way to see how many active users there are, so this is a proxy way to do that. Under posted you want to look at the date and in that case that is yesterday, so that’s pretty recent. This is also from yesterday, which is pretty recent. As long as you see that, it’s probably worth making an account.

2. Register For A Particular Forum

Your next step is to register. Find wherever it says register, click that button. Then, you want to fill out the user name or screen name. You want to make it your brand name or your personal name. You want to use something very memorable and branded. Ideally, you would put your brand name or your site name as your username. That’s important because people are going to be seeing that and associating your content on the forum with your brand. If this is something that’s not your brand, it’s going to be harder for them to associate the content with the name of your business or the name of your website.

Once you have an account and it’s all set up, your next step is to create a signature. A forum signature is important because that’s actually how you’re going to drive traffic to your site. In your signature, you just want to create some call to action, a benefit driven call to action.

You don’t want to make the mistake that a lot of people make with forum marketing, which is to try to get some SEO value from this link and they put exact match anchor text. That is not smart because really Google doesn’t consider these links particularly valuable and that over-optimized anchor text can hurt you down the road. Just make sure to use some sort of call to action in your anchor text that isn’t just your keyword because this is actually how you’re going to drive traffic to your site from the forum.

3. Participating In The Forum

Once you have your account set up and your signature ready to go, your next step is to actually participate in the forum. To do that, you want to visit the main area of the forum and see where most people hang out.

The next thing you’ll want to do is click on one of the areas that either has a lot of people viewing or is an area of expertise or both and click on it. You want to click at the thread titles and see where you can add value.  That’s really important because a lot of people, when they do forum marketing, they make the mistake of just responding to as many as possible. In my experience, it’s definitely quality over quantity. If you can maybe add one to two quality posts to a thread per day, you can get quite a bit of traffic from that.

You definitely want to be early on and that’s why when you look at the forum section, you want to stick to the top as much as possible and not scroll down too much because then when you participate you’re going to be towards the bottom of the thread and not as many people are going to see you. You should include the keyword in the forum post and also in the title.

4. Creating Your Own Thread

If you want to get the most traffic possible from forum marketing, you have to create your own thread. Participating in threads is great, but you also want to create your own threads. You can actually just copy and paste content from your site. It doesn’t have to be original for a forum. Make sure it’s indexed on your site and once Google indexes it, you can head over to your forum of choice and then give them, maybe, a different version that’s a little shorter or more brief or maybe add something to it that’s exclusive for the forum, so it’s not really just copying and pasting.

That’s really all there is to building website traffic through forum marketing. You want to create an account that has your brand name as the user name. You want to participate as often as possible, but make sure you’re providing value every single time you participate in a thread. Then, when you publish something great on your site, wait for it to get indexed and then head to the form and then paste it there and maybe make some modifications and that’s going to get you some really, really great traffic.

Get Free Publicity for Your Website Using HARO

Wouldn’t it be spectacular to get free publicity for your website with a link and a quote on a major news publication like the Washington Post or Huffington Post? It’s actually easier than you might think and it involves using a website called “HARO” or “Help A Reporter Out” – HARO is a service that connects journalists in need of sources and marketers hungry for publicity.

Get Free Publicity for Your Website

HARO is a great way for small businesses to get free publicity. All you need to do is sign up and choose between the free or paid plans. The free plan subscribes you to 3 emails a day that you have to comb through and respond to. The paid plans allow you to go on the HARO website and search and filter to the specific category that you might respond to with a pitch. The paid plan also gives you a profile on the HARO site.

Whenever there is something that is relevant to your business in HARO, you can respond with a pitch. Many small businesses have been featured in local newspapers, on blogs, and in several online news magazines. If you’re lucky, you can build up a relationship with a specific journalist. 

25 Useful Tools For Competitive Research

Let’s face it. You can learn a ton from your competitors. Whether you’re a restaurant and want to know about changing food trends or an interior designer trying to tap into a new geographic market, there are tons of different factors to consider and a broad variety of marketing tools. Many tools that help you monitor your own web performance can also help you gather data on competition. So it’s possible that you’re already using some of these tools without using the features that help you evaluate your competitors.

Top 25 Most Useful Tools For Competitive Market Research

To view the complete list, visit the Kissmetric blog.