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Domain Name as NFT

Some years ago I got involved in a project to investigate provenance, and progressive models of art valuations:

Provenance (from the French provenir, 'to come from/forth') is the chronology of the ownership, custody or location of a historical object...

The project wasn't a winner, mostly because of the founders, and because the source of the ideas driving the endeavoring part of the endeavor was illicitly driven.

If you know me you know what I mean by that.

While much of American English is ignored by today's overwhelmingly left-brain-driven generations, illicit is not the same as illegal. Illicit is neither the same as "immoral", which itself is not as strongly tied to religion as today's readers believe.

In competitive SEO, you must be honest about your true intentions. Any deception at the senior level of a project will cause failure, via one or more usually unexpected and typically misunderstood vectors.

I will refer to a startup or search-related marketing project as illict if the drivers are dishonest, or otherwise misrepresent the true intentions for the project.

Provenance and Art Value

When considering provenance, you are acknowledging value emanating from available factual evidence supporting the originality and/or the historical context of an artistic work.

By acknowledging provenance, you acknowledge value in the work that is not intrinsic to the work as a piece of art, but as a non-fungible work.

An exact replica of the Mona Lisa is not as valuable as The Mona Lisa. Only proof of source (e.g. provenance) can differentiate the exact replica from the original.

If the difference in value between such an exact replica and the original Mona Lisa was, say, 10 million units of fiat currency, then one could argue that the satisfactory provenance that proved the original to be the original, and not the replica, was worth... 10 million.

Okay... so maybe that's a stretch. The Mona Lisa was worth 10 million, but could not have been traded for 10 million without the provenance-proof step of the transaction. So what is the value of the Mona Lisa? What is the value of the provenance-proving steps?

Domain as NFT

While the world explores the concept of NFT (the popularly -elected moniker for "non-fungible token"), I wonder who owns the domain name.

A domain name is a non-fungible token. It has inherent value in the same way that the Mona Lisa does, when evaluated next to an exact-replica. There is only one of any given domain name. There are other domain names that others may deem to be equivalent (depending on use), but none are "the one" same domain name.

What is the value of a domain name?

Great question. The common joke answer is "whatever someone is willing to pay for it".

This answer reveals the NFT nature of domain names -- they are unique, and valuable, in large part because the unique nature of the domain name captures some portion of the variable market value of the name, to the potential buyers. A value that shifts unpredictably with time.

Domain names are NFTs, yet are a more valuable form of NFT than the digital NFTs everyone is gushing over today, because the world has built major systems of commerce on the domain names. The global World Wide Web is dependent upon the Domain Name System, which uses domain names as the basis of truth.

One thing preventing sky-high valuations of domain name NFTs is our co-existing awareness of the market value we can presumably extract from our currency markets in the short-to-mid term, because the systems by which we deploy a domain name for return on investment (the revenue-conversion) is based in current technologies and the DNS system.

A second big factor preventing billion dollar valuations is the risk associated with those same deployment systems. Who cares if you own A.whatever? Does it have any value at all? But we care if you own, because we acknowledge less risk for controlling than controlling A.whatever, and we acknowledge the inherent value in as unique NFT.

You can see this by comparing valuable commerce names like to the rare single-letter dot com domains like or A single-letter dot com is so rare that the auction markets value the domain at much higher levels than other domain names. Up to the limit imposed by acknowledged risks. It is worth noting that Chinese investors have been most active in buying one and two letter dot com domain names, seemingly for their NFT value.

Perhaps the domain name represents the provenance-proving step in the Mona Lisa exact-replica example. The example where it is unclear how one could value the actual, legitimate, authentic Mona Lisa from the relatively worthless exact replica Mona Lisa, without assigning the value of the authentic Mona Lisa to the provenance-proving step(s) of the sales process, instead of the work of art.

Valuing Social Constructs

Society has a lot of growing up to do. From artificially-supported fiat currencies to false equivalents of "equality", and on through the very definitions of "mental illness" and "happiness"... we are in for some impactful surprises as power is assumed by often ignorant, usually quite biased individuals (and the organizational cloaks they don to hide their individualism).

We are on our way to an eventual better understanding of how we value what we value, and what is actually of value to humans on earth. It seems obvious we failed to teach human values in school, where we should have taught human values.

I expect a bumpy road.

Cue the episode of The Twilight Zone gold has become worthless because man figured out how to manufacture it.

Future Posts:

SEO for the Google

In 2021, we are still doing SEO for Google. The relative traffic numbers are still there, so the consultants still justify the SEO budgets. The relative ranking / traffic data remain as justification for trying to rank higher. The barriers to ranking a new site are higher than ever, which further justifies SEO spend for those who rationalize such things.

Add in the challenges posed by social media and its influencers, who have been building private audiences for many years, and can now demonstrate higher attention numbers than even popular national television news programs.

And thus the lie is exposed: Audience.

What is Google's audience?

If you're "optimizing" for The Google, you should know the audience you are competing to earn from the "search engine". That knowledge is core to your business, if your business is ranking converting opportunities (i.e. URLs) in Google.

But perhaps you have actually limited your practice to "optimizing" other people's web pages to improve their ranking in Google's SERPs. A so-called "professional SEO services provider" who increasingly generates the very rationalizations that are then used to justify spend (using testing tools). In that case, is it all just a scam? Are these "professionals" ever able to show business success that follows from allegedly successful SEO efforts, beyond the tools they use to justify the effort?

Look carefully at those tools in 2021. And look carefully at the alleged Google search audience. And then cancel those SEO Service budgets, if they aren't driving bottom line success metrics in an attributable way.

But if you're pleasantly surprised...if you see that your SEO is delivering on the promise of more, better-converting traffic to your URLs, then I suggest you increase your spend, while you can.

On Censorship...quoted from a 2008 interview

Prior to Threadwatch I mostly stayed out of forums and the like, due to frustrations I felt dealing with those who quietly “managed the message” as moderators. People only see what gets published, and they want to believe it’s the whole story. If they are told “we only edit out obscenities” then they believe that what they see is what was written, perhaps sans obscenities. Sadly, that is far from the truth. Posts are edited and deleted as needed to manage discussions, and often there are strong agendas at work behind that process. Threadwatch started as a place that promised not to do that, and it didn’t. I was one of the first 3 editors of Threadwatch, and I didn’t even get any instructions for doing the job. It was simply assumed that we would only fix problems, delete obvious spam and bring questionable issues up for discussion. Everyone had a voice if they exercised it. If there were too many UFO posts the community complained to the posters before any moderators did.

On Competitive Webmastering...quoted from 2008 interview

Much of what we do as search optimizers is really just good web publishing, following proper technical and usability guidelines. But as search becomes the default access channel for Internet users, building for search (search friendly publishing, or SEO) is actually necessary.

And that is a self-reinforcing thing — the more search works for people, the more they use search. If every webmaster optimizes, they all need to optimize further to compete. So if you expect to be competitive today, you need to be search optimized. If tomorrow we have something new that is more important than search, we webmasters will need to accommodate that as well. In general, you are a competitive webmaster.

On Helping Others with SEO as a Consultant, quoted from an interview

I follow the consultant model in my business, rather than an agency or practice model. That means I focus strategically on those aspects of search marketing (and competitive webmastering) that bring business success rather than simply SEO success. I believe that a business looking to succeed in search marketing is actually looking to succeed online in general, not just gain more search traffic. Unfortunately, many businesses don’t have that general online success model worked out yet, and their SEO efforts fail to perform cost-effectively even if they succeed based on SEO metrics alone.

Fortunately, the same knowledge an SEO needs to achieve SEO success can be used by the business itself to refine the online success portion of the overall Internet marketing equation. This can be done at the same time, and with relatively little incremental cost, via the consulting model. I hope to demonstrate that for the Search Fest audience, by showing how working effectively with an SEO at the strategy level can guide you towards overall online success, while simultaneously empowering you to effectively manage your SEO engagement and empowering your SEO to succeed on your behalf.

John Andrews and

Someone once told me that when they hear a conference speaker describe some SEO issue, they prioritize finding out "what would JA do..." as their next step.

This blog was named "JohnOn" because it represents my opinions "on" a variety of topics (most related to entreprenuring using the web, in competition with other publishers).

Some references noted (a random few of the many)

  • Bloomberg Business Week, on Google's and Demand Media's co-dependency (2011)
  • "John andrews is one of the smartest industry folks i've ever met", said the author of Killer Facebook Ads(in the book).
  • Cited as an essential resource in the book "111 SEO Tips" (published in German)
  • Cited for defining competititve website optimizing as an effective practice, in the book Website Visibility: The Theory and Practice of Improving Rankings
  • "John Andrews is one of the smartest, most perceptive people in search marketing", noted by search conference organizer in 2008, in a profile published in advance of a rare conference appearance.
"To an experimentalist, everything is an experiment. Observations are rarely what they appear to be."

*If there is a way to contact me, it is provided at the bottom of the page.

American English, and American Culture

Need to reach me? Call me, or text me, or hit me up on Slack, Discord, Telegram, or other. I'm not active on Facebook, nor am I on LinkedIn.

If you need my contact details or phone number, just find someone you know who already has it, and ask them for it. #simple.

If you discover that you don't know anyone who knows me, well... sorry about that. Maybe you can you ask every SEO person you know "Do you know how to contact John Andrews?".