Dot.TK Free Domains: Don’t Call It a Comeback

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Looking to register a free Dot.TK domain? I’d urge you to reconsider & simply pay $10 for a regular domain (eg, .COM, .ORG, .NET) from a respected registrar. For just $10, you’ll have full control over your domain & website.

I suggest Go Daddy, the world’s largest registrar. They’re cheap, and pretty easy to use (just ignore the upsells). You can read what GoDaddy users say about the service here.

Think back to 2001. Altavista ruled the school in Nerdsville and AOL was cranking out enough free CDs to pave the Pacific. Business models were for squares, and ad revenue was for trad media, daddio.

Crazy days. Way back then, Dot.TK domains became the TLD of choice for spammers and scammers – the old school .info domain, if you will. Indeed, you’d be forgiven for concluding that the Tokelau islands‘ 1,300 citizens (pictured below) were all hard-grafting Viagra® salesmen and 419 scammers (in cahoots with PayPal’s *cough* ‘account verification team’).

The truth is less exciting (which is a shame, as my version would make a cracking tiki-themed reality TV show). The bijou South Pacific islands got their mitts on a TLD, and took the Yankee dollar Dutch guilder in exchange for allowing any Tom, Dick or beleaguered Nigerian Head of State the right to register domains gratis. The idyllic South Pacific islands now boast a staggering 1,300+ domain name registrations per capita.

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A recent McAfee study concluded that a staggering 10.1% of Dot.TK websites were home to spyware, spam, phishing scams or some other flavour of malware. Hilariously, US ISP RoadRunner once decided the only solution was to block every Dot.TK domain bar two.

Since the Dot.TK registry brags of serving 6,000,000 unique visitors daily, we can guesstimate that a staggering 606,000 internet users get the chance to be scammed every day of the year in the name of the Tokelau people (I guess I can kiss my Tokelau visa goodbye).

Why the dot.com history lesson? Dot.TK domains are getting a makeover, with some interesting news for online marketing aficionados, cheapskates, domain geeks and, hey, all you trademark owners out there.

They’ve given a young child some new crayons to draw a Dot.TK logo:

Dot.TK domains logo

They’ve coined a factually inaccurate strapline: “Renaming The Internet”. They’ve opened offices in Soho, London, seconds from Nonsense HQ and London’s finest burrito joint.

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Heck, they’ve even crafted a mission statement, just like NASA. In the immortal words of MC Hammer, they now aim to be “too legit to quit”. Onwards with the news.

Free Domain Names

Common or garden Dot.TK domains remain free (read: longer than four letters, no ‘premium’ .tk domains, no trademarks). That’s right: free domain names. Be sure to read the quirky domain registration T+Cs, like the fact you lose your free domain if you get less than 25 visitors/day.

Free domains carry a Blogspot-style banner up top with contextual ads and thumbnails of popular .TK sites. Popular .TK sites? Hmm… I’d not be comfortable with promoting that kind of site. So lucky that paid Dot.TK domains start at $6.95/year. Ever wonder how Google stock hit $700? Witness Mountain View’s finest mercilessly monetizing those lucrative ‘Learn how to speak Tokelau‘ SERPs on Google.tk:

Google.TK ads

Dot.TK Contextual Ads

Fortunately for us, the Tokelau islanders are an ad-loving people. Dot.TK are launching a contextual ad platform to serve text ads on free Dot.TK domains. Forget the awful name (‘Buy-an-Eye‘, anyone? ANYONE?), I’ll be investigating for cheapo, high volume traffic.

Plus every Dot.TK click you buy is one less user to get scammed on a Dot.TK domain. Signup now for launch notification by email. Rumours that Dot.TK registry emails arrive from the desk of deposed Nigerian President Shehu Shagari are yet to be confirmed.

Dot.TK Sunrise Period

Trademark owners have until December 3rd 2007 to claim their trademark domains
(NB. Google.TK is short on Tokelau sunrise photos, so make do with a Tokelau sunset up top).

Dot.TK API

The Dot.TK API allows you to integrate free domain registration into your site or application. While it’s hard to imagine Google.tk becoming a regular in your referral logs, throwaway Dot.TK domains could integrate well with noob-friendly web design packages, like the fabulous RapidWeaver.

Enough about Dot.TK domains. Go book your late, late summer break in Tokelau and be sure to share your top Tokelau tourist tips in the comments.

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