Double Byte “Internationalized Domain Names”: A Superficial Alternative (Part 1)

Twisted: Double Byte Internationalized Domain Names
Double Byte IDNs: “Interesting, but Useless Eye-Candy”

Internationalized Domain Names, heard of them? Double byte web addresses. You know the ones – the 日本.jps and the 価格.coms – you must have seen them lurking somewhere? Yes, these are called IDNs, or Internationalized Domain Names.

Just how valuable are these “snatch up while you can” bargains that the registrars have been trying to flog to us for the last 4 or 5 years? How will these prestigious pieces of “Internet Real Estate” rear up in the next decade? Are they a potential goldmine as Asians increasingly get net savvy, or another intricate money internet sucking scam? Stippy.com decided to take a deep look into the technology and history of domain names, and find out for ourselves about IDNs.

I was recently greeted by an email offer from a friend to help find a home for this “package set” of three “Hills Zoku” IDNs:

  • ヒルズ族.jp
  • ヒルズ族.com
  • ヒルズ族.net

They are read hillszoku (.jp, .com, and .net) referring to the Roppongi Hills area in Tokyo. The seller estimates the value of this package to be around USD 50K (and is offering a commission of up to 15%! So, if you don’t bother reading our article, are rich, and are outlandish enough to buy these, let us know!)

But seriously, do you, or anyone you know ever use these on a regular basis (other than for the novelty check to see if they actually work)? Double byte domain names will not succeed. They will remain a novelty for native speakers of double byte languages, and us gaijin alike. Although this article may get a bit “techy”, and seem a bit long winded, I am going to explain why this is so, in terms that hopefully anyone should be able to understand. The first part of this in-depth look at IDNs may be a history lesson that bores those of you who already know the technical details of how the Internet works at its deepest and most basic level. But, it so happens that history is important when discussing this topic, as there are facts and figures that may sway your opinion of double byte character usage in internet domain names (this is not just a matter of subjective feelings). So, skip the rest of this article if you are not interested in the background – go and find yourself a stippy friend! On the other hand, if you read this article (and part 2), and still think I’m missing the entire point of IDNs then I’d love to hear your side of the argument in the comment section below!
(Update: part two of this article now published HERE)

Twisted: Double Byte Internationalized Domain NamesThe Internet, as most now know, is an enormous array of autonomous computer networks (or, as the Chairman of the United States Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, Senator Ted Stevens sees it, a “series of tubes”). These computers – and other sorts of devices – which can be running almost any operating system, and may be served off hardware that was made up to 2 decades ago, are joined in a seemingly never-ending and dynamic tangle, of information.

Unlike in human interaction, where we get along with a somewhat flexible form of communication (different languages, dialects, facial expressions, tone of voice, body language) and where it doesn’t really matter if you make small grammatical mistakes in order to convey meaning, there are a few “rules” which all of the devices on the Internet must obey in order to communicate – no matter what age, creed, race or religion to which they belong (keeping with the human analogy). The sheer nature of tens of millions of different machines, all talking different languages, all running on different architectures, at different speeds, for a nearly unlimited set of applications, necessitates a very basic, but extremely stable protocol – or rulebook – in order to talk with one another in a reliable manner.

Much of the development of these “rules” for computers to talk with each other was done in English speaking countries (USA and UK), and hence all of the underlying messaging, addressing and command structures were, and still are in English. Sure, most of the technical details of these original protocols are totally hidden to the Internet end user, except one – the domain name, or domain address. That is, the stippy.com part of http://www.stippy.com. The domain address is still the easiest way for anyone in the world to connect to any other computer in the world, which is also connected to the Internet.

Arpanet Deployment Team - 1960’s USA
The Arpanet Deployment Team – USA 1960’s

The predecessor of the Internet, which was called the “ARPANet”, was developed in the late 1960′s and, while still a far cry from the “series of tubes” we have now, used a communication system very similar in nature to that still used by modern day computers. Back then, each machine connected on the network was called a “node”. Each node of the original ARPANet was a computer called an IMP (Interface Message Processor), and what it did was hold a big text file full of computer numbers (IMP numbers) and mapped to “host names” (or simply, easier to remember “nicknames” for us stupid humans who can’t easily remember strings of numbers). To this day, the Internet does basically the same thing, with domain names.

Soon, when hundreds (and later on, thousands) of computers began connecting ARPANet. Manually storing all of the host names, and mapping them to their “node” numbers became cumbersome, and was fraught with human error, even though it was maintained in one central reference machine. A move away from the “text file” (flat host name table) approach to a more hierarchical method of storing the same mappings of computer names to numbers was necessary and very soon became inevitable.

In 1981, a proposal for a new system of Internet Name Domains – as we know them today – was drafted, and published as a Request for Comments (RFC 799). By 1983, it was decided that based on RFC 799, the “host table name system” – described above – would be replaced with a new system. And so a new era of computing was born. It was a method capable of storing and sharing millions of domain names mapped their corresponding numbers (IP addresses) hierarchically and efficiently between millions of host servers, which is still thriving today, called the Domain Name System, or DNS.

With the Internet what it is now, it is very easy to forget just why it was initially devised, and what purpose it served in its fledgling years. The ARPANet was primarily an email system, and in 1973, 75% of all packets transferred were emails, all between English native speakers. There was no requirement at the time that the network be able to transfer messages in any other language, let alone for it’s address command structure to work with non-English domain names. Hence, the whole Internet and email addresses architecture was (and still is) restricted to an extremely limited, but vastly efficient character set where only the letters of the English alphabet (case-insensitive), the decimal digits, and the hyphen are allowed. That is just 37 characters.

Multi-Lingual Computer UserBut, there is more than one language in the world (unfortunately!), and when the Internet began to be deployed throughout the globe in the early 1990s, some users and networking organizations in non-English speaking countries were sour that they could not use their native language script in Internet Domain Names. The Chinese and Japanese especially wanted to use Chinese characters (known of course as Kanji in Japan) in domain names. At the time, many of the heavyweight advocates of the proposal were from Japan, wishing to use their beloved kanji for Internet addressing. But, the Asian community in the 1990s were not involved in the initial architecture. Wishes were expressed without an understanding the basic issues – they were voting to build a nuclear reactor, without bothering to check if it was on a fault line. The problem – their character sets are double byte (one character requires two bytes of space (to store on a hard disk, or transmit), as opposed to Latin characters, which require only one).

Double byte characters certainly were not in the minds of the Internet “framers” when they were coming up with the messaging and command protocols that form the foundations of the “world wide web”. In fact, even now, double byte characters are renowned for 文字化け, (mojibake, garbling) even when sent as message content, and are shunned by developers and network administrators alike as useless and irritating overhead where basic Internet protocols are concerned.

The fact is, that the established rules and protocols of addressing on the Internet are stable, and they work – and they are made from rock solid Roman characters. The sheer scope of “the web”, the fact that it is an integral part of government, business, and private affairs today (at least in every developed country), dictate that changes to it’s basic standards and protocols, are virtually impossible and are to be avoided. At very least, changes to our internet foundations should not be considered for something so menial and “nice-to-have” as double-byte-capable Internet domains right? Wouldn’t internationalizing these domain names be like allowing Kanji phone numbers?

Well, it turns out though, that the dreams of the “yokomoji” (literally “sidewards characters”, a short-sighted way to refer to any language written in the Roman alphabet) adversaries came true, and what are now known as Internationalized Domain Names (IDNs), became a reality.. well, that is in a very superficial way. Thankfully, none of the secure foundations of Internet protocol were shaken by the implementation of IDNs. They are still not really domain names in the mind of any DNS servers (and most other internet servers for that matter), and in fact, are totally reliant on user applications (on your PC!) to convert them using a complicated set of rules into the 37 Roman characters and numbers that we know and love. The Japan Registry Service (JPRS), who took over from the Japan Network Information Center (JPNIC) is responsible for the “smooth administration of the Internet” in Japan, and ultimately the owner of what is called the “standardization” or “normalization” of IDNs in Japan. The JPRS, being private entity are primarily a commercially minded, and nowhere on their home page do they really tackle the struggle that IDNs are facing. Their predecessor, JPNIC (a government sponsored foundation) on the other hand, state the hurdles they faced (when they were in charge) in a very pragmatic and honest manner and take a responsible and analytical look at solutions (or, workarounds at best) to the technical issues. Here is a two points from their site, where they openly reveal their wish IDNs (multilingual domain names) must not change the underlying architecture of the Internet in any way:

  • Multilingual domain names must not influence current DNS use and management
  • Multilingual domain names should continue to be DNS that can resolve names in any type of system, regardless of the location

They go on the mention that ultimately, IDNs need to be converted back somehow into Roman characters in order to have any chance of becoming widely utilised by the average Internet user. (You can read about many more of the issues that surround Japanese IDNs in more detail on their homepage).

Also, Jim Breen, of Monash University in Australia, one of the most respected authorities when it comes to Japanese language dictionaries and encoding Japanese and Chinese characters for use on computer systems takes a deep look at the subject and the problems that IDNs face in one of his excellent papers. He explains why Japanese domain names would have a very hard time establishing themselves as mainstream.

Internationalised Domain Names introduce one more level of complexity (like a second language barrier!) to our Internet. Even apart from the fact that most of the Internet using world can not decipher them, the underpinnings of the web are in English, and they will never succeed on a large scale.

Anyway, that is enough for today’s domain name history lesson – come back in a few days for part two, where we shall explore from a user’s perspective just why the 日本語.com IDNs of the Internet are not going to play a significant role in your life. While you are waiting, leave comments on this topic below, or read this very good article (in Japanese only) on the subject, and find out why even Japanese people are complaining about IDNs!

UPDATE: Part two of this article is now available.

36 thoughts on “Double Byte “Internationalized Domain Names”: A Superficial Alternative (Part 1)”

  1. Hi, new to your blog but I’m loving it.

    I’d hate to see all teh work that has been done forcing the entire world to use Roman Characters to go to waste.

    At the end of the day teh keyboard’s teh users have in front of them are based on Roman Characters, why do users of “double byte” languages need to add an extra layer of difficulty to their surfing experience?

    And honestly, in the average web session I do I might access 30-50 websites (like web cartoons and blogs) but I will only type in one or two web addresses directly, everything else is from bookmarks or hyper links. I find it next to impossible to remember anything close to 15% of them if I were to enter them directly.

    IMHO it’s going to become something that’s nice but not used, like most of the features on my mobile phone.
    http://misdoclub.blogspot.com/search/label/SO903i

  2. I think contamination has a good point and might prove you wrong in the long run. The more people click on links to get to their final destination, the less it matters how many key strokes you need to find a url. You’re better off having kanji at the top of the tool bar to give you better brand recognition from users.
    Yahoo! Japan has such a huge market share because there are heaps of japanese that go to yahoo to search for google or rakuten. People just don’t remember more than 1 or 2 URLs. (If you don’t believe me then sit in an internet cafe in Shibuya for a few hours and peer over the shoulders of the joshikosei).

    Ps. Can you introduce me to that guy? Given that he has already stollen my handle the bastard.

  3. Maybe not for Japanese who seem to like using Western words anyway. But for for the rest of Asia who could give a rat’s ass if they ever read a word of English – it’s gonna be huge.

  4. I agree with you that IDNs won’t be successful in Japan because of the very fact that most Japanese use roman keyboard and roman characters to input their cryptic kanjis anyway. (How about Chinese?) Though Thai poeple use Thai keyboard (I am from Thailand) and we have had Thai domain name system for years, it hasn’t gained any popularity.

    However, like the idea that the world should have only one universal language, providing URLs in roman characters only is a sad thing. Although most internet users are new generation and English is the world’s de-facto language, I have met many old Japanese that have difficulty using romanji in computer and some even use Japanese keyboard. Why should we shut the door to internet to people who are not willing to learn roman characters? With growing internet-using Chinese poppulation, who knows if Chinese (and Chinese characters) will be the new standard.

    Also it seems that your ‘Asian people’ term actually means Japanese and Chinese. There are southeast asians, indian, russian(?), …. out there.

  5. Old people? what % of old people are using the Internet to begin with?

    With my wife’s parents, we have to stand behind them as they look for things. They are only in their 50′s (And they are Japanese).

    Another problem with (specifically) Kanji domains is that you are going to have similar combinations of characters producing different meaning domains. This is going to be a pain to manage and police.

    Spending energy on better search results from the engines like Google or Yahoo would be more productive than re-writing the domain system. IMHO.

  6. You made a mistake, I valued that package of domains at 50K USD, so please correct your page. (Author note: Corrected)

    Also, thanks for the free publicity – I’ve received a lot of traffic to those sites over the past few days, some of which has even generated revenue for me.

    Just for the information of the IDN naysayers, I published a website on a Japanese IDN and it was indexed two weeks ago. Since then, it’s received between 600 and 700 unique visitors per day and is earning between 5 and 8 USD per day – enough to buy my lunch or subsidize my entire portfolio of not-yet developed domains.

    Say what you will, if you will.

  7. Yes, once I do this with 50 more sites, this is exactly the plan. Great minds think alike.

  8. Hi ヒルズ族、

    Thanks for visiting! Maybe you could reciprocate with a link to stippy.com on your sites. Or, maybe すてぃっぴー.com, or すていっぴ。こm… or something like that.. (or commission for the traffic we are generating?)

    Anyway, seriously, I really do appreciate your comment, and we would like to keenly follow your progress with the sites above. Please come back and tell us if you sell them, and how much for!

    By the way, what is the website you published?? You cant tell us about your website, and not leave us the link…

  9. Well I’m not entirely sure what your post is about … What I do know is that many thousands of Japanese people are visiting my Japanese IDN websites daily and my adsense account is in the very best of health!

    It is only a matter of time until Japanese developers and SEO guys realise the value of domains in their own language (Hard to miss when they are showing up in the top 5 positions of Yahoo Japan!) by which time unfortunately 99.99% of half-way decent domains will be gone (99% having already been registered, and for the most part by foreigners)

    I have a number of sites that rank exceptionally well in Yahoo Japan and I occasionally get email to these domains asking me how I have a Japanese language domain and where can they get one. I am surprised that more native Japanese have not yet grasped the significance and SEO value of IDNs and at this point in time the only way to obtain a decent Japanese IDN will be to pay a very large multiple of registration fee and even then there is no guarantee of securing your desired domain.
    $50,000 USD is not an unrealistic price for that set of 3 domains and the owner just has to come across a motivated and far-sighted buyer to obtain such a price.

    Prices will only go up.

  10. And wouldn’t it be sensible that the organization which has $50,000 to spend on a domain also has lawyers who can go to the registering body and plead “Cyber Squatting” and thus the entrepreneur is forced to had over the domain and is out of pocket for registrar and hosting fees?

    The dot com days are over and the people who have the real world cash are much smarter than to fall for that kind of bunk.

    So enjoy the advertising ¥while it lasts, but I doubt that there will be any money from a sale (except to another speculator).

  11. I’m eager to read your upcoming article on why Japanese people have no need for Japanese domain names. Controversy is welcome. It is evident that you are missing a lot of material information that should inform a potential investor in Japanese domain names. That isn’t your fault, the information is not really gathered coherently in one place. There are inherent risks in Japanese domain name adoption but you have missed those too and focused on inconsequential ones. Again an interesting read but despite all the facts and references (great attempt at research btw) generally misinformed.

    1. Japanese domain names are intended for the convenience of Japanese people, the resulting inconvenience to non-Japanese speaking gainjins is immaterial. What they don’t see they don’t miss.
    2.Internet Explorer owns over 95% of the Japanese market. Until last November, no version of IE supported IDNs, now IE7 does. This accounts for previous failure of Japanese domain names.
    3.After IE7 distributes itself via auto-update in Japan later this year, penetration of IDN supporting browsers will climb significantly making Japanese domain names a feasible reality for the first time.
    4.Most holders of Japanese domain names (the bulk of whom are native Japanese residents and companies ) are not interested in “cyber-squatting” (whoever said that is living in the 1990′s and requires an education in intellectual property law too lengthy to engage in here – these are not trademarks but generics). They hold them in anticipation of type-in traffic.
    5. The real risk in Japanese domain names is that type-in traffic behavior may never develop among the Japanese. Type-in behavior which we see with ASCII domains in English speaking countries is the source of almost all value to domain names. SEO has relatively little to do with domain value. Google or MS can never take away type-in traffic.
    6. The bet is that after IE7 has better market penetration, ad agencies will begin to advertise Japanese domain names instead of the terrible useless ascii domains they advertise (pointlessly) today. If it weren’t for 2d barcodes there wouldn’t be any direct navigation to corporate websites. This advertising and Yahoo, Amazon, Wikipedia switching over to Japanese domain names will teach the Japanes type-in behavior. This is the pattern well established in the west. Ads are already beginning and Dentsu seems to be on to the campaign value of Japanese domain names.
    7. While Mr. Breen wrote an excellent simple JE and EJ dictionary which we all use, his paper is dated and fails to provide a meaningful conclusion – Japanese domain names were not prevalent in 2003 not because of lack of demand but because of a failure of browser support for Japanese domain names.

    I hope that helps. Oh and yes someday Yahoo may change their algorithm and deprioritize Japanese domain names, but until then many of us actually do receive a lot of search engine traffic which monetizes well.

    WRHirata

  12. Contamination, it would help if you first understood the definition of cybersquatting before making comments about cybersquatting. Here is a link for you to a site I just browsed, which has some FAQ for you:

    http://topsellingdomains.com/faq.htm

    Honestly, this is not my site but it does seem to have the correct level of language for the layman regarding domain name speculation. I hope after reading that, combined with some good old common sense, you will realize that the term “Hills-Zoku” is not anymore trademarkable except in the abstract and that would indeed be after the fact. This term has already been taken into general usage; the cat is out of the bag. I simply got the domains before anyone else. I will, however, note an interesting parallel with a fairly recent domain sale which is the name of a prestigious Atlanta suburb – buckhead.com. Late last year, buckhead.com was purchased for $250k by a resident of Buckhead.

    Hills-Zoku, If you want to contact me then Blue has my permission to privately send you my email address.

    Blue, I won’t disclose the link to my recently developed site as a matter of general sensibility as well as preventing it from becoming fodder for your article’s part 2. I’ll just say that the content is written by native Japanese people for native Japanese people…

    Thanks again for the publicity on the ヒルズ族 domains! BTW, the listed price for the package is only good for the next 3 months.

  13. Murphys Law: Ah yes but if I only knew which 50% !

    Seriously people thinking about double-byte domain names need to forget about their anti-English bias. When you look at say UNIX (of whatever flavour) and consider how many Japanese sysadmins are out there happily using UNIX at expert level can it really be said that UNIX commands are in English ? I would argue that UNIX is UNIX and that it is international already. The same applies to so called English domain names… they are not really English: they are domain names which happen to use the English character set. So what ? The world should be grateful that purely by chance we ended up with a nice simple character set.

  14. Your statement that IDNs will never succeed on a large scale is akin to those who never imagined that television could ever replace radio. Given the fact that 75% of the world does not speak English, IDNs will allow internet users around the world to navigate URLS (web addresses) in their own native languages. Advertising agencies, bloggers, web developers and corporations are already implementing them for their ease of being remembered, branding, product marketing and advertising communication.

    What others have said above is 100% correct. IDNs have been held back from mainstream use by lack of browser support. With the upcoming release IE7 auto update combined with Vista IE7, internet users will be able to type their native script (unicode) into the browser bar and have it converted to its own unique “punycode” (comprised of letters from a-z, numbers 0-9 and hypen).

    This IDN system has been in development for over a decade and implementation was only held back by lack of browser support. The IDN punycode system is engineered to work within our existing DNS system and the user simply inputs the native script ie. 租.com. Entering this as the URL is as simple as “us” doing the same in English with the equivalent rent.com.

    For those that missed the opportunity to grab top generic domain names in the English language back in the 1990′s, a parallel opportunity presents itself again with IDNs. If you are interested in IDN values, you can get a glimpse of IDN sales at idntools.net. Look up IDN Sales History for a rundown on many of the sales ranging upwards to $50,000 per domain name over the last year or so. Keep in mind that many of the best IDN sales have been private and not published at all. The future of the internet is unfolding before our eyes and the last major investment opportunity since the late 1990′s presents itself again here today and now with IDNs.

  15. Have purchased several idn’s some of them Japanese. Made some basic developments for testing purposes and they certainly do get good listings in yahoo and google search engines. imho there seems to be very strong potential for idn market. Auto update for IE7 might reveal much more.

  16. “When you look at say UNIX (of whatever flavour) and consider how many Japanese sysadmins are out there happily using UNIX at expert level can it really be said that UNIX commands are in English ?”

    Yes, it can. I worked for years as a senior level UNIX sysadmin. Even after all that time, I found myself constantly referring to online “man” pages to learn about an infrequently used option to a command while I was writing a script, c program, etc. The online man pages are all written in extremely terse english. I’m a native english speaker, and I often had trouble understanding the terse language. It is well known around the world that if you want to get into the IT business, especially the UNIX side of the house, then you’d better be fluent in English. IT Employers nearly always list “FLUENT” english as a requirement, regardless of which country they are located in. English is the language of geeks, period. 99% of internet users are not geeks, but a good majority of early adopters are. The Japanese early adopters are comfortable with english because most of them are geeks.

    With that in mind, I can’t even begin to mention how many times I’ve seen comments inside of code written in languages other than english. Or how many times I’ve seen the variable names inside of code written in languages other than english. And I’ve read and maintained a lot of code written by non-english speakers.

    Bottom line is that non-native english speakers are not grateful that they have to use english, and they would probably be using UTF-8 variable names and comments if the compilers wouldn’t choke on them. I guess compilers will eventually be able to handle UTF-8 filenames and variables, as well as ignore UTF-8 comments.

  17. What do you mean ヒルズ族さん、 I am a Japanese sysadmin (Solaris), and I just use the Japanese man pages. They are available for all major distros. No need to use English man pages. But, the commands we use are in romaji characters. There is no possibility to have Japanese commands, but I don’t think of that as “in English”. They are just commands. Typing a url is also just a command, and romaji is more convenient for me, as I don’t need to do the “henkan” on keyboard. Less characters for me to type. When I want to use Japanese, I just use google, it can find what I need. Even though I am a Japanese, I don’t agree for Japanese domain names. Only maybe they are good for search engines a little, but always page title and especially page content is have more priority in my experience, which when think deeply is better for end users as search result should be based on content more heavily, not just title or url, do you think?

  18. Japanese, Russian (Cyrillic), and other IDNs currently receive type-in traffic and make money for the registrant. That is a fact.

    I too receive from Japanese emails asking how to get such domains. I also receive emails asking to buy or rent these domains.

    If you want to keep your head in the sand, there are many webmasters and domainers out there who are happy to hear that. That means less competition in this gold rush. Please continue to write on this type of subject. It will be helpful for those of us in the ‘hunt’.

  19. Thanks to both ヒルズ族 and Takeda-san.

    I am not by any measure a UNIX wizard but I did work for 12 months in Japan as a UNIX sysadmin alongside Japanese sysadmins and as Takeda-san points out they never had any trouble with UNIX.

    I think that people who like the idea of double-byte domain names will probably be marketing/business people and people who are against the idea will be geeks. Personally I think double-byte domain names is an unecessary backwards step.

    But hey if someone can make money out of it and if it makes old Japanese people happy then I don’t mind. It’s all good :-)

  20. >> Dennis Peterson
    I just clicked on your URL by clicking on your name above.
    It took me to a url called: http://xn--u9jwf6e6e255o0b9b.com

    I assume that this is supposed to be an IDN?? It was displayed only as that crazy bunch of characters for me. Does the IDN show (in proper Japanese) for anyone else? I am using the very latest version of Firefox..

    Anyway, I think that this is what the author is trying to tell us here. I still have no idea what your domain name is. I assume it is something about Hawaii, as that is what your page content is about, but otherwise, you have a mojibake’d domain name for me.

  21. to fuckedgaijin:

    The problem which you experienced is a matter of policy which is isolated to Firefox/Mozilla, which over 95% of Japan does not use. The developers have taken it upon themselves to implement so-called “whitelisting” of certain domain extensions with regard to IDNs. If an extension is whitelisted, then it shows as expected in the address bar after you visit it. If it is not whitelisted, then you see the punycode URL instead (what you are complaining about). Most country-code top level domains, e.g. .jp, .de, etc are whitelisted. The .com and .net extensions are not whitelisted, because the Mozilla developers do not like it that Verisign allows mixed-script IDN registrations such as ヒルズ族abc.com, etc. If you visit ヒルズ族.jp and ヒルズ族.com, you will see what I am talking about. If you want to add a whitelist for .com and .net, type about:config into the address bar, right click in the main parge of the page, choose new -> boolean, name it network.IDN.whitelist.com, and set it to “true”. Repeat for .net. Internet Explorer 7, Opera, and Safari do not have this problem.

  22. >> Dennis Peterson
    Hi again Dennis. I just clicked on your link again, as I tried out the tip above from ヒルズ族 (It didn’t seem to work, any other ideas hills-zoku?)

    This time, I actually read the first paragraph of text on your page. It looks as if you have typed some random text about Hawaii into an automatic on-line translator engine (babelfish?) and just pasted it in as is. It reads horribly. No Japanese person would read past the first line. Even if your SEO results (from the domain name) brought people to the page, they would leave from the same page. Just thought you should know. Very bad content plus a “baked” domain name. What a combination, what a waste of “the Internets”.

  23. Looks like the sale went well then hey Gary – congratulations.

    Are you serious? Why on earth would anyone want to buy this for $5000 USD? You need to take another pill.

  24. No, the content was written by myself with help from a Japanese national to find difficult words such as sugar cane field. I admit my Japanese writing is not good and if I decide to get serious about this experiment, I would have the site professionally translated.
    The “baked” domain name is ハワイの写真. Works fine for me when I type this into my browser. Works fine for my friends in Japan also who are using explorer 7. http://ハワイの写真.com/ was copied from my address bar while on the site.
    Most people find what they are looking for through search engines. I do get some type in traffic though for the domain name. If my site has terrible content then I am extremely happy with the positioning I have attained with Yahoo, Google etc. Some examples are: ハワイ天候 yahoo 1, ハワイ ワイキキ ストリップ yahoo 1, ハワイ 壁紙yahoo 2, ハワイ休暇 yahoo 2 , ハワイ島 旅行情報 yahoo19, ハワイ島 地図, ハワイ島 ブログ yahoo 5, ハワイ島 旅行 yahoo 23, ハワイ島 yahoo 56, ハワイのビキニ写真 yahoo 4, ハワイ写真 msn 20, ハワイの写真 onc 10, ハワイ写真 Big Globe 7, ハワイ島旅行 Google 12, ハワイ島 yahoo 64, ハワイ壁紙 Google 47.
    Am wondering how many Japanese type in romaji for a search. I talk with Japanese nationals most every day and find not many. A lot of my content is Katakana and my keyboard writes that easily. My next door neighbor ,a Japanese national never uses romaji. Not saying I am altogether correct in how many use it. Curious though.

  25. You’ve got a good point Dennis – and some damn impressive rankings. I just typed a few into Google and you did very well with both ハワイの写真 and ハワイ 写真. The real killer is if you can get someone to just type ハワイの写真 into the navigation bar as IE is friendly enough to automatically add a .com onto it for you. I noticed that you have some IDN competition in the ハワイ 旅行 search. Some guy with http://www.パラダイス.net/ performs well.
    I notice that you refer to a bunch of different search sites and have quite different rankings from one to another. Do you know of any obvious differences in the search algorithm when it comes to IDNs at the main culprits (google, yahoo, msn, etc)?

  26. yes, ハワイ 旅行 (Hawaii travel ) has a lot of competition as it’s a highly rated search term. Very surprised to do well with that. Am stating to do well with just ハワイnow also. Another very simple site that does well is ハワイホテル (Hawaii hotels) I have ハワイのホテル waiting if I decide to develop it and have it support other Hawaii domain names.
    Hard to tell about algorithm. I do better in Yahoo than Google and not good with MS. Would rather do well with Yahoo for Japan. Maybe Google requires more links.
    Bottom line as I see it is idn’s are already capable of producing desirable results. I see an advantage being that idn domain names (for the most part) can be read in someone’s native language. Maybe slight advantage.

  27. Hello, I think your blog might be having browser compatibility issues.
    When I look at your blog in Safari, it looks fine but when opening in Internet Explorer, it has some overlapping.

    I just wanted to give you a quick heads up!
    Other then that, terrific blog!

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