Ultrasearch are a 'Web Portal Advertising Company' based in Hong-Kong, China. Their business model is to buy up huge quantities of domain names which they assign to their 'Ultimate Search' portal – a garish looking web page, vaguely resembling popular web-portals like Yahoo.

People who know very little about the Internet might think that Ultimate Search is just another search engine – or perhaps a portal rather like any of the many portal companies that want to be our home buttons. A more experienced user might question why the main categories on the page include “Debt Consolidation”, “Internet Casino” and “Credit” - rather than the more traditional “Arts”, “Entertainment” and “Computing”. Like Yahoo it has a search form, however unlike Yahoo it does not search the Internet, but only the collection of adverts for porn, gambling and hosting that makes up the vast quantity of Ultimate Search's content. This seems like a very seedy web-site.

The real problem with Ultrasearch is not with how rubbish their pages are, but how they go about acquiring domain names to put those pages on. They have a system that automatically buys up domain names, where the owners have been late to renew. Every two years, domain name owners usually have to pay a small registration fee in order to keep their names, often when you change email address it can be easy to forget to pay because email reminders fail to reach a domain owner. When a domain name remains unpaid after that two year period, it is returned to the market. Whereupon it stands a good chance of being automatically bought up by Ultimate Search.

Many moderately popular amateur websites such as The Underdogs (A popular Abandonware website), or Sharesite.org (A finance news parody website) have fallen prey to this tactic. Sure the operators of the website made a mistake by not renewing, and Ultimate Search were entirely within their rights to buy the domain name – but the fact that these domain names are now operated by a useless company, completely unrelated to the original domain name operators is a nuisance for all web users.

The really odd thing about Ultrasearch is that having spent three years in Internet marketing, and having been exposed to all kinds of advertising schemes I never once heard of any agency or it's clients actually advertising, or even considering to advertise with this firm. I cannot imagine which clients are willing to to pay for an ad on such a seedy site. I doubt that Ultimate Search can make enough money to cover their legal bills, servers and bandwidth from advertising sales alone... so where else might they receive revenue?

It occurred to me that the only companies that really benefit from Ultimate Search are the companies that register and process domain name transactions. They need a company like this to take old stock out of the market so that demand for new stock maintains high. They also create a feeling of paranoia by stealing domain names from web-businesses that are too high profile to ignore but too poor to sue - webmasters know that they have to re-register well in advance or risk loosing their domain names.

This is a simple solution to a marketing problem – in a marketplace where goods never perish or loose their value over time how can domain registration companies maintain their revenue? Without Ultimate Search supply will exceed demand and prices will fall, because a finite amount of domain names required by a finite population of Internet users. Ultimate search increases demand for domain names by taking older names out of circulation.

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