I’ve been hearing from a lot of product domain owners lately that they can’t seem to make much money now that Google lists major brands and actual products above-the-fold in their search results. People have been coming to me asking for development and monetization tips and I have no advice, I’m not a product domains guy! While years ago (or even last year in the case of some products) you can find solid product domains in position one, two, or three in Google, those days seem to be numbered or completely gone in some cases.
Let me give you a few examples. Suppose I wanted to make money selling “mens jeans” well then I couldn’t think of a much better domain to do this on than MensJeans.com. Let’s take a look at what Google shows when I search for this term:
You can click on the image above to see the full-size image or just do the search yourself. What I see is three ads dominating most of the space followed by a list of related searches all showing major brands and then, finally a domain name – oh wait, it’s another brand, Gap. What if I scroll a bit further down? Well then I get some ads for mens jeans for sale at major brands along with photographs of the jeans themselves.
Let’s look at another example, in this case let’s say I’d like to buy an ice cream maker, here’s what Google gives me:
Once again you can click to enlarge this. What I see here is a list of brands and then a nice set of photographs linking me directly to the sales page of a store nearby. Below that I get probably the biggest brand in the business – Cuisinart, followed by the online shopping giant Amazon.
Let’s try one more – how about the super-hot market of laptops. Here is what Google shows:
As you can see there are two ads at the top, followed by the related searches area, then you have a huge brand – Best Buy, and then the shopping results with images and ratings along with easy ways to find these at stores nearby.
Since about 80% of the search traffic goes to everything listed above-the-fold it is pretty clear to me that unless you are building or running a major brand, you probably won’t be found. Now this doesn’t mean there is no hope – if you build a huge business and invest millions of dollars you can win in the new product game. Take a look at RunningShoes.com – this domains sold for $700,000 earlier this year and I’d imagine the buyers are sinking a lot of money into building a major brand here. While they aren’t yet above-the-fold on Google yet, in due time I’m sure they will be…but it takes a major investment to make it happen, it takes building a business on the domain not just parking it or putting-up a quick and dirty affiliate store.
However what happens to the average Domainer? Honestly, I’ll stick my neck out here and say, unless you’re willing to build a major brand on a product domain, I think the market is dead. If you’ve got a million bucks you can still do it however if you’re buying a product name through an expiry service or for a few thousand bucks and hoping to park it or build it out for $1,000 I don’t think you’ll be making much money.
To make thousands of dollars a month you need tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of visitors, and if your domain is stuck below the fold this can be hard to do. So what do you think? Am I crazy? Are product domains still hot, or has Google killed them by pushing them a bit too far down the page by giving preference to big brands?
Since I’m not a product domain guy I can only go by what I see in Google and what I hear from blog-readers who email me with their experiences. If you’ve had some great success with a product domain – I’d love for you to comment and share your experience. If you’ve had a major failure feel free to share that too. I’m not claiming to be an expert here by any means, I just know that as someone that searches for products on Google quite a bit I’ve noticed that major brands now seem to own the above-the-fold real estate in just about every niche.
As usual this blog is not a one-way street, I want to hear from you! Comment and let your voice be heard!