Creating a Domain Investment: Development, SEO, and Monetization

Are you a Domain Collector? Or a Domain Investor? Most people get started in the Domaining world by what I like to call “The Beginners Buying Spree.” They buy hundreds of domains after becoming inspired one day, only to find-out that 99% of what they bought is worthless. I get dozens of emails a week now from people in this situation who went from inspired to depressed. I have always been an incredible optimist and look at this situation and say – turn that 1% into valuable domain investments. My book has helped countless Domainers get a head-start and now it’s time to share my secret to success with my blog readers.

In this article I outline the exact steps I take to turn a boring, lifeless domain, into a valuable domain investment.

Development
The first step in domain investing is actually putting something on your domain. Think of a domain as raw land. Do you think raw land is more valuable with a few cows grazing on it or a shopping mall full of lucrative businesses? To make your domain an investment it should become an online destination, a place where people can go to actually get information. This doesn’t mean you have to develop a 100-page website on the domain, but your domain should have information that people are looking for.

One crucial part of the development step is content. Content is also an essential part of SEO strategy, but for now I’ll talk about this in the context of development. You need to provide your visitor with high-quality content, so in the end they find value in visiting your site. If you aren’t much of a writer there are plenty of people out there who are and the online world is full of freelancers that will give you a fair price for a few good articles.

If you know HTML, or are handy with Dreamweaver you can put your site together on your own and save some money. Otherwise you can find someone to develop a quick mini-site for you usually in the $200-$300 range. I’ve been developing websites (and writing all my HTML, PHP, and Javascript by hand) for about thirteen years now so this is a skill-set that definitely comes in handy when creating a domain investment. Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty, you’d be surprised how easy it is to build a website – I’ve helped a number of people learn the basics so they can start building sites on their own – you can teach an old dog new tricks!

SEO
Once you have a site, and some interesting content you’ll need to start getting some visitors to your domain. To create a truly passive income source you’ll need visitors to find their way to your site through search engines. While you can certainly find ways to pay for advertising and still make money with your site, this is more of an active investment than I’m interested in. Instead I like to go with the “if you build it they will come” approach, and I enjoy making passive income, which means that I don’t have to actively manage an advertising campaign to make money.

I won’t overwhelm you here with SEO strategy. Instead I’ll tell you the two techniques that allow my sites to rank well in search engines. Anchor text and keyword-rich content. If you haven’t heard of these before, then I’m happy to be the first person to tell you this secret to success.

Anchor text is a simple concept but one that many people struggle with at first. The idea is to provide links to your site from already popular, well-ranked websites. These links are called Anchor Text because you are linking to your site using a keyword phrase rather than simply providing the URL. Think of what your ideal site visitor would enter into a search engine and use these keyword phrases to link back to your site. If I want people to visit my site about Domain Flipping, it is far better for me to link to the words Domain Flipping than directly to my site www.DNFlipping.com because far more people would search for “Domain Flipping” in a search engine than the URL for my site!

Sounds simple enough right? Well, the part most people miss here is how to get their anchor text onto popular, well-ranked sites. The best way to do this is using article sites like Helium or EzineArticles that let you write articles and publish them through their sites. Since these sites are already well-established and rank very well in search engines, so will your article, and thus your anchor text back to your site. When search engines see that well-ranked, trusted sites, are linking to your site using a particular keyword phrase (your anchor text) – you will rank better for that phrase as well.

If you want to extend this methodology beyond article sites you can also talk with bloggers who are focused on the subject your site is about. Suppose you have a domain about Kayaking. If you find the top five kayaking bloggers and get just one of them to mention your site on their blog with some strong anchor text, you are well on your way to getting better search engine rankings.

This is a powerful concept and an absolute must-use strategy for anyone that wants to get a majority of their site traffic from search engines. You will be surprised how writing just a few 500-1000 word articles can bring massive amounts of traffic to your website – and the best part is – it’s all free!

The next SEO concept I use is keyword-rich content. This means that the actual content on my sites are full of keywords that are popular and related to the main keyword that brought someone to my site in the first place. Here’s an example – suppose my site is about travel, well I don’t want to just use the word travel over and over in my content, instead I want to use travel along with the most popular keywords related to travel. It is easy to do this – and once again, completely free.

So how do you find these related keywords? Use the Google Adwords Keyword Tool and simply type-in your main keyword. This tool will generate a list, which you can then sort by search volume. Pick the top five or six most popular related keyword phrases and use these in your content. Want an example of this – just type the words “Stimulus Check” into Yahoo – you’ll find that my site, StimulusCheck.us ranks #3, just below the IRS!

Monetization
This is the last, but most important step in the domain investment process. Your domain does not become an investment until it is actively generating income for you. Monetization is simply the process of generating revenue from visitors/traffic to your website. If you’ve followed the first two steps then you have developed a good website, and have solid SEO that will bring a steady-stream of visitors to your domain.

There are many different ways to monetize this traffic but I’m going to talk about the two main strategies I use. The first monetization technique I use is Google Adsense. By creating a free account with Google you can put ads on your site that will pay you for each click a visitor makes. This is absolutely essential and should be included on every domain investment. The great thing about Google Adsense is that you don’t have to worry about picking which ads you would like to display. Instead Google scans the content of your site and picks ads that it thinks will be the most relevant to your visitors. This is also why having well-written, keyword-rich content is so important.

The next technique I use is – affiliate programs. If you haven’t started using these yet, then you are missing-out on a great potential revenue stream for your domains. Affiliate programs are a way for you to sell products for someone else and make a commission on the sale. Many major companies offer affiliate programs but I’m a particularly big fan on Amazon’s affiliate program. When you become an Amazon Affiliate your can sell anything on the Amazon store on your own site, and make money doing it. Since Amazon has a lot more than books this can instantly transform your site into an online store that sells exactly the types of products your visitors are looking for.

That’s it. Put these three steps together and you can create a passive income stream that will grow over time. There is no investment opportunity in the world that gives the type of ROI that domain names do. So if you’ve been sitting on your domains, waiting to make a move, now is the time. Get motivated, get started – turn your domain names into valuable investments!

Want more advice? Need an SEO consultant? I offer consulting services to Domain Investors looking to take their business to the next level. Please email me for more information.

{ 1 comment… add one }

  • Alex May 23, 2009, 7:02 pm

    Great article Morgan! It’s really all there is to it, but in addition, it’s also important not to forget these domains after monetizing them. It’s key to keep working and building up these domains so they keep on bringing in revenue. For the longest time, I would develop sites, then forget about them (due to clients, and other things) and in the end, there really was no significant ROI.

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