Three Easy Steps To Pick Which Domains To Develop

As you all know – I’ve been developing my domains since I started back in 2007. Over the years I’ve had an evolving hueristic that I use to determine which domains are the best fit for development.

Now I’m not saying this is the ONLY way to pick which domains you should develop so of course you can adapt my procedure to meet your needs.

Essentially – when I’m developing a domain I’m looking for two key things – strong monetization potential and good search traffic. This means that the Google Adwords Keyword Tool is at the core of my decision process.

Do you have the Google Adwords Keyword Tool open? If not – open it now and let’s start with one of your own domains – just follow the procedure below to determine if its a good fit for development.

1. Are there more than 1,000 exact-match Google searches for the keywords in your domain?

If your domain doesn’t pass this test don’t bother moving forward. I’ve learned time and time again that in order to make money – you need traffic and with less than 1,000 exact-match searches a month it will be hard to get enough organic traffic to make very meaningful revenue. Of course their are some exceptions to this rule but for the sake of simplicity I’ll leave the exceptions out of this post.

2. Is the CPC higher than $5?

This is another plain-and-simple binary operation – either the CPC is or isn’t higher than $5. I have found that domains with a CPC greater than $5 tend to have more high-paying related affiliate products and lead gen options – below $5 CPC means it can sometimes be challenging to find ways to monetize outside of PPC – and you need affiliate products/lead gen to really make good money.

3. Can you find at least five affiliate products that make you over $15 per sale that are DIRECTLY related to your keywords?

This is the last and final step – if you’ve passed the first two tests you’re not scott-free. If you can’t find good affiliate products or lead generation options then all that traffic isn’t going to bring you much money. Make sure you feel confident in picking a good range of products that pay you a nice chunk of change for each unit sold.

That’s it – viola! My magic formula for development success. I hope this helps some of my readers sort through theirdomains and determine which ones to develop this year.

If you’ve been waiting to develop your domains but don’t know where to start remember I offer development services – you can learn all about them through the Linton Investments site.

{ 20 comments… add one }

  • brian k May 7, 2010, 9:52 am

    One of my sites with an exact keyword match of 300-500 searches does very well for me.
    The cpc on it is 12 dollars. This site makes 50-150 per month.
    The competition in the search engine was very lite. less than 10,000 results in google with quotes.
    So maybe the fourth thing to look at is competition in google with quotes.
    Anything less than 100,000 results has been relatively easy to rank in my experience.
    Anything below 50,000 is a lock .

  • Mikey (idealideas) May 7, 2010, 10:26 am

    I just sold arctic for $2.34 on ebay and it had a cpc of $9.20….am I a fool?
    especially after reading this…how does one do all the above to the domain if we do not know how to program or design???


  • tricolorro May 7, 2010, 10:32 am

    “Are there more than 1,000 exact-match Google searches for the keywords in your domain?”

    Is this for “local” or “global” search volume?


    “the fourth thing to look at is competition in google with quotes.”


    Could you please show using an example exactly how you set this search parameter up?


  • Mark May 7, 2010, 11:57 am

    Hey Morgan:

    Great post. However, I am curious how you decided on $5 per cpc as a minimum?

    There are many, many products that sell for over $100 or $200 that have $1..$2..and $3 cpc rates.

    Just curious.

  • brian k May 7, 2010, 12:39 pm


    search for whatever keyword you want to rank with quotes around it

    If there is less than 100,000 listings in google it should be easy to rank.
    Did that answer your question?

  • Leonard Britt May 7, 2010, 3:20 pm

    Don’t underestimate the impact of phrase competition… examples with plenty of search volume but if your site is on page 50 you get no traffic:

  • tricolorro May 7, 2010, 4:14 pm

    “search for whatever keyword you want to rank with quotes around it
    “keyword”” “Did that answer your question?”

    Yes, thanks Brian.

    I already do that.

    I misunderstood your posting.

  • Morgan May 7, 2010, 8:28 pm

    Thanks for the comments everyone – sorry for the delay – busy day in Toronto! See answers to everyone’s questions below:

    @tricolorro – I use “Local”

    @Mark – I picked $5 by looking at which of my domains generated the best revenue and across the board it was those above the $5 threshold that did the best. I like to draw a line in the sand so I can easily determine the best revenue-potential domains.

    @Brian – you’ll want to use the Google Adwords Keyword Tool to understand search volume – while # of search results can provide useful information what you really want to know is how many people will see your domain each month if they search for the keywords you’re targeting.

    @Mikey – not sure it makes much sense to sell domains for $2-$3 especially with a domain like that that could make much more every month if developed. If you don’t know much about development you can use one of the many free website creation tools out there or a paid tool like Dreamweaver that lets you make sites without programming.

  • Al May 7, 2010, 9:13 pm

    I’ve had great luck picking up exact match domains on Ebay that pay for themselves in less than 1 month with just a single page of content. I do a weekly search for “exact match domain” and can usually find a few steals.

    • Morgan May 8, 2010, 4:33 am

      @Al – thanks for sharing – there are lots of good deals out there – great to hear your finding some and making money with them!

  • Joyabo May 8, 2010, 12:38 am

    Hey Morgan:
    Thank you for your post. 🙂
    I learn so many knowledge in your website.
    Keep up the wonderful posts.

    • Morgan May 8, 2010, 4:33 am

      Thanks @Joyabo and @Patrick for the kind words. I am glad you are enjoying my blog!

  • Bram Chauvin May 8, 2010, 6:11 am

    My calculation to find a domain name that is good for development:

    1. I try to get an exact product match domain such as

    2. Then I look at the CPC which needs to be above $1

    3. Then I do a quick calculation:

    –> Google Search Results (in quotes) divided by the Exact Match Searches/Month should be less than 10.

    In this example: has 672.000 Google search results (keywords in quotes, “baby car seats”) and 165,000 Exact Searches/Month.
    672.000/245,200= 4.07.
    So this is a good domain to develop.

    • Morgan May 8, 2010, 2:32 pm

      @Bram – The problems with domains like this is that selling something like a baby car seat from a mini-site just doesn’t happen very often. When I first-started building-out sites I learned this lesson very quickly – there are some things you can easily sell from your site and other items that people want to buy from a larger-scale site they trust more, or in this case many people want to see the car seat and hold it and thus buying in person makes a lot of sense.

      So in my mind this would not be a great domain to develop because I don’t see an easy way to generate revenue. That being said where there’s a will there’s a way so if you put your mind to it you can do anything. That being said I tend to focus on the low-hanging fruit as that has been the most lucrative for me.

      I stay pretty focused now on credit, debt, law and related topics that have a strong path to monetization and a proven track-record of affiliate products selling on mini-sites.

  • Bram Chauvin May 8, 2010, 6:25 am

    Ok little mistake. This should read 672,000/165,000=4.07.

  • Logan May 8, 2010, 4:40 pm

    Nice post, Morgan. Enjoyed it.

    • Morgan May 9, 2010, 8:27 am

      Thanks @Logan – glad you enjoyed it!

  • Mark May 9, 2010, 9:34 pm


    What about developing a site that gives a substantial amount of info on baby car seat purchasing, comparisions etc. and then hooking up to Amazon Associates?

    My thought is that you would deliver quite a few ready-to-buy baby car seat buyers and reap some nice commissions.

    Your thoughts?

  • chirag modi May 10, 2010, 6:34 am

    I’m not saying this is the ONLY way to pick which domains you should develop so of course you can adapt my procedure to meet your needs.

  • Zhao Liu July 30, 2012, 3:08 am

    And this is what you are good at the most!


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