Three Key Elements Of My Domain Monetization Strategy

The Domaining world is changing – we all have seen it coming and now it’s here – Domainers are becoming developers. It is easy to forget that the Domaining world is also made-up of developers turned Domainers…people like me!

When I entered the Domaining industry I had already missed-out on owning domains with type-in traffic and instead chose to focus on exact-match keywords in wacky extensions like .us. I started building websites in 1995 and wrote HTML when the first spec became available and NCSA Mosaic was the most popular browser. That’s right…I’m old school!

It only took a few months before I could clearly see that my development skills were going to dramatically help me in the Domaining world. Since starting my business during the summer of 2007 I have focused on creating targeted content sites that can rank well and offer good click-through rates.

I’m an Engineer so I love optimization problems. I spend my nights thinking about how I can generate more revenue from my portfolio and then making small tweaks and changes and waiting to see the results. Yes – I’m a geek…but a geek who LOVES passive income.

Okay – enough about me – time to share what I have found to be the three key elements to our success in monetizing our portfolio.

  1. Fresh Content – I knew that fresh content was going to be key from the beginning. We don’t use duplicate content or RSS feeds to provide our primary content. The content on our sites are written by real humans that research every single topic they cover and provide relevant and factual information.
  2. Focus on Affiliate Marketing – I quickly learned that if I wanted to make real money with my sites I had to promote and sell actual products. Affiliate Marketing allows you to provide targeted products directly to your users. I love looking at analytics data and learning about my visitors. Understanding how people get to your site can help you target exact what ads you should show them. There are many affiliate products I make $20-$30 per sale – this is much better than waiting for 100 clicks at $.30/each!
  3. Patience – if you think every site you develop will make money overnight you are kidding yourself and setting yourself up for a major letdown. Some of the sites you develop will make money shortly after you build them, most will surprise you over time. I love to quote field of dreams when it comes to domain monetization – “if you build it they will come.”

Those are the three key elements of my monetization strategy…but there is one more crucial overlying principle I have to state. Only build content sites on domains that exactly match keywords with strong search volume. To generate revenue you need visitors and you won’t get many visitors if four people a month are searching for your topic. I try to go for over 1,000 exact match searches a month and over 10,000 if I really want strong revenue.

I have consulted with many new Domainers trying to monetize domains in categories that nobody is searching. I usually get an email saying, “I don’t get it – I rank #1 on Google for ‘New Caledonia airports’ but I’m not seeing any revenue. If nobody is searching for New Caledonia airports then you won’t be getting many visitors, even if you are #1.

I still write all my HTML, CSS, and PHP by hand and yes – I did listen to Run DMC and the Fat Boys and for a moment in my life thought Vanilla Ice was cool. I’m old school – but it’s worked for me so far! If you want some examples of domains I’ve built and monetized take a look at 2010 Stimulus Check, Kayaking, StimulusCheck.us, Jury Law, H1N1A.us – I have 130 domains built so far and about 630 left to build!

{ 13 comments… add one }

  • Leonard Britt February 25, 2010, 2:44 am

    Unfortunately I’m still not convinced on affiliates but development is obviously a learning process. Competition is another factor to consider as well. You can have a highly-searched phrase but if the competition is so intense you cannot rank for it, the search volume doesn’t do you much good 🙂
    (i.e. WeightTraining.tv)

    Reply
    • Morgan February 25, 2010, 2:46 am

      Good point @Leonard – owning a highly-popular term can make it more challenging to rank well for the term. That being said these are good challenges and there is nothing that should stop you from getting WeightTraining.tv on the first page of Google! 🙂

      Reply
  • TechFilipino February 25, 2010, 3:25 am

    Hi Morgan, your advice is working wonders for me. I’m starting to see an increase in revenue and I’ve finally been able to slowly get into the affiliate marketing scene.

    Thank you so much Morgan

    Reply
  • PPC Ian February 25, 2010, 8:25 am

    Morgan,
    Awesome post! I couldn’t agree more with your philosophy. Very exciting stuff.
    Best,
    Ian

    Reply
  • Al February 25, 2010, 9:48 am

    Hi Morgan, I always read your posts with great interest, thanks for knowledge sharing. I’m just at the beginning of my domains development process, so many things are still unclear for me. E.g. you say that you have 130 domains built and planning to build much more. At the same time you mention that fresh content is the key. So, how are you able managing that great number of domains providing them with fresh time regularly? Doesn’t domain ranking suffers with time if no updates are done?

    Reply
    • Morgan February 25, 2010, 6:39 pm

      Thanks @Al – I appreciate the kind words and the good question! By Fresh content – I meant new, non-duplicated content. That being said adding new content to your sites is an essential part of long-term SEO. While we don’t provide fresh content regularly across our full range of sites there are a number of sites that we do update more frequently. One thing I learned very quickly is just having a site with unique content out there can generate much stronger returns than Domain Parking ever could for me.

      As for rankings suffering over time I have only found this to be the case when working with Wordpress sites. I believe that Google has higher expectations for Wordpress sites than for static HTML pages. This means that one sites we want to update more frequently we will use Wordpress but most of our sites our static HTML created from templates I have made.

      To scale your business it isn’t realistic to expect to provide every one of your sites with content updates on a regular basis. Just the process of having a nice site with fresh content will get you ranked well and over time you can use small tweaks to maximize your revenue.

      Reply
  • Al February 25, 2010, 10:54 am

    I meant “providing them with fresh content regularly” 🙂

    Reply
  • Grant February 25, 2010, 2:00 pm

    I have a had a tough problem matching affiliate programs to the wide array of domains I own. I see you are using clickbank. Is there anyone else you would recommend?

    Reply
  • Matt February 25, 2010, 4:01 pm

    Thanks for sharing, Morgan!

    Regarding exact match keyword domains, I noticed that you’re building out a lot of non-.com exact match keyword domains. In your experience, does that still offer much of an advantage in getting search rankings?

    In my tests so far I’ve seen exact match .com domains practically jump to #1 position, whereas other extensions don’t seem to get much of a bonus at all once you adjust for the the impact of keywords in incoming links. Curious if you’ve seen the same?

    Thanks!
    Matt

    Reply
    • Morgan February 25, 2010, 6:49 pm

      Thanks for the comment @Matt! Most of my domains are non .com’s and I learned very early-on that I could get a .us, .net, or .org ranked as well in Google as a .com. Google is fairly TLD agnostic and you can use Google’s Webmaster tools to specify that you would like to give preference to Google US for more exotic TLD’s 🙂

      Reply
  • Al February 26, 2010, 12:59 pm

    Thanks for such a detailed reply Morgan – very interesting point about HTML vs Wordpress. But it happened so that I started with Wordpress for a static informational site (my first one). It has several pages of unique content (no good external backlinks though). Currently it ranks #10 for the underlying domain keyword without quotes. Yet there’re 270.000 of search results in Google with quotes for this keyword, so competition is rather high. So, a few questions more if you don’t mind (hope I’m not too straightforward, just hope getting advice from an expert in domains monetization 🙂 ).

    Is it likely that a site will rank better with time (Google indexed mine just recently, several days ago) without additional actions from my side? I mean that is there some initial “sandbox” for the newly indexed sites? And is it OK to proceed optimizing it right now or it’s better to wait a bit in order not to seem too zealous to Google?

    I also read about dangers of over-optimizing, so I was rather conservative in targeted keyword repeating. Some sources advice having 3-7 % keyword density from the point of SEO, while I see that e.g. your site CheapMercury.com has it considerably higher for word “Mercury”, for instance. At the same time it ranks great for your main targeted phrases without any penalties from search engine side. So, what’s the border between keyword stuffing and amount reasonable to rank well? Do you have some rule for this?

    Reply
  • Dave February 27, 2010, 10:52 am

    Hi Morgan,

    Thanks for sharing your great info and experiences! Just recently started reading your awesome blog, including studying your many interesting domaining business model(s) and ideas…

    Just one Quick content suggestion on a related subject that I’d love to hear your thoughts on, whether through a blog comment, a blog post or maybe even a series of blog posts and videos. 🙂

    I notice most of your domaining examples you share are of the shorter versions and was wondering if you could talk more on longer tail keywords in domaining. There are just so many niche markets and industries where 4, 5, and more keyword phrase domain names are readily available, including keyword phrases that are getting Quality search numbers in the 1,000 to 20,000 range and beyond. The niche travel industry is just one example! Greatly appreciate your thoughts and advice…

    Thanks!
    Dave

    Reply
    • Morgan February 27, 2010, 7:23 pm

      Thanks for the comment @Dave. I will definitely do a post about this – it’s something I am passionate about also shows an area in the industry with incredible opportunities for new investors.

      Reply

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