Finding the right domain name:
In my attempt to build a network of niche websites that earn five figures of income every month I need to first start by buying domain names based on specific niches I wish to build websites around. I prefer to only choose topics that I care to research and write about so that if I decided to write the content it will be more enjoyable; however, this time around I want to try and outsource most of the writing (which I’ll cover in a later part to the case study). In either case I prefer to buy keyword rich domain names if I’m going for niche websites as my goal will be to rank for the keyword that is within the domain name. Here’s an example of what I’m talking about:
If I want to build a website that focused on Cotton Candy Machines what do you think would be the best domain name to build a website on for that topic? How about cottoncandymachines.com or cottoncandymachine.com? Duh. The reason for this strategy is because search engines give a ranking bonus to exact match keyword domains (Main TLD’s only so don’t go buy .mobi and other worthless crap extensions). Now before I get too far ahead of myself let me determine first if people on the internet actually search for cotton candy machines to see if it’s a worthwhile niche to pursue…
There are paid tools available that offer more advanced features for determining search traffic, but I because I got my start using the free ones I’ll show you those instead:
The first one is offered by SEOBook which is run by Aaron Wall and found here. He has a paid monthly training program which I’ve been a member of in the past, but fortunately his keyword research tool is still free (you do need to register for a free account though)
I like to go after keywords that are searched around 100 times per day or more (when possible) so based on the data things look good so far. I then like to use Google’s free Adwords tool next to ensure the numbers appear to be around the same level and just to get an extra data point:
Make sure you use the drop down menu on the right and change it from the default “Broad” to “Exact” as this will give you an accurate estimate of the number of people who searched that exact phrase which is all I want to know at this stage of my research.
Looking at the above data it should be obvious which is the better domain to go after – the singular phrase Cotton Candy Machine because there is considerably more search traffic for that term. Again, before we get too far ahead of ourselves let’s look at the competition for that keyword. The trick here is to go after keywords that not only receive a lot of search volume, but that also happen to have very little competition for (this is often a difficult thing to do).
Keyword Competition Analysis
Doing a quick search of Cotton Candy Machine on Google yields the following results:
These are your primary competitors. Now what you need to do is determine how many links these websites have. This will give you a better understanding of how many links you’d need to get pointing to your cotton candy machine website to outrank them (just remember it isn’t an exact science). I’ll turn to SEOBook again and this time I use the SEO for Firefox plugin.
CottonCandyExpress.com is the current #1 rank so I simply install the plugin, restart firefox and visit the domain name. Here is the data we find:
So they have only 379 links via Yahoo’s site explorer, 3 DMOZ Links and 1 Yahoo Directory link which isn’t that many links. The domain and presumably the website have been around since 2005 (based on the copyright info in the footer). I believe Google has established a lot of trust for the domain name, but the number of links pointing to the site is so low it is possible that I could outrank them. Keep in mind that any domain name I buy may be put into the sandbox by Google temporarily which means it would be unable to rank for any keyword until after a period of time lapses (many people believe 6 months). So what I’m saying is that even if I were able to buy cottoncandymachine.com which was also registered in 2005, it could still take some time before ranking for that keyword. Well, now that we have researched a keyword determined the competition isn’t insurmountable let’s go back and see if we can buy it.
Acquiring the domain name:
As expected the domain name cottoncandymachine.com is already registered. Sadly (for myself and you) most keyword laden domain names with any substantial search traffic have all already been registered years ago by visionary domainers. After searching the WHOIS information I can see cottoncandymachine.com is registered to a business called Name Administration based in the Cayman Islands. Based on my domain hunting experience I know this is a domain name owned by the legendary domain name investor Frank Schilling who happens to be notorious for not selling domain names unless he is given an excellent deal. Even then good luck ever getting in touch with someone at Name Administration unless you lead with an email offer of a very high price. So in this case we’d need to look at the .net or .org extension instead or perhaps go for another cotton candy related keyword.
So as you can tell there are a variety of steps I like to take while researching keyword domain names to buy. Some people prefer to buy brandable domain names like cottoncandyexpress.com instead and build a business from there. I don’t think this is a bad strategy and in fact in the long run it can be better, but just remember it is more difficult to rank for a keyword that isn’t your domain name than it is to rank for a keyword that matches the domain name i.e. cottoncandymachine.com. So if you’re trying to build a ton of niche websites like me then the more help you can get from a quality domain name the better. The downside obviously is that as I mentioned before many of these keyword rich search phrase domain names are already registered, so you have to be prepared to pay out good money to domainers for these types of names.
What do you think of my tips for researching domain names?
This is just the second of many parts to come. If you learned something be sure to subscribe to my RSS feed (or email updates) and you should also follow me on Twitter. Also, quick reminder to follow me on Twitter because I’ll be posting the contest giveaway for the PHPzon plugin shortly.