Can You Make Money Off Google Hot Trends Domaining?

trendy army store
Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License by detritus My friend Gyutae Park recently blogged about making money by tasting domain names based on Google Hot Trends. It’s a neat idea, but there are some caveats you should know.

Tasting domain names is the practice of buying them with the intent to return them during the 5 day grace period, while profiting off the typein traffic the domains get during those 5 days. It’s the web equivalent of buying a prom dress for prom then returning it. Google Hot Trends, for those who don’t know, shows you the 100 keywords with the greatest change in search volume in the past 24 hours.

Anyways, trendy domaining is something I’ve done in the past. From personal experience, I can confirm that there is money there to be made … but very little, if you’re not automating things. That’s because:

  1. First, because mainstream domainers are already doing this, automatically. So most of the hot keywords’ domain name equivalents get taken as soon as Google Hot Trends refreshes.
  2. Second, you need to look for keywords where there’s an intent that you can monetize without much thought, using adsense for domains. Otherwise, you won’t earn much, if anything. I’ve had 2 cent clicks before, on domain name parking, I kid you not.
  3. Third, this raises a problem particular to Hot Trends keywords, which is that they’re often news-related. The intent isn’t commercial, then – the intent is to get information. So you’d have to either (i) figure out a filter to eliminate these domain names from consideration or (ii) figure out how to monetize news traffic. In case you didn’t know, mainstream news media are getting less than 1 cent per pageview on much of their CPM deals. So you could try working out a CPM deal where you show your banner ads above framed news sites, but you’d better have MASSIVE volume, if you want to make money.
  4. Fourth, you need to consider what you’ll make per hour. Suppose it just takes you 10 minutes to find a hot phrase whose .com isn’t yet registered. You buy it. That takes another 2-3 minutes. So let’s say you can find and buy 4 – 5 domain names in an hour. Even some of the hottest terms on Google Trends don’t get that much type-in traffic to the domains, so you can only expect a handful of clicks, from my experience. Remember: Those aren’t terms with a lot of volume, necessarily, they’re terms with lots of CHANGE in volume. E.g. 1000% more than normal or whatever. But 50 -> 500 searches still isn’t many type-ins you’re gonna get.

Note: You can also only do this for an hour a day with Google Trends, because after that there’s no more words to mine. So doing this manually doesn’t scale really well anyways.

for the love of money
Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License by monkeyc.net So when I did it, I got $2 worth of clicks. I was trying out domain tasting at the same time, and got a refund (minus I think a 50 cent charge bc Godaddy is weird, if memory serves?) on the domain so I was $1.50 ahead. Supposing you made $10-$15 a day on this… that’s still a lot of work for little ROI.

Plus it’s not just the hour spent finding and buying the names – you still have to return them afterwards! So you’re probably coming out with, at best, $15 for an hour and a half of work, which amounts to $10/hour. At worst, it’s $10 for 1.5 hours, meaning you’re making $6.66/hour. Here in Montreal, that’s actually less than minimum wage. Can you not make more money online than working a minimum wage job?

(That’s a rhetorical question – people with web skills can make great money. Start out reading everything in the Problogger.net archives, then learn SEO from yours truly ;).)

Therefore, automation is key to making money off tasting Hot-Trends-keyword domain names. That way you can

  • get enough domains,
  • pick the right domains, namely those whose typein traffic has value to advertisers
  • before other domainers snap them up,
  • measure traffic levels and earnings
  • create rules on when to either drop them within the 5 day refund period, or keep them for the rest of the year on the assumption you can make more than regfee off the remaining typeins you’ll get in the next few days.

And if you automate all that, it’s enough to make, maybe, $50/day – there’s still the other domainers to compete with. Fair money, but still a lot of work for an incertain ROI. Most intermediate+ internet marketers can create projects that are more profitable in the medium-long term… especially those with the programming skills to automate the above and refine it.

Sometime soon I’ll either post my spreadsheet I use to forecast new projects’ SEO ROI here, or make it available only to subscribers… So add my rss feed to your reader already ;)!

p.s. Gyutae is the first blogger I know of who has written on domain name buying based on Google Hot Trends, and has been producing other awesome content generally, so you should subscribe to his feed, imho.

p.p.s. Speaking of Hot Trends, I got several hundred visitors today, April 1st, from ranking this post for April Fool’s Email and variations on that. I checked the domain name aprilfoolsemail.com last night and it was available, for those of you want to try this.

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Comments

  1. Interesting.... I had not even thought of this....it seems a lot of work for not a huge return....plus is it appropriate to buy domains with the intention of returning them? As I say, interesting idea. Google trends is pretty cool. Have you checked out http://www.google.com/sktool/# It is another Google tool, in beta I believe. But if you click the small link below the button, you get a list of top searched keywords and dig down into categories. I have been playing around with it and it is pretty powerful. Enjoyed the read, cheers! Jeromy

    Comment by Jeromy - April 2, 2009 @ 2:43am

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