Domain Development 

 October 10, 2015

By  Benjamin Evans

Domain Development has many different parts that must all work together in perfect harmony. A general process outline for domain development includes: research, name selection, planning, business model development, website development, marketing, monetization and analysis. This article explains the Domain Millwork philosophy on domain development, enjoy. The domain name supply chain is managed by three sources. The first is ICANN, which stands for the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). This is the governing board for all TLD's. Verisign is the company that is contracted to provide security and accurate management of the domain name assets. A domain name registrar is the supplier of domain names and is licensed to sell domain names. Popular domain name registrars include Godaddy.com and Moniker.com.

Domain Name Research

What do we want to accomplish. What do we really want to accomplish with this whole thing in the end? "Ok, we understand that….now let's start doing our homework". The basic components of domain name research includes:
  • Keyword exact search volume.
  • Average cost per click.
  • Number of characters in the domain name.
  • Common language use of the keyword phrase.
  • What is the TLD, ccTLD.
  • Does that domain name currently rank organically with a different TLD.
  • Brand power of the domain name.
  • Direct type-in traffic.

Keyword Exact Search Volume

A common way to find out how many times a keyword is searched, is by using the Google Adwords Keyword Search Volume tool. When filtered, this tool will provide the exact search volume of keywords and keyword phrases. The exact search volume tells us how many times that [Exact] keyword phrase search was performed. This means, with no other words used in the search and the keywords used in the exact order searched. Other options such as Phrase and Broad provide us data with a higher variable, leading to conclusions with a larger chance of error. Overall, use the exact search for real numbers. Real data = Real Chance of Success. Many people may want to use the higher numbers because it looks and feels better, but remember, we need to use measurable data. This comes back into play for costs on SEO and SEM. It is important to understand the difference between the 3 Keyword Match Types: Exact, Phrase and Broad. Luckily, we have listed this information below.

Match Types

The match type setting is very important. When selecting a domain name based on search volume, the word pattern matters. To get the most accurate data for search volume, select the [Exact] radio button under Match Types in the left navigation bar. There are two other choices for Match Types, that includes Broad and Phrase.
  1. Exact. By selecting the "exact" option, the keyword search filter will only include search volume for the exact keyword entered above in the word search box. Now you have the most accurate and relevant data to help select a domain name.
  2. Broad Type. Broad type reflects the keyword(s) use at any time, any way - a wildcard.
  3. Phrase Type search volume reflects any time the keyword entered in the search box is used in the exact pattern as searched, with or without other words.

Here is the exact definition of Match Types as provided by Google Adwords

Learn more about Keyword Match Types

Click here to visit Google Adwords and learn more about keyword match types.

Average Cost Per Click (CPC)

The Cost Per Click model is on online bidding system to purchase ad positions in the sponsed section of search results. This area is typcially at the top and along the side. The management of this service is called search engine marketing. The dollar amount shown under CPC indicates how much it would cost to position an Ad within the top 3 spaces, give or take on a search results page. Measuring this number not only tells us how competitive the market is for that search traffic, it also provides an indication on what it will take to organically rank for the keywords as well. The cost-per-click method generally uses text link ads, banner ads and link ads. Each one is used depending on the ad position and media outlet being used for distribution.

Number of Characters in the Domain Name

The number of characters in the domain name indicates how easy it may or may-not be to enter the domain name in the URL bar of a web browser and also how easy it is to remember. Each domain name situation is unique when it comes to this, but a general rule of thumb is to go with fewer characters when possible, as long as it still keeps with all of the other items listed in this section. This tends to make the domain names easier to type-in and also remember.

Common Language use of the Keyword Phrase

The common language use of a keyword phrase relates to how often, how common and how easy it is to say/use/hear/decipher the keyword phrase using the native language of the word.

How Important is a Keyword Domain

The TLD or Top Level Domain

The TLD is whatever comes after the "dot" in a domain name. TLD stands for Top Level Domain, which is a domain at the highest level in the hierarchical Domain Name System of the internet. The most common TLD's in the english language are .com, .net and .org. The most popular country code specific TLD (abbreviated as ccTLD) is .de, which is for Germany or Deutschland. Another example of a ccTLD is the new .CO, which is for Colombia. The launch of this TLD was highly publicized and advertised with Overstock.com becoming one of the most popular websites to use the ccTLD. Overstock.com is also available at O.co. At the launch, O.co customers received a discount on a completed order when purchasing throughout the .CO ccTLD website. ICANN, Verisign and Godaddy demonstrate 3 key components of domain registration. ICANN is the governing body for domain names, Verisign is the company responsible for .com TLD and Godaddy is a registrar that is licensed to sell domain names.

Domain name organic and brand competition of different TLD's

Before selecting a domain name, do a keyword search and check out the competition. Is there the exact domain name keyword ranking for the search term? If so, what is the TLD? Will your strategy be able to overcome the competition TLD?

Brand Power of the Domain Name

How "Brand-able" is the domain name? How easy and memorable will the business be able to make the domain name to consumers? These are questions that come into play when select a domain name based on brand-ability. This part of the equation also has a large impact on the domain name value. When selecting a brand-able domain name, using different combinations of TLD's to make words makes for very neat results. For example, Delicio.us bookmark tool, BennyBlan.co for Benny Blanco from the Bronx or Millwork.it for Domain Millwork ad campaign, "Millwork it!". It is us to you to brand the domain name. Just keep in mind that if using a non .com TLD for a brand-type domain name, it is best to also acquire the .com domain name as well.

Direct Type in Traffic

Direct Type-In Traffic is acquired when a site visitor entered the website by typing the domain name and TLD directly into the website browser and reaching the site directly. This is visitor is captured with referral links or search engines, and is therefore a direct visitor. No middle person.

Domain Research Summary

The more relevant data that is available and accurately reviewed, the better the domain name selection will be. Using the points listed above will help create the best research results to select the domain name.

In a Nutshell - 3 Important Factors in Selecting a Domain Name

Domain names are generally selected for three reasons. The first is brand-ability, the second is direct type-in traffic and the third is exact-keyword search volume. The brand-ability of a domain name is really up to what the business can make the market think. Direct type-in traffic volume of a domain name is only known if the domain name holder is currently using visitor tracking software. The Domain holder should be open to showing you this data prior to the sale. Exact keyword search volume may be discovered by using the Google AdWords keyword difficulty tool. This article goes into detail each of the three reasons listed above. Please remember that the phrase "in-general" is used. It is acknowledged that each domain selection is unique. This data should be used as one of many formulas to be used when going through the domain name selection process. The end-result data is valid and valuable.

Defining the Online Business Model for the Domain Name

There are many different online business models to choose from when development a domain name. Picking the best domain name based on the type of traffic (volume and demand) takes experience and a little luck. It is the goal of DomainMillwork.com to use unique and original content. At times we find that using referral sources provides the best and most credible user experience. Click here to view a list of Online Business Models.

Developing the Website

Website development is a sub-section of domain name development with a similar step proces which includes planning, research, programming, design, css generation, formatting, testing and launch. Click here to read a complete article on the website development process. This article goes in-depth on each of the step process items to launch a website. For large projects we practice Agile Development, which is a model that is based a phase based launch of website features.

Getting Traffic to the Domain Name - Marketing

The main mediums that provide access to website traffic include organic search, paid search, direct navigation, referral and social referral. Descriptions of each traffic medium is detailed below.

Organic Search Traffic with Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Ranking a website organically is based on how well you build the site and how usable it is to site visitors.

Paid Search Traffic with Search Engine Marketing (SEM)

Paid search traffic allows you to instantly obtain an online presence for the keywords that best target your customer. With paid search, Ads are created, Target Keywords are selected and the Bid Amount per keyword is set. This bid amount is how much you are willing to spend per click. Based the cost-per-click (CPC) or cost-per-thousand (CPM) amount the advertiser is willing to spend, the ad is shown or not-shown. The deciding factor in a bidding sytem is wether or not you are willing to spend more than your competitor to get a click from the keyword searcher.

Social Media Traffic

Social media builds a network of referral traffic from loyal users. Social media also allows the user to talk directly to the customer instantly. Popular Social Media mediums include Facebook and Twitter. Click here to read the Domain Millwork section on Social Media.

Direct Navigation Traffic

Direct navigation traffic are visitors that enter the domain name URL directly into the web browser to visit the website. As described above in the "Research" section, "Direct Type-In Traffic is acquired when a site visitor entered the website by typing the domain name and TLD directly into the website browser and reaching the site directly. This is visitor is captured with referral links or search engines, and is therefore a direct visitor. No middle person.".

Domain Name Monetization

Now we get to the important part. How is the domain name going to make money? There are many options to choose from when deciding on how to monetize a domain name. These options include:
  • Parking Pages
  • Lead Generation
  • Ad Network Revenue
  • Arbitrage
  • Directory Listings
  • Site Leasing
  • Affiliate Networks
  • Creating an Actual Business

Parking Pages

A parking page is typically a website page with Text Links integrate throughout that look like site navigation links. These links take the site visitor out to another site, which that advertise pays for by the click. Large ad network brokers are used for parking page management.

Lead Generation

The lead generation method is based on the paid-for-performance model. In this scenario, the site owner and lead buyer agree upon a set definition of a qualified lead. The price of each lead is also established. Many times the lead price varies by the type of lead generated. Once put into action, each qualified lead generated by a site visitor, the lead buyer pays the lead owner a fee.

Ad Network Revenue

To monetize a domain name by integrating Ad Networks, the domain must host high value content, capture high value traffic, get good search volume and also maintain a high click-through-ratio (CTR). This method entails integrating Text, Link and Banner ads from a network similar to Google AdSense into a website. Site visitors click on one of the advertisements and the site owner is paid for the "click". Similar to parking pages, the primary difference is that sites with the Ad Network generate rely on organic traffic.


Arbitrage is simply about buying low and selling high. The success metric in using arbitrage is based on being able to purchase traffic using SEM and sell clicks on the arbitrage site for a much higher amount than the traffic acquisition cost. Close attention to CTR must be used in this method. This method is used in high volume situations, usually with a lower return-on-investment (ROI).

Directory Listings

The directory listing model is based on selling monthly or annual listings on a website. Directories are often used for niche search markets. With the growth of Google Local results in organic search, directory engines are not as viable as they once were as an online business model for domain monetization.

Site Leasing

Leasing out a domain name based on a flat rate is a great way to generate residual revenue. The goal is to build out a domain name, create value and then target a end-user supplier related to the domain name to lease the site. The business would lease the site based on the value of the captured traffic.

Affiliate Networks

The affiliate network model creates networks of referral websites that are paid based on performance. The standard model of monetization with affiliates is through commissions. Companies pay the affiliate a commission based on a sale that occurred to due the affiliates referral traffic lead. Here is a video that provides a product overview on one for the most popular affiliate networks, Commission Junction.

Creating an Actual Business

Now here is an idea, create a real business. For a Domainer, this option is very time consuming and choice that may take them away from their core business. Partnering with an existing business that is able to directly service and monetize the traffic has proved a successful option. The problem is that you have to give up a piece of the cake. The other option as stated is to create the actual core business and establish a supply chain. This is something that Domain Millwork did with CellPhoneWatch.com by using a drop shipper.

Domain Name Performance Analysis

All the things above can take place perfectly, but if you are not able to accurately see what is going with the website, then you are destined to take a rough road. Properly implementing and more importantly using analytical tools will help you understand and view patterns of success and failure. The analytical tools tell us where visitors are coming from, what they are doing when they get to the site, what pages do they visit, how long do they spend on each page and 2 very important pieces of information, when did they convert and when did they leave. Using this data allows the site administrator to create a website that performs well and achieves the set goals. Some great analytical tools for online traffic include Google Analytics, Omniture, CrazyEgg and HootSuite.

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