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August 21, 2009

AirbagFraud.com: A Domain Name Quick Case Study

An entry not intended for my usual 5 visitors, I'm trying to reach a few domainers.

About a year ago, I heard a story on NPR about airbag fraud (http://bit.ly/w1fzT). I've been fascinated by domain names for a long time and realized the obvious domain associated with this story had not yet been registered. I had a coupon for a registration at Godaddy.com and registered it for $1.99 plus tax. I fired up a cheesy blog with a handful of posts embedded with relevant keywords. Within about 4 weeks, an open search of the phrase "airbag fraud" gave AirbagFraud.com the top organic listing in Google and Yahoo! The site had a few Adsense thingies on there and net me a few pennies income. Realizing the phrase was too infrequently searched to have any significant traffic, I parked the domain at WhyPark.com and within a few weeks, it dropped below #100 on search engines. I sold the domain (for a buck) and it now sits in someone else's name, useless, still well below #100.

It was an interesting comparison: a barely informative site gave this site one of the most prominent places in the world regarding that expression/topic. In comparison parking the site with even worse content churned by WhyPark.com gave it zero authority; proof that parking a domain is useless.

The NPR story regained its top postion on Google. Definitely worth the $2.00 experiment to play around with search and parking.

Back to my regularly scheduled, boring narcissistic blog entries.

5 comments:

Nancy said...

I'm glad this isn't intended for me because I really don't understand it. :)

GDad said...

Is it fair to say the experiment proved the hypothesis? Not being a smart aleck, but trying to hone my science skills while sitting in a decidedly social-interaction part of the IT world.

Dave said...

No smart alecky at all.

Although it sounds obvious, AirbagFraud.com will not immediately rise to the top of the heap regarding searches of "airbag fraud." This is where playing with the famous Google algorithm comes in. SEO (search engine optimization) people make all sorts of claims on how to gain rank. Having read their tricks and claims I wanted to try to get to the top and succeeded. The SEO people seem to know their stuff.

I was surprised too because I thought it also required a site receive linking by others to gain "authority." Authority is an interesting term regarding search. AirbagFraud.com rose to the top with NO linking by others (checked by link-type search syntax). With a relatively infrequent search expression and matching domain name - one can shoot the domain to the top without much time or money. The clicky ads I posted on the site were largely sponsored by lawyers and the clicks were juicy - sometimes yielding a couple bucks a click. But, again, the phrase is infrequently searched.

The real challenge (and a way to supplement your income) is to do this trick with a super high volume search expression (e.g., GolfShoes, Parenting101, etc.), and here's the kicker, that hasn't been registered.

What I learned was:
a. deep linking (or any linking) doesn't appear necessary to push a domain to the top,
b. it only takes occasional posting to stay fresh - everyone agrees fresh content is crucial (original content does not have to be well written either), and
c. if you have a site searched because people are interested in buying something - visitors will click the little ads a good fraction of the time.

Not really scientific, but a few interesting things learned about the infamous Google search algorithm.

GDad said...

Wow. I bought some Harry Potter-related names back in 2001 or so. I may need to put some content and ads on them.

Dave said...

For some quick metrics on a domain, Estibot.com has a lot of good metrics. The appraisal they provide is meaningless, but the other numbers associated with that domain name are useful: Google search, monthly search volume, ppc ads (indicator of competition), etc. It's a a linguistics game.

The sad thing about domains is nice words are bad.

plain is a much more valued word than boring which is infintely more valuable than procrustean.

That's a bad example but BadDog.com is WAY more valuable than IncontinentCanine.com