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The 1K Rule - Keyword Domain Investing

A couple of weeks ago, I posted up my Two Strikes, You're Out guidelines for domain investing. In those guidelines, I touched on Keywords, but now we are going to drill into what really makes a good keyword domain. And while you are free to draw the line as far as quality of the keywords you want to invest in anywhere you want, my rule of thumb is what I like to call the 1K Rule.

The 1K Rule is this: For an exact match .COM domain to be worth my time, the keywords must have at least 1000 exact searches per month and $1 Average CPC according to the Google Adwords Keyword tool. And by exact, I mean, changing the combobox for "Match Type" to exact. Now, this rule is more like a formula than an exact figure. So, a keyword that has, say, a CPC of $5, may interest me if it gets several hundred exact searches per month. Conversely, a keyword that only has an average CPC of 25 cents will need to have several thousand exact searches to grab my attention. The formula, as it were, would look something like this:

Number of Exact Searches X Average CPC >= $1,000

And the 1K Rule doesn't just apply to exact match .COM domains. When I look at, say, call to action names like "BuyMensWatches.com", I'll look at the keyword "Mens Watches" as well as exact searches on "Buy Mens Watches". If the exact phrase [Buy Mens Watches] doesn't reach my 1K limit, then I'll need to justify the purchase by looking at the searches on "Mens Watches". I tend to value brandables and alternative extensions at no more than 10% of the exact match and sometimes significantly less. So before I would register BuyMensWatches.com, the term "Mens Watches" would need at least 10,000 exact searches at an average CPC of $1 in order to interest me. In a similar fashion, exact match .TV and .info's generally don't interest me unless the keywords reach 50,000 exacts at $1 CPC. With .info, I may occasionally register a name with fewer exacts or lower CPC, but only because the cost of registration is so low.

One factor that I don't put much weight into is the number of pages found doing a Google Search on the term (either broad searches or with quotes). You'll often hear people promote their domains using something like "There are 100 million Google search results for the phrase Breakfast Sausages. So buy BreakfastSausages.com." Domain valuation services like Estibot also seem to put considerable weight on having lots of search results. But to me, I like knowing that there's less competition for a term as it makes it easier for me to rank. So if there are 20,000 exact global searches for "Nassua Flights", but less than 100,000 results in Google for "Nassau Flights", then I feel pretty good about my chances to rank "NassuaFlights.com".

Different extensions, different call to actions (for example, I favor "Buy" something, to "Get" something) and the relevance they have with the keyword (for example, I don't like product .TV's) all factor in to determining if the domain is a strong keyword domain. Exact searches matter most, and average CPC should be considered as well, but don't put too much weight into Google Search results for the term, as it can actually be a positive when you go to develop the domain.

I hope my 1K Rule helps you make better decisions about domain investing. If you think my numbers are way off or if you have any questions, feel free to fire me a tweet at http://twitter.com/UtterDomain


  1. Extensions taken and the date a name was registered plays a role in determining the worth of a domain to me as well. But overall I agree with the 1K rule.

  2. Great post! This 1k rule is quite the same as the one I've been using. Though for me it´s more of a guideline then a rule, but I at least try to stick to it as often as I can! :)

    I also agree with you on the "Buy this because there is 100 million Google Results". That I never understood, it´s rather a negative thing in my eyes as it will make it harder to rank high.