Peter Leeds of PennyStocks.com has an interesting story of how he paid about 10% of the originally agreed upon price for this premium domain name. Additionally, he’s successfully leveraging Adsense to supplement the sites revenue. Peter has one of the most popular financial newsletters in North America, with a subscriber base exceeding 32,000 members.
Mike: Tell me a little bit about your background and how PennyStocks.com came about.
Peter: Investing since I was 14 years old, I was always primarily interested in penny stocks. Despite losing all of my money on my first trade, I kept at it, and learned everything I needed to know to trade profitably. That grew into my newsletter focused on penny stocks, and is now one of the most popular financial publications in America.
Mike: You have a great domain name. Did you register it on your own or did you acquire it through a third party? If the latter, can you share what you paid for the name?
Peter: While I always knew it would be tremendous to acquire the pennystocks.com domain name, it was owned by Individual Investor magazine. At the height of the dot com bubble, we offered them $230,000 to which they agreed. We had actually wired them the money when they pulled out, now asking for $650,000. Although the domain is worth at least that much, we got our wired funds returned to us, and we walked away.
A few years later, as Individual Investor magazine started collapsing, I had one of my associates contact them. She didn’t let on her affiliation with my company, as she asked about the various domains they owned. She showed particular interest in pennystocks.com.
Individual Investor then promptly contacted me to see if I was still interested, and even offered to honor the original $230,000 we had agreed to. I made it clear I was no longer interested, so they went back to my associate and she struck a deal for a mere $22,000!
Mike: How important has the name been to the success of the newsletter and why?
Peter: While we were operating very successfully with other domain names previously, acquiring pennystocks.com has given us a great boost. Our prospects are seeing how legitimate we are, it helps our SEO greatly, and we benefit from direct traffic. At the same time, it blocks our competitors from owning it.
Mike: Your site is on the first page of Google for the search term “penny stocks” (without quotes). Is that a ranking you had to work at or did it come easily based on the domain name?
Peter: While we worked VERY hard to rank that high on Google, on an extremely competitive term, owning the actual search term in the domain name has been a major part of that success. Without it, like with some other internet properties we own, we would be lucky to show up on the first 20 results.
We also own pennystocks.net and pennystocks.org, but even with significant SEO work, they are showing up beneath the .com in all the rankings.
Mike: I notice you have Google Adsense running on the site. Is that a significant source of revenue production for the site?
Peter: The Adsense brings in over $50,000 per year, so while it is not close to our revenues from subscriptions to the www.PennyStocks.com newsletter, it is significant, and especially welcome during slow periods during this economic slowdown.
Mike: Do you do any type of marketing for the site? If so what?
Peter: We market the site aggressively, including but not limited to a Facebook fan club, press releases, public speaking, trade shows, directory links, social media accounts, banner ads, a YouTube channel, and PPC ad campaigns. We find that every aspect of marketing has it’s place, and that they all work better if you do them all, rather than just pick and choose a few.
Mike: Can you share your sites visitation statistics? Any idea of how much of your traffic comes from direct navigation (where users type pennystocks.com right into the browser’s url box)?
Peter: We’re currently enjoying about 10,000 unique visitors each month, and of that, hundreds (not thousands) access pennystocks.com directly. The ratio was about the same when our traffic was several times higher as well. We’re seeing direct access rates of near 5% of all visitors.
Mike: Any words of advice for others when it comes to selecting a domain name?
Peter: The rules of the game are changing rapidly. The numbers of people who directly access a generic domain are dropping, while the values of domains are also falling. The value in a generic domain name is not from direct access traffic, as much as it’s potential to help you with search engine rankings (assuming you will put in the SEO work required).
Update 3/14/2014: I was notified that Peter Leeds no longer owns PenneyStocks.com but now owns PennyStocks.net.