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.
I agree with his last statement, the amount of direct navigation on our premium generics is certainly on the decline compared to 5+ years ago. The value now is really in dominating the search engines because of how much weight they put on the exact match domain. It still saves you a boatload in link building for competitive terms though.
Great interview, this guy really gets it. They probably paid for the domain purchase in a month or two, amazing what you can do with good development.
Yes, I highly enjoyed this interview and the perspective Peter brought with it. He seems to be doing quiet well with the name and you’re right, he gets it.
Great Interview Mike – it’s given me some tips for my new membership site.
Great @James, hope it works out. Let me know if something you do works well.
Thanks for the interview…I enjoy it thoroughly.
Great story how he bought it for 22 vs. 230K. One cunning bastard. That alone should give you some indications the quality of his newsletters.
@Poor Uncle, no kidding. That’s a great story of a greedy seller losing out.
Great post Mike. $50,000 from adsense is pretty nice on 120,000 uniques for the year.
@RH, thanks. Not sure if the AdSense revenue is from the current visits or the mention that “…our traffic was several times higher as well…”
This was a very good amount of insight into this subject. Thanks for the post
I offered Peter $100k for pennystocks.com couple of years back when he had no site on there…he almost sold it to me…i should have offered him a little more to get this deal done…it could have been mine…i have missed so many great domain opportunities by being a cheap ass…lesson learned…dont be cheap on great domains..pay a little extra and get it while its cheap!
@Anunt – wow, that’s interesting. Peter could have made a quick and sizable profit but as it turns out, he did better by holding on.
Excellent advises and I have at least learn that owning a good domain isn’t enough. One need to develop it. Unfortunately, that’s not my trade. I owned many good generic domains (more than 4,000 domains in Year 1996 when no one bother to register the generic domains) but having hard time selling it at a good price (even at very low price of Euro2,500 comparing to your USD230K !!)
I have visited your http://www.PennyStocks.com and noticed http://www.PennyStock.com is belong to others ? I have noticed also http://www.PennyStock.com have a registered trademark for PennyStocks on their website?? Are U of concern that one day they will file in a trademark infrigement to get back your PennyStocks.com ?
For your information, we lost http://www.filtercharger.com to K&N filter many years ago even though filter charger is generic in nature.
Great interview! I especially liked the part about how he got the name for $22k 🙂
Me too 🙂
mentioning adsense revenue is against the terms of service, watch your account disappear.
@Domain Sales – Are you a Google AdSense secret agent? Seriously, thanks for making that point.
Thanks for another great interview Mike, I enjoyed it.
Re-read the Google Adsense TOS, you can share revenue numbers, but they don’t want you sharing all stats including CPC, CTR, etc..
I really think your all missing the main issue here.. It clearly states in google TOS that you should not really be “aggressively marketing” a website or webpage to push traffic to the website/page of which displays google ads on. Especially in the form of banners and ppc campaigns of which are completely frowned upon! Many people have been banned for such tactics whether intentionally or not.
::: His Quotes :::
Peter: The Adsense brings in over $50,000 per year.
Peter: “We market the site aggressively”, including directory links, banner ads, and PPC ad campaigns”
Another great interview! I really enjoy your work. A big: “Thank you!”
Ultimately, who cares — AdSense is a dead or at least dying way of making money from domain names anyway.
LOL google won’t take down a site that is prolly making them 150k 🙂
I’m running a little experiment that compares ranking on similarly competitive search terms for both a generic domain name and a keyword specific domain name, so far I am not seeing a lot of difference, but I know that most people agree with your statement that it does make a difference.
@Brian – can you define what you mean by generic vs keyword?
Decent interview. I struggle with peter only due to the paid by company part of his operation other than that the research can be spot on.
Great interview! I started a SEO campaign a few months ago and it has not gone as I expeected. I knew that Google had several updates on their alogithms. At the very beginning I was doing well, but from one day to other my site get de indexed. I hope the work I am doing know helps me to improve my ranks. Awesome post!
Great interview, hope one day someone will offer me 200k for my site pennystockipedia