Andrew Hazen knows a thing or two about marketing. In fact, he has built and sold two Internet marketing companies, pocketing millions of dollars in the process. And he has written a book using easy-to-understand language about search engine optimization.
In this show, Andrew shares how he turned 90 admittedly marginal hand-registered .com domain names and one .info domain into $56,000 per month. (I have seen the Google Adsense report to verify this impressive figure.) You will be surprised to learn that in addition to search engine optimization, a clever television ad campaign drove the results.
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Here’s your program.
Michael Cyger: Hey everyone, my name is Michael Cyger. I’m the publisher of DomainSherpa.com, the website where you came to to learn how to become a successful domain name entrepreneur directly from the experts.
How do you take a good domain name in a questionable TLD, such as .info, and turn it into a $56,000 per month revenue source?
Joining me to answer this question is Andrew Hazen. Andrew is the Founder & CEO at Domain Wealth with the URL domainwealth.com. Andrew, welcome to the show.
Andrew Hazen: Thanks Mike. I appreciate you having me on.
Michael: We got on the phone yesterday Andrew and did a pre-interview call. I asked you what you were working on and you listed a host of items, including being of counsel to a law firm right now working on some digital assets, your new Domain Wealth membership system, and a few other things. You said, after a few weeks off, you were raring to go again. So for those in the audience that don’t know about your background let me summarize it briefly: in 1998, you started a company a few weeks out of law school called Prime Visibility – and the way I understand it it was a full-service search engine marketing (SEM) company specializing in search engine optimization (SEO) and pay-per-click (PPC) Internet marketing and things like that. About a decade later, you sold that company Prime Visibility to Prime Visibility (PV) Media Group which was basically a private equity funded startup that acquired your company as well as another online company. Then on November 9th: a public company in the UK called Blinkx bought Prime Visibility Media Group for $36,000,000 in cash. How did I do on that summary?
Andrew: You did great. You accurately stated it.
Michael: Alright, cool. Let me back up then and ask you a few questions. I read online that Prime Visibility was, or is, about 60 people. Let me ask you something about when you sold it. When you sold your company in 2008 how many full time employees did you have?
Andrew: We closed on the original transaction in December of ’07. And at that time I had 557 people here in the United States and 12 people in India.
Michael: So it was a good sized, medium business. It was no GE with 10,000 employees but it is no small Mom and Pop search engine marketing shop with two people who banded together.
Andrew: No we had a $3,000,000 payroll and hundreds of clients and a lot of commotion but it was a lot of fun. And more recently when the company was acquired in December of 2011 the company was down to about 28 to 30 full time people.
Michael: Wow down?
Andrew: Down. They did a lot of upgrading in my opinion. We went from hiring people at one price point and then hired highly qualified people and got people to do the jobs of 2 ½ people.
Michael: One of the other things I noticed when I was doing some research is that your company Prime Visibility before you sold it you made INC’S the fastest growing private companies in America. And in order to make that ranking I believe what you have to do is show a percentage revenue growth of a four year period of a minimum of $200,000 revenue the first year and at least $2,000,000 in the latest year that you provided. So with a payroll of $2,000,000 you clearly had revenue above that number.
Andrew: Yes we were extremely fortunate to make the inquest of fastest growing companies in both 2007 and again in 2008. Revenues exceeded $4 or $5,000,000 in ’07 and was over $6,000,000 for ’08.
Michael: And I looked all over the web Andrew and I try to pride myself on doing research before I get on an interview with somebody and I could not find how much you sold your company for back in 2008.
Andrew: That is not out there but I can tell you that the valuation was an eight figure valuation back in ‘07 when the company was originally acquired.
Michael: Fantastic, in late ‘07. Were you the 100% owner of the company or did you have partners as well that owned shares?
Andrew: I owned 100% of the company. Ironically you mentioned earlier I did practice law for about eight weeks before I started Prime Visibility. So the lawyers at the original law firm backed me and I bought out the lawyers in August of 2006, and sold the company about a year later when I had about 100% equity.
Michael: Wow I bet they were kicking themselves weren’t they?
Andrew: Yes I gave them what I call schmuck insurance thinking that nothing else was going to happen over the years that followed the acquisition. So they had a nice little payday themselves but it would have been much greater if they had stayed there.
Michael: So eight figures clearly indicting it was over a $10,000,000 mark. And as I said earlier the company that you sold to was then purchased by a public company and they made it public that they purchased Prime Visibility Media Group for $36,000,000. When you sold Prime Visibility did you have shares in the parent company?
Andrew: Yes so when we closed in December of ‘07 I reinvested into PV Media Group which was as you correctly stated the holding company which had us and a company in Arizona.
Michael: So when they sold it was another payday for you.
Andrew: Yes. Like they said the second bite of the apple.
Michael: So for the audiences benefit the reason I spend so much time on your background and how you build Prime Visibility from scratch into a search engine marketing powerhouse and sold it for eight figures and then helped that parent company just last year sell is that I want people to realize that you know your subject matter when it comes to search engine optimization and marketing. In fact you wrote you wrote a book on it. I think the title was Search Engine Optimization Plain and Simple.
Andrew: I’ve written a book. Here it is. Search Engine Optimization Plain and Simple.
Andrew: It came out in 2008.
Michael: So why is all this important why I told people that you sold for an eight figure number and that you have years in search engine optimization marketing is because you took a domain name with a .info TLD. A .info extension and turned it into a nice recurring cash business. And for those that may not know about .info you can usually go to like a registrar like GoDaddy.com and get a .info for $1.99. A lot of people say that .infos are throw-aways. So they will buy .infos and they will use them for development domains or something like that but you turned it into a nice recurring cash business. What was the domain name?
Andrew: The domain is Coupons.info.
Michael: So Coupons is a great domain, questionable extension. We will get into how you actually bought it later but what was the highest monthly revenue you generated from coupons.info?
Andrew: The best month of revenue for the coupon network as I like to refer to it was just shy of $56,000 in May of 2011.
Michael: And for those in the audience that may be questioning the figures that Andrew is stating I have got my cell phone right here and Andrew was kind enough to send me his reports from Google Ad Sense that actually show exactly what Andrew was talking about. It is quite amazing. I wish I had Google Ad Sense account that said the numbers that are showing up on your account Andrew. How are you generating such high revenue from the coupons.info network? Did you sell coupons?
Andrew: No it started back in 2008 when I started hand registering coupon related domain names. And I came up with this knack where they all started with the word all, a-l-l. And because my background is in search I was able to gain prime visibility (no pun intended) for the handful or so websites and started to monetize them. And quickly it went from $1 a day to $5 to $15 a day and started building up there. So at one point the flagship site was allcouponsdirect.com. And as a marketing person and as a branding person I felt that that wasn’t brandable and nobody was going to remember allcouponsdirect.com so I was looking for that domain name that I could put on the entire network as to be the portal of the hub. And that is when I came across coupons.info was up for auction through Great Domains.
Michael: Hold that thought because I am going to dig into how you bought it but you have this network of all coupons and you were making money and it went from $1 a day to $5 a day to $15 a day was all that money being made on Google Ad Sense?
Andrew: Yes 98% of revenue besides affiliate email marketing a majority of it was made from Google Ad Sense.
Michael: And the month May 2011, the month that you made just shy of $56,000 was that all Google Ad Sense as well?
Andrew: That is all Google Ad Sense correct.
Michael: So that is a boatload of money that you made but it is also a boatload of money that Google made off of what you did.
Michael: You know I think it was Adam Dicker who stated previously that Google only pays out about a third of everything that they make.
Andrew: Correct. I’ve been under the assumption of 28% to 30% of the actual revenue.
Michael: And when you bought coupons.info what was the revenue of the domain name at that time?
Andrew: The network?
Michael: No when you bought coupons.info.
Andrew: I think it was a parked site.
Michael: Oh it was a parked site.
Andrew: Yes it wasn’t generating any revenue.
Michael: So you had your entire network which we will go into at the time you were making some money off of all coupons network at that time?
Andrew: Yes before I purchased coupons.info I would say that the network was probably averaging about $2,000 a month across 30 or 40 websites.
Michael: This is exciting Andrew. So we are going to go through this network from your domain name acquisitions to building it out to marketing it and to monetization and plans for the future. If you are watching this show now is the time you want to pause it, go get a pad of paper to take notes, go get a beverage of your choice and then come back and start it back up. So let’s get down to business here Andrew. If we go back in time you first acquired coupons.info after you started this network. Tell me about the first time you had the idea for creating a coupons network.
Andrew: Well it was again back in 2008 so the economy was kind of falling apart. And I was fortunate enough to have just sold the company and I went out to my first DomainFest in California. And I was thinking about the economy and recession proof ideas and how as a marketer I could have recurring revenue with, I don’t want to say little work, because everything takes work. But do some heavy lifting at the beginning and get it to work on its own. So I came to realize that death taxes are inevitable and as a result of that I actually bought funeral.info which was another TLD at the DomainFest auction in January 2008 and I started looking at couponing. Admittedly I am not one to use coupons but I realized that no matter what was going on in the economy it was something that people were going to be using to help save some money. So I realized that if I did some due diligence and some keyword acquisitions on domain names I can find the keywords that I sought after the most, that have the highest cost per click value and looked to build out those sites. And if you use the Google Keyword Tool or any of its similar tools and you put in coupons you will see that there are tens if not hundreds of thousands of searches not on Broad but on Fraser or Zack for coupons or coupon related keywords. And that in of itself had me really excited.
Michael: So you got the idea. You wanted something that people are always going to want on the internet. You thought about death taxes and hey people are always looking for coupons whether it is a good economy or a bad economy. People are looking to save a few bucks here and there. So you thought about coupons. You went to the Google Ad Words tool, you typed in coupons, you selected exact match and then it shows you the number of searches for coupons in the US or the world and the Cost Per Click. And I did this yesterday. I think the exact match search quantity per month is a million on coupons, (the keyword coupons). The Cost Per Click is $1.08 I think. So it is massive. And then underneath that it will list a whole other exact match phrases that use the keyword coupons in it.
Michael: And then you can sort it actually by high to low frequency. And so the highest phrases. You looked at that information ah baby coupons, diaper coupons, what else did you see?
Andrew: Candy coupons, chicken coupons, ice cream, juice, all of them.
Michael: What did you do with that information? You have got a whole bunch of lists of varying degrees.
Andrew: I just started hand registering domains by the dozens. Every hour I don’t think a day went by where I didn’t register five domains. I was buying not .coms. You know very few .net, .org or anything else. But I was on a mission to capture and procure as many of those domains as possible.
Michael: so wait a second. Let me stop you there for a second there. All this list from the Google Ad Words Keyword Tool did you just start registering or did you just say let me look through the entire list. Let me print it out. Let me sort it by category. Let me see how these sort of fit underneath each other. Did you do a little bit of that or did you just say I’m going to go out and buy them?
Andrew: I started just to buy them. Once I knew what the search volume was and the Cost Per Click value was I just started acquiring them. I knew certain categories like detergent coupons would have a higher Cost Per Click value than others. So I tried to get all the higher paying ones at first. And it was actually quite ironic because there were many, many days where I would go to hand register a domain that was not available and when I did a whois look up I actually owned it. I didn’t realize that they were ones that I already had. And I knew as an SEO expert that using all in the domain strategy was something that would not have a negative impact on the SEO. And so in the beginning I started with all and I did others with direct. I own something like foodcouponsdirect.com. So I did some of those, restaurantcouponsdirect.com where I couldn’t get the all. There were a few that I used direct as a word within the URL.
Michael: Why didn’t you just detergentcoupons.com?
Andrew: It was either not available and I would try and buy the domain without all and nine out of ten times it was not available. I have been fortunate enough to buy some of them. Even like cerealcoupons.org I picked up. But I also own allcerealcoupons.com. Both are cereal coupon sites and the allcerealcoupons.com generates more revenue than cerealcoupons.org.
Michael: Wow so I am going to come back in a minute and ask you how you manage your portfolio when you built a network using something like allcerealcoupons.com and then you get a better domain like cerealcoupons.com. Like how do you fit it in? I’m going to hold that and come back to that and ask you. You bought all these keyword phrases you tacked on the word all at the beginning or direct at the end and you bought .coms. Because why did you buy .coms rather than just buying all the .orgs or .infos?
Andrew: .Com rules. I know that is what works for SEO, and I know that is the most memorable. As a marketer myself I always tell people I give it the red light test. If I pull up next to you at a red light and I say hey Michael go check out allcerealcoupons.org when you get home chances are you are going to type it in .com. So that was my preference.
Michael: Okay so you started registering all these domains. How many domains in total did you buy that either have all at the beginning or direct at the end and some sort of coupon phrase in the middle?
Andrew: It has got to be a solid 60 to 90.
Michael: 60 to 90 that is it?
Andrew: Yes just shy of 100.
Michael: You bought all these domains and you knew you wanted to go forward creating this network. Did you create the network or did you buy coupons.info first? Which one came first?
Andrew: I created a network because at the time before I purchased coupons.info all coupons direct was the hubs site. So I had in motion and I had it set up with all coupons direct as the hub.
Michael: Alright, allcouponsdirect.com was the main website where people went. So let’s start there. So you have this idea for a network, you bought all coupons direct, you bought 60 to 90 domain names around it, you knew you wanted to build out…Well you tell me what did you want to build out?
Andrew: I wanted to build up the sites that had the most traffic with the highest Cost Per Click. And then those that I started to see perform based on the click through rate and the revenue was…just for example I have allpetfoodscoupons.com. So I would see how that was performing and if it was doing well, which it was, I then did a spin off and I had alldogfoodcoupons.com, allcatfoodcoupons.com as two separate sites. So I was kind of following the money and the traffic. And I just want to make an important point that before I purchased coupons.info 90% of traffic was from search. I did hit which I’m sure we will talk about a Google bump it was August, (I’ll never forget) it was August 23, 2009 but before then you would go to Google and type in food coupons and out of 11,000,000 results I was the top five for all search races. Now today, and I checked before the interview, you go to Yahoo (which is not Google) and you type in food coupons and I am still number 1. Still number 1 in Yahoo for food coupons. So the traffic was really just coming in from search engines. I had another great site allpizzacoupons.com and I was getting droves of traffic for people looking for Dominos or Pizza Hut or Papa John’s pizzas and that site was doing extraordinarily well in search as well.
Michael: So let me see if I can rephrase what you did so that other people can go and do it. I would take your 90 domain names let’s call them. Let’s put them in a spreadsheet and call them A. And then I would go to column B and I would type out all the words. If column A, row 1 has allpizzacoupons.com and column B would say pizza coupons and then I would go to the Google Ad Words Keywords Tool and put in column C the monthly search volume in the United States and in column D I would put the average Cost Per Click. And then basically column E you could multiply the search volume times the Cost Per Click and that will give me basically a dollar figure per month maybe that people are paying and then I could order that entire list from highest to lowest on column E and that should tell me (or it told you it sounds like) what you should build out first. You would build out the websites with the highest earnings first.
Andrew: Correct. But like today I still own allshoescoupons.com and it is not a built site because there is not enough search volume for it or I won’t think I will make as much money but I still have plenty of them lined up to go.
Michael: Got it, so then you looked at this list of 90 domain names, how many did you start building out at first?
Andrew: I had a good two or three dozen out the gate that I built out.
Michael: Did you build them yourself?
Andrew: Yes and no. I had them built for me but once they were built and were pretty user friendly content management system I would go in and build out all the pages. So I got a shell and I’d look at the sites a lot of them have a similar look and feel. So once the shell was done for me then I would go in myself and do (besides the keyword research) I would do the titles, the page names, the page copy on a majority of the sites and then I did outsource some of the copy to a third party to have that copy written for me.
Michael: So you looked at your list. Let’s say the top one is allpetfoodcoupons.com. Let’s just say that for example. I’m not sure if it was or not. What would you do in order to get a website built so that you could specify what pages you want to write the content and search engine optimized it?
Andrew: It is a simple CMS system that I think is built off of Joomla. Once they had the logo and the rotating image on the home page, if it was ice cream it had ice cream pictures, if it was fruit coupons it had fruit pictures. Once that was given to me I would just go in and start creating pages again based on keyword search volume and build out the top navigation typically getting four to six top level links, top navigation. So I would work backwards. I would reverse engine the process based on search volume.
Michael: So Joomla is a contact management system like Word Press or Drupal or a host of other content management systems out there. Do you have one Joomla website that runs all of your coupon websites or is it one Joomla contact management system per website?
Andrew: It is one Joomla system per website.
Michael: Okay and so do you have multiple hosting accounts for each of these Joomla content management systems?
Andrew: No. I don’t. They are all on a rack space server.
Michael: All one rack space server, multiple websites run by multiple Joomla content management systems. Do you have to sign in for allpizzzacoupons.com differently than allcouponsdirect.com let’s say?
Andrew: Signing in as administrator?
Andrew: No I do not. They all have separate log in pages but I am using the same log in. Is that what you were asking?
Michael: Yes that is what I was asking. That makes sense. Did you have somebody…do you work with a webmaster on a regular basis that set this up for you? Did you use somebody form your company? Or did you outsource it?
Andrew: I outsourced. The lawyer inside of me knew to keep everything at arm’s length if you will. So being that I’ve been in this industry for now 15 years I have tremendous contacts all over the place in different fields and web design was not a problem at all. And to be honest I had the sights built very, very economically.
Michael: So you went to one of your contacts that does development and you said I’ve got these 12, these 24 websites out of this list that I want you to develop. Here’s the URL, here are the pages that I want you to create, use this logo in the upper left hand corner of every website, use this template or a template that looks like this and you pointed the person at a template you wanted.
Andrew: Except they weren’t building the original pages. They would just start it and give it to me with a home page and a contact page. And then I would go in and create original pages.
Michael: Okay so on allpetfoodcoupons.com how did you know what additional pages to add?
Andrew: Again based on keyword volume. So I would put in pet food coupons, dog food coupons, bird food coupons, and reptile and take the search volume and prioritize. I usually use as a threshold a 1000 minimum searches a month on exact. If it had less than that I really wouldn’t pay attention to it unless the Cost Per Click was outrageous. In something like detergent coupons because there is a high $3 to $8 Cost Per Click on average whereas food coupons or vegetable coupons is .30 to $1 where I am not going to get that much of that third of a share.
Michael: So if it is .30 to $1 you want to make sure you get at least 1000 searches per month?
Andrew: At a minimum on exact not broke.
Michael: But if it was 100 searches per month but it was a $10 click through you would go for it?
Andrew: It wouldn’t be as high in my priority list but it would be something for consideration.
Michael: So you went to your designer, your webmaster, you said build me these websites. How long did it take your developer to make those websites?
Andrew: They were quick. But I was giving them quicker than they could develop them. But I would say it felt like they were turning out two sites a week. Pretty straight forward.
Michael: Well it should be relatively easy if they are using the same template and a different logo. You have a graphic designer I take it that designed up the logos for you?
Andrew: Yes. Many times whatever they used as their template if it was the pizza coupon site and I’d ask them to do all icecreamcoupons.com when they gave me the ice cream site even though it would have ice cream images the title tag would still say pizza from the previous site. So it was literally like, I don’t want to say they were copy and pasting the data base or cpo but I would say it was literally pretty quick to get these sites going.
Michael: And if we assume you have about 24 – 25 websites up and running before you went live do you remember how much you paid for something like that to happen?
Andrew: For those sites?
Michael: Just to get the sites up running without any content. Basic contact and home page.
Andrew: I would say I was paying well under $500 per site. Way under.
Michael: So you got your websites up and running. How do you decide how many websites you want to get up and running before you take the network live versus building them all out?
Andrew: It was live as I went. So as the sites were done they went up live. And sometimes and it would be as I mentioned earlier there would be content from another site up there and I would get a couple of complaints here and there. We have detergent copy on a candy site. So I just had them throw it up there and then I would late at night just go in (I don’t sleep a lot so that is when I get a lot of my work done) and was able to populate the site with content.
Michael: So every night, after work, you kiss the wife, you put the kids to bed and you go to your computer…You were creating the web pages, the individual pages on the Joomla powered website to say on the petfoodscoupon.com. You have one for Purina, food coupons. And I can’t remember any other dog food names off hand. But you’d create a different page for each dog food based on the Google Ad Words Keyword Tool, search volume, and Cost Per Click.
Andrew: Correct and I see you smiling because there were many, many nights when my wife would come out and look at me at 1:00 or 2:00 in the morning and look over my shoulder and say you are writing about yogurt? It’s 1:00 in the morning. You are running a multi-million dollar company. What the hell are you doing? And when Google checks would come in I would show her and I would say see, this covers your car, this covers the kid’s soccer so it was a lot of hard work in the beginning. But like I said I got a good one.
Michael: How did you write, if somebody goes to coupons.info right now and they click through to one of your websites and they click on one of the pages they can see that the content looks pretty similar from page to page. Like if I look at Purina coupons versus another dog food brands name coupons a lot of the content looks similar. You wrote it once and then you modified for every single page.
Andrew: I did that in campaign, use a template and maybe for every three or four sites I would use that general type of copy direction. And then I would try and switch it up in the next drove or the next set of sites that I would be working on. And I think that’s ultimately when we get to it I think it had an impact on the Google rankings.
Michael: Why didn’t you outsource somebody to write that content? Why didn’t you go to O’Desk and say I need 500 words on dog food…why dog food is good?
Andrew: I did use Elance for awhile and honestly was quite happy with the ton of the content. I was paying anywhere from $5 to $15 per page. I thought the more I paid the better it would be and it turned out that a lot of typos and I was afraid that they were ripping it off from other websites. I did a couple copy stave checks and found that some of the content was too plagiarative. So once I had a good working model I would just use that and word smith it to fit my needs.
Michael: So you just decided that it was easier for you to do it yourself rather than type up a specification to have somebody else do it. (over talk 0:30:29.2) check it, fix their errors. You end up rewriting a lot of it yourself anyways.
Andrew: Right I did give it a shot it just didn’t work out the way I hoped it would.
Michael: Alright that makes sense. So you got the websites up and running. Let’s dig into this because I want to talk about how you search engine optimize pages. You wrote a book on it. You’ve created a bunch of sites on search engine optimization. So let’s jump right into this right now. So there are such things as onpage SEO and offpage SEO. Let’s talk about onpage SEO for a moment. So when you got these websites up and running, your webmaster created a homepage for you, and a contact page, and you went and created the individual pages. So if I’m on allpetfoodcoupons.com, let’s say. and I see a page for Purina Pet Food Coupons. When you are creating that page what do you want to do to make sure that it is search engine optimized?
Andrew: First and foremost I want to have the Google Keyword Tool loop in and have Purina food in there and see what the different iterations are. And then once I ascertain the top two or three related keywords everything from the title tag to the page name Url pass to the starting H1 tag are all going to reinforce that one keyword.
Michael: When you say keyword do you actually mean keyword phrase?
Andrew: Yes keyword phrase.
Michael: Okay so if I have Purina dog food or Purina-Hill dog food, let’s say that Purina dog food is the keyword phrase, that’s what somebody might actually type into Google.
Michael: So you look for two or three keyword phrases that are all related and you will build one page to satisfy those.
Michael: Let’s break it down. You talked about a title tag. And for those that don’t know a lot about SEO what is a title tag?
Andrew: A title tag is what you typically find in the top left of your screen next to the e in Explorer or the Firefox logo. And essentially is the name of the actual webpage. Every webpage on the internet has a title tag. The most common mistake that most people occur is that they use the same title tag on every single page of the website which is a really big no-no. The only thing probably worse than that would be ‘welcome to our home page’ or just having it untitled which means you have no title tag. But a title tag tells the search engines tells the viewer what the page is titled.
Michael: So if I’m on a page on allpetfoods.com I don’t want the entire site across every single page to say allpetfoods.com
Michael: I want it to say whatever is specific to that page.
Andrew: Right, the dog food section is going to have dog food, the cat food section is going to have cat, and the reptile is going to have reptile and so forth and so on.
Michael: If I am on the Purina dog food coupons page what do I want the title to say at the top?
Andrew: Again based on keyword research probably Purina dog food coupons.
Michael: Do I want to hyphen or a slash allpetfoods.com in there too?
Andrew: It depends on what the URL in and of itself is. But having allpetfoods.com in the title tag I don’t think has much value. But back to your question I typically will use either a pipe or a hyphen that separate groups of keywords. But there is something where on allprintablecoupons.com I may have something like manufacturers coupons- printable coupons. So that the keywords for proximity are near each other which is another part of the algorithm for organic search.
Michael: And then on the page itself, when people are looking at the page, do you want that title that is at the top in some sort of larger font or bold font or something like that?
Andrew: Well not in the title itself but on the actual page property?
Andrew: Yes, preferably using H1 tag, a header tag, getting the keywords from the title tag into the H1is really important if possible. Some sites you can use an H2 tag. If you can get it in there it is also useful. And you also don’t only want to include it at the top of the webpage, if possible you want to use the keyword throughout the webpage especially in the last paragraph.
Michael: So let’s talk about that. How many words should be on a webpage in order to show Google that it’s not just a worthless website? It actually has some content.
Andrew: I’m a firm believer in keeping it around 200 – 250. Some people think it is 500 but I have proven success with 200 – 250.
Michael: So 250 words using the one to two or three keyword phrases that you have identified for that specific page. So if you were on Purina dog food coupons you might use Purina dog food coupons, adult dog food coupons…
Andrew: Adult dog food coupons, dry dog food coupons – you have to be careful not to stump the keywords. That is something that used to work in ‘97 and ‘98 and ‘99 when I started. But you cannot say buy Purina dog coupons because Purina dog food coupons have great Purina dog food coupons from all…That will actually get you banned and dropped out of the engine. So you have to be careful not to overstep the density.
Michael: Okay how many times should you use a keyword phrase on the 250 words that you write?
Andrew: That is part of the secret sauce I guess and one I have been able to build.
Michael: What? If I buy your book you are not going to tell me how many times to put it in there?
Andrew: It is not actually in the book but as a rule of thumb I don’t like to go beyond, I would say as a buffer, you want to stay away from 20% of the copy should not be using the keyword. If you have over 20% of utilization then you are skating a slippery slope.
Michael: We are not going to make this an SEO course for people. They can go read about the title tag in html, they can go read about an H1 tag, an H2 tag. We talked about the body of the content. Are you a big believer of alt tags on images?
Andrew: I am a huge believer. I always say on a scale of one to ten I put alt tags at a 1.5. They are important to have and maybe if you are ranking about number three or four or you are at the top of page two at #11 that might be something that puts you up at a position of 2.
Michael: What about meta description?
Andrew: Meta description I approve in. Meta keywords I know a lot of people don’t even include them. But I have for the most part especially in the first three dozen or so I developed I certainly did use the meta keywords. The jury is still out whether they have an impact.
Michael: So that is the onpage search engine optimization tactics that at a minimum some people should focus on. What percentage of onpage SEO, if you do that right Andrew, is going to get you to the top of the search engines?
Andrew: That by itself will get you on the top. You need to go to those offpage elements, especially those back links. It is the link building. I always say you can have a poster perfect SEOed site but without back links you are probably not going to get page one visibility.
Michael: So that is the offpage. If we put that aside and only focus on the onpages what we just went over for the past five minutes, what people need to do to make sure that their onpage SEO is top notch.
Andrew: Yes. Titles and page names I can’t stress enough. Page names and even the URL page names themselves I am a big proponent of using hyphens to separate keyword phrases, not underscores. So I would look to that. And also from an SEO perspective, not to get technical because I’m not a techy, there you want static SEO friendly web pages as opposed to dynamics. If you look at your URL path and you have – ? id =26&$# – that is something that you want to avoid. Whereas something like allpizzacoupons.com/papa-john-pizza is a great optimized page for Papa John pizza. So on the scale of one to ten I would say page names are a 12. You really have got to pay attention to them.
Michael: Alright good information there especially for those dynamic websites. You need static URLs for all the pages across the website.
Andrew: And also a site map page which kind of links up everything together. And you can use some really good xml site map feeds to get the pages crawled inside by the search engines.
Michael: Okay that is the onpage. The offpage SEO refers to what specifically?
Andrew: Primarily back links. There are some social media factors as well – especially more in the last few years or so. But you want to get links pointing back to your website. And a common mistake is it points to a home page. You want to have back links going to internal pages of the website. And more importantly you want keywords or keyword phrases in the blue clickable links. So you don’t want to say something for dog food coupons click here. And click here is linking to alldogfoodcoupons.com. You want to say something like for dog food coupons click here and the only thing that is clickable is the word dog food coupons. That is an extremely important factor.
Michael: So how did you go about building these links back to lower level pages of your website – specific pages of your website, not the home page?
Andrew: In the beginning I really went about doing it in two specific ways. One if you notice on the bottom of all the coupon sites we have a footer. And within the footer itself I started interlinking into the other websites. Which I think back in 2008/2009 and gave me a tremendous boost out of the gate because I would put up a website like allbeautycoupons.com and a site that had no rankings in weeks would jump up in rankings because all I had to do was include that link in the footer on twelve other coupons related websites. So it was linking to the coupon network itself and then a lot of what I would call social media answering. So I spent a lot of time in Yahoo Answers as an example. Looking for people asking questions about coupons and answering specifically with back links to the internal pages. And LinkedIn has a question and answer section. Answerbag.com. There are a whole host of sites like Yahoo Answers that I would go out to. And I would also do a lot of press releases and directory submissions. So with the directories I would find the appropriate categories: shopping, coupons, savings and the press releases would come up with a good catch that I can get a good link back to the sites.
Michael: That is a great tactic. The Q&A sites are a great place to search for anybody referencing coupons and then you can answer it and it doesn’t look like spam because that is what you are there for is to answer questions. And then you get to put a link to say Purina dog food coupons as Purina dog food coupons with a link directly going there. So that benefits it. So that clearly took a lot of time to build those links.
Andrew: Yes it did. I was about to say I did try services like Directory Maximizer or some of those other ones and I had really poor results. So I cut my losses early. One thing as an entrepreneur you can’t be afraid to try different things. And I certainly went ahead and wasn’t afraid to spend money without testing and I just didn’t have the results that I was looking for.
Michael: And when you say it doesn’t have the result you were looking for what do you mean?
Michael: You weren’t getting the rankings?
Michael: So you were getting the links, you paid somebody to do the links, they did the links but it just wasn’t delivering the rankings.
Michael: Were they going to the Q&A sites and doing what you were doing? Or where they getting these through some other way?
Andrew: No they were doing some blog contenting and putting me on irrelevant sites. I found links on blogs talking about horse hoofs and nothing to do with what I was trying to promote. So it didn’t really find the benefit of the value.
Michael: So you went to the Q&A sites. You talked about directories. What directories did you add your coupon sites to?
Andrew: Anything from Demas the open directory project to the Yahoo. You know Yahoo was a web directory before it was a search engine. So a $299 a year listing there. And a handful of either niche related sites. I am always amazed. You can be a plumber, a contractor, or a plastic surgeon there is a forum or a directory for every industry. And if you use Google what you are looking for you will find that specific directory or blog category and looking for links within that as well.
Michael: It is pretty amazing. So you went to Yahoo.com for example. You paid your $299 per year. Which site did you link to? The allcouponsdirect.com?
Andrew: I was using, prior to coupons.info, I was using allcoupondirect.com, correct.
Michael: Demas, you can go there and you can list your coupon site for free. There is no guarantee that you will get in and because they are all volunteers it takes forever to get in.
Andrew: Let’s just say if there is an active editor in that category you may have to wait a very long time to get listed.
Michael: So some of those other directories are a great idea.
Andrew: Another great one is PR.com who is actually someone who I went to high school with. But he owns PR.com which is just for public relations but that site is also great to get a company listing on there and getting links back also.
Michael: Great, so that was your offpage SEO campaign. You went to these websites. You spent your personal time, created thoughtful answers linking back to lower level pages on your website using the keywords as the link text. Now let me ask you Andrew. I’ve been to some of these websites and there is not a ton of content. 250 words and if somebody clicks on the Purina dog food coupons web page for example they are not actually going to see any coupons in the content that you are writing?
Andrew: No they are not going to see coupons. It is going to be because it is Ad Sense or affiliate offers you are going to see graphic or text ads that will drive that. All along I should say while I was building the network my goal back then, which hasn’t really changed but I haven’t executed on it, was to actually go to the manufacturers and become a direct connection with them to actually get their coupons. So in my mind if I had, you keep mentioning Purina, if that was the point that was where I was getting 10,000 to 20,000 unique visitors per month that is not a lot of traffic but it is very highly targeted traffic. So my thought was you call up Purina and say listen I know you are giving Google $1 per click of which I am getting .33 and they are getting .68 why don’t you just give me .50 direct and save? And that is something that I have always been contemplating I just haven’t gone ahead and executed on it.
Michael: Well and it requires you reaching out to them, finding the right person in the company, executing a relationship which might in the form of a contract, tracking it. It is a lot of work.
Andrew: And I was running a full digital agency at the time.
Michael: And then you have to do that for how many manufacturers out there? At some point it becomes almost worthwhile to use Google and say hey the 2/3 that they take might be worthwhile to do. So your whole idea was that people would come to a web page that has focused content through onpage search engine optimization and because they landed on that page the advertisements that are shown down the left hand side, down the right hand side and in-between the content would be focused on that topic because it is contextual.
Michael: So if I came to baby food coupons I might actually see the coupons for baby food.
Andrew: (Inaudible 0:46:47.9) absolutely.
Michael: So what would you actually create as a link from the Q&A sites then? When people are saying where is the best place to find Gerber baby coupons my kids love this. How would you actually post a link?
Andrew: I would say that they can find Gerber baby food coupons or if they were looking for a source for Gerber baby food coupons to check out allbabyfoods.com.
Michael: Would you send them to the home page or would you send them to the Gerber baby…?
Andrew: Allbabyfoodcoupons.com-Gerber-baby-food. To the actual page.
Michael: Got it. I’m understanding how it is all coming together now Andrew. It is a beautiful concept. So you have got all of these specifically targeted web pages on keyword phrases within a larger category, a specific category domain name related to coupons. Tying them all together write in the original content, which you are using as a template to go across so Gerber baby food might be very similar but different too some other type of baby food and you are developing out all of these websites with probably about ten pages a piece would you say?
Andrew: Yes I would say about seven or twelve, ten an average.
Michael: And then you are developing out this network and then you run across coupons.info.
Andrew: Yes that was I think March of 2009. And I think I might have just caught a glimpse of an email in my inbox that it was up for auction. I think it was through Great Domains. And I started thinking coupons.info is in my mind easier to remember than allcouponsdirect.com. And I really have a decent portfolio of domain names but I didn’t have any single keyword domains. And it was something that I really wanted.
Michael: Why? You are a search engine optimization expert why would you care if you had a brandable domain name, easy to remember one when you just cared about search engine placement?
Andrew: Because the goal was to go to manufacturers and say I’m contacting you from coupons.info. You’ve heard of coupons.com, you have heard of Smart Source and maybe you’ve heard of Coupons Cabin but coupons.info we are the destination for coupons. So I wanted to build a brand around a brandable name.
Michael: I got it. So if somebody doesn’t want to build a brand around a brandable name and just wants to do search engine optimization to drive traffic they can just go out and hand register some domain names in a niche like you did with all at the beginning or my or whatever and go forward.
Michael: So you sell coupons.info on auction. And it was an online auction?
Michael: And so you participated. Was there a lot of action, a lot of bidding?
Andrew: There was a decent amount of bidding but what happened towards the end (and I’m trying to remember what the reserve was) but in my mind I was going to spend maybe $8,000. That was my threshold. And if I am not mistaken the way it works is it got down to the final ten/five minutes of the auction if someone placed a bid it extended the time. So next thing I know I’m up $12,000, $14,000, $15,000 and my heart is racing that I didn’t want to spend this kind of money but I want the domain. It was one other person that was going back and forth with me in terms of the bidding. It was just me and one other person at the very end. And I think the ultimate purchase price was $17,600. When it finally ended it was one of those moments where I was waiting and hoping that I would get outbid. And I didn’t and then I was like holy shit did I just buy a domain for $18,000?
Michael: I went to domaintools.com. They have a research tool there. It says on May 21, 2010 that $17,600 was the purchase price and it was through Sedo. Was it May 2010?
Andrew: I said March. It was probably May and it was in 2010 because I actually sat on the domain for almost a year. So I made this purchase and I did nothing. I just redirected it quite honestly. I think Fusible did a story about it, about how at the time I had it redirected to allcouponsdirect.com. But I bought it in May of 2010 and probably didn’t really build the site until early 2011, 02/01 or maybe 02/02.
Michael: I also went back on domaintools.com to the historical whois. I can look at the registration, when it was first registered, how it changes hands over the time. I saw that it was first registered September 17, 2003. And of course I have the CEO of coupons.com on a prior show, you can search for Steven Boal and you can listen to his interview. He, in 2000, he paid over $1,000,000 for coupons.com. So does it make you feel good that you got coupons.info for $17,000 given it has such an enormous search volume, over $1 Cost Per Click and it was registered back in 2003?
Andrew: I feel a lot better today than I did when I first bought it. I mean I’ve seen my investment return tenfold if not more since then but I was a little nervy. I was a little butterflies in my stomach if you will. But the revenue model has been phenomenal. Also I never look back at the acquisition.
Michael: So we talked about your vision for coupons. Let me go back to allcouponsdirect.com. That was the main hub website for the entire network that you have developed. Today how many websites are developed out in the network?
Andrew: Again I would probably say there has to be a solid 40 some odd sites developed.
Michael: So 40 odd in the network. You had the hub be allcouponsdirect.com, you bought coupons.info because you wanted to brand it. At some point you flipped a switch and instead of allcouponsdirect.com you made coupons.info the hub. The main site. How did you decide to do that?
Andrew: Again just because it was an easy name. I started to think about doing some offline marketing which I am sure we will talk about. I did some television spots. Some offline advertising. I wanted a short simple brandable name. So I decided that the network was going to be the coupons.info network.
Michael: So you told your webmaster hey take coupons.info make it the hub instead of allcouponsdirect.com and they made it so and basically redirected all the traffic to coupons.info?
Andrew: Not redirected because allcouponsdirect.com still exists today. It is up and it is still alive. I don’t think I redirected traffic I just started linking from all the coupon sites back to coupons.info. I’m sure you will find some sites that still have the footer in the copy write. A majority of them will say coupons.info but there are some still out there that say allcouponsdirect.com.
Michael: So about 40 developed coupons websites in the network. You have things like alldogfoodcoupons.com, allfastfoodcoupons.com, allfoodcoupons.com, alldetergentcoupons.com and then you have a few others like cerealcoupons.org and babycouponsdirect.com. How do you decide when you are going to use a .org versus just sticking with the all something coupons .com?
Andrew: Good questions. It is based on availability and the purchase price. I think I now actually own detergentcoupons.com just as an example. I think I bought it for $800. So I knew that something like alldetergentcoupons.com, if I had to guess, I would say last year I got at least $15,000 on that one domain. And that is a $10 hand registered domain. So if I could own detergents.com why not? Cerealcoupons.org was actually from someone who read my blog and reached out to me and was catching on to what I was doing and they bought it and they wanted to know if I would buy it from them. So I think I paid $400 for cerealcoupons.org.
Michael: So why haven’t you switched alldetergentcoupons.com with detergentcoupons.com.
Andrew: Because that one is making more money. It is better ranked in the engines. It’s got more back links to it. They are both out and developed. And search of coupons is another site that is up there. But if they are both making money there is no reason to take one of them down.
Michael: Alright, makes sense. So we talked about Joomla, we talked about how you built out the pages, about ten on average per website. And so you mentioned to me in our pre-interview call that most of your traffic doesn’t come from Google. Is that correct?
Andrew: Now it does not. It used to.
Michael: Why did it change?
Andrew: August 23, 2010 I just saw my traffic start dropping. My rankings were dropping in Google. The traffic was dropping in Google. And as a marketer I have to pivot and adjust and try something differently. So I don’t know if it was part of the big Google updates or the content or back links but something kind of had an impact. And I went from doing over $1,000 a day easily and it dropped so I decided to start trying something different. And I decided to do a television commercial. So I developed a television spot for the coupon site but just to take a step back, not a big TV watcher but I mention August 23rd the traffic dropped and then in November out of nowhere I noticed that the traffic and the revenue was coming back up again but yet I didn’t have the Google rankings. So I thought that was odd. And in flipping through the channels one night I noticed on TLC they have a reality show called Extreme Couponing. So the light bulb when off in my head that because television now was talking about couponing on TV more people were searching for it than they were before. So I said let’s practice what I preach. I had plenty of clients in my internet agency and I decided because I had never done one for myself before, I had my own television commercial created, which you can see on You Tube if you just put in coupons info. And I did a 30 second spot which talks about coupons.info and I took a chance and I bought a handful of spots on the Extreme Couponing show. And when that first show aired I saw the traffic and the revenue literally spike up. And I knew I was onto something really good. And I want to ride it as long as I can.
Michael: So that is a very cool idea and I’m sure no other domain entrepreneurs have done something like this and if they have it is one or two entrepreneurs.
Andrew: It was actually interesting. I received an email from a domainer said to me that I am really brilliant or really stupid.
Michael: Underneath our interview I’m going to post embed the You Tube video of you coupon commercial because I watched it yesterday. It is fantastic. It’s packed. It’s 30 seconds. If gives everything that people need to know. So let me put this in perspective. So traffic dropped August 23rd. Do you remember and I know it is hard to go back in time, do you remember what your monthly traffic unique visitors per month was after the Google dropped you from their index?
Andrew: I don’t really remember much about the traffic I just remember the revenue. I easily had gone from $5,000 to $8,000 a month to under $2,000. My revenue was less than half. I remember like it was yesterday.
Michael: So you heard about this Extreme Couponing. How do you even know who to contact to find out about a commercial spot?
Andrew: That is my world. I am a marketer. And my old company I managed over $30,000,000 of Google Ad Spend. So I’d avoided television spots before just not for myself. I have contacts going back to when I did web design. And contacted one of my buyers and said I want to be on the spot on the show and he came back with two options.
Michael: So what do I do? I’m not in the know. I’ve never done a commercial on TV but there is let’s say oh there is going to be a domain name reality show and I want to do a commercial on the domain name channel which is brand new. How do I even find out who to contact to ask about rates and stuff?
Andrew: Well if you don’t have a media buyer in your network then most likely you go to the station and go to the network that is airing the show and contact them first which in my experience you are going to be paying top rate or rate card. And sometimes they only allow you to buy nationally. There are no lower opportunities. So I could have bought from TLC. I could have been on the couponing show nationally. I think it would have been $20,000 per spot. And I wasn’t willing to test in the beginning forking over $20,000.
Michael: $20,000 per 30 seconds spot…
Andrew: Yes nationally.
Michael: What did you buy instead?
Andrew: I bought, now this is not remnant space, what I did was I bought it locally everywhere it wasn’t taken nationally. So it fluctuated every time the show aired and I would have exposure from anywhere as little as 4,000,000 homes to as many as 15,000,000 to 20,000,000 homes for the same price.
Michael: Why is that now remnant if it is unreserved space that you’re putting in?
Andrew: Because the revenue usually has a negative connotation to it so I don’t want people to think that if Dole fruit didn’t take the spot nationally and they only took it in major spots like New York, California, Florida that what I was getting was garbage. I like to look at it as no one was smart enough to take those spots.
Michael: Do you have to go through a buyer in order to get a specialized spot placement like that?
Andrew: I don’t know if you have to but it certainly helps especially if the media company is already buying millions of dollars of advertising through a network. This is giving them a little added advantage.
Michael: So if you went nationally you might be in, I don’t know how many people watch Extreme Couponing.
Andrew: I would have been in over 30,000,000 – 40,000,000 homes.
Michael: 30,000,000 – 40,000,000, instead of that you did spots that weren’t taken in all the local channels and you got anywhere from 4,000,000 to 20,000,000 maybe? It would all depend?
Andrew: Yes, 4,000,000 to 15,000,000 viewership, sure.
Michael: And how much would you have to pay for something like that? Or how much did you pay?
Andrew: I was paying just shy of $1,000 a spot.
Michael: That is an enormous price difference. But it is still a big chunk of change. You spent money to develop the ad and then you give it to them and it is $1,000 a spot. How many spots do you have to buy when you form a contract like that through a buyer?
Andrew: There was no minimum. I feel like I was buying in the beginning probably you know like here is $5,000 and I want to use it over the course of the month. But I was usually airing about four commercials a week. The show aired on Wednesday nights. The new show was on Wednesday and I think Tuesday they had repeats for the previous week.
Michael: Everybody wants to know what was the return on the investment? If you spend $5,000 over the course of a month you are going to look directly at your Ad Sense accounts for what?
Andrew: It was like I couldn’t go to sleep. I kept hitting refresh. There were some nights that were far better than others. But I would say if I spent…You know I expected to see a minimum of three to seven times multiple on my spend. So if I spent $1,000 on a spot I was expecting to see probably $5,000 in revenue.
Michael: And did you see that?
Michael: I am looking on my cell phone here at one of the reports that you sent me Andrew and I am not going to go into the specifics but right before the call we were iming back and forth on Skype and I said hey what’s the deal with these spikes that I am seeing every Wednesday where your revenue per thousand goes up significantly. And you said that was when the show aired. So you spend your $1,000 but then you got it back five or seven fold.
Andrew: And you would see a spill over on Thursday because the new show usually aired at 9 pm or 10pm Eastern so I feel like people were in bed and they write down the URL, they make note of it and in the morning I’d also see a nice lift the next day from people still going to the site and clicking through.
Michael: So the video that is directly under our video here, your commercial, your 30 second pitch, how did you develop that ad? Did you come up with the creative yourself and then hire somebody to do it? Did you say here was what I want to get across go do it, do everything for me?
Andrew: I worked with a friend. That is what he does. That is all he does is create infomercials in television spot primarily. He has done it in the financial industry. But he knew what the goal was. It was to get people to the site and get them to click. And we ran a couple outlines by each other and once I signed off on it he went to Story Boards and I was very happy.
Michael: And he is a friend so he probably gave you the bro rate. Do you remember how much you paid for the bro rate?
Andrew: That spot was probably between $3,000 – $5,000.
Michael: And do you want to give a plug for your friend? Is he still doing promotions like this or he doesn’t do it for general public?
Andrew: No he does it for the general public but I don’t know if it would be for my pricing but I would…First Media Group.
Michael: First Media Group. So you had your buyer, you gave them the commercial, they ran it…What if it didn’t run in your local…I assume you were turning on Extreme Couponing and you were watching on the TV show. What if it didn’t run in your local market, were you distraught?
Andrew: Yes sometimes it didn’t. Or I would start to see the first three seconds and then it would switch out to a local car ad or a doctor ad. And I would get the times in advance. So I knew that I had a spot running at 9:14 and 9:37. There was, I don’t want to say a delay, but you don’t go to Google Ad Sense right away so I could see the revenue. But I would hit refresh and it would be jumping hundreds if not thousands of dollars in a refresh. So it was exciting.
Michael: That is. That is phenomenal. Power of the internet! So I am going to embed the video like I said below this so people can watch it. It is very well put together. So your friend at First Media Group did a fantastic job. What I found very interesting was the very last sentence of the commercial, do you remember that it said off hand?
Andrew: Sure, it says visit us online at www.coupons.info. Not .com, .info.
Michael: And I’m sure most domain entrepreneurs will chuckle to themselves as well. You have got to reinforce that.
Andrew: Yes I don’t want any mistakes. I don’t want to be driving traffic to coupons.com when I was spending all this money on media.
Michael: Do you still run this advertisement?
Andrew: So the show went off for the summer. They weren’t airing it, they didn’t even have repeats. Then they came back on with repeats. If I broke even or was a little up on the spots I would do it. I haven’t been running the spots for the last couple of months. There has been a lot obviously going on with myself. But last Tuesday, last week they aired a new show like Coupon Wars. Same producer, same show but it was like a new show. So I did test last week. I ran two spots. And I basically just about broke even so I did not see a three to five time x return on my investment.
Michael: Why do you think you saw that return during Extreme Coupon and you didn’t see during this new show?
Andrew: I think a couple of things. A: I think it was better television that might be on now but it shows that people are watching and they aren’t tuned into it. I don’t know enough about the Extreme Coupon audience but they had habitual watchers that they might have already seen the spot and it kind of like went over their head. Did have any need to go onto the internet to check it out. And also it is all later at night. I mean 10:00 on a Wednesday night, you know those people who are DVRing it you are not sure if they are going to be able to see it or not.
But I also learned, I would also like to add I took the spot which you can see below has coupons.info underneath the spot the whole time. I did do one that said pet food coupons and I threw it on the pet network. I tested a different channel and did not do very well either. Animal Planet that is what it was. I put it on Animal Planet. And maybe I didn’t give it enough time. I ran two or three spots and I didn’t even cover my media buy. So I got a little nervous and tested it but didn’t go ahead with it.
Michael: It is good to know that if I go out and make a purchase like this also, I may hit a home run but then I may have a few ground outs along the way.
Andrew: Absolutely. That continues to happen. I recently spent $15,000 and I put coupons.info advertisings in seven super markets.
Michael: So let’s talk about that. So you spent $15,000…So you are walking through some super markets in New York, how did you come up with the idea to do this advertisement?
Andrew: I see in the supermarkets themselves in the parking lots they have benches with advertisements for local insurance agents or real estate agents. In the shopping carts themselves they usually have an advertisement. And when I was walking in where the circulars were and ad for the local dentist. So I wrote down the number of the advertising company and contacted them to inquire about rates. I figured, like I did with the television spot, that I won’t know unless I really try. So I picked a handful of locations and of the seven the majority have coupons.info as a URL. The other ones actually own groceries.org. So I took groceries.org which is a brandable domain. I put those in separate super markets. And then looked in Google analytics for traffic by region and looking at the Ad Words I was able to come up with an roi measurement to see if it was working or not. And I really don’t think that it has been working. I figured you go to the super market, you are buying food, people want to save money. So I also added post cards. So you can literally from the sign take something with you so that if you are an older person, you don’t have a smart phone, you don’t have something with you at least there is a physical collateral piece of material that you can take to go to the website later.
Michael: It has got to be tough in the offline world to try and get those people back online. And if people are watching a TV show they may have their computer sitting right next to them so they may go type it in. A lot of people do that for the Go Daddy Super Bowl commercials of course when they are promoting that you can buy domain names there. And so that makes perfect sense that you see an enormous spike. You see a spike right after the show airs or after your commercial airs and it’s got to be delayed, a lot of fall off, it’s not convenient, people are going to try and remember to type coupons.info even if they take that card later. So you found that it is just not generating the traffic that you were looking for?
Andrew: Yes it is just not doing it. I don’t know if it is the audience. I don’t think people don’t need the coupons. They certainly use them at the super markets. But that hasn’t worked at well. I also have tried the ad sticks which on the checkout lane the sticks that separate people’s orders you can advertise on those as well. I found a company I think there name is actually called AdSticks.com. And I tested, not just in New York, throughout the country; Illinois, Texas, Florida and I’ve done that now for six months. It is actually up for expiration this month in January. I most likely will not renew. That wasn’t as costly but I just didn’t see the roi.
Michael: How do you actually measure that the traffic is coming from an ad sticks or a circular at a super market versus the commercial or search engine optimization? How do you segment those in your reports to see where traffic is coming from and then determine your return on investment?
Andrew: We have been doing it with Track URLs. So some of them might have had on the ad stick it said allfoodcoupons.com. So I have a traffic revenue for that. And then again if I did something in Pensacola, FL I would look in the URL for the Google analytics and see traffic from Pensacola, FL. I think you also saw earlier today on my report the click through rate on these sites is tremendous. I probably average 18 to 20 plus percent in click through rate. So I know that if I am driving traffic to one of these sites the click through rates will be there.
Michael: It is phenomenal. I will vouch for that. I texted back to you how can you be getting 20% click through rate on these pages? I have got websites out there that I think are very focused and there is no way I’m getting 20% click throughs on those. It is unbelievable. It speaks to the concept of writing a specific page of content for coupons and then showing those coupons next to it. But people are clicking through and they are finding that content and then they are clicking on the advertisements. That is beautiful because you don’t even have to do any of the work to get those coupons. They are just delivered up.
Michael: Alright let me ask you this Andrew. What do you estimate the current value of the coupons.info network to be if you were to sell it today?
Andrew: I haven’t really calculated it but it has got to be – just based on revenues and multiples of revenue – it’s got to be anywhere from $300,000 to probably close to a little over $1,000,000.
Michael: So do you base that off of an annual revenue or a monthly revenue?
Andrew: I’m taking monthly revenue and then jaculating it out but as I shared with you one of my best months was $55,000 – $56,000. So that is $600,000 a year. I mean getting $1,000,000 for the network wouldn’t be too difficult if you are showing real revenue.
Michael: Right but you have to have that Extreme Couponing show back on the air.
Andrew: It hasn’t been too bad without it. I am still generating thousands of dollars every month. I’m just not generating $55,000 a month.
Michael: So right now you are generating a lower amount of revenue than the months were Extreme Couponing is on the air and you are advertising in it. But your costs are pretty low right now aren’t they?
Michael: You’ve got some advertising buys out there that you say aren’t doing great but aside from that all you have…
Andrew: Just my time.
Michael: Your time and hosting. So how do you estimate, for other people out there that have a network or are generating revenue from a network like yours how do you estimate the valuation?
Andrew: I would take the multiple of the net revenue so depending on the industry also. Maybe something in a hotter topic like cell phone radiation which they were talking about lately that might have a high maybe an 8x multiple on net earnings. But something more abstract may have a two or four time multiple on net earnings. Or a one to two time multiple on your top line. To be honest in months that I did $56,000 all that I was spending $15,000 to $20,000 on television spots it is still netting me $20,000 in profit. So even on a five time multiple there it’s $150,000 and that is just the one month.
Michael: And so you would multiply the multiple by the monthly revenue or by the yearly revenue?
Michael: So if your website generated $100,000 over the year and you determined that other comps, other comparable sales were a three or four time multiple you might value your company around $300,000 to $400,000?
Andrew: That is correct.
Michael: Are you interested in selling it if somebody comes to you with an offer?
Andrew: Sure. I never thought I’d sell my baby Prime Visibility and I’ve sold it twice. So I am always open for a conversation for a listen.
Michael: So let’s talk about TLDs for a moment. Do the TLDs matter for a business model like yours, for the coupons.info network. Does the TLD matter?
Andrew: I mean it matters but it is not the end of the world to be odd. You can build a successful .net, .info, .org website and have it make money. When I build a multi-million dollar business or a model around it (I guess I have in one way with the .info) but that came after the fact with coupons.info. I’m sure many of your listeners today when they do their Google searches they are seeing other TLDs pop up in search results. I have lab attorney friends that are now getting to .pro. They have done a due diligence and they can’t hand register anything else so they are trying with their right keyword their .pro. And some of them are getting rankings. So again I think if you had your choice you go with .com. I think .info is relevant and when it comes to something that lends itself to something informational. And I also believe just as an example you know PalmBeach.us. I mean Palm Beach is within the United States. So that is probably one of the only major .us’s that I bought in the aftermarket but that I believe is a solid model because it is talking about something in the United States.
Michael: You know I can’t remember who said it. I think it was…Oh I can’t remember who said it and I feel terrible for not attributing this back to them, but they said something like coupons.info tie that TLD, the .info into the tag line so you could say your information source for such and such. And then it ties it back together to help people remember and make use of that TLD in another way. So you have seen other TLDs rising up the ranks do you think that there are important factors related to TLDS like a newer TLD extension, an older registration of a domain name, do any of those metrics matter?
Andrew: Yes I think domain name age has a contributing factor. Something that concerns me is some of the TLDs, you know when you are searching within the United States if you have a .CO or something from another country, because the search is getting so personalized so I am in New York and I type in dolphins I’m going to see different results versus somebody down in Miami typing in dolphins. So if you have a .CO for Columbia is Google going to show you by default, results of a .com within the United States before they bring in a .CO? That is something that I don’t have the answer to. But just thinking out loud it concerns me. And these are things that I think about when I’m looking to procure additional domain names.
Michael: The final question Andrew. What advice do you have for domain investors who want to do something like this in another area like auto care or insurance? Where should they start?
Andrew: It has got to be something that they are passionate about and they have an interest. I have built countless websites that I thought would do great. The Cost Per Click was $20-$30-$50-$60 but I had zero interest in the topic. So stick with something that you are interested in. And spend a lot of time in that Google Keyword Tool. Look for search volume. And if you can find things on an exact match that is north of 5,000 searches a month and a Cost Per Click north of $2, I mean preferably north of $5 Cost Per Click, but if you can find them north of $2 then that is what you should focus your efforts on. And look how you could package the whole thing together because you might have an eBook that you give away a couple chapters for email acquisition.
That is something else that I just started in April last year on the coupon network. A good buddy of mine is a big, big email marketer and he was like freaking out that I wasn’t doing any email acquisition. So now since April I probably have about 7,000 double opt in email addresses from the coupon network. So getting back to what I would recommend to somebody think about the ways you can monetize it. Google Ad Sense is not the end all be all. There is some affiliate offers or some eBooks or cross marketing other lists. But look for something that has great search value. High Cost Per Click. And something you can figure out multiple monetization models around because God forbid one of your monetization revenues drops. Right then you are s.o.l.
Michael: So just a follow up question of that you say pick something you are passionate about which I am always a big believer in suggesting that other people do that as well but you picked coupons. And you are not a couponer.
Andrew: I am not a coupon guy, I know.
Michael: Do you think you would have been more successful if you would have picked a different industry? Something that you are more passionate about?
Andrew: Yes and I have been. It is just a question of volume and that one got me excited because the traffic and the volume.
Michael: So while you may not have been passionate about coupons you were passionate about building a network generating page views.
Andrew: And in a way I feel good. I get a lot of email from people thanking and it is unfortunate to hear how poor people are doing economically in the country. And they would thank me. I was actually very surprised when the television spot airs I get a tremendous amount of inquires from Canada. People asking me if the coupons work in Canada. I don’t know if the show is being aired there or if it is on the internet that they are seeing it but I feel good knowing that people…on beta testing it is not officially rolled out but I have also been beta testing a coupon clipping service where we literally cut coupons and send them to people. And I’ve had a few people going through the model, have signed up and I get those my wife just looks at me and I sold my business twice and I am on the sofa cutting coupons. She says what are you doing? I said I’m mailing them to so and so in Memphis, Tennessee. And she goes how much are they paying you for this? And I go $5 a month. $5 a month! You better figure out something else to do.
Michael: Exactly. That is hilarious. Alright Andrew. If you have a follow-up question, please post it in the comments below and we’ll ask Andrew to come back and answer as many as he can. If people want to follow you, or what you’re doing, what’s the best way that they can do that Andrew?
Andrew: The main two sites is andrewhazen.com which is just my name. And also at Domain Wealth where we are launching a platform to help people have a learn to earn with domain names. So I am very active on Twitter and my blog. And you can get to both of those by going to andrewhazen.com and domainwealth.com.
Michael: I am going to urge the audience as I often do if you received value out of this interview please go out of your way to find a way to say thank you to Andrew. Remember when you reach out and you do something as easy as saying thank you via Twitter or posting a comment below this show you start to establish a relationship. And that relationship can then become something more meaningful in the future. So I inspire you guys to do that. I’m going to say thank you again right now by mentioning Andrew’s website: DomainWealth.com where you can go there and sign up for his newsletter, which I’ve done. Andrew Hazen, founder and CEO of DomainWealth.com thank you for coming on the show and being a DomainSherpa and helping others become successful domain name entrepreneurs.
Andrew: Thank you I really appreciate it,
Michael: Thank you all for watching. We will see you next time.
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