Domain Theory: Searches to Results Ratio


Subscribe to Elliot's BlogWhen people are selling domain names, I frequently see them quoting the Wordtracker daily searches for the domain’s keyword phrase as well as the number of pages there are in Google that have that keyword or keyword phrase. It’s often thought that the higher the number of daily searches and the higher number of Google results, the more valuable that keyword domain name is. This is just theory here, but I think the ratio of daily searches to # of Google results is a better indicator of value for someone that wants to develop the domain name.
The more daily searches a keyword phrase (“painting contractor” for example), the more value a name like is.   If people are searching for that term, not only are some of them probably typing into their browser bar, but the greater chance this domain name will be relevant to more people.   A generic domain name is valuable because there are people who want to find that generic term. Some will type the term into their browser (with a .com) while many others will search Google for that term, and hopefully your site will come up in the top 5 or 10 results to attract the attention of the searcher.
I would argue that the old way of thinking – the more Google results for the phrase the better – is actually not really that great for the value of the domain name. Sure, the more results there are usually means that more people are interested in that topic – and that more people are writing about it and covering it on their websites. With more interest in the topic, the value should be higher.   However, to a developer, the more interest in the topic usually also means the more difficult it will be to rank in Google. The lower a website ranks, the less traffic it will receive, making it more difficult to generate revenue.
That said, I believe the ratio of daily searches to Google results is important to consider.   “Painting Contractor” has a WordTracker count of 367, and there are 896,000 Google results for “painting contractor,” which would be strong compared to “Flooring Contractor” which boasts a WordTracker count of 19 and has 309,000 Google results. The more searches with less results in Google means a website will likely have an easier time ranking at the top of the results, meaning more traffic.
I don’t think this will become a commonly quoted ratio due to the actual size of the result (.000405), but I do think people should at least consider this when researching a domain name. It’s great that people are searching for a particular keyword or keyword phrase, but if the SE competition will relegate your developed domain name to the second page of Google or lower, it’s probably worth less than a similar domain name in a less competitive category (assuming PPC values are similar).
This post will be reevaluated once the weekend haze wears off.   I spent the weekend at a friend’s wedding, which is where I thought about this 🙂   More time needs to be spent analyzing this theory, but I think I am onto something.


  1. “The more searches with less results in Google means a website will likely have an easier time ranking at the top of the results, meaning more traffic.”
    The question is, how often does this really happen? There needs to be interest or no matter how high you rank, their wouldn’t be that much traffic. I think either the term is popular or it’s not. If it’s a popular term (high wordtracker) the term will also be high with google returns.
    Would you rather own a domain name that gets 1,000 searches per day with 10 million Google results or one that has 1,000 searches and 900,000 Google results? The point is that I see people quoting the # of Google results as if the more the better (I’ve done it myself), and if you really think about it, that isn’t necessarily true.

  2. I agree. I’m just not sure how often that happens. It would be something to look into… It’s one of the main reason’s I picked “Yofie” when I started domaining. I think their were about 500-800 returns on Google when I picked the name to go with. I ranked #1 & #2 pretty quickly after putting up a site.
    With 7,500 returns now, most of them are connected to me.

  3. Elliot, I agree with your line of thinking and use the R/S ratio to help determine which of my domains are the best candidates for development. As long as a term has a significant search volume, I’d rather see fewer Google results which will give me a much better chance of ranking well.
    Of course, that term also needs to have relatively high advertiser competition and PPC bids to convert that traffic into revenue via targeted ads.
    The high volume, generic terms generally have lower PPC bids that the long tail, specific terms. That’s probably the reason the tight niche’s are so popular due to the fact they convert better, are easier to rank for, and draw higher click values for PPC models.

  4. Hi Elliot, here’s another way of looking at it: number of results on Google for a specific keyword is a competition indicator more that interest in a topic indicator… You need to rank out the competition of all those pages containing mentions of the keyword.
    As I came to domaining from development and SEO first, I tend to value a name in regards to the help it provides with ranking a keyword. So to me the more competition, the more valuable the name, especially in high competing PPC keywords.
    For a given volume of search, i’d rather posses the exact match generic keyword domain name if the competition for it is very high since it makes the top ten spots even more scarce.
    Great blog! Keep up.

  5. This ratio is something we actually use for SEO to determine the sweet spots during our keyword research. Your theory holds up. The idea is to find a nice stream of traffic with little competition.

  6. I agree that this ratio is one to factor in. I generally use this and some others to create a list and then dig deep on the top 5 or 10. However I have found terms with “strong competition” in terms of Google search results but been able to rank well quickly through quality content or by finding a segment not already catered to i.e. a niche within those search results. In some of these segments you can rank pretty quickly by creating a site with unique content beating out 1-5 page repetitive sites.

  7. i like your thinking.
    i got this idea regarding possible ways to calculate ratio: perhaps the number of results could be normalized in some way in order to get “better looking” ratios. for example, a logarithmic function could be used to slow down the vast growth of result count (when we’re talking about millions of results). another option might be using the square root.
    just my two cents 😉

  8. Hi Elliot,
    Your question about google ranking is an interesting and ongoing one in the “quick analysis” of domain names. I’m going to reveal a simple test here for your readers in evaluating their domains for resell value and PPC. It follows Bill’s first thought about advertiser competition, which I agree with.
    Here’s the tip: Do a quoted phrase search that describes your domain on Google. Instead of counting the page results, COUNT THE ADS on the result page. The more advertisements that are “bolded” by Google to show identical matches to your key search phrase, the more value your domain has. If your phrase has unusually low page results, then your domain goes further up in value. Let’s say you type in a domain phrase and get 15,000 results with four adlinks with your search phrase bolded. THAT is a valuable domain.
    I’ve had domain names (scientific ones, usually) with over 100,000 page results and NO ads. I’m sure we’ve all seen this. The way to interpret this is “maybe this domain will mature and relevant companies will see the value of this esoteric phrase in the future”, or “dang, this phrase – name is well-known but has no commercial value”.
    If your domain phrase is appearing in your quoted searches in bold text on the adlinks, and you can figure you’re getting less than 20,000 page results PER similar adlink, that’s where your true value can begin to be assessed. Hope this helps!
    Ooops, I’m a little woozy myself from a celebration some friends threw for me tonight, so if I accidentally blatantly promote *cough cough* WHYPARK.COM *ahem*, please forgive me! 😉
    I’d like to see this post of yours develop out further with some tips and tricks from more domainers for quick analysis of domain values. I have another tip, but I’ll wait for another day!

  9. Doesn’t part of this boil down to the difference between “keyword” search and a “domain name” search?
    If I have I should, with decent SEO, (eventually) break into the top 10 for “” searches and probably “painting contractor”.
    Therefore the intrinsic value of a solid, generic keyword domain – correct?
    Now for similar pertinent keyword searches (residential painting, painting estimate, commercial painting etc.) – who knows depends on SEO for those keywords, but you almost have to assume you aren’t going to get top 5 for many other competitive keywords searches.
    Yes – No??

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