I do understand that having a minimum viable product is the easiest way to do customer validation, but coming up with a working prototype does take time and effort.
I read in one of the blogs that another way to validate an idea is to create a wordpress site, register a domain use google adsense to attract the users to your website. The website will have a single home page with no MVP. You can then monitor the google analytics to understand if your idea is really worth spending time on.
What I hate about this approach is that it lures the user to visit your website with the promise of using the product but leaves the user disappointed once they are on your site.
Has anyone tried this? Thoughts?
You aren't really harming anyone by doing this kind of research. Think about it from your own perspective. Your need is so great that you are searching on Google, not finding anything in the organic search results, and then actually clicking on the paid results to find what you want (I always trust organic over paid).
You're actually doing these people a favor by allowing them to pre-sign up for a solution that solves the problem they want. The bonus is that if you have their email, you can communicate with them and get their ideas on what your MVP should actually be. They'll be enthusiastic that you're solving their exact problem.
The whole scenario you describe is basically what the Lean Startup Movement is all about. Here's some resources:
I've seen that as well. I find that deceiving for users but it could potentially work although I strongly doubt it unless your idea is really really unique.. I say that because if you have a few competitors (which honestly is very often the case), they will have much more SEO juice that you and money to spend on Adwords than you do. As a consequence you will be outranked most of the time and you test won't give you much results.
There is a notion of ethics involved as well. When I say its deceiving, I believe it so it's a matter of you feeling comfortable with the idea of doing this. It's not a big deal for sure, Google and other companies are doing this kind of stuff all the time to test things or gather data, but who said they are the most ethical companies.
Anyway, if anyone has done it and can give numbers to back up the fact that it does in fact validate that your idea is good or bad, it would be nice to see that. No ethical judgment shall be given to your test data ;-)