Sunday, April 15, 2007

Domain Parking 101. Introduction.

What is Domain Parking?
At it's simplest, domain parking is a service where one person owns a domain name and a second person provides a very rudimentary website for that domain. Some registrars automatically park domains that aren't hosted elsewhere on a simple page on their servers.
Many years ago, that's all parking was. Then somebody worked out that there were a lot of page views on these essentially empty sites. Commerce abhors wasted resources and pretty soon many of the registrars that used to provide a boring standard page started to provide a page with adverts on it. This provided a nice revenue stream to the registrar.

Even when the parked pages didn't have adverts, they contained pointers back to the registrars website and helped them sell more domains.
The domain owners weren't getting any of this revenue. For someone with three or four domains this isn't much of a loss of revenue, but for an investor with a large number of domains it can be pretty significant. Pretty soon someone else saw that if they could get the domain owners to park the unused domains one their servers there was money to be made.
The domain parking industry was born.
Why do we park domains?
I know three reasons for parking domains:
  • For revenue
  • For sales leads
  • To get them in the search engines
Is both simple and complex.
Simple in that the parking company pays the domain owner a percentage of the advertising revenue generated by the domain.
Complex in that any domain will generate a better click rate when it has adverts appropriate to the interests of the people landing on that site. Complex also in that the parking company has to select relatively high paying ads that will be clicked by the visitors.
I'll talk in a later article about how the relationship between the domain owner and the parking company is a partnership based on mutual interests and shared responsibility, but it's worth saying now that the parking company deals in a very large number of domains and has software that can select an appropriate selection of ads when the domain owner has set up information about the domain in the parking company's database.
Usually the harder the two parties work on their respective part of the task, the better the results.
For Sales Leads
It seems that whois is one of the best kept secrets around. A friend of mine was astounded when I showed her how anyone could look up her contact details from her domain. Most parking services provide a facility where people interested in purchasing the domain can contact the owner through the web site.
Sometimes they just pass on a message, sometimes they want to act as brokers and take a percentage of the sale price.
If you are planning on selling your parked domains you need to ensure that you are comfortable with the parking company's rules on purchase queries.
To Get in Search Engines
When the search engine crawlers go to a domain that isn't there and isn't there for a long time they delete the domain from their search output. That's reasonable, but when the site is brought live it can take some time for the search engines to find and index the site.
By having a simple site on the address the engines find it and the crawlers visit on a fairly regular basis. This can reduce the amount of time it takes to get the domain listed when it is brought live.
How Do We Park Domains?
This is largely painting by numbers, but most of these steps require an article of their own:
  1. Select a parking company and obtain an account
  2. Register the domain with the parking company
  3. Select keywords and a template for the domain
  4. Get your domain registrar to set the domains nameservers to the parking company
  5. Monitor results and tweak keywords and possibly change templates until you have the best results
When you are starting out it is useful to have a bit of mentoring with this process, but you can actually do it all yourself.

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