Why work hard to generate money when domain parking takes almost no effort and pays well?
Your choice: work on a domain to generate an income or NOT work on a domain and still generate an income. It’s a difficult choice!
Domain parking is one method of earning money from domaining. It’s sweet in that it involves comparatively little work compared with developing a website or selling domains, yet can provide a good income. It scales incredibly well, allowing you to profit from thousands of domains, whereas realistically no one could ever develop that many domains. Despite this, many newcomers to domaining have a lot of misconceptions about domain parking. To help, this article covers some of the basics of domain parking.
“What is Domain Parking?”
Domain parking is pretty simple, really. You let a parking company display ads on your domain. The parking company normally has a contract with Google or Yahoo! to use their ad feeds. A visitor to your domain clicks on an ad, the advertiser pays Google or Yahoo!; Google or Yahoo! pay a share of the revenue to the parking company, who pays a share of the revenue to you.
“How Do I Park My Domains?”
After your buy or register a domain, you will need to register with a parking company (and eventually it makes sense to register with several parking companies if you are serious about domain parking). The parking company will tell you how to use their service. Normally, this is through changing your name servers. The parking company will also give you options to target the ads that appear on your domain, for instance, by setting a keyword for the ads.
“How Do I Get Traffic To My Parked Domains?”
Aaaah. Finally, we’ve run into the catch. Parking companies strictly prohibit you from doing anything that would increase traffic to your domain. Sending traffic to a parked page (for instance, through advertising, link building, etc.) is against all parking companies terms of service. The logic behind this is that Google and Yahoo are trying to get their ads in places where they don’t already control the traffic – not recycling traffic that already exists.
Parking is for domains that have pre-existing traffic (normally through direct navigation). This normally means generic dot com’s and generic ccTLDs, typos, and domains that were once websites.
The key to success in making money from parking is owning domains that get natural traffic. Without the traffic, there is, well nothing. Parking isn’t about getting traffic to domains – it is about monetizing pre-existing traffic. To make money from parking, you need to research buying domains that already have traffic (by using various tools available, such as Alexa, Google external tool, etc).
Tip: If a domain doesn’t get traffic, there is no sense in parking it. In fact, I would generally recommend against it, as parking a domain can increase the chances of a UDRP happening if the wrong ads appear on your domain.
“What parking companies are there?”
Domain parking is a very competitive industry, so there are a lot of choices available for you to park your domains. Here is a list of the main parking companies (in no particular order):
“How do you choose a parking company?”
Yes, that list above is somewhat overwhelming. The best way to do this is through trial and error. For someone just starting out, learning the ropes, and with only a few domains, Sedo may be the place to start parking. Park your domains there for a couple of weeks to get a baseline for performance. Then, you can play around with keywords and altering layouts to see if you can increase revenue. After that, you can move your domains around to other parking companies to compare performance.
Different parking companies have different strengths. For instance, NameDrive does well for my .uk domains and I’ve heard that they are good for a lot of the European ccTLDs. Sedo is reputed to pay well on adult domains.
“How Do You Increase Parking Revenue?”
This boils down to trial and error. Look at keyword lists to find out what keywords pay best in your domain’s niche. Try different ones out to see if that makes a difference.
As well, each parking company also offers different layouts for your parked pages – different ones work best for different niches. Test them out and see what works best for your domain.
Also, move your domains to another parking company. Some parking companies perform better for some niches.
Finally, if you earn enough money from parking, you can always approach your parking company and ask for a larger revenue share.
“Is parking revenue declining?”
From everything I have seen and heard, there is a strong downward pressure on parking earnings. To a certain extent, you can offset this by aggressively testing and moving your parked domains to better layouts and to parking companies that convert more effectively, as well as negotiating higher revenue shares.
A lot of people seem to think that parking revenues are declining because the parking companies are getting greedier. While everyone wants to earn more money, myself included, I think that the parking industry is far too competitive for this too happen. People can — and do — switch parking companies all the time. There are simply too many alternatives available for any parking company to start getting too greedy.
Rather, the revenue downturn is likely due to other factors, such as Google and Yahoo! paying out smaller shares to the parking companies, the general bad economy, and the fact that advertisers can now opt out of advertising on parked pages.
“Is Domain Parking Evil?”
There is a lot of commentary in the blogosphere about domain parkers being evil, useless, lowlifes. Actually, come to think of it, there is a lot of commentary in the blogosphere about domainers being evil, useless, lowlifes. However, even many domainers claim that parked domains are useless and the general public does not like them.
My developed websites get a 5 to 10% click through rate on the ads and my parked pages get a 50% plus click through rate. From that, it seems to me that people are finding what they are looking for on parked pages.
The fact of the matter is – the traffic is already coming to the parked pages. You have a choice of showing your visitors nothing, or parking the domain and giving your visitors what they are looking for. How that can be evil is beyond me.
As well, parked pages provide more choice to consumers – they can choose from several companies offering what they want, versus just one company if a website were there.
In real life (is there such a thing?) people pay good money for publications like Autotrader, which are not much more than a bunch of ads. Is Autotrader evil? I certainly never heard anyone make that claim. Claiming that putting a version of that online makes it evil smacks of jealousy to me, more than anything else.
“What does the future of domain parking hold?”
It is really hard to say, and any statements would be highly speculative. There is no doubt that changes are going to happen with domain parking. When the changes do occur, they will likely happen fast. A prominent domainer with a knack for predicting the future is rumored to have said: “Personally I would expect Google to pull the plug on the domain channel in it’s current form and I would expect that to happen at anytime.”
Most, if not all, facets of domaining are high risk, potentially high reward, and domain parking is no different. I think that the key to being successful with domain parking is to choose domains that have the largest amounts of type in traffic (well, that and obviously buy the domains for a good price). If you do that, you will weather favorably any changes that happen to domain parking. The fact of the matter is that regardless of what happens to domain parking, your targetted traffic will still be there. That traffic is valuable and won’t go to waste – new ways will spring up to monetize it.