Domain parking is not the only alternative to full web development. There are many ways to monetize, utilize and grow your web traffic without taking the expensive, long road of full web development.
I believe it was Rick Schwartz who asked: What is the value of a click if that click leads to the sale of an airplane? He was referring to affiliate sales versus pay-per-click campaigns, but his point is well taken. By understanding your domain name market, you can generate greater revenue than from just parking, even if your site – or your pocketbook – is not ready for full-scale development.
It took me awhile to accept the concept of minisites. As a matter of fact, I dislike the term, but what it describes is a site with a few pages of content designed mainly to capture search engine traffic while waiting on full-scale development. I do something similar with my own domains to avoid blockage for being a parked name.
Some people leave their domains as minisites. Others use it as a testing tool before they develop full scale. Either way, make sure your domain name is a good candidate for a content-only site. That is, it should be a site for which the core audience would be seeking information only, such as CareerGuide.com or AllAboutCats.com. Less ideal candidates for minisites are geodomains, such as MiamiFlorida.com, which need to provide more than just a few pages of content for their audience of residents and tourists; and domains that are better off as lead generation sites, such as USADentists.com.
Use content that has been uniquely written for your website. Target keyword terms that relate to your domain name and use data capturing methods such as an opt-in newsletter subscription that can be used down the road for activities such as marketing, relationship development, lead generation and sales prospects.
A landing page is single web page that users arrive at after following a link, often in an advertisement. Landing pages are designed for several purposes: to collect leads, to advertise affiliate products, or to serve as a tailored destination for ad campaigns and targeted search engine traffic.
Landing pages are also useful for experimenting with traffic before moving to full-scale web development. I like niche landing pages that promote other established sites that do well at long tail SEO.
As with minisites, make sure the content of your landing page is unique and sufficient enough to hold its own, and use data capturing methods such as an opt-in newsletter subscription to gather user information for future use. It is also a good idea to include social media methods, such as links to Twitter and Facebook pages, to further build an audience for when you decide to develop full scale.
“Under Construction” Web Pages
It is not 1999 anymore, but “under construction” web pages can still serve a useful pre-development purpose. My favorite method is to display a logo, a newsletter sign-in box, links to relevant social accounts and a medium-sized paragraph promoting the site. This provides a bit of marketing collateral and allows you to capture an audience, all before site launch and the real marketing begins.
If you have a domain name that receives a decent amount of type-in traffic, domain leasing might be for you. Domain leasing allows other individuals or businesses to display content and advertising, usually exclusively, on your domain for a fee. Left of the Dot Media is the latest company in this area who provides these services; it develops eCommerce and business sites on the sub-directories of premium domains. Other domain leasing providers are LeaseThis.com and Root Orange.
If you take domain leasing into your own hands, be sure to factor in the loss of revenue while your domain is leased out when determining a fair monthly fee. Also consider including an optional buy-out price in case the company wants to take ownership of the domain name.
Site Clone Scripts
Sometimes you want to get a good feel for how a domain might perform if it was developed, let’s say as a social networking site versus a wiki site. Thanks to sites such as ScriptCopy.com that offer site clone scripts, you can.
With site clone scripts, you can design a site that looks and functions like an existing popular website. Most site scripts work fresh from install and need only a few configurations. This will help you gauge what type of development is best for your domain. From there you can either build off the clone script or start over from scratch.
Affiliate Sites and Scripts
Another approach to monetizing type-in-traffic domains is to use the ready-made solutions provided by top affiliates (such as Amazon and eBay) to get an idea of who is buying and clicking what. Having a better feel for what your target audience is looking for will help you plan content.
Related Cheat Sheets
For Further Reading
[Image credits: Vintage Wines Minisite, Formstack: Anatomy of a Landing Page, Spearfishing.com Under Construction, Webtreatsetc Countdown Under Construction]
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