Simply put, a domain is a website address. When someone decides to develop a website, generally one of the first things they do is register a domain name. The domain name tends to be something unique that reflects whatever the website is promoting. Once registered, the domain name belongs to that person for as long as they continue to pay for it. Once registered, the URL will be pointed to a dummy page and parked until the website is developed.
Sometimes URLs are purchased with the sole intent of parking them to make money as an advertising site. This type of domain development and monetization is called domain parking.
Domain parking allows a URL owner and/or third-party to use a dummy page to create revenue through advertising. There are two levels to domain parking: one where the URL owner does not receive a portion of the revenue and one where he/she does. For the URL owner, the latter is often the more desirable option. For many, this is the way in which the monetize their site.
Because domain parking does not generally provide a high-level of revenue per URL, people who use parked domains to generate income from advertising usually register hundreds of URLs for mass domain development. Most of these URLs, if not all, will have a common theme and point to one place specific to that user’s domain development and monetization scheme.
The Decline of Domain Parking Revenue
Domain parking relies on two sources of traffic: 1) search engine results and 2) key-ins. But in the past few years, Google has made changes that place both sources under threat.
Search Engine Results
For this, Google’s ranking criteria has become more stringent. To ensure that a user lands on a legitimate seller’s site, they look for: 1) level of content, 2) how often the content is updated, and 3) whether the site has the ability to sell products – i.e., a shopping cart, BBB seal, accepted credit card list, etc. Parked sites don’t have these things.
Key-in traffic doesn’t rely on search engine rankings, so in 2008 Google announced that advertisers could opt-out of ad sites (seen as poor sources). With advertisers being able to choose not to pay for clicks made from parked domains, revenue from these sites has greatly diminished.
Developing Your Domain to Increase Traffic
To increase revenue from domain parking, sites nowadays need to be more developed. Search engines are looking for content, so it is content that ultimately needs to be provided. For maximum traffic, the content must be relevant and rich in keywords.
The easiest way to ensure keyword-rich content is via news and reviews from outside websites. RSS feeds are perfect for this. For instance, using the keywords “PS3”, “Sony”, and “PlayStation 3”, the parked page would perhaps include a search module presenting current news and reviews relating to the PS3 next to a featured product module, which is showing images and links to associated PS3 and related-product seller sites. People looking for PS3s would find the parked site and if/when they clicked, a commission would be earned.