Death & Tragedy: Domain Parking, 2016

spider_web_1In this post, we take a look at domain names and how we use them before they get built out.

What could be a simpler, and more natural – then a simple page of links? On a spiders’ web we have a set of sequential nodes or points, linked together by the spiders’ threads. The ultimate “linking” strategy.

So what’s the problem with our world wide web, or “parked” pages – or, is there even one?

Let me add an anecdote. I don’t like anecdotes. They can be subjective and get away from data; the raw facts.

Okay, so I’m talking with a Google Adwords rep about a site I advertise on Google Adwords. She is extremely polite, professional, friendly and thorough.

She’s guiding me through an extremely complex Adwords interface. There’s seemingly no end to the myriad of options for online advertisers. Bid on the mobile, increase the bid to mobile customers in New York between 9am and 11am and increase the bid depending on this, that, the other, the number of cats they own, blaa blaa. (It’s actually a type of bread).

In the course of our chat – up comes the option to Bid on Parked domains. Okay, so I’m a big believer in certain domain traffic, so I’m like – please let’s have a look at bidding on the parked domains.

Now – I can detect a change in the tone of the Rep’s voice. It’s one of alarm. It’s one of danger. It could be described as…”I must protect this advertiser at all costs from choosing the parked domain option and causing themselves harm. I need to protect this person from his own dumbness”…kind of tone.

Now, I’m a pretty stubborn Taurus guy at the best of times, so I insist that we must bid on the parked domains, and do so with gusto. My tone also increases.

But she’s so not backing down. In fact, she’s becoming more and more insistent that this is a disaster; her tone of alarm duly rises.

At the same time, I’m noticing the other options beside the “parked domains” option. We’re in the exclusions section for the Display Ad Network. They are as follows:

parked_adwords2

Old-skool domainer? If you’re having a cup of coffee while reading this post – perhaps now you need to add something to that?

Just let’s pause and say that a few times to ourselves slowly.

“Crime, police and emergency”.
“Death & Tragedy”.
“Parked pages”.
“Juvenile, gross and bizarre”.
“Parked pages”. Bizarre. Parked Pages. Bizarre.

I’m looking at this screen and I’m taking in the tone of the rep – and I back down completely.

Let’s take a quick look back in time. There was no noughties domain conference I am aware of called B.R.A.N.D.A.B.L.E. (No offence to the brandable domainers, of which I most definitely am one.)

It was of course called T.R.A.F.F.I.C. – the proposition being that domain traffic was very valuable.

But now, here they are: lumped in along with “crime, police and emergency”.

Now, one thing I’m wary of these days – is assumptions. They crop up in our story telling brains all the time, and they divert us to sub-optimal, irrational and illogical paths – unless we catch and question them.

Bearing that in mind, I’m going make assumptions to graph the following:

1. the number of formerly developed web sites which are now parked;

versus

2. pure parked type-in domains;

versus

3. the number of built out domains [let’s say brands].

At the first draft of this post, and there are 78,664 domains dropping today on Pending Delete status. Taking that as a bell weather for the year, that’s 78,664 x 365 (domains don’t observe public holidays) = 28,712,360 per year.

Do over say, 15 years .. that’s 430,685,400 dropped domains.

That’s quite a lot, isn’t it?

How many of them are old websites with backlinks and type-ins? I have no idea. I’m assuming a starting level of 10,000 just as a starting point, not related to anything, so as we can make a graph.

I’m guessing the following growth rates:

1. Formerly developed web sites now parked: annual growth: guessed at 25% compounding.

2. Quality parked (type-in) domains: small growth of 5% type-in guessed. (This is too probably high. It may have gone down slightly in absolute terms).

3. Built and maintained brands: annual growth guessed at 25% compounding. This could be way off.

The following is the graphical narrative that results:

graph-1

1999… to so many of us, it seems like yesterday. The Red Hot Chilli Peppers were in fine voice of course, and Californication was most definitely in the air.

Pure halcyon days.

So, going back to the early days of parking, after the dot-com crash, you would have had lots and lots of purer quality type-in “search” domains, compared to the old websites, and of course the brands (read: corporates) were in total disarray.

Combined with really slow Internet connections – the modem (who will ever forget *that* sound), we can see that was the perfect time for parking.

Is the picture portrayed by this graph correct? I believe so, but trust me, I’m seriously open to this narrative been disproved.

So, while parking was the perfect solution for a short-time, as an industry, we have stayed stuck as if it’s 1999. Things are now changing so fast, and we simply haven’t responded.

But there is one new show in town; actually it’s been here for a while, and it’s “Zero Click”.

This makes perfect sense.

It’s a direct link, ideally 301, to a developed site. I do this myself. I lease domains directly from certain domainers and point them to my sites.

I have zero problem with that.

Here’s the way that I work it:

1. I know who they are and they know who I am.
2. I know the exact domains I am leasing.
3. They know the exact domain/website they are pointing to.

What could be more simpler? Cassandra, what could possibly go wrong?

Okay, so I’m keying in a domain related to textbooks, which shall of course, remain nameless, and it’s on zero-click.

Hum. Wow. Really? No way. Hop – skip – jump – hop. Key in the domain, and then I’m passed around like a parcel. Stock trading systems; on a textbook domain?

I have no problem with stock trading systems per se, I hope to use them myself some day.

Free shopping vouchers to be won; provided I agree to pay a fee every month on the mobile? Again, I have no problem necessarily with this competition…but on a Tier 1 textbook domain? Really?

Country roads, take me home.

We can observe the following occurs in some cases:

1. The advertiser and publisher do not know each other;

2. The advertiser does not know the domain traffic they are buying;

3. The publisher does not know precisely who they are linking to. They will not be able to contact the advertiser without great difficulty.

Conclusions: (1) There is sub-optimal, illogical use of good quality, pure search domains – including by myself. I have ended this where possible myself as it’s sub-optimal and illogical, although I have a few names where I can’t control the DNS.

(2) in all but a few cases, domain traffic is simply an opportunity to develop a nice little niche on the web without paying for clicks from Adwords or Bing, which you can do anyway.

What I’ve been up to since the last post

I’ve gone back to building and ceased registering domains for the moment. I had a go at some styling on CoolFonts.com and it’s been a disaster. I got rid of the ads and added a donation button. I also added a poll. At least the poll is getting some responses lol.

For the first time, I set up an Apache web server. With DigitalOcean.com, you can get cloud hosting at $5 per month, but you have to set it all up yourself. But, the tutorials, are great – you just have to find the right one. So we got the script working, mobile was fine,

the stats were great, I set up SSL – and then *wham* nothing! The files went to zero. So I had to re-park this domain. Very annoying after all the work. But at least the tutorials are good. The plan is to reset the Apache and start again.

On hotels, we got AllHotels.com into the Booking.com affiliate program I’ve been dying to get into it, and I’m looking for the API key. That’s the next bit of work coming up, and I’d imagine there would be several versions of this site. CheapHostels.com I’ve also put up for the first time in years as I can isolate the hostels from booking.com.

It would also be nice to get a new theme on aJob.com, and finally get an arcade. The WP scripts have just not worked for me, so I’m going to try custom – or at least that’s the plan.

Coding wise, I’ve rejoined Daithi’s coding group CoderForge.com and I’m on my way there after this bit of writing. If you’re a beginner at hardcore coding – like myself – just watch out for this Atom.io code editor from GitHub if your on a Windows system. At some stage, it will not save the files, and you will be sending fresh air via FTP. You have to get there in Safe Mode or something.

On the startup front, Paddy Cosgrave and WebSummit.net continue to crush it, and they have 50,000 descending on Lisbon very soon for their tech conference, after shall we say…local difficulties in Dublin caused them to move. Describing himself last year ironically at the summit as “such a hero”, it looks like the gamble has been seriously landed in Lisbon. If anyone is looking to see how eMail marketing can work, sign up to Paddy’s eMails.

Domain sales have been a bit thin, but we managed to sell the following: SmartMower.com, AllTides.com, MarketMD.com, GameGhost.com. We are all now looking for the perfect lander. Little bit of a pickup in October, and the $888 price level is going…okay. I like this price level, because it’s fair to say, building a website or startup *is* a gamble.

I’m going to write down this bit here so as I do it: The plan is to take a group of domains and rotate them around the following landers, to try and learn what one is the best, although there is a myriad of testing issues with this, and I am not sure what’s to be learned.

– Undeveloped.com
– Uni
– Godaddy/Afternic form
– Own form
– others

Some domains I’ve recently registered include:
FunnyDomain.com, BlueAccount.com, MobileFinders.com, MaleBeauty.com, PowerGourmet.com, BuyRingtones.com, WebJewellery.com, music-downloader.com, OnlineDenim.com, Byelection.com, AnalyzeData.com. I also bought ChatCentral.com from Lycosdomains on Afternic.

Best domains from the year: CoolReviews.com & MidUSA.com.

I realise I said I ceased registering domains; but isn’t addiction such a strange thing?

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I’d love to hear a response from you. Simply get in touch to share your opinion on this blog. I wish you happy domaining, tech building or reading!
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