What to Do With Old Domain Names
I don't know if you're like me or not but I own a number of domains. Actually, I know a few of our clients that are in this boat, too. It's so easy to buy domain names because they're really cheap. As you sit on them, they gain age, which is good. Age equals value but only if there is some content value attached to the domain. I'll explain that.
Which Domains to Keep and Which to Ditch
- If the domain name is a keyword (keyword phrase / term) that nobody would search on, then you probably want to ditch it. They just don't have any value unless there's a lot of links pointing to that domain name already. The best way to buy domain names is to first do keyword research and make sure it's a search term that people are searching on (use the Google Keyword Tool or something like it to find out - use the "exact" search option).
- If the domain name was recently used on a website that was playing games with Google and trying "black hat" techniques to get higher in the search engines or had poor, copied content on it, then ditch it. Get rid of that domain name - you're better off starting with a new domain name in that case.
I Have My List - Now What?
You have a list of domain names that you want to keep. Ok, good. Maybe you want to use them later of maybe you want to sell them in the future. Either way, you need to add value to them. You have a few ways to do this.
No Website Host Parked Pages
First, make sure you do something else with it than have it pointing to your domain name registrar's park page. They're getting all the benefit and there's not good content on that page. Also, make sure that it's not pointing to nothing. Put up at least 3000 words of good, original content - either on one page or divide it amongst 5 pages.
Set Up Hosting
Next, set up website hosting for your domain names. Get a website hosting account and point them all to that account with the domains set up so that each has its own space where you can put a few files.
Make a Decision
From here, you have a few options:
- Set up a nice landing page.
- Set up a small website with WordPress and some great SEO plugins.
- Set up a full blown website and put a lot of work into it.
My preferred strategy is to first set up a nice landing page for each domain with 500 words of good content that's related to the domain name. Add pictures and make it look nice. Make sure you have Google Analytics (GA) and Google Webmaster Tools (GWT) set up for each of these. You will need to know the stats and data. These websites are usually just a single, static page (static HTML). You can link these to your main website (just one link on each). There's another, important thing you should do on each of these websites but we're not going to give away the farm here - you'll have to get us to help you to get this nugget plus a few others... sorry.
Take a Chance on Me
Then I decide which ones I want to take a chance on. I'll then set up those sites (at least five) with WordPress and some good SEO plugins so that SEO is semi-automatically done for you (yeah, we know which ones these are). Get two links pointing to each one (think EzineArticles.com, etc.) Let these websites sit a while (3-4 months).
As another option, you can set up your website using designs over at Webstix X-Press if you want to save some money with website design. Those websites can then easily be developed into full-blown websites by just adding more content - which you can do yourself.
After a month, check GA and GWT and do some optimization. Optimize keywords, page titles, etc. etc.
After a few more months, check stats. Figure out which ones are starting to jump ahead and look like potential winners. From there, develop those websites by improving the design, adding great content and so forth.
Wait, Why Are We Doing All This?
What we're doing here is developing some auxiliary websites that have great content (that Google likes) that can point to your website and improve your website's ranking. This is fine to do. Your creating websites with great content on them. This increases your reach on the web and gets great websites pointing links to yours. You're re-using some domain names that you might not be taking advantage of, too - which means you're getting your return on investment in those domain names.
The fun part is that you never know what could happen! You could have a real winner that could just take off and get you more traffic than you ever thought possible. It happens.
Should I Buy More Domain Names?
After reading this, you might be tempted to go out and buy a bunch of domain names. Sure, you can do that. I know people that have made lots of money on the domain names alone. I've sold a few domain names myself. There's money there. You want to know what you're doing though.
One thing I've learned is that a good amount of the domain names that I've bought out of emotion have not paid off. They just sounded good and I wanted to buy them right away before anyone else did. Of course, there was nobody else at that time wanting to buy it but you get caught up in emotion.
Keep Calm and Buy the Right Domains
I've learned to keep calm and do research before buying domain names - yes, even if they do just cost $8-9 each per year. They actually cost much more than that. With the hosting fees (which might be minimal with a Hostgator unlimited account) and then your time and energy that you put into each domain, it costs quite a bit more than just $9. That's why research is important. If you find some great ones that pass your research tests, then buy them - why not?
The Right Way to Buy Domain Names
When you get domain names, make sure you buy them - not somebody else. We do not buy domain names on behalf of our clients and you should make sure nobody else does that for you. One, big problem we run into every now and then is a client that does not have control of their domain name (it's not under their name). It's in their old website designer's name or something strange like that. If that company is out of business or if the email account used to set up that domain name isn't available any more, then it can be really difficult to get control of that domain name.
Get Help With Landing Pages
We've had a number of clients use us (Webstix) for setting up these kinds of landing pages for old domain names. We know how to do it well. You do want some good info on that page and then get a few links pointing to it so that Google knows about it and can start tracking it.
We also set up the basic "Coming Soon" type pages as well. That's also a good practice. Make it nice looking and then put an expected date of launch on that page as well. Just don't mix up "landing pages" and "coming soon" pages. Know which domains are going to be developed (soon, very soon) and which you want to age.
The Best Approach for Old Domains
What I like to do with old domains is set them up on WordPress sites with a simple, basic template. We have some plugins we use that capture search terms (queries) that people use and then add those terms as keywords or tags to that page automatically. From there, traffic can just kind of snowball because your website then just grows more and more relevant for related searches over time. It's a great way to make some money from domain names you're just hanging onto. You can then later decide to develop that website more or sell it or just use it as a funnel to send traffic to your main website.
Contact Webstix today to get more advice on setting up landing pages for your domain names and for setting up complete websites!