Practical Approaches to Underutilized Domains

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The domain name industry is poised for a rather epic shift, as the first new gTLDs are expected to begin arriving in late summer/early fall of 2013.

Whether your approach when that time comes is to add to your portfolio and invest heavily in the new domain extensions and/or divest some of the current domains in an existing portfolio, having some practical options available to fuel future domain name strategy will undoubtedly serve enterprises well moving forward. Here are several available opportunities and some actual steps to take.

: Park or Self-Park Domains :

When search engines (primarily Google) began cracking down on the presence of parked domains in the search results pages several years ago, the once robust domain parking industry somewhat fell out of favor as a viable option for what to do with domain portfolios that were larger in volume and more refined in scope and variety.

Make no mistake, many of the popular domain name parking services remain thriving enterprises, but there are now far more practical (or at least clever) uses for underutilized domains (see next three sections). Those enterprises with thousands of domain names, but which are unwilling to let them go fully can, and perhaps even should, use parking services, such as Sedo, Skenzo or Bodis, to make portfolio management simpler, in terms of reporting and monetization opportunities.

Large-scale parking isn’t right for every enterprise, however. A better option, at least as it relates to maintaining brand quality/integrity, is to simply park secondary domain assets under one’s own primary domain name. Most Web hosting control panels offer a variety of methods to do this. Actually parking domains on your own server enables businesses to point users to their other, primary domain name (by changing the DNS at the registrar level). Add-on domains, on the other hand, allow visitors to reach a subdomain of a site by typing the domain’s URL into their browsers.

: Put Domains to Work:

Perhaps the best option, at least for a vast majority of enterprises with a small quantity of underutilized domain name assets, is to put those domains directly to work in your day-to-day business operations and digital marketing campaigns.

For example, get every worker in your enterprise involved and develop a personal landing page for each using a platform such as About.me or an aggregation platform such as Flavors.me. There are even platforms, such as Octane360 (from Local.com), Protrada and DomainApps (formerly WhyPark), which add even more “domain development” features to the mix.

Another option would be to use creative, yet underutilized domains as redirects to social media profiles. Brands using Facebook, Twitter and Google+ can, from within their registrar’s control panel, use domain forwarding, domain redirect or URL redirect features — sending visitors that enter specific URLs into their browser’s address bar directly to those social networks. Other social networks including (and most notably) Tumblr even provide a way to actually map your domain (by changing the CName records) to the service — providing far more value in terms of being able to acquire citations (links) for SEO purposes.

Brands can also leverage their underutilized domains to provide their clients with supplementary services including hosted file sharing services, or even use the domain for a link-shortening service through an open-source software installation of YOURLS. The list of opportunities is almost endless.

: Sell or Lease Domains :

Professional domain name related enterprises are right to be concerned about what will happen once the new gTLDs formally arrive; many expect that millions of .coms will flood the market, dragging down prices as a result. In the meantime, consider setting aside some of your domain names for public sale before the price floor is reached and the new gTLDs become available.

Selling domain names is much like selling any other asset. The domain assets need to be worth acquiring and you have to find a buyer. Services including Flippa and Bido help domain buyers identify worthy assets and help sellers tout their assets for sale inexpensively. Of course, most if not all registrars provide some means of selling domains (e.g. Godaddy provides GoDaddy Auctions).

Domain names are an important element of Web success. Are you putting these valuable assets to work for the benefit of your enterprise?

ALSO READ: Not Ready to Sell?
WebsiteMagazine has put together a Crash Course on Domain Leasing.

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