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Automatic Websites for Underutilized Domains

Posted on 1.07.2013

Still parking your domain names? If so, know that you’re likely damaging the future value of those assets by doing so. Google cracked down on parking in one of its recent search algorithm modifications and the fallout for domainers has been substantial.

While building a website from scratch provides the best opportunities for profit, the process can be expensive and time-consuming with no guarantee of a final payday.

Is there a better way? While it may not necessarily be “better”, it is definitely easier and faster to leverage one of the many Web-based white label, reseller or private label opportunities presented by software vendors and market those services using your own domain.

How it works
Let’s say that you have a domain name that you are not using, but you realize that it is descriptive and memorable and could be a powerful asset. White-labeling a Web service means that you will forward, map or mask a domain to a custom URL provided by the service.

When a user visits that domain, they are essentially engaging with your brand but interacting with the platform of the technology vendor. The practice is used with some regularity in affiliate marketing. Should I forward, map or mask?

There is a big difference between forwarding, mapping and masking a domain, and it pays to know the difference. With domain forwarding, users may type in your domain name into their address bars but they will end up on another URL — not exactly the ideal user experience.

A better option is domain mapping, in which the CNAME or canonical name is mapped to the domain. In this case, all of a website’s pages will appear as if they are actually on the domain, even if it is not hosted on a server under your direct control. The drawback is that mapping a domain name can be cumbersome to implement.

The option that I regularly use is domain name masking. There are also some downsides to masking, namely that others can’t link to individual pages. When a user is visiting a particular page, what appears in the browser address bar is only the domain name, not the individual page.

While a fully canonicalized site is optimal (achieved through mapping alone), masking is handy in my opinion because if and when people do link to your masked property, they will have to link to the index page, concentrating the number of links to that page.

Whichever method is used, you will need to have something for that stellar domain name to mask (or map). Many Web-based software-as-a-service providers support mapping directly, but even if they don’t, forwarding and even masking are viable options that can be controlled through your domain name registrar.

So, where do you begin? Below you will find a few ideas and several platforms that can be used to leverage your underused domains for profit. Social Landing Pages: Social media has forced the hands of digital professionals to manage multiple profiles in addition to their websites. Armed with a relevant domain name, masking a domain name on a Web-based service such as About.me provides, for a small investment of time, a centralized landing page for all of your socializing.

The domain I personally associate with all of my social network profiles (peteprestipino.com) is powered by About.me, but other services such as Tumblr and Posterous also support mapping and masking.

Put People to Work: Many job board software solutions exist on the Web today — check out WM’s review of popular offerings at http://wsm.co/pswFZV. One option is to use these services and add a “Careers” section on each of your existing Web properties. Even if you’re not actively hiring, let your network know about career opportunities by linking to your own job board.

A pretty creative method to generate revenue, right? One of the best available solutions on the market is Jobamatic from SimplyHired (see a sample site at www.Workature.com).

Spread the Love: While I’ve been married for nearly ten happy years, not everyone is as lucky as I am. The dating industry is white-hot, and if you’re young, hot and hip and are a “super-connector” of sorts, then rolling out your own dating site might just provide you a leg up in terms of monetizing your domain portfolio.

One solution that has been generating attention of late is DatingFactory.us, a white-label offering that provides pretty much everything you’d need to help spread the love to single Web users.

Showcase Design: Web designers looking to showcase their creativity without the hassle of paying for (or building) an entirely new Web property would be smart to explore one of the many designer portfolio solutions available. One of the most popular is SmugMug, which supports domain mapping/masking and could act as a terrific option to create microsites based on audience segments.

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