Advice for Beginners, Monetizing Domains September 15th, 2007
If you own any domains that used to be functioning websites and still receive traffic from back links, you may have noticed that these can be hard to monetize. The click through rate is typically quite low. Why is this, and what can be done about it?
I own several domain names that fit this description, including:
Battl.com – I picked this up at Snapnames last year for $80. This used to be a website called “Back and to the Left” that provided something called “Virtual Graffiti skins.” For some reason, however, many of the backlinks have to do with online multiplayer games. And of course, it’s a typo of “battle”.
QuickrFlickr.com – Also purchased at Sedo last year, for $70. It used to be a Flickr resources list.
ModernSingleDad.com – I bought it at Sedo last year for $200. Used to be a video blog, described in some backlinks as “A sarcastic outlook on life as a single dad with 3 kids.”
Initially I had these domains parked at Sedo.com. I chose my keywords carefully and optimized my Related Links. All three got good traffic, but the CTRs continued to be extremely low, like less than 1%. I continued experimenting with keywords and templates, with no luck.
I came to realize that visitors to these domains had arrived following backlinks and were looking for something specific. They came with certain expectations in mind. Perhaps they were patrons of the former websites. Maybe they had them bookmarked. When they arrived or returned and found that what they were expecting no longer existed, they simply hit the back button or navigated away.
I considered developing these domains into websites that mimicked their previous incarnations, but I never got around to it.
Finally I decided to move all three domains over to DomainSponsor.com, and see what DomainSponsor’s optimization technology could do with them. As you can see if you click on the links above, DS has done fairly well in optimizing them.
Battl.com makes about $3 per month, an excellent return considering what I paid for it. CTR is about 7%. I expect it to pay off its purchase price by the end of this year.
QuickrFlickr.com makes $2 per month. CTR is also about 7%. Another a good buy.
ModernSingleDad.com just barely pays its reg fee. CTR is 7.27%, but traffic has dwindled to perhaps 20 visitors per month. If I can get it to perform just 10% better, it will be profitable. On the other hand, I paid $200 for it, so in the big picture it’s a loser.
I’m no longer willing to pay a premium for domains with backlinks. Although two out of the three mentioned are profitable, these domains in general are hard to monetize. In addition, the number backlinks will most likely decline as time passes.
Nowadays I prefer to pay a little more (or a lot more) for generic domains with type-in traffic.
An interesting related point:
Todd Mintz, a former SEO expert turned domainer, said in a recent interview on NowSourcing.com:
“An SEO would generally be looking at domains that have strong search engine factors with the end game of building upon somebody else’s previous work to get a strong website without starting from scratch. On the other hand, many domainers won’t even consider SEO factors when evaluating an aftermarket domain… they will focus on brandability, perceived future sales value, and popularity of the keyword / keyword phrase contained in the domain.”
So what is desirable to an SEO is not necessarily so for a domainer, in my opinion.
What has been your experience with domains that used to be websites? How have you monetized them? What kind of CTR do you get? I’d like to know.
P.S. The baby is fine (see previous post). She caught some virus that’s going around, but she’s getting better.