monetizing domain names of former websites

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: – 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”. – Also purchased at Sedo last year, for $70. It used to be a Flickr resources list. – 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 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, 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.

The results? 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. makes $2 per month. CTR is also about 7%. Another a good buy. 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

“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.

9 Comments to “Monetizing Domain Names of Former Websites Can Be a Challenge”

  1. egorych seo | September 16th, 2007 at 8:04 am

    Does the revenue like $3 per month cost buying a domain? I think it only reasonable to buy domains if you plan to build a service or other site there.

  2. Adam Taylor | September 16th, 2007 at 12:45 pm

    Cool article. I left a comment on sphinn.

  3. W.H.A. | September 16th, 2007 at 4:05 pm

    egorych, I’m not sure what you mean. Do you mean is it worth the cost of buying the domain? Well, consider: I paid $80 for It will pay off its purchase price a few months from now. After that, I’ll be making $36 per year minus $7 annual reg fee, so $29 per year. That’s free, passive income. You might think $29 per year is insignificant, but I already have 50 of these types of earners, some making much more than My goal is to have 1,000 of these steady monthly earners by the end of next year, earning between $50K and $100K per year.

  4. Frank Michlick (DomainNameNews) | September 16th, 2007 at 5:51 pm

    Good topic. It’s often hard to monetize previous website domains, especially if they are not highly targeted generics. And even if you know the topic of the previous site, it might still be hard to optimize the keywords.

    One of the reason is that expired traffic on non-generics (i.e. what was a blog earlier) will have so many different topics that you would be better off if you were able to optimize the keywords based on the URL that is being accessed. As far as I know, no parking service allows you to do this at this point – as a matter of fact, a lot of them try to discourage you from parking “expired” domains with them.


  5. Brian (Domain Parking Money) | September 17th, 2007 at 8:13 pm

    Hello Domainer Pro –

    Brian here, new guy on the block but longtime seo. I have begun slowly getting into the domaining biz. Funny that you just posted this article, I have posted a similar article on my site with my experience.

    This April I started picking up expired domains, I have probably spent about $2k in domains. However I am now earning about 5 to 6k a month from affiliate programs, adsense and some parking accounts.

    Any expired domain that I pick up must:
    have some history online
    have some quality back links (quality over quantity)
    be commerical in nature

    Most sites will get developed with snazzy seo tools that allow more customization and more custom content. However these tools allow fast site construction and most importantly they get search traffic.

    I always create the exact same topic site on my expired’s as well – that is important.

    Check out the video response on to this post, and my article on my site.

    Take care, I enjoy your blog.

    video here:

    article here:

  6. John Cronin | September 26th, 2007 at 2:06 pm

    Hi There

    Informative post – thanks!

    Just getting to grips with domaining myself and not yet earned much from it.

    I’ll subscribe to your blog feed.



  7. Shycon Design | December 11th, 2007 at 6:57 pm

    Why not check and see if you can scrape out some indexed content? Put it back up there, mash-up the content… and try to suck off what is left of the brand.

    *****Reply from DomainerPro*****

    That’s not a bad idea.

  8. Pozycjonowanie | May 15th, 2010 at 3:24 pm

    Very good primer on the subject and should help many businesses better understand SEO. I will be recommending it.

  9. Domainer Required Reading: 100 Great Blog Posts - Virtual | July 30th, 2013 at 8:35 am

    […] Monetizing Domain Names of Former Websites Can Be a Challenge: Buying a previously developed domain name with the purpose of using it for yourself can be a bit of an uphill battle, as this blog from Domainer Pro discusses. […]

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