When you buy a domain name, or even before you buy a domain name, you should first consider what you’re actually going to do with that domain. Time and time again, over and over again, I constantly hear, “I own a really great domain name. Now what?”.
I won’t get into why you should own a great domain name right now. However, here are all of the various ways you can use a domain name.
Yes, literally you can do nothing with the domain name. Once you register a domain name or buy a domain name (and it’s transferred to your account at a registrar), that domain name is yours. It can remain in your account at the registrar and you don’t necessarily have to use it for a website.
Domain names require that you purchase web hosting (which usually comes with the ability to create email accounts on the domain name). But, if you own the domain name there’s no requirement that you must pay for web hosting and put up a website on that domain name. You can simply own the domain name.
Advantages of doing nothing with the domain name include keeping it away from your competitors (you own it, they can’t use it for a website), as well as not ‘poisoning’ the domain name with a website. If you were to put a low-quality website on the domain name, it will create a history and reputation. Some think that this could have an effect on it’s ability to perform in the search engine rankings at a later date (which isn’t necessarily true). Others just want to own the domain name as an investment, selling it later for a profit (more than they paid for it). Good domain names are assets, and while you must renew them every year, domain names can, in fact, go up in value over time.
A disadvantage of doing nothing with the domain name is that it’s not being profitable for you. If you literally don’t do anything but own the domain name, chances are that your registrar will use the domain name anyway–and put ads on that domain name, potentially making them money. And, if you’re not using the domain name for a website, than it’s certainly not going to work for you by bringing in potential leads to your business, for example.
Park the Domain Name
You can own the domain name and literally “point it” to a service that will put ads on that domain name for you. Rather than creating and putting up an actual website on the domain name, you can sign up with a domain parking service that will pay you money every time someone clicks on an ad that appears on your domain name. Some registrars, like GoDaddy, charge you for this service. Many domain parking companies do not charge you–they only pay you for use of your domain name. They share the ad revenue with you.
Domain parking can be profitable and usually pay for the cost of the annual renewal of the domain name itself (it only needs to make about $.03 cents a day in ad revenue). However, don’t plan on the domain name showing up in the search engine results or ranking for any keywords in the search engine results pages (SERPs). Search engines generally don’t index domain names that are parked like this.
Create a Landing Page
Another option, which can be fairly inexpensive but effective, is to create one-page website or a landing page on the domain name. You can use services such as Unbounce.com or Instapage to literally create a one-page website. While it won’t typically rank well in the search engine results for your desired keywords, it will be a web page–and you can use that to sell something or attract potential customers to your business (generate leads). Once you create a landing page on your domain name, you can use Google Ads (formerly Google AdWords), Microsoft Bing Ads, or even Facebook ads to drive qualified people to your landing page. Then, you can tell them about your business and even have a form they can fill out to contact you. Or, simply have links to your main website on that landing page.
An advantage to using a landing page on your domain name is that it’s a relatively inexpensive way to bring in new customers. Disadvantages include the fact that a one-page website (landing page) typically won’t rank well in the search engine results for your keyword. You’ll have to use some sort of paid ads to send qualified traffic to that landing page.
Create a Website
Even if you already have a website for your business, if you have another domain name along with your main website, it can complement your existing website. Perhaps that domain name describes a niche within your current business or, if it has a city name in the domain name, it might appeal to only certain potential customers in that particular city or location. In other words, the domain name might be appropriate to target certain keywords, and combining the domain name that includes those keywords along with content about those keywords is a great combination. An example of this would be “CitynameHomeInspection.com” along with content on a website about Home Inspection in that particular city. A home inspection business might service multiple cities within a 50 mile radius, for example. Creating a website on CitynameHomeInspection.com will be ideal for targeting people needing that service in that city. A home inspection service could rank well for those keywords that include the city name. And, the business could set up Google Ads targeting people in that city looking specifically for that service. It’s possible to set up Google Ads (and Facebook ads as well) so that only people who are in that city will see the ads.
There are several ways to create a basic website without needing a lot of knowledge about creating websites. You don’t have to hire an expensive web designer to design a website for you. Services such as Wix.com, Squarespace.com, and WordPress.com allow you to create a basic website for a nominal monthly fee.
Advantages of creating a separate website on your domain name include the ability to target the keywords in your domain name and even a separate niche service within your business, as well as the ability to potentially rank in the search engine results for those keywords.
Disadvantages include the time it takes to set up and maintain a separate website, as well as the potential for customers to get confused between the two (or more) websites that you have. However, based on my experience, the advantages far out weight the hassle fo having to take the time to create a new website and maintain it.
Redirect The Domain Name
You can redirect the domain name to your existing website. If you have an existing website, you can set up a redirect (a 301 permanent redirect), from your domain name to your existing website. After the redirect is set up, whenever someone (or a search engine crawler) visits that domain name, the web address changes and they’re literally redirected to your existing website.
You can redirect visitors (I always recommend setting up a 301 Permanent Redirect) to your website’s home page or to an internal page on your website. You may want to redirect them to an internal page on your website if you have a page that’s similar to or the same as the domain name. For example, if you provide painting services in a particular city and you have a page about that service on your website, you’d want to redirect citynamepainting.com to that painting services page.
Before you redirect a domain name to your existing website, it’s important to know that any history or value that the domain name has will be transferred or combined with the domain you’re redirecting *TO*. That can be good value or bad value. For example, if you redirect domain A to domain B (domain B being your existing website) and domain A was full of spam and had a website with on another topic on it, you’ll be combining and transferring that spam and the other topic to your existing website. That may not be a good thing to do, as it could end up hurting your existing website’s search engine rankings. On the other hand, if domain A has no history, didn’t have a website on it, or if it was a great website on your same topic, it won’t harm your existing site or it could even help your existing website. Like buying a used car, make sure that the domain name your redirecting doesn’t come with any baggage–perform a background check on it yourself or use a service like Verified Domains to make sure it’s baggage-free when you buy it and redirect it. Verified Domains includes a guarantee if they certify that the domain name is clean.
Advantages of redirecting a domain name include passing on any good value to your existing website. People might be typing in that domain name and just visiting it, and that traffic will be passed on to your website.
Disadvantages include the potential for passing on bad value or spam to your existing website if you redirect an unclean, former spam domain name to your existing website. Also, if you redirect a domain name, even if it includes desirable keywords in the domain name, that domain name will NOT rank in the search engine results. It must contain a website with appropriate content on it and it cannot redirect to another location.
However, redirecting is typically good enough for many people, as they are using the domain name (redirecting it) and you’re keeping it out of the hands of competitors.
You have five different options when it comes to what you do with your domain name:
- Do nothing.
- Domain parking
- Landing page
I’ve offered details on each option, as well as the advantages and disadvantages of each of these options. In all cases, you’ve made a choice to buy or register that domain name, and just by owning it you’re keeping it out of the hands of your competitors.
While I won’t go into a lot of details here on the advantages of owning a great keyword rich domain name that exactly describes the products or services that you offer, there are advantages to owning one of those. And while I won’t recommend which of the above tactics is right for you and your business, I’ve always been in favor of actually using a domain name to your advantage. I prefer to own a domain name and put up a web page on it if I don’t create a basic website on it (at least 3-5 pages).
Still, the biggest advantage to owning a great keyword rich domain name? Keeping it out of the hands of your competitors.