In this article, we will provide the background necessary to understand parked domains, explain how they work, and discuss what they mean to you as a site owner.
Let’s start with the basics. The domain for a website is the address of the site like “google.com” is for the Google search engine. The analogy of an address is not a coincidence: the domain for a site has a very similar role to an address for a physical business.
Every domain has to point to something. That something is whatever your web browser of choice displays when you navigate to that URL. When most people start a website, they are planning to use it right away.
Either they will already have the design for their site in place and hosted, or they will set that up right after they buy the domain. In either case, they quickly set the domain to point to their website.
Note that the domain alone is not enough: as a webmaster, you also need to secure hosting services. This service is the space that will hold your website and keep it online.
In other words, to continue the analogy, when you start an online business you first need to buy the address, and then you need to rent space inside a building. They come from two separate providers- the hosting comes from a web hosting company, and the domain comes from a registrar.
What Does Parking Domains Mean?
As mentioned above, most people have a website ready to go, or almost ready, as soon as they purchase their domain. However, there are also good reasons to buy a domain without having a complete site.
We will go into that in more detail later. For now, let’s focus on what happens when you have a domain without a website. Remember how every URL points to something? If there is no hosted site available for you to aim your domain towards, the registrar will decide where the visitor goes.
They want to make some money from their domains because that is their main line of business. As a result, if you let them decide how to point the domain, they will point it to what is known as a dummy page.
This dummy page will most likely contain advertisements, product endorsements, and other forms of monetization. Note that these will not make money for you.
Remember, you have only purchased the domain. The domain registrar owns the actual dummy page. So they make all the revenue that might come from that page.
The practice of holding a domain without adding a useful page to it is called “parking the domain,” and a domain that is used in this way is said to be parked.
The Problems with Parking
You should have some concerns about parking. First of all, parking means that you have given up control of your domain.
You will eventually use the domain as part of a business, for your brand, or for some other purpose. But for right now, you don’t have any control over where the domain points. Anyone who visits the URL is sent to the dummy page. That dummy page might not reflect what you want that domain to become.
For example, the dummy page could be advertising products that compete with yours, or it could endorse products that are contrary to your values. Even worse, it might be a poor quality page with spelling errors, dead links, or other problems.
This appearance will reflect poorly on your brand because visitors won’t necessarily know that they are seeing a dummy page. All they notice is a lousy page under your domain name.
Anytime you allow someone else to control your domain there is potential for trouble.
What You Can Do About It?
The best thing you can do is to retake control over where the domain points by acquiring hosting. Then, use that hosting to make a dummy page of your own.
It could be a “Coming Soon” page if you have a specific goal in mind for that domain. You could do the same thing the registrar would do and make a page of ads and links, but make them high-quality and valuable.
You could even do a combination of both if you have several related products, sites, or brands: create a page that explains the new site is coming soon, but in the meantime, visitors can check out your other sites.
That internal self-advertising can give you a little boost in traffic to your other sites.
But the most straightforward idea is just to create a blank page by hosting an empty file. That is the fastest and easiest solution.
To do this, create a file called index.php with nothing in it and upload it to your server. Your hosting company can help if you need assistance.
Why Would You Buy A Domain Without A Site Ready?
It’s worth going over why you would want to hold a domain that you don’t plan to use right away. One of the most important reasons is that if you have an idea and you can get an ideal matching domain, you should probably just buy it right away.
If you wait, you risk losing the domain to someone else who might not sell it to you. This aggressive buying costs a little money, but it helps you maintain a reserve of domains for future ideas and concepts.
Parking domains can be a good idea if you want to scoop up a name for some future use, but you need to be sure you can control where the domain goes.
A hosted empty page or dummy page will give you that control. As long as you can keep this in mind, then you are free to pick up as many domains as you feel are a sound acquisition.