My obsession with defensibility has led me into the exciting world of domaining. I enjoy getting into a new community of web entrepreneurs who think differently (and largely make more money) than SEOs.
One of the recently hyped upcoming developments in domaining is the advent of “Web 2.0 parking”, where Demand Media seems to be the major player right now. The business case is explained fully in The Death of Domain Parking and the Birth of a New Vertical Web 2.0 Empire at Daily Domainer (a good blog to add to your Bloglines, btw), but this quote is the synopsis:
- “What if we could equip one single domain with a powerful Web 2.0 community software that turns one-time visitors into regulars?
- What if we could then duplicate that domain’s software over thousands and hundreds of thousands of domains at the click of a button?
- What if these domains could automatically brand and customize themselves according to their visitor’s perceived preferences and expectations?
- What if these domains could interact with each other on the back-end to transfer content, users and ads among each other?”
Now, Richard Rosenblatt obviously isn’t a dumb guy, and Demand Media has a large and valuable domain portfolio to leverage (and many customers to resell to, via eNom, which they own). A lot of people think what he’s doing could revolutionize domain parking (even Frank Schilling seems to like them). Of course, domainers are famously lazy, so I think they’re going to naturally favor any potential idea that involves button-pushing over manual development (manual development does not scale when you own 300,000 domains).
But frankly, I’m not sure that everyone’s really thought this through; when you get down to the details, there’s a lot of factors working against this model.
- Only domains with 1000+ daily type-ins have the right economics to be a community. If these guys know about communities, surely they’re familiar with the 1% Rule: if you get a group of 100 people online then one will create content, 10 will “interact” with it (commenting or offering improvements) and the other 89 will just view it. So how do the economics work with a domainer’s 7,000 domain portfolio, most of which get a few type-in’s a day? (hint: it won’t). The only domains that would be sustained by this system are those that get 1000+ daily type-ins (think mortgage.com, baseballcards.com, etc.) and these types of domains certainly should be manually developed anyway.
- The vast majority of “user generated content” sites fail. For every Digg or Reddit out there, there are hundreds (thousands) of Web 2.0 community type sites which failed to gain critical mass. Why can’t anyone compete with eBay? New buyers go to where existing sellers congregate (eBay), and new sellers go to where existing buyers congregate (eBay). In a longtail world, most community congregates around the head. For those communities that have succeeded, they have usually spent a ton of marketing dollars into launching them, and those low on funding have put a lot of sweat equity into convincing friends into posting and commenting in the early days to “get things going”–not exactly a “park and forget” strategy.
- Real communities do not survive, grow or thrive without a lot of moderation. How well would WebmasterWorld do without moderation? How about Craigslist–the spam there is bad enough, would you still use it if the spam were 100x worse? (which it would be, if they didn’t spend a ton of time moderating it). Successful communities put a ton of man-hours into moderation–which is why the ROI on developing and maintaining a community is (usually) alarmingly low (yes, there are exceptions). Again, it’s not exactly a “park and forget” strategy.
- Reprinting and repackaging existing content is not conducive to gaining search rankings. Many domainers continue to amaze me again and again with their lack of basic SEO knowledge. (Then again, they may laugh at my lack of knowledge about domaining ) You’re going to draw content from eHow again and again, and each site that does it will get well-indexed and rank? I don’t see it. Ditto if you try importing and remixing content from Wikipedia or Topix. Yes, Answers.com can do it, but pretty much everyone else scraping and re-using content has a limited lifespan in the non-supplemental index.
Now that I’ve trashed this model, you may ask me what my alternative is? Sorry to say I don’t have the answers As for my own portfolio, I’ll continue to develop anything that gets serious type-in traffic to maximize value, taking advantage of the reinforcing effect a good domain has on SEO; meanwhile, for those domains that don’t get serious type-in, I park ‘em wherever I have the best CPC rev-share deal.
What are your thoughts? Does the “Web 2.0 Domain Parking” model have legs?
Did you enjoy this article?
Don't forget to subscribe to the Tropical SEO feed!