Editor’s note from Sean: this post offers a nice introduction to the idea of building a micro-site on a domain with some remaining SEO value instead of just parking it with a for-sale lander.
Doing this, building a micro-site, is pretty straightforward. But if you’ve never done this before–hosted a domain or installed WordPress, it can be a bit daunting. This post doesn’t dive too deep into HOW to do the specifics of a piece of advice like “install WordPress,” but should give you enough of a starting point to head to Youtube and start researching “how to install WordPress” or whatever other action is being recommended.
In the end, this is more of an introduction to an idea rather than the full blueprint to execute it, but if you’ve got some names with SEO authority in your portfolio and you just have a basic sales lander on the page, going down this micro-site route could be a great way to sell some names to the ideal end-user in the future.
Domains are still a big business. Not only can finding the right name ahead of a new trend make premium domain names sell for a pretty penny. Aged domains and expired domains are in extremely high demand because they provide major benefits to website builders.
The trouble is many domain investors are unintentionally killing the resale value of their own domains.
While parking these domains is common and gets interest from potential buyers, this isn’t the best option out there.
Understanding why SEO specialists and webmasters find these domains so valuable can lead to a much smarter way of holding onto these domains so they don’t lose their value and appear even more attractive to potential buyers.
What’s an SEO (“Juiced”) Domain?
A juiced or SEO domain is a domain name that once held a website, acquired backlinks from other websites pointing to it, but then expired. Why does this matter if there’s no website there anymore?
Because one of the biggest factors in Google’s rankings is backlinks. How many different websites are linked out to that domain name? Those links are attached to the domain name, not the old content.
For an SEO, a blogger, or affiliate marketer a domain name that already has backlinks is very valuable because:
- This makes it easier for them to get recognized by Google and bypass the notorious Google “Sandbox”
- All the good backlinks a domain name has pointing to it saves time and effort in building links to a site
- SEO domains with really good backlinks could help a site become an authority site fast
That makes those domains valuable, but only if those backlinks remain active. It’s highly possible the external site providing the backlink may do an audit and remove the link to your domain because they find a “parked” page.
When that happens, the domain is less valuable to potential buyers.
Why Parking Your SEO Domains is a Bad Idea…
Parking an SEO domain isn’t a good idea because Google and other search engines don’t view this as a site. They recognize it as a parked page.
There are better options for keeping the domain names’ value while waiting for the right buyer to come along.
3 Benefits Of Creating a “Micro” Content Site For Your SEO Domain
Building Micro Sites for affiliate earnings doesn’t work anymore – and hasn’t for a decade. One thing building a micro content site does is protect the backlink profile, aka “link juice” of your domain name.
This means the site might not make money, but it will keep the domain name as valuable, or in some situations even more valuable, in the eyes of potential sellers.
The Site Doesn’t Lose the SEO Juice
Having a live site there, even a 5-page “micro” site, keeps the value of the backlinks active. As long as there’s an active site, Google isn’t going to start actively discounting the backlinks.
A micro-site is a great way to preserve the value of those backlinks and thus the value of the domain name to your most likely potential buyers.
That also means a higher chance of sale, and maximum price when it does sell.
Contact Page Brings in More Leads
A parked page requires extra steps for a potential buyer to find your information, look you up, and start negotiations if they are interested in possibly buying the domain name.
A simple contact page listing an email address is okay, but a contact form is even better, makes it easy to shoot off a fast offer, and will bring in more leads.
Demand sets price so if there are four or five interested parties, that’s far better as a seller than if there is only one.
Rankings Work as Evidence (and Increase Value)
The micro-site can even point out the obvious: that the domain is so strong a tiny micro-site is actually ranking in Google. This is a major selling point to potential domain buyers.
This also makes it possible to bring in traffic interested in the topic the micro-site is ranking for. Among this group there will almost certainly be SEO specialists or affiliate marketers who would be very interested in buying a domain already showing this type of potential.
This not only preserves the value but possibly even adds to it.
6 Steps to Quickly Create a Content Site Using WordPress
Creating a micro-site on the domain is not difficult. These are simple steps to get moving.
Step 1: Buy Hosting for Your Domain
If you don’t already have a hosting account, you will need to buy hosting. Since this is for a micro-site, cheap shared hosting should be enough.
There are many plans from providers like Dreamhost, which allows multiple sites to be hosted on one shared account. Once the hosting account is purchased the company sends step-by-step instructions for how to connect these to your domain name.
Step 2: Install WordPress
With some registrars, you can just hit a button in your account and it’s done for you. If not, your tech guy almost certainly knows how to do this without issue.
If you’re doing this solo, look at YouTube. That way you have a visual step-by-step process you can pause along the way.
Step 3: Change the WordPress Theme
Even though WordPress comes with a theme, they’re very basic and if left alone can be a security risk. Find a theme you like or that is plain and just works and use that.
Step 4: Add Your Plug-ins
Since your goal is selling the domain, the most important plug-in is a good contact form plug-in. If you’re not going to turn comments off then you’ll also want an anti-spam plug-in like Akismet.
Step 5: Write or Outsource Your Content
Five to six pages is enough. A home page, a contact page, and a few articles. If there was a search term that the domain used to rank for and get a lot of links to, make a short article on that topic.
Mention on each page the domain is for sale. You want just enough content to keep the link juice fresh.
Step 6: Publish
Publish the site and pursue any marketing you have to sell the domain. Now with a micro-site you can wait for the right offer without worrying about it losing value.
7 Actionable Next Steps
Creating a micro-site is not a difficult process. In fact, this can be done in a day or two, especially if the content creation is outsourced.
Step 1: Make a List of the High Value Domains
As with any asset you want to start with the most valuable list of domains and work your way back.
If you’re managing hundreds of domains, this isn’t a step for a simple domain name that might be worth $100 to the right buyer. Focus on the big potential brands or keyword domains that have the backlink profile to be extremely valuable.
Make a short list of the domains with the best backlink profiles. These are the ones that need micro-sites first to preserve that value.
Step 2: Decide on How to Execute
If you already have a tech guy and one or more reliable writers then you have this step covered. If not, then you may need to handle it yourself or hire someone who knows how to do it. Do you really want to
I’m always a fan of getting a good recommendation. However, if you don’t have a lead on a talented person there are plenty of online platforms like Upwork.com where postings can be made to find good tech people or writers for relatively low cost.
Important: Don’t go for the absolute cheapest bids – there is truth to the saying “You get what you pay for.”
Step 3: Connect the Domains to a Hosting Plan & Install WordPress
Buy a shared hosting plan. Generally the best deals are for 1-2 year increments up front. Follow the steps above or the information sent directly to connect the domains to the hosting account.
Once that’s done, install WordPress, pick a theme, and follow the directions above to get the site ready for content.
Step 4: Select Topics for Each Site’s Content
This doesn’t have to be super in-depth, but you do want topics relevant to what the old URLs ranked for. The highest priority is seeing if a particular article or URL brought in a lot of links by itself, indicating an old post or article that brought a lot of backlinks into a single page.
You want to make sure a post using that exact URL is made, and a short article on that topic sits there. Not only does that preserve the SEO but those short articles have the best chance to rank and bring in traffic.
That will catch the attention of potential investors in the vertical.
Finding this information is easy using your favorite SEO tools.
Step 5: Create the Content for Each Site
The most efficient way is to have the 5-6 pages outsourced to a writer. Make sure they have the topics and a basic template or outline for how to write each one.
You also want to make sure there is a call to action for the domain being on sale at the end of each article.
Step 6: Update Call to Action Based on Rankings
If the micro-site picks up some solid rankings, at the bottom of the page at the call to action add in a short description of some of the terms the mico-site ranked for, and use that as part of the pitch. “If this site could rank for these, what could you do with this powerful domain?”
Step 7: Proceed with Marketing
Once the micro-sites are set up, a fast process that should not take long at all, proceed with your marketing plan for your domains. The micro-site is doing its job preserving the SEO juice of the domain.
As long as the hosting is paid, it works as a much better form of domain parking that protects your domain investment, brings in more potential buyers, and may even increase the value of the final selling price.
The micro-sites are doing their job, so you’re free to focus on every other aspect of your business or investments.
Micro-sites are a smarter way to protect SEO domains. As more webmasters are seeing just how important authority is going to be to Google moving forward, the demand for good SEO domains is only going to increase.
Protecting the value of those domains with micro-sites instead of letting the value drain away from traditional domain parking is just the smart move.
By: Mushfiq S
Bio: Mushfiq is a prolific investor that buys, grows, and sells online businesses, specializing in content websites. He has done 180 website flips to date and several have resulted in 6-figure exits. He runs a free newsletter, The Website Flip, where he discusses growth case studies, guides, and shares sites for sale that anyone can purchase.