After starting your bookstore empire, you decide it’s time to get your website up and running. You go to a domain purchasing website to buy the perfect URL. While searching you can’t decide on which is the better domain: bobsdiscountbooks.com or bobshouseobooks.com. You buy both and let your marketing team decide the best option. Your team advises you to choose bobsdiscountbooks.com. But you bought both domains. What the heck are you going to do with the other one? Oh, wait! You can park the domain and get some extra dough in the process. It’s a win-win situation.
A couple years go by. You’re interested in redesigning your website but your old domain really isn’t getting the traffic it should. Your marketing team suggests trying out a new domain. Didn’t you have another one laying around here somewhere? Oh yeah, here we go! You dust off bobshouseofbooks.com, smack a new website on it, and blast it out on the search engines.
But something is wrong. It’s not moving on rankings. And crawl errors are coming back with a bunch of weird URLs. What is going on? Could it be because it was a parked domain?
If that scenario sounds a little too familiar, then this blog is for you. Let’s start from the beginning.
Domain parking is when you have additional domains that are pointing to your main domain. However, they are a little different than just forwarding your domain – a parked domain retains its original URL. There are a few reasons a parked domain exists:
- Your main domain is commonly misspelled.
- You have multiple domains that you want to point to the same domain.
- You want to use the domain at a later time but don’t want someone to take it.
Doesn’t sound too bad. Why warn us against this, Wendy? I’m getting to that. Hold your horses, geez.
Parked domains come in two forms: monetized and non-monetized. Non-monetized parked domains are usually the ones as described above – they are just forwarding people to your main domain. However, monetized parked domains are the dangerous one. Consider it as selling ad space – you allow advertisers to place ads on your parked domain and you can get a small percentage of the profits. You’re probably not going to make a lot of money – only a few bucks if that. But hey any found money is good money, right?
Yeah, well that can come back to haunt you. Parked domains are perfect targets for scammers and malware. In an article by Cisco Umbrella, a 2012 report had found that parked domains are among the top categories of websites that serve malware. This may mean that an attacker could register a domain, park it with bogus ads, and use it to generate revenue. It also can mean that an attacker can STEAL your parked domain and put malware on it. And you may not know it until you want to redirect that domain to your main domain and your site begins to suffer in rankings.
Now I got your attention, don’t I?
Companies are always trying new ways to get the most clients through the door. One of these methods may be a change in the domain name. We did that to ENX2, our original domain was enx2llc.com. If you park a domain for cash purposes then later use it as the main domain or a forwarding address, you’re going to have trouble. And thank goodness we never used ours for cash purposes; we would have some major problems!
But don’t fret, there is a solution to this problem. Here’s what you do:
- Clean it up. You found that your old parked domain was a hotbed of malware. Now you want to use that site. Make sure you clean up every trace of malware. There are a few tools out there that can help you out.
- Stop the redirect. If your infected domain is redirecting to your current site, take it off redirect right now. It’s probably affecting your SEO on your main site.
- Plead your case to the search engines. Once your parked domain is free and clear of any malware, you need to talk to the search engines. The way to do that is to submit a malware or phishing review request. You may have to put the domain in your search console or submit a report here. It can take some time but once Google makes the determination, it will clear your domain of any penalties.