Put Your Parked Domain into Drive!
As a professional web developer, I've heard the term "Parked Domain" thrown around the web-world and around businesses now and then, but once I started developing website and applications, I never really had a good definition what the term "Parked" related to in terms of web development. Through a little research and testing out a few things, it turns out that I had actually been referring to an incorrect definition all this time. When I realized this, I thought it may be beneficial to let others know what "Parked" actually means with domains.
First off, let's cover a basic term: a "Domain" (also called a URL) is the
http://www thing you put in the big white box at the top of your browser (called an "Address Bar"). The Domain is human-language for the machines and tells the Internet which website you want to visit (such as google.com, msnbc.com, ncsu.edu, and even shadowdev.com). This is easier for humans to memorize and type in instead of the a series of machine numbers and web server locations (also called an "IP Address").
Having a "Parked Domain" means that the domain has been purchased, but it doesn't go anywhere. The domain servers haven't been told where to look for the website's living location (aka: hosting). It's like paying for a car, but not having a driver; the car is yours, but all it does it sit in the dealer's parking lot.
Most web companies purchase domains for clients (or the client purchases the domain themselves) and a "Parking Page" is put up to say "Hi! There's supposed to be a website here, but it doesn't exist." This is good and bad for various reasons:
Good: since domains are a dime a dozen (not literally) today, many of the good quality domains are snatched up before useful services, companies, and organizations can use them. If the domain you want is available, find the closest domain purchasing company and PURCHASE IT or it may be snatched up by someone else. This way, you own it for as long as you pay for it, and nobody else can have it (unless you let it go).
Bad: Most web companies (and most do-it-yourself clients) go with the domain purchasing company's default parking page (for example: GoDaddy's parking page saying "Welcome to [site]. This web page is parked for Free, courtesy of GoDaddy.com"), which Search Engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing will see when they visit the site. Since all they will see is a "Parking Page," this will drastically lower a websites PageRank (the rating a site gets when it is archived by the search engine relating to where the site will appear in related searches). The longer a domain is "Parked," the longer it will take to get an adequate PageRank score. It's like having a bunch of 0's for grades, then one 100 much later. The average GPA of the score will be extremely low - same with PageRank....and everybody's goal is to be on Page #1 of a Search Result, right?
In addition, a lot of scammers buy available domains then auction them off or (as we say) "hold them for ransom" - this is known better as parked domain monetization. This means that the person/company who bought the available domain may sell it for anywhere between $250 and $10k+ to the person/company that wants it (instead of the $5-15 usual rate). Personally, this is a huge scam and should be illegal, but somehow the domain name registrars and Internet advertising publishers get away with it.
How do we solve this? One of the best practices that our company, Shadow Development, has is we put up a temporary Parking Page for new clients and services with the client/service name, logo, and our company logo, but we also tell the Domain Name Servers (DNS) where to find the site for later. This way, when Search Engines find the site, the PageRank will start in the middle to high range. We usually get sites and services in a Beta form within a few weeks, so the Parking Page is only shown for a short time. Afterwards, the site is live and Search Engines (and customers) can browse the site and grab the information they are looking for.
If the service won't be ready for a while (say, 3 months or so), we put up either a Meta Redirect or a PHP Redirect (aka: HTTP Status Code 302: "The requested resource resides temporarily under a different URI" (w3.org)) on the Parking Page to redirect the Search Engine and customer to a functioning website until it's ready - usually our company site. This tells the Search Engines "HEY! There will be a functioning website here soon, but for now, see our other website for more information" instead of "Hi. I'm here. Not much here. Not sure there will be."
Overall, having a "Parked Domain" can be good and bad at the same time, but if your company/organization wants a specific domain before the site/service is ready, make sure to give it a 302 Redirect or relevant information (name, logo, contact info, etc) so it won't be buried among the zillions of other websites in the Search Engine databases when it's ready. Just don't go with the domain registration company's default "Parking Page" - Search Engines and customers won't come back.
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