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September 12, 2012

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Latest news of the domain name industry - The Next Big Thing in Domain Monetization?: New Companies Are  Making the Dream of Affordable Mass Development a Reality

By Ron Jackson 

The roots of Site Graduate's mass development service can be traced to a book called Domain Graduate that was written by one of the company's Co-Founders, Sean Stafford. The book was designed to give newcomers to the domain business a guide for profitably growing their portfolios. 

Stafford decided to tackle one of the most vexing problems faced by domain portfolio owners - how to get multiple domains developed without paying an arm and a leg in the process. His vision was to put together an offering that would keep the development process efficient, be optimized for multiple revenue streams and built on open-source platforms. 

While talking with Stafford in the interview below we learned that while maintaining SiteGraduate's original minisite foundation the company has also expanded its range of services to include custom full scale development.

Sean Stafford

DN Journal: Give us some details about your specific program – how you attack the problem of developing multiple sites at an affordable cost?
Site Graduate: We began Site Graduate as a platform to leverage SEO best practices through custom content, link building, XML sitemaps, clean URLs and search-compliant code. Since we launched at the T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Conference in November, the service has evolved to offer more custom solutions, in addition to our optimized mini-sites. Working with domain portfolio holders, we create custom designs for the verticals they specialize in and then work with them to scale the structure across their portfolio. Since we install the custom sites on domainers' own servers, they maintain complete control over the sites, the code and the revenue streams; many site owners have even successfully sold their sites at a profit after just a few months of growth. For example see the press release.  

Screenshot from the Home Page

With our new focus on custom solutions in just the past month, we have shifted to provide quotes based on what domainers need for their particular portfolio, whether it's a custom geo-directory, a magazine site or an e-Commerce platform. 

While we still offer optimized mini-sites, we are now in a position to offer custom designs, unique content, complete domainer control of ad inventory and site development that extends beyond what any automated platform is capable of in terms of long-term potential. Our new model aims to help 

domainers create real destination sites and businesses, rather than relying solely upon CPC or affiliate revenue.

What separates Site Graduate from competing services is that we work from the mindset of web developers, rather than any extended parking model: each of our sites has 100% unique, researched content that is optimized for search and readability. Since we work on open-source platforms, we can integrate virtually any type of 3rd party widget, including local weather, relevant advertising and dynamic content which supplements our core content base.
DN Journal: The #1 question on domain owner’s minds will be, will this service make more money for me than parking the same domains? Since this is a new category, with many of the service providers having been open less than a year, there is not yet a long track record for comparing results, but based on what you currently know, how do you answer this question from your customers?

Site Graduate: Each site we build is positioned for long-term traffic growth and is flexible enough to allow multiple revenue streams, ranging from Adsense to affiliate ads to direct advertising. 

With some of the new geo-domains we are developing, site owners will be able to work directly with local businesses to offer custom  sponsorship placements and solutions that goes well beyond just selling clicks. In our mini-sites, we aim for a 12-month ROI based on our basic package, and only work with solid, keyword-rich domains that we believe are best positioned to realize this goal; our background research into the niche helps us determine which sites are well suited to meet these goals. 

From our experience, we have been able to meet or exceed this goal on keyword-rich domains (even when factoring in baseline parking revenue.) We're excited about the prospects of our new custom sites bringing in “real” revenue streams for our clients, which go far beyond what a basic site can obtain.'s Sean Stafford 
Speaking at the T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Down Under conference in Australia (November 2008).

DN Journal: Many developers say there are additional benefits, beyond immediate monetization, to moving beyond the parking page. For example, more “curb appeal” for potential buyers, less likelihood of inadvertent trademark infringement (from ads served by the PPC company), etc. What do you see as the added benefits of following at least a minimal development strategy?
Site Graduate: Domains are, at their core, brands that can be developed into real businesses. Moving beyond parking is about a lot more than just increasing CPC income: building out keyword-rich domains, on an optimized platform, creates the potential to develop real revenue-generating businesses based upon those sites. 

Having a category defining name opens doors, as many domain owners will attest to, and can help a domain owner to gain a foothold in a competitive niche. The costs of building a brand from scratch are enormous; domains provide a path of least resistance to making connections (and ultimately, a solid revenue stream) within a variety of industries, whether it is travel, consumer products or entertainment.

DN Journal: Parking is a well established industry with many major players. Your service category is the new kid on the block. How do you see the equilibrium between these two sectors (parking and mass site development) changing over the next couple of years – do they both hold their own, does the balance of power shift, etc?

Site Graduate: Parking services meet an important need in the market, and will continue to evolve over the coming years by offering more options for domain owners to monetize their traffic. Given our custom approach to site development, we believe Site Graduate has differentiated itself from feed providers in terms of what we can deliver over the long-run, but I believe that parking company models will evolve to give domain owners more control over their sites.

Click any of the links in this table to learn about the mass website development services provided by other companies featured in this DN Journal Cover Story

Bonus profile of content provider

Click Here to Go to Page 1 of This DN Journal Cover Story


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