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Your Non-performing Domain Could Be Blocked By the Upstream Feed Provider

February 11, 2012

Feed providers may block a domain at any time and the parking provider has no way to know

Feed provider got you down?

Feed provider got you down?

This may not be news for some of you, but I just learned about it.  About five months ago I picked up an expiring domain with traffic in a very high paying vertical.  Since then I’ve been frustrated to find that despite getting hundreds of unique visitors per month, the domain has yet to receive a single click, nor earn a single dollar.

I’ve tested the domain around with several parking providers, first at SmartName, then subsequently at Rook Media, DomainSponsor, and Above.com, without a shred of success. I finally circled back around to SmartName, as I know for a fact that a friend of mine is making some decent money there on domains in the same vertical, due to the sizable average Cost Per Click (CPC).

This time I figured I would spend some time optimizing the domain, but found that I was having trouble optimizing for specific keywords.  I came to the (apparently premature) conclusion that this was somehow due to my own bumbling.  So in a final hail Mary to try extract some revenue out of this domain I emailed SmartName support to ask if they would please do me the favor of optimizing the landing page for me.  They were kind enough to oblige.

After about a week I revisited the domain to check up on things, when I noticed that again the landing page was failing to display any exact match terms containing or even related to the keyword for this vertical industry.  I shot another quick email over to support to inquire on why if they had optimized the domain was it still not displaying the appropriately targeted keywords.  Here was the reply I received, (with my emphasis in bold)

I have looked into the domain and noticed a reason that would explain the different changes in keywords, etc. The main reason for these fluctuations is because domain has been blocked by our feed providers. Unfortunately, when a domain is blocked, this is something that is controlled by our feed providers and can happen at any time without our knowledge. Statuses of domains are always changing. The reason why names get blocked can be for many different reasons, such as trademark, traffic of the domain is low quality, adult themes, etc.  You will be able to tell when a domain is blocked if any keywords you enter do not update.

Once a domain is blocked we are unable to appeal the status and unfortunately cannot monetize the domain name with our traditional parking platform.

We can however work to optimize it on our additional SEO friendly platforms, Instant Shops and Full Content which have alternate primary feeds.

I’m glad I asked questions or I would still be in the dark, wondering how on earth a domain could continue to have a 0% CTR in the face of a steady volume of traffic.

As an aside, I don’t believe the traffic to this domain is bot traffic.   I would cite stats from Above.com to back this up, since I’ve had other expired domains there that were getting inflated/bot traffic, and Above.com stats show the difference between total traffic vs the traffic they ‘count’ as legitimate.  For my domain in question this discrepancy was minor.

Still, there’s no telling what the upstream feed providers choose to count or discount as ‘good’ or ‘bad’, or why this particular domain was blocked.  It’s a block box.

Some additional questions which I have not asked remain unanswered.  One important question is this: If the domain cannot be monetized, yet some stock keywords/ads continue to appear on the page, if/when visitors click on those ads, does the advertiser still collect this traffic, and are they still paying anything to the feed provider for it?  

If you have ever had any similar experience or have more knowledge on this please drop a comment below..

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