Let Me Ask Again….Are Minisites Dead? Is PPC in Peril?

Morning Folks!!

Timing is everything. I wrote the following post Sunday before the aeiou.com announcement. It relates to another recent post when I
DARED to ask the question, “
Are minisites Dead?” This post goes on to talk way more than minisites. Fasten your seat belts. I should be pissing off many on this one.

Now remember, I wrote this a few hours before the announcement that I knew nothing of.

Mini Site companies all the rage?? Then Where are They?

If mini sites are so hot and the alternative to straight PPC
you would think they would want to have some exposure at TRAFFIC. The only one
there on display will be Rick Latona’s AEIOU.COM. But where is the competition?
Where is the choice? Where is you guys???

Just a little aha moment for me. The first thing I would ask
is why not go to the show in which PPC rules and your target is taking business
from them? So what say you guys? Why are domainers going to New York, looking
to develop, and the guys that can help them do that are sitting on the
sidelines?? Sorry, but I just don’t get it.

I know if there were 5 guys selling mini sites and
developing larger projects that I would sit and talk with each one and see how
they could help me. So I am surprised that this marketing opportunity is being
lost and I think domainers will start looking beyond mini sites as a result.

(That was the post I wrote on Sunday and was going to post yesterday but had other fish to fry. Now a bit more)

So with the closing of aeiou.com I will ask again.........

Are Minisites dead? I think first you have to ask if they
were actually ever alive? Did they ever work? I think it can be a starting
point. Bit really not much more. The results many times pointed to are category
killer domains that would have success if you put a naked clown and an “Enter

I think we know the fate of the mini site. My suggestion
would be this. Change the focus to mini BUSINESSES. A business has to be
started on a profitable foundation and idea. It does not have to be
complicated, complex, heavy. It needs a game plan and THEN build a site around
the game plan. We have sites looking for businesses. It is ass backwards. You
can’t do zillions of them. You just got to start going down the list and
isolate your empire. One business at a time based on your category of traffic assuming you have traffic. Some may take 5 minutes to create.
Some 5 days. Some 5 weeks. And if you hit something, 5 years.

How do you know the difference between a 'Mini site' and a 'Mini Business'.....easy, something I learned from Shaun Pilfold. It has a CASH REGISTER! You collect money. Maybe in a mini business you can use the cash register of a partner. But traffic needs to be talked to, sold to and then led to a cash register not a link to somebody else unless they are paying you more than you can make yourself.

And lastly just a note about traffic. Some say they don't have any. I would tell them one thing, stop buying crappy domains and you would have traffic. No traffic? Why are you even looking at these domains in this economy if you have no traffic unless you are at the stage it does not matter and then this part of the post would not apply to you anyway as you already know? You will never have traffic with a plan like that. Get rid of the liabilities. Get rid of them. Don't even worry about selling them. Get rid of them all in bulk and buy one gem. 10 gems. Crap is crap forever and a day past that. It is nothing more than styrofoam in a garbage dump. Not to insult anyone but let me give you a visual of the guy with really crappy domains. Imagine that vagabond in your town with the supermarket cart full of his worldly possessions. It's all junk, but it is all he has. So I feel bad for him, I feel bad for folks if they are in this category. The ONLY thing I can offer those souls is a roadmap to where they would like to go. But they can't climb the mountain if they refuse to abandon the supermarket cart.

PPC companies should not be too gleeful. Just ONE NEW ALTERNATIVE and the next title could be 'Is PPC Dead?' I could see the entire sector being wiped out like a house of cards. Don't get upset with me guys. We love you. But you too see your vulnerability. You too see the dangers and perils that a new solution could bring to an already weak and suffering sector. Of course the guys sending you the traffic are suffering more. They don't have the ability of adjusting the bottom line if the bills are a bit heavy that month. But if I were you and domainers didn't care, then I would do the same. So I see both sides. But there is a tipping point. If that tips the wrong way, game over. Record profits from Google on the top and record lows for payouts at the bottom. Must just be coincidence!

Hey, these are tough times. Tough times deserve tough talk. The face of this industry is changing. No balls, no glory.

Have a GREAT Day!
Rick Schwartz

CORRECTION: WhyPark.com will be exhibiting at TRAFFIC. I guess they win just for showing up.

28 thoughts on “Let Me Ask Again….Are Minisites Dead? Is PPC in Peril?

  1. Robbie

    Minisites are good for names that have no traffic that you want to grow but if you already have traffic you need to either park it or fully develop it.
    My success in minisites has been names I own that dont have natural type-in traffic but once content was added do ok in adsense.
    If I owned a killer name with 100+ UV or 10000+ UV I would park it or develop it properly.
    What I dont get is how people thought that spending $99 – $500 was going to make super rich.
    I developed my own sites and spent nothing, If I was going to spend $1000 or $10000 on minisites, I would rather own a killer name with type-in traffic.
    Only my thoughts – So in short they arent dead but they certainly arent the replacement for ppc.

  2. Paul Bliss

    I think the main reason”Mini Sites” are dead is simply because alot of people thought you could slap together a few pages, put some content borrowed from an article directory, and then sit back and watch the profits.
    I’m sure for some domains, it’s that simple. But for some other industries, you have to market to the visitor. Just because you own a killer domain doesn’t mean people will be convinced to buy, you still need to send them through a decision and purchase funnel to get them to respond.
    Of course, I’ll throw in the seo element of getting visitors from relevant and related sites so that you’ve already”pre-sold” what your site can deliver.
    A great domain is not enough for most of us. Take some time to build up a real site, and you’ll see the payback.

  3. michael todaro

    what are minisites? a bunch of keyword related pointless drivel to get a few search engines clicks for a site that nobody would ever want to go back to anyway. i don’t think this is the path to riches but i could be wrong… i have been before.

  4. owen frager

    The main reason minisites fail is that their goal is to lure advertisers away from Google results to monetize Google results to Google’s peril. So they ban you.
    My business has always been about building real businesses. Now domainers are ready for that. Maybe they will understand what I’ve been preaching since 1999. If so, I’m here to help. Catch me at Traffic where destinies can, have and will change.

  5. owen frager

    Maybe my previous comment didn’t post. Try again:
    The reason minisites fail is because their goal is to divert prospects off Google results only to sell the leads back to Google for less. So you get banned.
    My business has always been about building real businesses. Now domainers are ready for that. Perhaps after thinking I was a crazy lun all these years, my roadmap will start to make sense.
    If so, I can help. Catch me at Traffic where destinies can, have and will change.

  6. Michael

    This all or nothing outlook is off the mark. Mini sites are just another tool in a domainer’s arsenal to make money, just like parking and full-scale business development.
    For some domains, you’ll make more money on parking. This is true for premium domains that get tons of natural type-in traffic. For some domains, you’ll make more money with a mini site. For some, you’re better off with a real business.
    But no one solution is right for every domain, and suggesting that is true couldn’t be more wrong.

  7. Michael

    You can’t park every domain, some don’t get enough type-in traffic, and you NEED to get traffic from search engines.
    You can’t build a mini site on every domain. It would get expensive, and some domains don’t have enough search volume so ranking well won’t help. Some don’t have good CPC or affiliate programs, so even if you get more traffic you can’t monetize it effectively.
    You DEFINITELY can’t build a full-scale business on every domain. To build a business, you need to be an expert in that field, or partner with someone who is. If you own 1,000 domains it just can’t be done. Some domains also aren’t a good fit for a business. As Rick said, you can’t force a business around a domain, you need to come up with the business and then find a good domain for it.
    Don’t have an all or nothing attitude. Figure out what strategy is best for each domain… one solution doesn’t fit all.
    If you try to park a domain and it doesn’t do well because it doesn’t get traffic, does that mean parking is dead? No, there are plenty of domains making a killing on parking. Same goes for mini sites.

  8. M

    To Rick and all commentators here, The basic premise of this post is sound and makes absolute sense. However, what differentiates a mini site from a mini business as Rick posits above. It is cash as Rick says, but how much cash?. Can anyone here put a dollar figure that this”cash register” should collect in order for your site to be considered a business.
    Keep in mind that my question is from the perspective of a typical domainer who owns, lets say 150 domains, that are not all gems but not crap either. You can not afford to create 150 Facebook type quality websites on these domains, but you can spend several hundred dollars to put a basic website – lets call it that just”a website”. Is a site that makes $100 a month a mini business in your book Rick. Is it $500 a month, $5,000. Put another way, is it recouping your development costs in 3 months,12 months etc..
    I think putting a dollar figure makes sense for a lot of people to understand your concept.
    Would love to hear your thoughts Rick.

  9. Kevin

    The bottom line here is there are many solutions out there and you have to find the one(s) that work best for the type of domains you have. What works for your domains may not work for another domainers.
    To say small sites make no money is ridiculous and stupid. I have lots of small sites that started with no traffic and no revenues and now make money every month. Sure, it’s not a fortune but they are profitable and it all starts to add up when you have a nice network built and you only paid reg fee for the domain. I have medium sized sites as well and also enterprise sites.
    And it’s not about content or beauty. It’s about providing a user experience or providing what a user is trying to find or a form of entertainment or precise information. I have many 1 page sites that serve a very specific audience that rank well, get traffic and generate leads or ad sales. I don’t look at them as mini sites. They just happen to have one particular purpose that doesn’t require lots of content and they don’t have to look fancy dancy either.
    AEIOU.com built really sharp looking sites, but beauty doesn’t mean anything on the Internet. It’s a big fallacy that many people get sucked into thinking the cooler a site looks the more money you’ll make. Almost always the opposite is true. Look at the biggest sites on the Internet like Facebook, Twitter and Google for example. Would you call those cool looking designs? Not at all they are”serve a purpose” sites where design doesn’t matter in the equation. Often a fancy design detracts from a small sites ability to make money.
    Over the past 2 years I’ve tested every variable imaginable in small site development and have come to the conclusion it’s all about simplicity in design and navigation, providing a purpose for the site, providing a solid user experience, deploying multiple monetization systems deployed, and selling ads directly to advertisers. I’ve done things that I thought would work that didn’t and things I thought wouldn’t work do really well. So you have to test, test, and test until you’ve tried every way possible and then analyze everything, discard what didn’t work and keep doing and improve on what does work.
    The reason why I don’t think you’ll see many developers showcasing at tradeshows is because to do it right you can’t mass produce things like you do with a PPC parking system. Everything has to be done customized and uniquely for each domain. And that means you have to be a master at innovation. So I doubt anyone is going to want to tell the world all their innovative development secrets that are working well, because you’ll just see others then trying to duplicate and copy you and who wants that? I surely don’t. It’s competitive enough right now. In fact often you have to deploy disinformation campaigns to send the competition in the wrong direction.
    So all this nonsense saying small sites or mini sites or however you want to label them can’t make money or are dead is a load of baloney. You just have to learn how to do them in a way that is cost effective and viable. And more importantly you have to know and master the monetization secrets and there are some amazing ones out there.
    Developing is not for everyone. Maybe not for the majority of people in this business. It takes a lot of skillsets, a lot of knowledge, a lot of creative ability, a lot of technical knowhow, a lot of logistical abilities, management skills, and more than anything a ton of patience, which few domainers seem to have.
    Everyone seems to want a solution where they push a button sit back and the money pops out like an ATM all day long. That’s not the domain world we’re in now. Those days may still be here for a fortunate few who have the creme de la creme of domains that make a fortune no matter how you do them, but only a small percentage of the people in this industry are in that lucky club.
    If anyone needs advise or help with development solutions, feel free to contact me.

  10. UFO

    Mini sites are dead because simply they are in no mans land.
    Why should 10 mini sites with 5 pages be any more profitable than 1 site with 50 pages?
    Even if you have 10 domains, why not park 9 and develop 1 with a 50 page website.
    That’s the issue.
    Besides, all these developers have all the talk but they are not doing the walk themselves. Fact is it only costs them $8 to register a domain and they could be rolling out their own programme.. and when you ask them to show and tell with stats.. Nada.. They know nothing.

  11. Kevin

    Also, the reason why AEIOU left the small site market is because there isn’t any profit to speak of for the developer when you’re building sites for a few hundred dollars each after you factor in the costs for design, coding, management, and customer service staff, business overhead, dealing with clients back and forth going forward, doing updates, and every other expense involved.

  12. Alexander

    Niche minisites have been used successfully by web marketers – to sell products with sales copy. Mostly digital products.
    The current minisite model has potential, however, more work is required before it can be monetized well.
    Rick has other better/more profitable businesses and projects … shutting down AEIOU doesn’t mean it’s a ‘failure’.
    Keep striving to come up with solutions, everyone!
    Best of success,

  13. Keral Patel

    Minisites is just a huge waste of time as it is often seen hand in hand with loads of domains being developed by one portfolio holder. So for him it is costly. I would rather go for a full fledged development for selected domains and let other rot in parking but minisites is just a waste of time as well as money.
    Sorry if my comments are offensive to those who love to see minisites dreams.

  14. Danny Pryor

    Here is the issue with mini sites – and as someone who actually builds websites, I know this well – constructing any website, even a small one, designed from a template, requires time to produce. Rick and I once had a debate (which was silly because he won) about developing sites versus parking or other options … he stated that it was worthwhile to develop ONLY if you were planning to build an online business. If you’re not planning to do that, mini-site development is going to leave you feeling a bit deflated … sort of like congressional promises following an election year … they fall flat.
    Larger sites require more time to build, and more careful planning in terms of their technical layout, but the long-term ROI is greatly enhanced, particularly if you’re working from less than a”candy.com” or”property.com” type of name … those good names are long-gone.
    The next thing to consider, if you’re going to build a mini site, is whether the site fits into a niche online, and whether the niche can be developed into something larger later on. Buying and flipping does not work most of the time, so when you jump in with a name acquisition these days, chances are you’re thinking about holding the name for at least a couple of years. If you don’t consider ALL of the options, including the development, you could be making a mistake.
    However, development would be something I would only recommend in those situations when you plan to keep your domains for several years and watch an online business grow … I build mini sites, but my bread-and-butter comes from large projects.
    Mini sites aren’t in ruin … they never really had tremendous exposure. They are the building blocks of the larger development projects that ultimately bring long-term revenues for those wishing to build online empire.

  15. Chip

    What Rick is saying is that your site needs a purpose for the visitor. Minisite development is focused on 1) providing keyword rich content to 2) attract search traffic to 3)expose that traffic to search ads to 4) make money on any ad clicks. The visitor is not a driving factor in this formula and that is it’s weakness.
    Keywords are a key factor used by search engines to evaluate a site, that is what the minisite formula is based on. The problem is that what the search engines aren’t looking to provide”Keyword Rich” content to their users, they just don’t have a better way to evaluate the content and seach request automatically. What they really want is for a site to serve the need of the searcher. If they want to buy a pen, they want to provide a site whose purpose is to sell pens. Not”The history of pens” or”how to hold a pen” with pen ads on it. Google’s success is built on providing the most relevant results to searches, not providing the best ad choices. If your site is a farce built around ads, of course they will reject your site.
    If your site is built with a purpose, even if it is one page, or two, or 20…Not only with Google like it and rank it well for people looking to fulfil that purpose, the visitors will reward you by using the site for its purpose as well–and that is where the money is.
    P.S. Remember that your site needs to fulfill a need. Your”purpose” could be to generate ad revenue via a specific subject but if noone needs that, it will not work. Cheers. Chip-FreshAvails.com

  16. Steve Cheatham

    I never liked PPC and have put little to no effort into in.
    I have always developed mini-businesses that are useful to the direct nav visitor.
    Of course to do so we had to be top notch programmers and developers from day one in 1997.
    Watch your stats, try new things and you will soon be on your way. But you do need a lot more than a template site.

  17. williamH

    Good morning Rick and Folks, we are in california, Any site making money is a good site. I know of thousands of great names in cash parking making pennies on the dollar, the cash parking companies make the hit revenues and u make the leftovers, We test bad domains and good domains and they all have life and You the domain owner control and keep”All” your revenues. May I, go to williamblairpinc and view our test sites. Profitable urls we are here to share our success story with you, and advise domainers how to be more successful, any questions feel to contact us say WilliamH

  18. Dave Wrixon aka Rubber Duck

    The problem with Minisites is they are not only Spamming but they are effectively Scamming the Search Engines. Google does not need its search results clogged with a bunch of freeloaders that ultimately degrade its brand and send surfers to the competition. Minisites rely on SEO. Much of this SEO is boardering on black-hat. It is not really taking people to information they want so people hate. The other problem is because the most common form of monitization is Adsense, Google are actually paying these people to screw up their business. You can see why they might not be happy. It also affects the returns on PPE because if Google are paying a fortune for junk traffic then that reduces the pool available for quality traffic. Indeed what effectively happens is everyone gets paid at junk rates. So Minisites are a cancer as far as domainers (those people with domains that get traffic) are concerned. They are a cancer full stop. They display content without content on domains without traffic. But thankfully a solution of sorts is at hand. Gradually Google is beating them in the SEO wars. Google is slowly but steadily eliminating junk results from its search. This should mean there is more money available to PPC. It is just a question of who is getting their greasy mits on it.

  19. rjb

    I still think a mini-site with original or useful content is better than parking a domain. It offers the visitor information they might be looking for, and gets the page listed in search engines. You can monetize these sites with affiliate programs, it doesn’t have to have adsense type ads. And it probably makes the domain look better to a potential buyer.
    I build my own mini-sites from scratch, I’ve seen the autogenerated ones and they are ugly, with nonsense content and keywords and I wouldn’t promote going that route.
    I also agree that full development of a domain into a business is a great route to take, so far I haven’t had the time or resources. I just wanted to add here that minsites can be one option in the scheme of things.

  20. Stephen Douglas

    I really like what Danny Pryor said in his comment… that many people”start” minisites, or limited developed sites, in preparation or anticipation of building out larger sites that establish a solid presence on the net. So how can you”rate” an unfinished project?


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