Geographic Domain Names

GeoDomain Expo Announced

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The date and location of the 2008 GeoDomain Expo has been finalized and announced. For those of you who are in the GeoDomain space (or are looking to get into it), this is a fantastic opportunity to network with, and learn from the best of the best. The event is co-sponsored by The Kelsey Group and Associated Cities.
The event details are as follows:
When: July 10th – 12th, 2008
Where: W Chicago – City Center
Sponsors: The Kelsey Group & Associated Cities
Tickets: Purchase at AssociatedCities.com (Early Bird Special is only $595 until May 31st)
A sponsorship by the Kelsey Group shows just how important GeoDomains are to so many different companies. From what I’ve been told, the conference will be geared towards GeoDomains of all TLDs.
I am going to be there, and I look forward to meeting other people in the Geodomain space. Let me know if you can make it as well.
***This is an unconfirmed rumor, but I’ve heard through the grapevine that there might be a comeback performance from the 1980’s hit rock band, Michael Seven during the GeoDomain Expo. Stay tuned for more details…

Why I Like GeoDomains

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Based on my recent acquisition of Burbank.com, mini-development of Salinas.com, and recent launch of Lowell.com, you can probably guess that I like geographic domain names. I do have several other non-geographic domain names, so I am not just a geodomain buyer/developer, but I happen to really like these names. There are a number of reasons for this, and if I haven’t stated my reasoning before, I am happy to do so here:
1) People are always looking for information about large cities or tourist hotspots. Judging by the type-in traffic my geographic domain names receive, I can say for certain that people look for city information simply by typing the city .com domain name into their url browsers. Whether they are looking to move to the city, looking to visit the city or looking for information, the goal of my development projects is to offer all of this and make it easy for them to make travel plans for find a place to move. I am sure good PPC could be made, but that limits the growth of the domain name. While developed geodomains may take some time to develop and generate revenue, the upside is much greater than with PPC.
2) There are no products that I need to sell with a geographic domain name. Geodomains are almost always informational, so there is no inventory, fulfillment, or customer service to worry about. Sure there is client management, but I will get to that in a minute. Geodomains can be a great source of information, and if it is presented in an easy to read format, visitors should return.
3) To generate the maximum amount of revenue, relationships need to be established with local businesses. Unlike other types of product/service related websites where potential clients are located around the country (or world), all of the businesses I will be reaching out to are located in the same general vicinity. I can and will meet with local business owners and managers, explain why they need to advertise in the local directory, show them that their neighbors are advertising and try to convince them to advertise as well. Maybe it sounds easier said than done, but if the pricing is competitive and the businesses receive a return on their advertising dollar, the advertising will sell.
4.) Once a geodomain business model is successful, the model can be replicated in other city .com domain names fairly easily.
5.) Travel, Job, Ticket and other similar affiliate sites were practically made for geodomains. Most will actually help you create a white label solution so the affiliate site is fully integrated into your geodomain. While jobs.lowell.com might not look exactly like Lowell.com, it is pretty close.
6.) There are always people who are fully committed to their city. If the domain name is beneficial to the city, others will be very willing to help. With Lowell.com, I worked with a top photographer who not only provided images, he also gave me some great advice about things that should be included in the website. He is also going to introduce me to some of the city decision makers so I can introduce myself and let them know I want to help the city.
I don’t think geodomains are any easier to develop than any other type of domain name. I do recommend that the owner have a tie to the city he wants to develop and that the city is large enough that it can be fully developed. With smaller, non-tourist towns, it can be more difficult to get enough advertisers to generate revenue. One of the most important things to remember is that the website should not only reflect the personal tastes of the owner, but it should also be reflective of the city.
For now, I have enough geodomain names in my portfolio to keep me very busy with development.

Top Notch Domains, LLC Acquires Burbank.com

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Top Notch Domains, LLC, a New Hampshire based domain investment and development company has acquired Burbank.com for an undisclosed sum. Burbank is one of the fastest growing cities in the state of California, with a population of over 100,000 residents. Previously, Burbank.com was used as a private Burbank news website.
The city of Burbank is known as “the media capital of the world,” as many of the largest media companies have headquarters or significant production facilities in the city, including Disney, Warner Brothers, and NBC. Burbank is located approximately ten miles from from Los Angeles, and it is home to one of the fastest growing airports in the US. It has beautiful homes, is a center for business and has a strong economy.
“We just launched our first geodomain website, Lowell.com, and I am looking forward to the development of Burbank.com,” said Elliot Silver, President of Top Notch Domains, LLC. “I am excited to fly out to Burbank on Jet Blue – non-stop from JFK, to begin researching this great city.” The company anticipates that a mini-site will be developed in the coming month, and Burbank.com will be fully developed by the end of Q3 2008.
Top Notch Domains, LLC also owns Salinas.com, which is currently being built into a guide of Salinas, California, a city of around 150,000 residents in California’s wine country. The company recently put the name for sale, but is reevaluating their position.

Jessica Bookstaff Elected Chairman of Associated Cities

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Congratulations to my friend Jessica Bookstaff, who was recently elected Chairman of Associated Cities, the premier organization that represents over 100 city .com domain names. Jess spent time on the Associated Cities Board of Directors, and she follows in the footsteps of former chairman Dan Pulcrano, founder of Boulevards, whose company owns one of the finest geographic domain portfolios assembled.
Jess has a history of leading successful geographic domain businesses. Two of her main websites, PigeonForge.com and Durango.com, have tremendous records of growth. In fact, since acquiring PigeonForge.com in 2000, the site has grown an astounding 1,400%. Jess has always graciously given advice to fellow geo domain owners, and she is one of the brightest individuals in the industry.
I wish Jess luck as she takes on this well-deserved position.

Australian Beach Domain Name For Sale

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I am looking to sell a geographic .com domain name for the Australian beach resort town, Trinity Beach. The domain name I am selling is TrinityBeach.com.
Domain Name is now Sold.

Advice on Buying Geographic Domain Names

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As the prices of geographic .com domain names continue to rise, I would like to give some advice to people who are contemplating a geographic domain name purchase. This advice is based on my personal experience, and it should be noted that I do not have any great success stories as of yet, although I am hoping that Lowell.com and Salinas.com will both be developed successfully.
When I am looking to acquire a city .com domain name, I think about the following qualitative and quantitative factors to determine an offer range and value:

  • Population of city
  • Number of businesses in city
  • Is it a popular tourist destination
  • Name recognition of the city
  • Number of hotels in the city

All of these factors are important in determining the value of a geographic domain name. I believe it will be easier to build and monetize a local city .com name than it would be for a regional name (like a county). The number of businesses is probably the most significant thing I look at because business advertising is what will drive revenue. If one city has 5,000 businesses and another has 500, I would almost automatically pay much more for the city with more businesses, as you would conceivably need 10% of the businesses to pay for their listings in the large city if 100% of the businesses advertised in the smaller city.
A city with considerable tourism is also something of interest, as tourism is a huge revenue generator. People want to research their vacation spot prior to arrival, and they frequently look online. Many will type in the city name with a .com and others will find the name through strong search engine optimization. Having the city .com name is very helpful with SEO. Businesses understand some of this, and they want to advertise where the tourists will be looking. Johnny’s Beachside Bar wants visitors to look forward to drinking mango margaritas on his waterfront deck, so he is happy to pay for ad placement if tourists will remember to visit his place rather than the place down the block that doesn’t advertise. This creates brand recognition for his restaurant.
I also search for the number of hotels in a city before making an offer. The more hotels, the better, as you can work with an affiliate site for better revenue sharing deals. Larger cities with more hotels are great because the affiliate sites will frequently advertise special deals specifically for your website – helping to promote stickiness and branding. I love seeing “Get a great Lowell.com rate when you book your reservation now.”
Because geographic domain names are in high demand now, the minute one comes up for sale, there are usually buyers for it, assuming the price is reasonable. If you are a tight situation and an answer is needed immediately, go with your gut. Run the numbers in your head, and if they work, take the name. If you don’t have a good feeling, do a bit of research and come back to it. There are many good (or better) geographic names out there, but remember much of the value is in development.

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