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.