Looking Back on Geodomain Names

I saw a thread that was rekindled on DomainState that I hadn’t looked at in a number of months. Recent comments seem to indicate that some people believe geodomain values are significantly diminished. For the purposes of this article, I am going to refer strictly to city/state/country/region .com domain names only.

Yes, I believe the value of these domain names (domains only – not websites) are down. As an active buyer and seller, I believe that just about every sector is down right now from last year and the prior year. There are a number of factors that I believe are impacting geodomain name values.

  • Most domain investors who are buying and selling regularly are making less expensive and less risky investments, and geodomain names aren’t in that category. No longer can you go out and buy a $50k geodomain name and then flip it for $75k right away.
  • Geodomain names need to be developed to make good money. I don’t know many people who make significant PPC revenue with geodomain names. I do know many people who make good money with developed geodomain names. Development takes time and costs a quite a bit.
  • Geodomain developers are fortifying and growing their internal businesses right now rather than expanding their reach. Companies are spending more on infrastructure and securing advertising accounts rather than making headway in new markets.
  • All companies are doing what they need to do to survive. It wouldn’t be prudent for a company to expand if it would jeopardize its current financial conditions.

One issue I have is that I am struggling to add advertisers in Burbank on Burbank.com, although I do have advertisers and do get a frequent check from WC Travel (hotel affiliate). I turned down an offer of over $100k for Burbank.com and would turn down the same offer again, despite the fact that it would be a profitable sale. However, if I could find a city .com of equivalent value in Massachusetts – or even New Hampshire, I would be more inclined to work something out.

It should be noted that geodomain names are still as difficult to acquire as ever. Good luck trying to buy a developed name at a “good” price from someone that has already developed it. It’s possible, but I don’t think it’s very easy.Values have decreased because of the economy, which may be contributing to lower advertising sales, but in terms of the reasons why geodomain names have value, little has changed in my opinion.

Yes, undeveloped geodomain names can be had for better prices than last year and the year before, however, geodomain names still command high prices. In case you missed it, Rio.com sold for $450,000 last week, and I know the owner is planning on building a site about Rio de Janeiro.

The bottom line is that prices are down, but I am still buying when I find something that would benefit my business (ie Newburyport.com a few months ago). As a domain investor, I am diversifying my investments, but I have not stopped making solid acquisitions and expanding my business.

Elliot Silver
Elliot Silver
About The Author: Elliot Silver is an Internet entrepreneur and publisher of DomainInvesting.com. Elliot is also the founder and President of Top Notch Domains, LLC, a company that has closed eight figures in deals. Please read the DomainInvesting.com Terms of Use page for additional information about the publisher, website comment policy, disclosures, and conflicts of interest. Reach out to Elliot: Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn


  1. Exactly right to all of the above…in this economy just treading water is great.

    During the peak of domain prices I think Perth.com sold for around 200k and in this economy rio.com sold for 450k. I think that says volumes.

    The days of good PPC are over so most great domains geo or not will need to be developed and great Geos will have a built in trust factor.

  2. @Tim

    I’ve debated RIO.com with many domainers in recent weeks. I even recommending to some not to buy this name.

    As a geo domain developer myself, I am happy and surprised to see it sell for 450K. I think development and getting an ROI on the domain will be quite a mountain to climb for the following reasons:

    1. ‘rio’ does not equal ‘rio de janeiro’ in the eyes of the SE’s. In other words rio.com is not an exact match geo domain, which is one of the reasons names like vancouver.com, melbourne.com, perth.com etc. sold for 6 figs.

    2. There are many rio’s out there including the RIO Hotel and the RIO MP3 player

    3. There will be no such thing as rio de janeiro ‘type in’ traffic for RIO.com, thousands will type rio.com into their broswer and likely less than 10% will actually be looking for something related to rio de janeiro

    4. If the domain were to ever rank for the term ‘rio hotel’ or ‘rio hotels’, most of the traffic would bounce due to lack of relevancy

    It should be very interesting to see the future of RIO.com and I wish the new owner all the best with it, I really do. I just think that it will be a tougher battle to rank and get an ROI than buying Burbank.com, for example!

    – Richard

  3. In five years Rio.com at 450K will be looked at as “one of those fantastic deals you can’t get anymore.”

    My brother and I had a great time with new Rio.com owner Keith and his friend John at the Lincoln Center party last night. We talked most of the night about Rio.com and found it absolutely astounding how some people can even question the deal. Rio.com is not only a great Geo, it’s also a great b-r-a-n-d. Put the two together and you have a license to print money. I’ll never forget my accountant’s webmaster explaining to me in 2001 why domain names weren’t that important because search engines, etc, etc would decrease their value. Good thing Frank Schilling wasn’t listening to him when he started buying in 2002.

    C’mon guys, if you can’t see the merits of an obvious deal like this you may be in the wrong business. Rio.com will easily be worth over a million in two years.

  4. In terms of Rio.com, I think it was a great purchase. It’s potential to be a cash cow in the coming years leading up to the Olympics and after, is excellent. In terms of traffic leakage and confusion, I think through solid content and SEO rio.com can rank near or at the for the key categories that it will be targeted at, regardless of the Rio Casino in Vegas or the MP3 Player.

    My thoughts on Geo city domain prices are thy probably are somewhat down it the past couple years, but I think what is more relevant than prices, is the quality and selection of Geo names available. We seem to see the same few city names available in the auctions and unless you have a particular desire for that area, they are getting stale.

    As in the domain industry in general there is no doubt that investors and developers are getting much more selective in what they purchase. The other day I took a look at the inventory of the two auctions in TRAFFIC New York and compared it too the inventory of auctions 2 and 3 years ago and there was no comparison in quality, in my opinion.

    One constant I have always believed in is that good quality names will always have solid value and crap names will always be just that.

  5. I’m just thinking here…there’s time to get rio.com ranked well and possibly make a 4 year lease deal with “rios” Olympic commitee…$100,000 a year for 4 years would be a drop in the bucket to what they will be spending on advertising.

  6. GEO domains are tough businesses. PERIOD. Especially when you are spending tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars to acquire the domain in the first place… Getting a decent ROI is going to take a LONG LONG time.

    Kevin Ham’s VANCOUVER.COM is suppose to be something big according to this recent video

    We’ll find out soon enough I guess what they have been working on all this time and what the hype is all about.

  7. Just to remind everybody – 2014 FIFA World Cup is in Brazil. This is HUGE. if you know Football (call it soccer if you wish) I am sure you understand what it means to have the world cup in Brazil.
    Anyway, Rio is going to be THE travel destination of the next decade.

  8. Rio.com is one of the nicest deals I have seen in the last times, in other words I would categorize it as THE bargain of the year!
    450k sounds much but in comparance to other geo domains, here we have a real winner, developed well it will play an amazing role, Rio can be spoken in nearly all languages and nearly all people knows what Rio is ( not only “river” in spanish hehe )
    Don´t forget that this domain ( developed as a business ) can attract a HUGE LOT OF TRAFFIC becuase of the olympic games held in that city 2016!
    Rio.com is a winner!

  9. IMO although rio.com is a fantastic domain name, unlike many city.coms it cannot be said that it is ‘THE’ domain name for the city of Rio De Janeiro, as riodejaneiro.com is also a serious contender. All else being equal rio.com would be outranked by riodejaneiro.com (or riodejaneiro.org for that matter) in the search engines for searches for ‘rio de janeiro’. However all else is never equal, and with a $450k purchase you would expect to see serious money and effort going into the development of rio.com, and it is that development combined with the relevant and highly brandable domain name, that will dictate the success of rio.com. These city.com domain names are particularly helpful in the early stages of development when the type-ins and SE ranking can kick in with minimal development, but as they are turned into a serious media business, the domain name starts to mean a bit less as the development starts to become more important. This is why newspapers often rank in a search for the city name – nothing to do with the domain name, and everything to do with familiarity and content.

  10. the olympics and world cup will be in Rio / Brazil which is great – but remember that these are short term events during which all the hotels will sell out anyway – with or without advertising. So the advertising value there doesn’t do much for me. A better option would be to sell high level corporate sponsorships to companies who don’t sponsor the olympics but want to be associated with them. Target did this in Italy 4 years ago for example, sponsoring all sorts of local stuff to make it seem like they were a sponsor but weren’t.

    But still, it is a huge project – especially given the distance and language barrier.

  11. Rio.com being short, being olympics going to be there, and very brandable is a great name at a great price. As for development, nothing is easy, and only a small % ever succeed no matter how good the name is.

    Thanks, Jim

  12. I had to quickly browse the comments for the safety of myself, fellow drivers, and pedestrians as Im driving. I know talking on the phone and texting will get you fined but haven’t heard anything about driving and blogging.

    Geodomains value has great value to those that envision possibilities, but to those with no vision its only worth what you’ve already done with it, traffic, revenue,..

    ps. Its a huge almost insurmountable task making a city domain where you’d like it to be, in terms of content and user satisfaction, Id suggest following the bandwagon and utilize user generated content, parks, attractions, etc..Excluding reviews of businesses, What a stupid biz decision marchex had with that, I wouldn’t want to advertise or promote a site that has bad reviews on my business,..

    Important : most major Burbank keywork domains where locality is very important are already registered, such as burbank + jobs , but heres a couple for you to maybe focus on, a smaller task at the same time building something supplemental to you main site.

    Open for regular registration:
    BurbankVehicles.com open to reg. ck singular


  13. oops forgot to add , a user said in a comment above about leasing it to the olympic comittee or something like that.

    look what cricket.com did with the cricket association people in their sponsorship deal, Didn’t know cricket was that popular.

  14. “Rio.com and found it absolutely astounding how some people can even question the deal”

    Give Brazil.com sold for 500k I think alot of people would question paying 450k for rio.com. It probably is around market value though hardly a bargain.

  15. Forgive me if I digress.

    What I would like to add is that what I always enjoy and respect about Elliot is the from the heart and truthfulness of his writings. Unlike so many, Elliot seems to have no hidden agenda. He shares with others exactly what he experiences and what he feels. You can see this trait in all great writers and artists in every field. I don’t care if it is Hemingway, the Beatles, or anyone who writes. It is so refreshing, and so motivating.

    Respect to you Elliot.

  16. Mark,

    Your post about Elliot is right on. He is very honest, no hidden agenda, and is very secure about sharing both his success and failures. I really admire Elliot for this because it’s rare to “show your cards”.

    Thanks, Jim

  17. I agree with all the positive comments regarding Rio.com…congratulations….I predict it will be a great success once developed. As I’ve said many times, once a geodomain is developed and monetized, it is now a business model with much different dynamics of worth…and obviously not dependant upon the highs and lows of domain pricing. Challenges? Sure…I’m not so much concerned about the name Rio.com versus the entire RioDeJanero…but I believe the biggest challenge will be providing proper and relevant content from afar…always easier when you reside in the specific town, but this also can be overcome. We are presently developing Palermo.com, and we are building the directory one business at a time because of language/lack of availability problems….so it is much more work, but necessary…..Best of Luck and any help we can provide we will be glad to!!!!! Fred.

  18. David Castello says it all about Rio.com – great brand, great geodomain. In the years leading up to the 2016 Olympic games the $450k that was put down for this name will become many times more profitable… a strong brand with unlimited revenue potential (advertising, travel bookings – air, hotel, car rental, dining – sponsorships, you name it) Great buy with vision.

    – Sergio

  19. Was Rion.Com a pivate transaction or was it listed at Sedo?

    If it was listed at Sedo, to all those above who have claimed that Rio.Com was a bargain at 450k, why were none of you bidding it up to say at least 500k?

    I am not siding either way, just curious as to the lack of follo through for those who can afford to splash out that type of money.

    Finally, if the owner of Rio.Com wants to buy EsportesTv.Com, (sports tv in Portugese), I believe that it would be a great addition since he is obviously gonna be concentrating on Brazil, whose national sport is soccer!!


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