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Advice on Buying Geographic Domain Names

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.

Major Privacy Violation by TrafficZ

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I haven’t used TrafficZ in a couple of years, and it was for just a brief period of time. However, today I received an email from them sent to their clients:

Dear valued TrafficZ client:
We hope this email finds you well. We have attempted to contact you previously regarding the collection of tax related documentation relating to your TrafficZ account. In order to make payments to our clients, TrafficZ is legally required to collect certain tax related documentation from all of our clients, including those based outside the United States.…”etc.

This email continued, but that isn’t the problem here. Unfortunately, the sender of the email didn’t blind carbon copy the 1,500+ email recipients. Every single email address that was on the mailing list was left for all others to see. This is a huge invasion of privacy, as one person already decided to spam the list with his crappy domain names. This is the spam email I just received from someone harvesting the list:

Dear TrafficZ User,
Sorry to inconvenience anyone but your email, like mine, was just released by TrafficZ. I apologize having to use this method but its awfully ironic that I just got handed a list of people who buy and sell domain names just as I determined I really need to sell two of my domain names in the very near future…”
If you are the least bit interested please let me know. I need to make some money ASAP to keep paying off my damn Adjustable Rate mortgage.
Sorry for any inconvenience,
Jesse Lakes

Shame on TrafficZ for not managing their email list better, and shame on this person for sending this annoying spam email.

Lowell.com Logo Update

As I continue to work on Lowell.com in anticipation of an early March launch, I would like to reveal our new logo. I wasn’t 100% thrilled with the logo that was selected before, and I was concerned about a potential trademark issue in the last logo. As you may recall, the logo I selected had an image of Boott Mill in Lowell, which is owned by the National Park Service. While it may have been okay to use the image on my logo, I was concerned about the impact of using the logo for commercial purposes. I intend to make shirts, hats, mugs and other giveaways, and I didn’t want to run into potential issues down the road.
I think this new logo is colorful and fun, and it looks nice. What do you think of the new logo? I would love to hear comments. We are not 100% ready to launch yet, so minor changes could still be made if you have any suggestions!
We are getting down to the wire, and it’s getting very exciting. I look forward to sharing the website with you when it’s ready to launch. I may need some testers to check links, grammar…etc, and if that’s the case, I may reach out. I really appreciate all the advice and guidance that has been given to me throughout the development process.

Another Hat Thrown into Yahoo Ring

According to today’s edition of the Wall Street Journal, another potential Yahoo suitor has entered into negotiations. Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation, owners of popular social networking site MySpace, has begun negotiating with Yahoo to combine these two Internet powers. The article mentions that News Corp. could receive a stake in excess of 20% of Yahoo.
In recent weeks, merger and acquisition talks involving Yahoo have included many suiters, including Microsoft (who made a $44.6 billion offer), Google, AOL, and possibly others. These talks have helped push up the value of Yahoo stock over the past couple of weeks. In my opinion, the acquisition talks are a sign of strength for the domain industry, as it shows other companies with Internet experience are bullish on Internet advertising and search. While this ultimately may not be the best for PPC income, I think it shows faith in our industry.

Dan Pulcrano's Geographic Domain Excellence

Dan Pulcrano is a geographic domain pioneer, and Ron Jackson’s DNJournal has an in-depth article about Dan and how he was one of the first print media publishers to realize the significance of the Internet and take advantage while the opportunity was there. Dan made a gamble based on his research and gut instinct, and that gamble has paid dividends.
While traditional print media outlets are struggling, Dan has amassed one of the strongest geographic domain portfolios. Geographic domain names are powerful marketing tools, and Dan owns one of the finest geographic domain portfolios, made up of 20 of the largest 30 cities in the United States, including LosAngeles.com, Philadelphia.com, SanFrancisco.com, and Dallas.com.
After you read this article, you will probably realize why I went out and purchased Lowell.com and Salinas.com for development, and why I will always consider buying a city .com domain name.

Wire: Threats to the Domain Industry

This morning’s article in Domain Name Wire is an important read for anyone who has money invested in domain names. There are many serious threats to our industry, and if we don’t take some sort of action, the threats could be detrimental to the survival of this industry. When significant money is being made in an industry, there will always be outsiders who want to get their hands on some of the money, and if we don’t get together as an industry, it will be much easier for them to do it.
On a personal note, I am a Professional Member of the Internet Commerce Association, and I encourage everyone with the financial means to join at a level that is comfortable. I’ve met Michael Collins, the Director of the ICA, and I know he is working tirelessly to help protect the industry. The sooner we band together and protect our assets, the better it will be for everyone in the industry.

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