The Lowell Project – Planning the Website

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Although the Lowell.com development project is beyond the stage of preliminary planning, I wanted to take a step back and give an overview of the project plan and outline.
In order to become useful to Lowell, Massachusetts residents and visitors, Lowell.com must provide a valuable service to encourage visitors to return to the site. To give our advertisers a reason to advertise, we will need to increase our traffic naturally via search engine optimization, so people who don’t know about our website will easily find us. We currently rank low in the search engines, although this is better than when we weren’t listed at all just a few weeks ago. Lowell.com receives anywhere from 50-125 visitors per day, with most of the traffic coming via direct navigation, so we are in a good position at this stage.
Lowell.com will have detailed information about the city’s attractions. From museums and parks to neighborhoods and sports teams, Lowell.com will have unique information about all of Lowell’s attractions. Instead of lifting content from various websites, we have writers researching and writing specifically for this website. This is very important to our organic growth, and we plan to continue to build, adding more content and information. As we grow, we expect to earn higher rankings in the search engines, and we will hopefully be at the top of the list for searches such as “Lowell restaurants,” “Lowell hotels,” “Lowell lawyers“… etc, as well as many other niches.
Lowell.com will also have a large directory for people who need to find businesses in the Lowell area. We will provide free listings for almost every type of business in the city. The listings will be in an easy to use format, so our visitors will find what they need, and hopefully bookmark us for future use. If someone from out of town is planning a wedding in Lowell, they can use Lowell.com to find a wedding chapel, photographer, band, bakery, caterer…etc. Instead of having to look around at various websites, everything can be found at Lowell.com
To better serve both the business community and visitors, business owners will be allowed to enhance their listings for free. While almost all businesses in Lowell will be listed and categorized at no charge, the basic listing will only include a phone number and address. To add more value for all parties, we will allow business owners to add a paragraph or two about their business, a map to their business, and photographs that can entice consumers to call, all at no added cost to them.
To generate revenue to keep the website financially secure, we will offer businesses the opportunity to pay for category header banners, which will move their listing to the top of the category. Businesses in categories with much competition (such as law) will greatly benefit by moving to the top of the category with a banner ad. We will also offer home page banners to give these advertisers the most exposure. Category and home page advertisers will have their banners rotated throughout the non-profit pages, to give them added exposure throughout the site.
The ultimate goal of the website is to provide an aesthetically pleasing site that is easy to use and informative. As the website matures, more information will become available, giving added value to advertisers and visitors. Our mission is to be the most useful source of information for Lowell residents and visitors.
***UPDATED BY ELLIOT***
Just as an FYI, the current site looks absolutely nothing like how the final website will look. I am keeping the current site up (which came along with the domain name) in order to avoid de-listing in search engines that could possibly occur if I take it down.

1 COMMENT

  1. Elliott, you might want to turn off the Ad Sense ads as you build the site…the small amount of revenue you are probably earning isn’t worth making the site seem too commercial as you develop it…you are after gaining mindshare now, not incremental revenue. Also, when you turn them back on, you might want to mute the colors so the ads blend back into the site background…you’ll find a higher CTR if you do that.

    ***UPDATED BY ELLIOT***
    Hi Todd,
    Thanks for that advice. I am actually building the site off line, and the current site is more of a placeholder than anything else. I don’t want to take the current site down for fear of being de-listed in the search engines!

  2. Elliot, Thanks for sharing the details of the development process. Its much appreciated for those of us eager to learn and your creating hearty blog content in the process, win-win for everyone.

  3. Elliot,
    Thanks very much for sharing this story, I look forward to more posts and info.

    I’m considering purchasing my home town city name for a Western U.S. city about the same size as Lowell. It would be great to hear your thoughts on your financial forecast for Lowell.com. Price paid, anticipated development investment, forecast revenue, etc.

    Thanks again!

    ***UPDATED BY ELLIOT***
    Price paid was made public in DNJournal a few weeks ago – $50,000. I am keeping the development expense and forecast revenue private for now, as the budget continues to be developed.

  4. Perhaps a bigger revenue stream would be advertising banners at the top, bottom and sides. Real estate agents and other local service companies might find these more to their liking. Ad banner rotator programs are easy to install and manage. A special events listing (for a fee) might create another smaller revenue stream. How about featuring the work of local artists in a gallery (for a fee)? Lots of possibilities.

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