5 Huge Trends in GeoDomains Now

GeoPublishersWhat are the first few things you do after you acquire the best domain name for any geographic city or area? That’s what I wanted to know when I decided to register for and attend the GeoPublishers.com Expo in Chicago, Illinios, which took place over the last two days.

Fred Mercaldo, president of GeoPublishers.com and publisher of over 60 geodomains including Scottsdale.com, did not disappoint with a comprehensive program including presentations from Ron Jackson, editor of DN Journal, Don Jones from NewOrleans.com, and the Castello Brothers (Michael and David) of CCIN.

What follows are five of the biggest takeaways and trends in geodomains right now. Each is influencing what domain names we buy, develop and publish in significant ways. (Facebook photo album of GeoPublishers.com conference)

5. Owning the Brand Is Only the Beginning

For domain investors, the domain name can be – and often is – the ultimate goal. But for anyone developing and publishing content on geodomains, it’s only the beginning of the journey. During the GeoPublishers.com Expo, it became painfully clear (to me) that there are many aspects to consider: gathering email addresses for your audience, building engagement through Facebook, immediately communicating deals via SMS text messaging, apps with push notifications, consultative meetings to determine potential advertisers’ needs before offering solutions. As Alisa Cromer from Local Media Insider put it, “There’s a time to be quick, and a time to be strategic. Now is the time to be strategic.” Google and Facebook are racing to control your local audience, but it’s not too late – you need to determine a strategy now and begin executing against it.

4. Build the Brand, Not Just the Domain Name

Geodomain names are fantastic assets. Don Jones from NewOrleans.com stated, “They’re immediately recognizable, intuitive brands on the web.” But just launching a website for your city is not enough. Sara Mannix of Mannix Marketing, an Internet marketing services and website design firm that operates many geodomain sites including Albany.com, Saratoga.com and LakeGeorge.com, suggested integrating the brand with your community through offline marketing tactics such as utilizing billboard displays, sponsoring an in-person event, and providing pro bono marketing seminars to Chamber of Commerce members in your city.

3. Grow Where Others Are Declining

While Internet advertising is growing by leaps and bounds every year, not all advertising channels are feeling the love. One great way to find new customers is to look for your competitors’ disgruntled customers. According to many attendees at GeoPublishers, current advertisers of Yellow Pages and direct mail are places to start looking. Being able to discuss how user behavior is moving online and how many hotels are removing phone books from their rooms highlights the benefit of directory listings on your premium brand geodomain websites.

2. Traffic Is Increasing…and It’s Mobile

While most of your traffic is coming from the web browsers of desktop or laptop computers today, it’s going to shift. Paul Wagner, CEO of Forkfly – an online service offering coupons and discounts from restaurants and other businesses to publishers, noted that “30 percent of site traffic is mobile, and it’s going to increase to 50 percent within the next two years.” If you’re not thinking about reformatting content for the small screen – with larger fonts and smaller graphics – your readers are going to be disgruntled. But don’t stop there. Wagner also suggested making sure you stay abreast of Facebook, push notifications on apps, QR (quick response) codes, NFC (near field communication) and any other technologies that could impact your advertising customers.

1. Get Feet On The Street

“Feet on the street,” “boots on the ground,” “dialing for dollars” – however you refer to it, proactive selling must be part of your plans if your geodomain is going to be successful. According to Gordon Borrell, CEO of Borrell Associates Inc., “your average salesperson should bring in about $250,000 per year in sales; perhaps half of that for smaller markets. Four salespeople should bring in $1 million in revenue.” Given that the average revenue per sales representative should be three to four times their salary, it’s an investment every geodomain publisher can afford to make.

Additional Coverage of GeoPublishers.com

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27 Responses to “5 Huge Trends in GeoDomains Now”

  1. Hey Michael,

    My questions is about more “local” geos like parkslopenewyork or parissaintcloud etc. Are they worth the time to develop them? Or is better to chase an end user? What is your opinion?

    Thanks Laurentius

    • Hi Laurentius,

      I’d suggest looking at the GAKT local exact match monthly searches for those words and treating them like any other development project. If it’s not the best domain name for your city (e.g. NewOrleans.com, Albany.com) then it’s likely going to be more of a “brandable” and then you’ll have to invest money in branding it.

      One of the benefits of owning the city name as a .com is that you immediately become the brand (as Michael and David Castello pointed out so well in their shows on DomainSherpa.com), but it will cost you a pretty penny unless you had the vision back in 1995/6 to hand register it.

      Best,
      Michael

  2. Peter says:

    Great article Michael! I am motivated to start on my hometown website in Washington we spoke about previously. Going there next summer for 30 yr reunion so need to get site started so I can
    visit hotels, restaurants and businesses etc. to get advertisers lined up!!!

  3. Sara Mannix says:

    Great Article! Michael, it was great meeting you. I look forward to learning from eachother for years to come. I hope we can get Ian from Toledo.com to come next year, he has a lot to share. The conference was great, especially learning of all the opportunities for the future in mobile.

    • Thanks, Sara. Great to meet you and Mark as well.

      You are a wealth of information. I appreciated your presentation and all the discussions we had throughout the conference. Your energy is infectious! :)

  4. steve says:

    This is my second conference that i had attended and its great every time, the information that we had accumulated Michael is priceless.

    It was a pleasure to spend time with Dennis, Bob, Shane, Page and of course yourself.

    Talk soon.

    • Thanks, Steve. It was great to hang out with you and meet your wife.

      Thanks also for the pictures of yard sign — that’s a great way to gain extra publicity for a geodomain in a local area.

      I look forward to following the growth of your geodomains in New York and around the world.

  5. Michael,
    Great stuff! Always enjoy your information. I will make sure I attend this next year. Who are the players in this market?

    Rafael

    • Thanks, Rafael. Glad you enjoyed it.

      I hate to say “who the players are” as it may imply that anyone I don’t mention isn’t doing as well as the ones I mention, which isn’t necessarily the case.

      For example, while Vegas.com was often mentioned during the conference, they’re much more than just a website with deals. The NYTimes describes Vegas.com as “the largest online booker for entertainment, hotels, restaurants, tours, golf and other services for Las Vegas.” They actually have a concierge stand in many of the casinos, and the people working are Vegas.com staff.

      NewOrleans.com has licensed some of the technology developed by Vegas.com, and is repositioning themselves to do the same in their city.

      But not every geodomain owner wants to create a hundred million or half a billion dollar enterprise. Many are interested in generating a few million from their geodomains, and I believe (did not verify) that there were many geodomain owners in attendance doing just that.

      I will also share that I enjoyed speaking with and learning tactics from Bob Luther and Shane Wells at CountyWebsite.com and Sara Mannix of MannixMarketing.com.

      Looking forward to meeting you in person someday soon, Rafael.

  6. tommy butler says:

    Sorry I missed it this year but will make the plans for next year.

  7. Haris Khan says:

    Great and very informative

  8. Dennis Combs says:

    Michael – Great to meet you at the conference and to break bread (thankfully without crabcakes!). This is a nice summary for the audience for which you said you are aiming. Good luck with your own great GEO name and I look forward to seeing how you put everything together.

    • Thanks, Dennis. I enjoyed meeting you and learning more about the real estate industry. You gave me some great advice, and I appreciate it.

      Next time I’m in Iowa looking for a house, I know which Realtor I’m going to choose! :)

  9. Martin says:

    I just bought MauritiusIsland.com and GeoBranding.com. Looking forward to develop my first Geo Domain. I’m going for New Years to Mauritius and make a short promo film.

    It’s really interesting but I think it takes a lot of time to create content and create a network around.

    Thanks for sharing. Great post as always! I’d love to hear more about the expo.

    • You’re right, Martin. Great content and a network within a city is no small endeavor, but so many successful case studies were presented that I’m energized to try it myself. I also shared a couple of meals with Bob Luther and Shane Wells from CountyWebsite.com who are doing a great job in their local markets, so I was able to pick their brains all weekend.

      Great domains, Martin — I look forward to seeing the promo film when it’s complete.

      I probably won’t be writing any more about the Expo, but if you have specific questions don’t hesitate to call me directly at 206-347-0977. I’d be happy to share more insights by phone.

  10. [...] can read more about the GeoPublisher conference at Michael Cyger’s DomainSherpa.  It was great to meet Michael and to hear about his plans and early successes with his hometown [...]

  11. Mike Ward says:

    I hope the Expo was a great success!!! I plan on attending next year for sure!!!

    • Being an “outsider” to the industry, I found this event to be a great way to ramp up knowledge and connections very quickly. Everyone was very friendly, open and willing to share knowledge. I will hopefully meet you in person at the Expo next year, Mike.

  12. Brian Kalbar says:

    I own a couple of geo domains that I’ve developed into websites (just towns, no big cities). Starting out small with them and expanding. They’re now profitable and I’m about to chase down advertisers directly from the towns to increase revenue and relevance. I completely agree with the points listed above though and wish I could have attended the conference myself. Sounds like there was much to learn.

  13. Great seeing you there, Michael!

  14. Troy says:

    Thanks for sharing what you are learning Michael. These are all very good pieces of advice.

    Troy

    • My pleasure, Troy. Thanks for commenting. There was so much more, but I had to choose a list short enough for me to write about while I’m waiting for my flight.

      I’ll hopefully be interviewing many of the other notable people that attended or shared advice in presentations, so keep an eye out on DomainSherpa if you’re interested in geodomains.

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