Morning folks! Over the last 4 weeks I have pretty much being having fun developing a little geo area in the West of Scotland so wanted to share my observations.
Initially I bought Arran, Ayr and Largs – I then remembered I own westofscotland.co.uk so decided to use that as the umbrella domain to link to them all from. I also picked up a few others all beside each other and all small but touristy kind of places on the coastline to make a little set of 7.
Minisites: I have seen a lot written and said about minisites which strikes me as sweeping statements, if you look at www.largs.co.uk that’s a minisite. Minisites are evolving, Largs cost me under £200 and for that I get a theme on WordPress, research is done and around 7 to 10 articles are created without my input. It’s then all put together with work on descriptions, tags and keywords, after which I added some feeds for extra pages, but it pretty much ticks all the minisite boxes.
To say minisites are not worthwhile, useless or will not give you a return on your investment is like saying “websites” are not worthwhile. Websites like minisites come in a variety of flavours and if done well can be very worthwhile, but they can be crap and a waste of virtual space if done poorly.
I am negotiation for an established but tiny tourist location in Scotland with a population of 1500! the owner has had the domain/site for 12 years, it makes £3000 per year. He hasn’t updated it in years but wants it to go to a good home, I offered £2700 and was rejected no surprise, he wants £5500 which is a fair price, after showing him Ayr.co.uk & Arran.co.uk he has agreed to sell the site to me below his £5500 valuation as he wants it to go to a good home and likes what I am doing. So these new minisites have value that other’s can see.
Feeds: I know pulling in feeds doesn’t add traffic/real content but from a user experience it makes the site more appealing and complete, adding twitter, pictures, video, jobs, weather, property, events and games gives a better user experience from the off. I have tested this on people who work offline and have had good feedback. I am however looking down the line a bit to find a local estate agent to offer their feed exclusively for a fee.
Links: One thing I have noticed is asking for links for the generic place name .co.uk seems very easy with positive replies. I even emailed the local council and asked for a link on their .gov.uk which was up and live within 30 minutes. Emailing others sites who do info on the places often gets a quick “Hi Scott, that’s been done now” which is very different from dealing with product related sites, the exact match generic domain maybe helps or maybe geo sites are much nicer to work in when it comes to sharing links.
Some local hotels & resorts have link & info pages, I decided to make sure when asking for a link from them I email the PR & Marketing person, not the webmaster. Not only did I get a link from them I also got a typical reponse from the marketing person asking about the site, “is it new and how much for a homepage advert?”, much better than me asking them to advertise.
Twitter: I created a twitter account and followed quite a few people who mentioned the areas, in some cases people mention they are about to or have just been to the town. This seems a good opportunity to ask for user submitted content and I have a couple of people who have agreed to write reviews based on me contacting and posting on Twitter.
I have to say I am enjoying these sites, some are in development or live but under month old, they are starting to bring in around 50 visitors per day each. All in all a good excercise and a good set of info minisites that I feel have good potential to generate income. If someone can make £3k a year from a population of 1500 then the towns with 10k or 40k I also have should offer opportunity once established to earn their keep.