The case for Geographical development

My thoughts on the advantages that working on a geographical domain has over starting a product based or aff website.

1. You don’t need the same traffic numbers, if trying to appeal to local B&B’s/Guesthouses & businesses for advertising you don’t need to be aiming for 10,000 visitors per day, getting 100-300 visitors per day can suffice. That makes the return on investment and time spent much quicker and more appealing. From the few sites I have up that are around a month or so old they all get around 50 visitors per day just based on the few articles each site has. Almost time to start looking for advertising, that’s not the way it usually works.

2. Huge advertiser base – with geographical areas you can target offline and online businesses, there are often databases available giving you full contact details. Unlike a generic product site you can target 10,000 individual advertisers with only a hundred visitors per day, instead of aiming for a hundred advertisers on 10,000 visitors, if you can make the argument to advertise convincing this can mean a great income based on small numbers. For Ayr I bought a database of 1200 local businesses names & addresses to work from.

3. Repeat residual income – the holy grail, once established your less reliant on search engine listings, traffic numbers, CTR’s, Adsense or affiliate income. You invoice the local advertisers yearly and build a steady repeat income which is just the best feeling.

4. Stability – Lot’s of small steady income streams from advertisers locally gives better stability without the huge swings chasing organic serps can bring, each year you’ll lose some and gain some, overall aiming to grow a bit. One established geo site I bought currently earns around £7000 per year from local advertisers, rising around £1000 per year over the last few years.

5. Credibility & Cost of entry – If you want to work from the townname.co.uk or .com domain then it’s a pretty low barrier to entry for the best name, if you want to sell phones from phones.co.uk online that domain rocks but costs 6 figures, however if you want to run a website for Largs on Largs.co.uk that domain cost £800 is would seem to me the most suitable name which should add credibility & desirability to potential advertisers. It’s a cheap way to be the best.

6. Links – Not being product based and aiming more for info/tourism & attractions seems to be less competitive and easier to get links, there are usually lots of other town sites and many of the webmasters on them seem content to link to other info sites as long as your site looks good and does a decent job of promoting the area/town.

About Scott Jones

Scott hails from the north east of Scotland and started earning online at the end of 2000 building websites for local businesses during which time he won an award from Lord Alan Sugar for Excellence in Enterprise. After having quite a bit of success with domaining Scott mainly runs educational evergreen websites which generate over 3 million visitors per month but is always on the lookout for a fresh thinking out of the box way to turn a buck. Follow on Twitter.

Comments

  1. Great post Scott. Always giving me some more to think about! Just a quickie, where did you source your business data? I am trying to source some on a niche basis rather than a location basis.

    Cheers

    • For Ayr I used http://www.lbm-data.co.uk, I spoke to them to confirm my intended use was ok and I also negotiated cheaper rates than advertised.

      • Thanks Scott,

        Negotiated a discount – I wouldn’t have expected anything else from you! :) What are you going to use to import and display the data in wordpress? I have been looking for a decent directory plugin. NO joy yet.

        Any ideas?

        • Same problem for me Jason, so I am getting Ryan (http://twitter.com/ryanajarrett) to use a basic wordpress directory script as a base and modify it to take the data and use as a business listing which will be charged for, should be done in the next few weeks.

        • Thanks Scott, You will be on to a winner there too!

          I’ll keep my eye on http://www.ayr.co.uk to see it live.

          Jason

        • The plugin is coming along nicely Scott!

          A quick question about local domain names. If townname.co.uk has been taken, would you townname-guide.co.uk or something similar for a cheaper domain, or would you haggle with the current owner even if it meant a delay?

        • Personally I’d haggle and delay – but some really crap domains rank no.1 for all sorts.. so it can be done on anything as we know, there are good perks though when you get townname.co.uk – easier to get freebies from local businesses and more trust, you are the ‘brand’ – your name is on the map if you own townname.

  2. Thanks for the insite Scott, its very interesting that other webmasters are more likely to link to your site if you not selling or advertising a product.

    Do you just approach other town sites or do you also approach businesses within your town for links?

    • I recently just started approaching other local town info sites and for the most part them seem happy to link through even without reciprocals which is nice, remembering that a lot of those other 5+year old town info sites were built to inform rather than make money, hence along the way I also bought two of them :) if they don’t want to link and they already rank then always worth asking if they’d sell, but it kinda gets expensive after a while 😮

  3. Keep the updates coming Scott, always interesting to hear others developing along the same lines. There is not much written on the web for geodomain development on towns and smaller cities even though there are a few parties in the UK having a serious go at it. Another data provider to have a look at is http://www.localdatacompany.com/ they provide rich data with descriptions and photos of businesses in many areas.

    Have to agree with your point number 6, getting links from the BBC, Councils, MPs etc is so much easier with an exact match town domain. 2 months in and we have many keywords on 1st and 2nd page on Google, even first page for the town name itself. Position 1 here we come!

  4. Hey Scott, based on that earlier post of yours, I’ve managed to get hold of my town (of about 17,000 people) name in .co.uk – louth.co.uk! Now I just need to actually get it doing something, but thanks for the inspiration.

    • Nicely done Peter, a perfect buy and glad to hear positive feedback. One of the sites I bought was established with population around 11,000 people and earns £7k a year so shows a relatively small town once built up online with info can generate some good passive income from advertisers – with the added advantage of being able to say ‘I own this town!’ 😉

      • Awesome. Just for the record, the seller wanted about £500 + VAT for the domain but I knocked it down to about £400. So sounds sort of “average” for the town size judging from posts I’ve seen here and elsewhere.

        I’m not focused on it as a money making site at this point. As I live in the town I’m more interested in using it as a way to get more involved in local life and give me an “excuse” to learn more about the town, etc, but.. I ain’t gunna avoid any money that might pop up.. *g*

  5. Hi Scott,

    I just discovered selfmademinds a few days ago but I have been working on a local business directory for a while now. When I checked out your site today, and saw the post, I told my self that I had to finish the directory ASAP and see where it takes me.

    Thanks again for all the info and great articles. This is an inspiration base 😉

    Keep up the good work!

  6. but there are so many mini projects i want to work on..it’s hard to focus 😉

    • I know what you mean about finding hard to focus when you have so many mini projects. But for a project to be sucessful you have to focus on one at a time. Works for me anyway. :)

  7. I think however that there is one MAJOR disadvantage to this model vs. your others – and that’s how you keep it current. When you’re only making $6-10K on a site per year, it’s very hard to make it a priority to keep the content current, which I think may become a major factor to drive return visits and loyal advertisers.

    Any answer to that?

    • If it’s a tourist based area which is what I am aiming for and you have articles covering the local attractions/sights and don’t try and do news there is no need to keep it current imo. The old established site doing £7k a year income wasn’t updated with anything other than new advertisers.

      • The other thing you can do with the content is get in touch with your local council media or promotions department – they can send you loads of stuff. Also the local tourist office to. If you are a real smooth talker – you could set them up with a user account in WordPress and allow them to post direct! :)

        You could also allow local business to submit press releases and use that as newsy content.

    • Small towns dont change that much so I would only expect to have to update every few months for such a site. If you write the content in such a way that it doesnt date – e.g. if you listed prices then you would be forever updating. I would try to get free content from the local business and atractions that you are promotig.

  8. Geting a slow but steady income away from the roller coaster ride of the google serps is certainly appealing. If you are promoting small local business on the site then I guess you always get some free offline promotion by getting the business to promote the site in their shops.

    • With reference to offline promotion, in the small town in which I live the owner of the exact match .co.uk has had the domain printed on the “eco” hessian shopping bags for sale in the local shops, at no cost to him, when they were produced by the local chamber of trade. He now has his domain visible in every shop in town, as they all sell the bags.

      • Thats a great idea getting the domain printed on the bags. Not only will he get more visitors I’ll bet that he gets more businesses wanting to advertise as well.

  9. Hi Scott,

    Great post. Hope you’re going to continue posting more updates as to how you’re getting on with these geo domains :)

  10. I’ve managed to get my hands on a .org.uk of a popular village in Scotland with very strong links to tourism and some potential, shall we say, ‘film’ links. The equivalent .co.uk is sitting dormant, unfortunately, but I’m hoping that .org.uk will work especially with the ccTLD.

    Fingers crossed. Currently developing the site using WP and getting the articles together. It’s actually quite good fun when it’s somewhere you’ve been and, as a Scot, I feel a little bit of patriotism creep in creating this kind of thing. It definitely makes it more interesting than the average minisite.

    Looking forward to any and all success it might have! Cheers Scott for another inspiring post! 😀

    • I just bought a org.uk of a town as well, bought today as it ranks in the top 10 and the .co.uk is not an option. As you say much more interesting than many other niches, best of luck with it Laurence and let me know how you go.

      • Ah great, I’m glad to hear .org.uks are not a mistake.

        Scott – I notice on largs.co.uk you’ve got a weather feed – can you tell me which WordPress plugin you’ve used for that? I’ve looked through the available ones on wordpress.org but none seem as simple and clean as that one.

  11. Hi Scott

    I am a regular reader of this blog and would like to say thanks for the information you give.

    I am very surprise with the visits you get per day for the short time the sites are up. I run a similar site and the visit is low (yes its this one).

    Apart from backlinks and using wp do you do anything is to promote these geo sies?

    • No nothing else, just asked for a few backlinks from other local sites after putting the sites up. The new sites like Ayr/Arran/Largs/West Kilbride get around 50 visitors per day. The established couple of sites I bought get 300-700 per day.

  12. Both lincoln.co.uk and lincoln.org.uk are unused. The latter was on Sedo so I put in a cheeky offer of £100 as no price was suggested. They came back with a counteroffer of £1750. Bit rich for my blood, lol.

  13. Another really helpful post on the geo-development theme Scott. Thanks for keeping us up to date on developments.

    Quick question for you. I spotted a .org.uk which I’m tempted by but it’s a geographic area rather than a specific town. Do you think they’re worth investing time and money in? I know you have westofscotland.co.uk so was wondering if it’s working out.

    • If the geographical location is popular then perhaps. I use westofscotland as an unbrella for the sites, a central base/linking/advertising point. By itself it doesn’t get traffic.

      • Thanks Scott. It’s a reasonably touristy area (which is known by the regional description) so I took a punt. Not much of a punt, mind you, since it wasn’t taken and cost the princely sum of £6.88. :o)

  14. northlincolnshire.org.uk is available if anyone wants it, lol. It’s actually a county name, not just a region. Problem is.. I doubt many people are interested on going on holiday to Scunthorpe, Brigg or whatever other towns are there..

  15. I have decided to join in the geo-venture and purchased a geo domain today. It is samll village in London with strong history. When it is up and running I will share the link with you guys to get your comment.

  16. San Francisco.net is up for grabs!
    Yours for a cool $44,000, just seen it in one of Rick Latonas emails.
    So, any takers???

    Whats the consensus on .net over .com for these type of large Geo´s?
    I suppose it is less attractive if the .com has been developed out and has a decent site on it – the sanfrancisco is a PR 6 and in 3rd place – but the top result is another site and 2nd is Wikipedia.

  17. since most of the city.com or town.com are taken, what do you think about visicity.com or visittown.com?

    thanks

    • I´m looking into something very similar myself n a geo.
      So instead of Blackfriars.co.uk I would maybe look at trying to reg BlackfriarsLondon.co.uk or even Blackfriars-London.co.uk although not keen on hyphen domains.
      Something like that might be good if there is plenty of search volume.

  18. I’m currently negotiating for what appears to be a decent geo-domain at a reasonable price but having never purchased a domain before I have no idea what the best way of arranging transfer is or how to safely pay.

    Can anyone give me some pointers?

    TIA
    Dan

  19. @ Justin & Scott
    Thanks for the advice chaps.
    If and when I secure the domain I’ll come back with details.

  20. I would definately agree it’s easier to gain links to non product based sites. I recently worked on a site specialising in medieval jousting tournaments found building links to the site was so easy I was amazed

  21. When asking for people to consider linking to my Ayr site I have received these replies which makes life so much easier:

    This has be done. I have created a new section to include this.

    Scott, im happy to. Its a nice site and lovely photographs

    Had a look at the site- it seems very comprehensive. Link added.

    We are happy to link to your website from our leisure page and we have added you under External Links.

  22. Not all of us can be international web marketeers, and as most businesses are very localised this post just makes so much sense. Focusing on your area is definitely easier than trying to target the whole world with your keywords.

  23. Feeling inspired after reading this post and all the comments, I’ve gone out and bought myself http://www.essexdays.co.uk. I have a really good local knowledge of good places to go in essex and with some help from the other half I reckon we can put together a great site that visitors will find really useful. Between us we have been to most of the places for days out in essex and should be able to write better reviews than what comes up from a google search at the moment.

  24. Interesting posts on the Press Gazette editors blog regarding geodomains. They are looking at news based sites, but the principles are similar. UK sites discussed at http://blogs.pressgazette.co.uk/editor/2009/08/11/the-uks-successful-independent-ultra-local-news-websites/ and some US at http://blogs.pressgazette.co.uk/editor/2009/08/07/news-ideas-ultra-local-journalism-could-save-us-all/. Revenue figures quoted sound good!

  25. Agree with pretty much everything you say. The web is really changing and the big pond approach is not that effective anymore. Getting local is easier now with the advent of web 2.0 communities etc. It will only segment down further IMO.

  26. Scott,
    regarding the little Laterooms affiliate block. What would you do if laterooms didn’t list hotels in the city you’re building the site for? I’ve chosen a city in a small country, and I can’t find many sites listing hotels…

  27. It’s very hard to encourge the genernal public od a community to populate a site, however local businesses are fantastic. I worked on a site call heathfield dot net where we allowed local businesses to list themselves and write information. Still needs to be moderated though so not maintenance free.

  28. I am reading all the posts I missed out during my holiday and exam period!

    I am from a small town down south! however, I don’t think that your thoughts are applicable in all circumstances.

    From where I live, the local paper’s websites gets a lot of traffic understandably. But other national companies provide the same service, the only difference is that they are better known. e.g. Yell! They list local businesses!

    However, one advantage you missed out on is local advertisements, which you will get plenty of offers for once the site gets known :)

  29. Interesting notion and I can see why this would work. I built a travel site this summer and now I’m thinking that perhaps I might regionalise it ahead of next summer.

    I’ll be sure to read your updates on this topic.

  30. I’m almost done with my town411.com Business Directory. It looks really like online yellow pages but specifically for this small City/Town. They don’t have anything like this. They do have few directories but nothing like this. They also have a Chamber of Commerce with a Business Directory but it’s really used only by the members and not all Businesses are listed.

    I am going to give you the url as soon as I am done. I would appreciate any feedback.

    Also, since the City/Town doesn’t have a strong online presence, I was planing on building few other web sites like VisitCityName.com etc. and link all the sites.

  31. I see the owner of glasgow dot com has gone mental on his geo-acquisitions.

  32. I have been looking around for geo´s – not too seriously as mortgage business seems to have gone through the roof over here but in my spare time I did find a nice touristic town.

    All had been regged but doing some keyword research with Googles KW tool I did notice I could have the town name and the area as a domain.

    So an example would be: CarlisleCumbria.co.uk instead of just Carlisle or AyrScotland.co.uk instead of just Ayr.

    Thoughts on this? The stats look good and it will have the town name as the first word, I´m sure I could make a go of it, anyone tried something similar?

    • I see quite a few high ranking sites with their domain in that format, looks clean enough and relevant and if it’s reg fee it’s a good base to work from.

    • I did the same think for two domains I bought. I could not get the area name so I did area+country/county. They still show a high volume of exact search in G, so I will give them a try.

  33. Only buying reg fees at this point unless I really am confident about a domain.

    Spent $400 dollars on my top keyword domain but I am certain it will generate plenty of leads.
    Geos are more long term for me and will sit until I have time to develop them.

    .co.uk and .com are gone – one redirects to a crap site and the other doesnt have a holding page – nothing.
    The .net and .org are available though, 5400 exact searches per month.

  34. Great project this – and something that I have been doing non-commecially for a while.

    Just wondering how you plan to contact potential advertisers without getting into trouble with the spam police! I haven’t really exploited any of my projects properly yet in terms of advertisers – partly because of some concerns about how best to contact people without it looking like spam.

    Woule love to hear your thoughts.

    Stephen.

    • I’ll first let the community know about my site and will not target advertisers for a while. I would like the community to get to know my site and start using it on a regular basis.

      Once I see that people/business are using my directory, I will then go ahead and sent out letters (no emails) to local businesses and let them know about the directory and the visitors the directory receives.

      So, all in all, I won’t target them right away. I want to make sure people use it and them start “attacking” business with solid numbers.

      Will let you know how it goes. I still haven’t finished the directory but I am planing on launching it soon (hopefully).

  35. I like the idea of your geo sites and the advertising/link building options that it brings could help towards supporting other surrounding websites/business ideas.

  36. Hi Scott,
    Awesome to e post! I know that some of the concepts are way too simple to be making the post awesome. But according to me, the most credible aspect is that you would save a lot of problems of being heart-broken, empty-pocket tough life simply because of few simpler & practically doable suggestions.

  37. Your post really made me step back and reconsider my strategy. Generally, I’ve focused on big, high-traffic keywords and based on your explanation one should really look long-term and focus on sites in niches that may not be huge, but over time very profitable.

    Thanks.

  38. I have not been on this site for a whilw so I thought I would take a look for an update this evening. I am in the process of researching a geo based domain/site at the moment with a view to going down the advertising route so the information really helps.

    I find it helps to try different things in order for different types of sites to compliment each other and spread the income over different sources.

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