I'd say a prequalified sales lead is worth a bit more than a click.
I'd say there's an element of prequalification in the case of people directly navigating to <City><Service>.com
I'd say that, in the VOIP-IM future, click-to-call will be where business connections are made. The heck with the phone.
I'd say that, as time passes, more people will take up the habit of direct navigation. All it will take is a few local domain billboards for people to begin to get curious. If they see <City>Taxi.com whilst commuting to work what's the chance that some day the same people will type-in <City>Limousine.com when they are researching hiring a limo? So . . you might want to grab <City>Limo.com whilst you can. You might also build a website that someday you sell to a local service provider . .
So, I say that all those local domain names sitting around out there - especially the one's for which there isn't much of a PPC market at the moment and therefore, thankfully, the traffic tasters and others aren't too interested - are the future.
I'd say that 2006 is to local search in 2009-10 what 1996 was to web search in 2000.
Ya, Boston<Service>.com will always outpeform <Tallahassee>Service.com. So what? You're not happy unless you are making the easy money on a handful of domain names? What happens in 2010? What was going on in the minds of some in 1995?
I'd say that in 2010 there will be lots of local service providers, paying by the click or by the call, that will wish they spent a few dollars in 2006 to pick up the generic version of the local service they provide.
I'd say that a local domain that costs <$10 today is likely to offer a ROI in the future that will easily make that domain investment worth $500, $1,000 and more in about 3-4 years time. That is, $40 becomes worth $500 in about 3-4 years. What's one type-in "referral" for a $6,000 roofing job worth?
Can you think of any other investments likely to yield that type of return on little effort?
OBTW, you might want to build something now, too - not just sit on your domains like a certain knucklehead I know, the one who didn't even park his domains with a PPC service for . . I dunno . . about 5 years. ;0/
Don't be a dope like that guy. There IS a future in local search. The larger markets were cornered in 2000-2004 in many cases - as they still were available. That said, the "new large" need not be that large to work.
I used to pay $15,000+ a year for a listing in a local yellowpages that was distributed to a county with a population ~200,000. It generated a few leads.
Trust me. All it takes is 1 lead for a domain to pay for itself, in many cases many times over. And, for the math to work you don't even have to be a professional service provider.
You might be in the roofing business. You might sell fence. You might offer taxi services.
You get it? When you go to sell your localized website or sell 1 of maybe 3 listings or agree to sell leads to 1 of 3 subcribers it is the value of the lead that matters. How much is that bloke paying for the 3 leads a year they get from their $1,500 yellowpages listing?
Oh, alright, I know. Some of you want the easy money. You want to collect domain names, park them now and start rolling in the dough. Sorry, but that's unreal. Totally. And there are those that are so much better at nailing down whatever might have some traffic right now.
But the nice thing is that these same players have not interest in the future, in web development, in "the small stuff".
I'd suggest that some relatively small effort, on a larger scale, might help you pay your kid's tuition in about 5 years. A bit of risk, some investment of time and money, some public service mentality is all that I say is required. Ya, some work. You want easy money? Buy my ebook about the secrets of registering localized domain names. :-P
Alrighty, I think I'm done for awhile attempting to clue you all into what I see as an opportunity that is rapidly disappearing. I could be wrong, so caveat emptor.
Just like I was wrong in 1999 for only trageting my own local market for localized domains. :0/ DANG!
[edited by: Webwork at 4:51 pm (utc) on Aug. 2, 2006]