What happens, come the day, when the lemmings latch on to this idea? When you pass 213 billboards emblazened with URLs on them?
My advice to the local webmaster, the webmaster or business that is geo-targeting for a service company, a service company being one that performs locally: Make the URL real simple for the masses, bordering on brainless, to remember. Apply the same thinking that went into building the domain-as-direct-WWW-navigation model.
IMHO, for local geo-targeting nothing - nothing - beats <City><Service>.com.
What I find a bit surprising is the sheer number of geo-targeted domain names, ones that I would consider low hanging fruit for such local service providers, that are still available.
I think a clever, modestly funded webmaster-entrepreneur could do themselves nicely by rounding up 300 such domain names (Cost:~$3,000 or less, a year), a colo server (Cost: $1500+/- a year) and start banging out geo-targeted mini-portals, ones that will a) likely have some type-in traffic; and, b) will be VERY easy to promote at the lowest possible cost at the local level. Think: Search engine love is a benefit, not a prerequisite to success. I'll venture that anyone who takes on this idea with a bit of zeal will, in about 1-2 years, be positioned to work out of their home for the next 10+ years. IF the value/costs of online advertising and marketing rises in the ensuing years then the enterprising domain-focused webmaster just might be able to retire in 10 years, or at least lead a comfortable self-employed life. All by virtue of enterprising geo-targeting local service providers, who are accustomed to spending tens of thousands of dollars each year for yellow page advertising.
There are myriad players in this game, at the parked page direct navigation level, that have rounded up all the first tier (Nation or State) and second tier )(Major city > 1 million pop.) domains that are doing rather nicely for themselves.
There are a plethora of available properties, not currently sufficiently attractive to the direct navigation gang, that are still out there - waiting for some clever webmaster to invest in their future.
What I find interesting is the failure of the masses to fully appreciate how the business advertising AND online advertising model is evolving. PPC for local search is, in my observation - at the local local (<1 million pop locale> - just beginning to take root. In other words, the process of making a move into PPC is slowly filtering down to more and more local levels. So there are "large niches" (ya, oxymoron) that are untapped reservoirs of marketing potential.
In 1999 I saw the potential of direct navigation if a very myopic (which I am) way: I only saw how it applied to my profession. With that in mind I registered some very nice domains, ones that were just hanging out there - low on the vine. IF I fully appreciated how the model that I believed would apply to me would, in time, apply to all others in my stead, I likely would be retired right now - living off the PPC revenue of all the other domain names that I could have registered at that time.
No sour grapes. I did well enough at the time to make things a bit more comfortable for my family. I still have to work, which is in my nature any way. Still . . .
So, big final point: Barring extraordinary circumstances, I foresee direct navigation taking root and the practice moving down to the local level: MyHometownWidgets.com. The model has already proven itself at the BIG city level. IMHO, that trend will prove to be very valuable source of sales leads. Therefore, today's low hanging fruit likely won't be there in another 3 years. Today's low hanging fruit will likely be at least middle-class real estate in about 3 years, assuming the entire WWW isn't retired. In about 3 years people - local business people - will be wondering or whining about how someone, other than themselves, managed to pick up ElboniaHVAC.com.
I'm just a little bit wiser in 2006 than in 1999.
I'm also about 600 domains deeper in my holdings since running the Domain Forum's Domain Challenge a few months ago.
P.S. I left QUITE a few of those goe-targeted local search domain names for you all to play with. There's only so many I can . . . wait . . wait . . What am I saying?
Get 'em whilst you can.
[edited by: Webwork at 2:45 pm (utc) on July 24, 2006]