Steve Morsa Guest Post: When City.orgs Make Perfect Sense |
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Steve Morsa Guest Post: When City.orgs Make Perfect Sense


While the debate over whether building city/community sites (at least in the US) should only ever be built on .coms might continue for some years to come, let me share one particular situation–though very rare it be—where doing so on an extension other than .com (and more particularly, on a .org) makes perfect sense:

Earlier this year, I picked up a (San Marcos; just north of San Diego) for a 75,000 population city in California with excellent demographics, an extensive and broad-based commercial/ business community; and not one, but two top-rated colleges; including one of the highly desired Cal-State campus’.

In my pre-purchase analysis, I discovered via search on the city name that there were not one, but in fact no fewer than two of these identically-names cities in the US (plus a number in other countries); and that the .com version was already an operating city site for the Texas city with this same name.

What I realized is that it would be not just O.K. to build out such a .org, but actually smart to do so; for no less than these four reasons:

#1: Anyone visiting the .com Texas city site looking for information concerning the CA city; regardless of how they got there (type in or search engine); would quickly realize that the .com was clearly not the place they were looking for; leading them to click away and keep looking (this is where good SEO comes in) for the correct city (once I begin build-out; probably in 2009; I’ll request reciprocal homepage button/ links; me to the Texas version; Texas version to me; to further insure that any confused visitors will quickly find their way to the city they were looking for; whether CA or Texas).

#2: Relatedly; since this is not a big-name “touristy/vacation-type” city, most of the site visitors (who will be seeing the local/ area businesses’ ads) will be the actual residents of this California city, and not vacationers from outside the area. Because this is so, remembering that the “official” (it’s official if you make it so) city site is located at and not will not be anywhere near the problem it is/ would be with well-known, high-visibility cities like Palm Springs, Chicago, and San Diego.

#3: As others have pointed out as well, the .org is well-known (at least in the US) as the extension where you can expect to find usually useful, valuable, unbiased facts, information, and other content from government and (non-profit) organizations.

Additionally, many 100’s (1000’s?) of city/ town/ county governments throughout the US already use .org as their official “city hall” address.

These two deeply ingrained perceptions of .org sites fits right in with what you may/ likely want your city site to “feel” like to Internet visitors anyway; they already come with built-in trust and authority.

#4: While “experts” debate on whether this is true or not; and/or how much difference it makes in the search engine positions if it is; the .org sites may be receiving a greater weight than .com due to their “unbiased/ government” reality/ perception.

And while the .com version of this city could have cost perhaps as much as $30,000-50,000 or more even if they’d sell it to me (no; I didn’t ask), I was able to negotiate the .org down to less than $1,600 due to its–mistaken in this rare case—perceived great inferiority to the .com.

This approach can also work for popularly-named communities/ “area designators” like Apple Valley, Happy Valley, and Sun Valley (it’s a real eye opener how many valleys there are in the US with the same name); each of which valley (name) are readily able to support multiple extension city/ community sites, since each are in different states.

So; while in the overwhelming majority of cases the .com is clearly the way to go assuming one can afford it (though I agree that those that say that a successful, “can make a very nice living from it” city/ community site can be created on probably most any extension [ though I’d personally only use a .com or .org in the US ] ); a .org can still be a great, more affordable way to create something worth having…and someday selling.

Bottom line? If you can’t afford the cost of a (or even if you can but want to buy cheap/ risk less), see if you can find yourself a nice (I’d recommend 25,000+ population; especially if it’s not a resort-type city) where the is a built out, in-use site…in some other state/ area/ community.

So; while they certainly remain the first choice if money is no object; expensive sites are not the only path to successful city/ community website businesses.

Happy hunting.

About The Author: Elliot Silver is an Internet entrepreneur and publisher of Elliot is also the founder and President of Top Notch Domains, LLC, a company that has sold seven figures worth of domain names in the last five years. Please read the Terms of Use page for additional information about the publisher, website comment policy, disclosures, and conflicts of interest.

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Comments (10)

    M. Menius

    City sites are excellent opportunties. .org is a nice choice and a favorite of local Chambers of Commerce and the Convention and Visitor’s Bureaus. I’ve also seen them in .biz/.us/.info which are logical, yet more affordable fits.

    You mention cities that share the same name. This makes for interesting research. Glendale, for example, is a large city in California, but is also signficant in a number of other states too. Maybe a way to maximize the use of such a city is to have an initial landing page that gives the user a choice of which site to go to. And then host/develop a seaprate site for every city that uses the name. Or perhaps technology will detect the user’s location and automatically direct them to the corresponding city closest to them.

    March 31st, 2008 at 12:31 pm

    Ms Domainer

    Although it’s not a pure Geo domain, I registered Still, since New York is both a state and city, there are some good possibilities for development, quite possibly as a travel or even a state portal.

    Good article; I’m glad to see someone who feels that dot-org has some merit.

    Ms Domainer

    March 31st, 2008 at 3:14 pm

    David J Castello

    Never forget that .org was orginally meant to represent non-profit entities. That founding ICANN directive has never been enforced, but that doesn’t mean that someday it won’t be utilized in UDRP arbitration, etc.

    March 31st, 2008 at 3:33 pm


    Very nice post Steve

    March 31st, 2008 at 7:32 pm

    Steve M

    Interesting point, David; but not something I’d be too concerned about.

    Under the well-settled legal theory of estoppel, the fact that ICANN has allowed some 1,000’s (if not 10’s of 1,000’s) of commercial operations to utilize the .org extension for many years now would likely stop any such actions…

    …and hey; the heads of some non-profits earn $500k+/year.

    March 31st, 2008 at 9:49 pm

    David J Castello

    I agree. However, never underestimate the “creative” minds of corporate attorneys. Always be on guard.

    April 1st, 2008 at 12:22 am


    More buyers required means a lower price will have to be charged.,

    May 6th, 2008 at 6:22 pm

    Anthony David

    Great great post. .org works great for cities, and is clearly favorable to .net as far as geos go. It will have a lower resale value than .com but if your plan is to buy, develop, and get an income for the site, it could have a higher return on investment than .com because the acquisition cost is much lower as mentioned in the post.

    September 6th, 2009 at 7:35 am

    The "G."

    Great post and agree with it’s comments also, as well as David’s comments above to keep in mind.

    The “G.”

    December 15th, 2009 at 5:37 am


    no mention of .gov with city name in middle tertiary. .USA using same define in middle. personally feel .org more towards ‘benevolent’ groups but that is my take. anyhoo, JOYEUX NOELLE et le Bon Annee.

    December 16th, 2012 at 4:04 am

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