Domain names make it easy for consumers to find you, are memorable, and – most importantly – are relevant to what it is you do. This in turn means more visitors!
But with the internet becoming increasingly crowded, what if you can’t get hold of the domain name you want? Or, what if it’s available but will set you back thousands due to high popularity?
This is a problem for many, and is primarily why the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is allowing companies to register new domain names to secure their business online. These new generic top-level domains (gTLDs) are an expansion on the more familiar top-level domains (TLDs) which included .com, and offer a greater variety for businesses.
This increase in online ‘space’ now means that you can replace your .com or .co.uk domain name with one that describes your business or ideas more accurately. Here are some examples of new gTLDs which will be available:
Business – .hair, .company, .services, .studio, .agency
Commerce – .discount, .blackfriday, .shopping, .buy, .store
Education – .academy, .training, .degree, .phd, .mba
Entertainment – .guitars, .club, .film, .broadway, .fans
Food & Drink – .beer, .coffee, .food, .wine, .recipes
Geographic – .london, .international, .vegas, .boston, .abudhabi
Health – .health, .medical, .diet, .dentist, .doctor
Interest – .cooking, .condos, .flowers, .islam, .shoes
Lifestyle – .wedding, .kids, .living, .rent, .lifestyle
Money & Finance – .creditcard, .mortgage, .cheap, .financial, .cash
Occupation – .plumbing, .tattoo, .builders, .cleaning, .accountants
Popular – .amsterdam, .limited, .boutique, .menu, .network
Sport – .fish, .hockey, .run, .horse, .sport
Technology – .energy, .click, .codes, .download, .hosting
So now, if you’re the owner of Sandy Beach Hotel and sandybeachhotel.com is taken, sandybeach.hotel is a new possibility, as .hotel is a new gTLD.
It means you can find a domain name that suits you, without having to settle for one that simply ‘will do’. It means greater choice and availability, which is never a bad thing!
The new extensions can also help to increase customer trust when you associate your brand with a specific industry.
Before the new gTLD initiative, and since 2003, consumers could only choose from up to 22 possible TLDs, and most of these are geographic, for example, .co.uk. Now, more than 1,400 new gTLDs will be created, with 700 openly available to consumers and businesses.
The rest are mostly brands such as .microsoft, which solely the relevant companies will be able to use.
A new gTLD can also help your customers find your business more easily, as your location can now be a part of your domain, for example, .amsterdam or .london. As of summer 2014, consumers will be able to register a domain name under .uk, making things shorter and simpler for the first time.
Whereas the original TLDs consisted of Latin characters only (mostly English abbreviations), the new gTLDs are introducing languages including Arabic, Chinese, German, and Russian. This means that internet users can now appeal to groups by language, redefining the Internet on an international scale.
These new domains are progressively becoming available, with some, including .guru and .photography, now open for pre-registration. The system works by applying and paying for your desired domain name through a site such as GoDaddy or 123-Reg, and then waiting a while to see if your claim has been successful – if not, your money will be refunded.
Despite much welcome response to the new gTLDs, some critics have deemed them unnecessary because consumers are used to .com and the other original domain names. They believe the new domains will struggle to complete with those that have been in place for years.
It’s also possible that introducing additional domain names creates a system open for abuse. For example, consumers could potentially purchase Selfridges.beauty in an attempt to appear affiliated with the department store to set up phishing sites. Although this should, in theory, be stopped by the Trademark Clearing House, there are sure to be some cases which slip through the net.
Further criticism suggests that these new domain extensions are simply a ploy to make money. Does it mean businesses will feel compelled to purchase further domains just for the sake of it, or to stop competitors getting there first?
What’s your opinion? Do you think the new gTLDs are a great opportunity for those struggling to get a relevant domain? That more choice is a good thing? Or is the initiative a mere money-maker? Either way, it will be interesting to note the consumer response when the vast majority of new gTLDs become available in the coming year.