Benefits of New Top-Level Domains
For two decades, the Internet has known only 22 top-level domain (TLDs). You know them as the last part of Internet addresses, for instance, .com, .net or .org.
Beginning in 2012, the Internet Corporation of Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the regulatory body for domain names, opened up applications so that any organization (or individual with $185K to cover the fee) could receive its own TLD and a bigger piece of the Internet. .audio, .blackfriday and .pizza are merely three of hundreds of such examples.
Outline of ICANN’S GTLD changes
Prior to these changes, there were 22 generic top-level domain (gTLD) suffixes in use on the web with varying degrees of adoption. Those gTLDs range from the heavily used .com, .org, .gov, and .edu and the less frequently used .mil, .net, and .biz, to the near obscure .tel, .int, .info, .arpa, .aero, .coop, .name, .pro, .asia, .cat, .jobs, .mobi, .post, .travel, and .museum.
In addition to the existing gTLDs, there are approximately 248 two-letter ccTLDs (Country-coded Top-Level Domains) associated with specific countries. In July 2010, ICANN took the .co ccTLD for the country of Columbia, and changed it's use so that it now functions as a gTLD. Effectively, .co now works the same as a .com suffix. For example, those who found that ‘mycompany.com’ was already being used by someone else can register ‘mycompany.co’ as an alternative. Since that change was made, ICANN has registered one million .co domain names, a strong signal that the marketplace is ready for additional top-level domain name options.
The changes announced by ICANN will see the number of gTLDs increase dramatically in the coming years and will allow brands, organizations, niche areas, and even cities to apply for and run their own gTLDs.
Why are new gTLDs being introduced?
One of ICANN’s chief commitments is to promote competition in the domain name market while ensuring Internet security and stability. New generic Top-Level Domains (gTLDs) help fulfill that commitment by paving the way for increased consumer choice by facilitating competition among registry service providers. Soon, entrepreneurs, businesses, governments, and communities around the world will be able to apply to operate a Top-Level Domain registry of their own choosing.
Will the introduction of new gTLDs change how the Internet operates?
The increase in number of gTLDs into the root is not expected to affect the way the Internet operates, but it will, for example, potentially change the way people search for and locate information on the Internet and how businesses plan and structure their online presence.
Inspiration for naming your business in a “not-com” world
Hitting on the perfect name for your company is a great moment: one often followed by disappointment upon realizing that the name looks odd or is difficult to remember as a domain name. And even this depends on another company’s not already owning that “perfect” name.
There now are new options—in fact, several hundred of them.
Instead of being limited to .com, .net, or .org, entrepreneurs might be able to find suffixes—the part of a web address after the dot—that offer more about what their company does. Or are simply more fun or interesting. Alphabet (Googles new parent company) appears to be going with abc.xyz. Other options include .recipes, .bike, .photo and .farm, as well as .lawyer and .media and .financial. LionsGate, the film company behind The Hunger Games’ franchise, recently launched TheHungerGames.movie.
The average domain runs between $30 and $40 annually, but some sought-after names can be considerably more expensive. More specific words, such as .coffee, .clothing, .florist, and .farm have strong appeal because they fit the user’s passion or business. Some of our more generic terms, such as .business, .life, and .company carry a broader appeal.
SEO implications of the new GTLDS
As things stands today, the SEO implications of the new gTLDs are only theoretical. Nobody can say with certainty what the long-term SEO implications will be, and the short-term effects won’t be clear for at least another year. The most educated guess that can be made is that the new gTLDs will affect SEO in the same way that the current gTLDs do, which is to say not much at all.
It is known that ccTLDs have minor effects for geo-specific SEO, but to date, operating as a .com, a .net, or a .travel does not influence search placement. In theory, the presence of keywords in the gTLD might offer some SEO advantage, but that is only if algorithms change to consider the text in the suffix.
For the time being, there is no reason to assume that owning a specialized gTLD will offer any clear SEO advantage. However, well-established and globally present brands might see search engines adjust to provide preferential treatment to their custom gTLDs, using a similar mechanism to the domain age criteria that is already factored into algorithms. Moreover, shorter URLs could boost SEO by being more social media friendly and by supporting better site architectural planning.
IP Protection and Legal Issues
Trademark owners must now be concerned with protecting their marks not only at the second level (meaning, to the left of the dot) but also at top level (to the right of the dot). However, in most cases owners will most likely need to focus the majority of their efforts on protecting their brands at the second level.
About the author
David Sewell is the President and owner of Sewelltech, Inc., an Apple Value Added Reseller based in Dallas, Texas. David founded Sewelltech in 1994 after graduating the Colorado Institute of Art with a degree in graphic arts and photography where his technical skills lead to being engaged to manage the computer labs. David can be contacted by phone at 214-845-8198 or through the Contact Form on Sewelltech's website.