Do you remember the old days, when it was just .COM, .NET, and .ORG?
Those days are gone. Dozens of new top-level domain names (TLDs) are becoming available each month.
With so many TLDs to choose from, web marketers and online businesses are finding near infinite branding opportunities. At the same time, these new domains are creating a bit of confusion due to lack of information about their intended use, or the ways they can be put to use.
In speaking with customers, I’m starting to hear some recurring questions and opinions:
1) “Isn’t .COM still the best?
2) “I like the idea of a new domain, but wouldn’t people forget it?”
3) “I’m already happy with my current domain. I don’t need any more.”
To address these points, the .COM space is effectively used up. Yes, you may be able to find a custom domain to your liking, but if you follow this approach and are starting a new business, you may be forced to brand your business around what few .COM domains you find. The new TLDs were created to alleviate this issue of short supply.
Another benefit of the new TLD is that they free up businesses with lengthy names from needing to adopt a completely different domain. For example: ACME Portland Construction, while being able to register acmeportlandconstruction.com, may initially opt for something shorter like acmeportland.com, which leaves off that important part, “construction”. With the new TLDs, the company would now be able to register acmeportland.construction. The alternate domain is shorter and more memorable, not to mention that a portion of the business name has been directly integrated with the TLD. Even if they wanted to find a shorter domain, ACME.build would accomplish the goal, while using the TLD to describe the business. It makes long-term branding of the business simpler.
The new TLDs make it possible to dovetail a company’s brand completely with their online identity, creating a unified image in both the physical and virtual business worlds. TLDs are available for hundreds of professions and industries. Artists can choose from .MEDIA and .PAINT; photographers can use .PHOTO. Builders and contractors? Try .PLUMBING or .LIGHTING. Real estate can now find the perfect .LAND or .HOMES space. The list is endless, and so are the possibilities.
Finally, there’s the point of search engine optimization (SEO) to consider. As one web marketing blog pointed out, Google has altered some of its search algorithms that imply the new TLDs will have a greater fighting chance and not be treated as second class domains when compared to .COM. Other blogs caution that many factors are at play, such as overall site relevance and content quality to consider.
Indeed, if you have an established .COM brand, you may be fine passing up on the new TLDs, unless you wish to lock down a few that are very close to, if not identical with, your full business name. Register those domains and turn them into redirects to your .COM. Done. Consider this one way to prevent domain squatting or brand impersonation on the part of a third party. ACME Portland Construction, for example, would probably want that .CONSTRUCTION domain even if they are happy with their .COM, simply to prevent someone from fabricating a convincing forgery of a domain using the .CONSTRUCTION space.
And then, my mind wanders into trademark and copyright protection, and the many fights that have broken out over brand wars in the past. I’m also reminded of some of the steps our own company took to protect our brand and products, by registering our brand with the US Patent and Trade Office. Whether you want to go to those extents in securing your online identity, a simple and cost-effective way would be to first secure your company’s most important TLDs.
Depending upon which side of the domain aisle you reside, the prospect of new TLDs may be of greater or lesser importance to you. If you have any questions, please reach out to us and we’ll be happy to chat about new domains and what they can do for you. We’re always available at firstname.lastname@example.org, by phone at 503.914.1118, or toll-free at 800.574.4299.
David Anderson, Owner
Canvas Host, LLC