Whether you are presently a website owner, a seasoned “domainer” (someone who invests in domain names) or a complete newbie, you should know about the new domain extensions that are now available. These are known as gTLDs, or generic top-level domains. ICANN, which oversees domain registrations worldwide, began accepting applications for new gTLDs in early 2012.
At first, these new domain names were only available to large companies, such as Google, Amazon, IBM and others. Since that time, however, the marketplace has opened to include many other domain extensions for places, occupations, hobbies and popular words.
This is a major restructuring of the world of domains, and it opens up many new possibilities for people looking for the most appropriate domain name. In this article we’ll be looking at some of these new domain extensions, how you can register them and the benefits of doing so.
What are the New Domain Name Extensions?
As you may know, the original domains only had a few extensions, such as .com, .net and .org. Over the years, many new ones were introduced, such as .info, .mobi and .biz. Many newer domain extensions are location-based. For example, .it is for Italy, .ca is for Canada, .tr is for Turkey and so on.
The very latest domain extensions, however, are of a different order. They are far more customizable, allowing people to register domains specifically made for different interests and professions. For example, you can now register a domain that ends in .clothing, .photography or .estate, to name just a few. In fact, as of now, there are more than 700 domain extensions available! Some industry experts predict that this number will soon exceed 1,000! Considering that until 2013 there were only 22 gTLDs, the introduction of so many new ones is quite revolutionary.
Where to register?
These domain extensions are being sold by many traditional domain registrars, such as GoDaddy, iPage, FatCow and others. There are also several hosting companies that specialize in new domain extensions.
The cost of these extensions varies. Some are around the same price as conventional extensions. Others are more expensive. For example, if you want a domain with the very popular extension .london, you can pre-register one at GoDaddy for $59.99.
Pre-register a domain name
As the above example illustrates, some gLTDs can be registered now, while others can only be pre-registered. With pre-registration, you submit the domain name you want before it’s actually available so you have the option to register it before it becomes publicly offered. In the case of popular domains that are pre-registered by multiple parties, the domain registrar will have to decide who to sell it to. This may be done by holding an auction. In some cases, you can pay a priority pre-registration fee now to put your request at the top of the list!
Benefits of New Domain Names
What is the appeal of all these new domain name extensions? One motivation for this is the fact that so many desirable domains with previously popular extensions have been snapped up. As anyone who has tried to find a good domain name already knows, the chances of finding a good .com domain still available is practically non-existent. The same is true for .net and .org.
The new domain extensions open up lots of new territory for people seeking catchy and relevant domain names. It’s now possible to get a domain name extension that perfectly matches the theme of your website. These domain extensions allow you to create names that are shorter and more on target than traditional ones (even when they are free).
For example, if the name of your business is Johnson Photography, you might be able to purchase the domain Johnson.photography, which immediately lets everyone know the type of business you have.
gTLDs also represent a chance for businesses to claim certain locations. Using the example of a photography studio once again, someone might register a domain such as photographer.london, photography.nyc, which would imply that they are the leading photographer in New York City. Location-based gTLDs have a great deal of potential for establishing credibility in this way!
These location-based gTLDs are different from the existing country-based domains. Whereas most casual web visitors don’t even know what lesser known domain extensions like .au (Australia) or .ag (Antigua) stand for, the new location-based gTLDs are of a different order, as they openly reveal the location – such as .berlin, .nyc and so on.
New domain names are also appealing to domain investors. These are people who buy domain names hoping to resell them and make a profit. Of course, it’s anyone’s guess what the market for new domain extensions will turn out to be. Domainers, however, are by nature people who like to speculate in the hope of finding a profitable opportunity.
How will gTLDs affect SEO?
At this point, we can only guess what effect, if any, gTLDs will have on search engine optimization. We can, however, note that Google has been placing less and less emphasis on factors such as EMDs (exact match domains).
Some people even believe that Google penalizes EMDs, but the general consensus seems to be that it doesn’t make much difference at this point. That is, a domain such as chicagoflorist.com won’t necessarily help you rank well for the term “chicago florist” if your site isn’t optimized in other ways (quality links, fast loading pages, high quality content, etc.).
What about a new gTLD such as chicago.florist? While there are several good reasons to register such a domain if you own a flower shop in Chicago, you shouldn’t assume that this will automatically help your website rank well with the search engines. This is, however, something that is too early to predict with any accuracy.
Should you register a domain name in the new gTLD?
New domain name extensions are an exciting new development in the domain industry. Most likely, some of these new domains will turn out to be very popular while others may be bypassed.
Apart from unanswerable questions, such as the long term monetary value of gTLDs or how the search engines will respond to them, there is no question that they can be valuable as branding tools. gTLDs are therefore well worth looking into if you’re looking for a relevant domain name that is still available.