The recent addition of hundreds of new generic top level domain (gTLD) extensions (with hundreds more on the way) has created serious buzz in the business and marketing world, but there are many important aspects of the new extensions that need to be examined more closely. We’re long past the era of fewer and simpler gTLD extension suffixes like .com, .net, and .gov; now businesses have to consider whether or not to buy domains for their company with extensions like .business, .company, or the controversial .sucks, which I recently discussed.
To help you navigate this brave new world of gTLDs, I’ve put together the Ultimate Guide To Domain Name Extensions. We’ll explore what new extensions are available, what they mean for SEO and marketing purposes, and which ones might make the most sense for you and your business.
What are the new gTLDs?
Not all that long ago there were only 22 generic top level domain extensions available, including the familiar .com, .net, .gov, .mil, and geographic suffixes such as .uk, .jp or .rus. In fact, from 1985 to 2013 the number of gTLD extensions grew to just 260. But in 2014, that all changed. That’s when ICANN, the international organization that manages the Internet’s domain system, rapidly expanded the number of available gTLDs to nearly 500, with possibly 900 more to be released in the coming year.
So, what are all of these new gTLD suffixes? Well, with so many new ones available–many of which are not broadly relevant to many businesses–let’s focus on the ones that are most relevant to most branding and marketing purposes. The recent additions include many extensions are truly generic and could apply to most businesses (.business, .company, .shop), while others are industry specific (.marketing, .food, .technology), while others are geo-specific (.nyc, .paris, .bos). Here are some of the key gTLD extensions that were recently added or will be available very soon, and how they might be appropriate for most businesses:
.business – A fairly straightforward extension for most businesses that want to secure their brand name and distinguish themselves on the .business suffix.
.company – Another potentially useful suffix to acquire, particularly if you already have the word “company” in the name of your business.
.online – This suffix can be useful if you have a brick-and-mortar business and want to distinguish your online component, or to emphasize that you offer specifically online goods and services.
.contact – To better connect with people searching for your contact information, this could be a streamlined approach.
.shop – If you sell your product or services online or manage an online store, .shop can be a useful suffix to own for your company.
.app – If you’ve created an app for your business or an app is your business, this will likely be one you’ll want to secure.
Here are a few more from Godaddy.
These are examples of extensions that will be particularly useful for certain businesses to maintain a presence in an industry related suffix. In some cases, you must verify that you are actually involved in that industry. For example, .organic is only available to businesses that offer certified organic products or are specifically in that industry, while many others are less stringent.
.technology – If you are in the tech field or sell a certain tech product or service, this will likely be a useful suffix to associate with your brand.
.marketing – For companies that offer marketing services, and for those that have “marketing” in their brand name, this suffix is probably worth considering.
.supplies – If you sell supplies or any specific equipment, this extension could be very helpful to own for your brand name
.software – For companies that sell software or offer related services.
.social – If there is a social component to your business or you want to create another access point for your social media accounts this could be a great option.
.food – For companies that operate anywhere in the food, restaurant or hospitality industries, this may be useful.
.reviews – As many people often search for reviews for particular businesses, this can be a useful suffix to acquire for online reputation management
.sucks – As I discussed the other day, purchasing .sucks for your business may be a smart preemptive measure to prevent competitors or critics from jumping on the suffix first and using it to cause damage to your business.
.rocks – The positive alternative to .sucks, this suffix might be useful to associate your brand with a positive word. More specifically it could be useful for those in the music industry, just as .music could be helpful.
.feedback – Similar to .reviews, this suffix can be used to manage your reputation and offer a great customer service venue.
Where should you begin?
It’s important to remember that in light of all the new gTLD extensions, .com still reigns supreme with 75% of all websites using the suffix, while other long-standing suffixes (.net, .info, .biz) trail far behind. So, if you don’t already possess the .com with your brand name, you’ll want to secure that first and foremost. If the .com with your brand name is already taken, there are a variety of ways to make adjustments that can make it work for you. After that, you’ll want to consider acquiring the other major gTLD extensions of your URL like .net and .info, as well as URLs with common misspellings of your brand name, all of which should redirect back to your primary URL.
If your company does business in multiple locations or operates internationally, you’ll also want to consider geo-specific extensions such as .au (Australia), .uk (United Kingdom, .ca (Canada) or some of the new geo-targeted ones like .nyc, .paris, or .capetown. These will help you rank higher in specific countries where people may be more inclined to click on the local link and Google will prioritize locally relevant results. Google also recommends an extensive list of gTLDs if you aim to compete worldwide.
Regarding the new and soon-to-be released gTLDs, you’ll likely want to examine them on a case-by-case basis depending on your industry. As I mentioned above, some may be useful as an additional extension to redirect visitors or to secure for when (or if) those suffixes become more popular. And for industry specific ones, you’ll want to make sure that there are no requirements for usage. While many of these new gTLDs are available now, others will have their sunrise phase (the window of time when registered trademark holders can apply for the matching top level domain), so it’s important to keep an eye on the dates for availability.
What Are the Potential Benefits of the New gTLD Extensions?
While there is still much debate over exactly how significant the impact or usefulness of the new gTLD suffixes will be, there are a number of speculative benefits to consider.
- Save money as an early adopter – While some companies are waiting to see if the new extensions take off, others see this early phase as an opportunity to purchase their URL with the extensions while they’re still affordable.
- Reputation management – As I mentioned before, securing these alternate extensions can help protect your company from reputation damage should someone else buy the extension for your company later. .sucks and .reviews are great examples.
- Community building – Securing geo-specific or industry specific extensions can enable you to begin building a connection with customers in a particular physical location or in a particular field.
- Innovation – Many companies will likely secure extensions that can be cleverly used to promote their brand, for a particular product launch or interact with their customers.
How might the new domain name extensions affect SEO?
One of the more contentious and debated issues about the new extensions is, of course, how they will impact SEO. Google’s Matt Cutts contends that they will continue to rank the most relevant search results highest regardless of the domain extension, though it may take some time for them to determine where and how to crawl these new extensions.
Some people speculate that the new gTLDs could double as additional keywords for a companies URL and offer additional SEO weight. For example, a search engine marketing company might be interested in searchengine.marketing or searchenginemarketing.company. Though exactly how this will play out and impact SEO largely remains to be seen.
Public perception will also play a huge role in how the new extensions will affect SEO. As we know, Google gives more weight to search results that offer relevant and useful content for searchers. But if people continue to give preference to .com and other popular gTLD results and are reluctant to venture into the new extensions, this could greatly impact rankings. That said, with so many new extensions, it’s possible that more people will use the advanced “search by extension” feature on search engines to find highly targeted content, which could give a great boost to certain extensions.
As I mentioned earlier with the addition of .organic, certain gTLDs will have and many currently have restrictions or standards for owning a domain with the extension. We’ve already seen this happen with .xxx, where domain owners must follow certain rules and be scanned for malware to maintain the URL. The owner of the gTLD and the niche community at large will dictate much of this.
What are the potential drawbacks to using the new gTLDs?
While there’s been quite a lot of excitement over the new gTLDs, there are also many critics that contend there will be significant drawbacks as well. The .sucks extension is one example where many argue that the high price ($2499) for brands to purchase their trademarked domain with the extension during the sunrise period basically amounts to extortion. While the flipside is these prices are considered part of the cost of doing business online.
Others argue that the new extensions and their sudden rollout could cause compatibility problems or unexpected errors with operating systems, mail servers, security software, mail service providers and more. Part of the issue, critics argue, is that it takes time for these systems to adjust to new gTLDs and as the length of the extensions grow beyond just two or three letters (and some include characters from other languages), this could cause some major problems.
There’s also a lot of companies waiting around to see if others will jump on the bandwagon before they decide to commit to a particular extension. This waiting game is slowing the registration process and could give some companies pause before committing. Others argue that there is a risk in confusing category labels, which the new gTLDs can offer a company, with a brand, as it could clutter your message.
Now that you’ve had an extensive look at domain name extensions and what they could mean for your business, it’s time to dig in to the research phase to see if the new ones are right for your business. Take a close look at the timelines for upcoming gTLD releases, especially the sunrise period, and check to see what is available currently. Weigh out the cost of the particular domain extensions that are especially relevant or useful to your company to determine which and how many are worth the investment in light of the potential benefits. And, of course, keep an eye right here for the latest updates and news on new domain name extensions.
Overall, the new domain extensions offer tremendous opportunities for companies and marketers to test out strategies and Internet domains that were previously unavailable. What are your thoughts on the new domain name extensions and which ones are you considering or already registered? Let us know in the comment section below.
- “Your Top 5 Questions about the New gTLD Domain Extensions, Answered” (Search Engine Land)
- “The Expansion of Internet Domains Would Go Better at a Slower Pace” (Forbes)
- “How Your Domain Name Will Affect SEO and Social Media Marketing” (Search Engine Journal)
- “How Do New gTLDs Affect SEO” (TSO Host)
- “What Domain Extension Is Best For SEO” (Monitor Backlinks)
- “How To Choose A Domain Extension” ()