Top level domains – you know them without really being able to define them – they are the .com, .org, .net, .edu, .gov, and even .mil. Top level domains also include the country domains – you’ll see something.ca, for example, and know that’s a domain related to Canada. .jp is for Japan and so on.
Now there are a whole host of new top level domains available for purchase and the benefits for marketing and differentiating yourself are compelling.
What Are the New Top Level Domains?
There are about 1300 new top level domains and they are being released to the general public slowly. There are 111 that are now available for purchase. The new top level domains cover a wide range of topics. Here are a few examples:
Top level domains like .law, .lawyer, and .attorney will be available for pre-registration soon. What should a savvy marketer do to take advantage of these new domains?
1. Innovate Your Brand
I’m sure we can all agree that your domain name is important for the branding of your company. After all, you would expect to find Connect4 Consulting at www.Connect4Consulting.com, right? And the same is likely true for your business domain.
But what if the game changed so that your business domain could be more aligned with your business? We could be Connect4.marketing or Connect4.consultant. Own a car dealership? How about www.BethesdaFord.cars? Have a law firm? How about www.washingtondc.law or www.personalinjury.law? Are you a politician? How about www.joesmith.democrat or www.joesmith.gop?
These changes and more are all coming in 2014. Savvy marketers need to get in front of this new domain landscape and line up to protect their brands (or even consider re-branding).
2. Protect Your Brand
If you have a domain that is your company name or a domain that reflects your branding, it’s time to protect variations of that brand that are becoming available.
For example, Connect4 Consulting only works with companies in the US and Canada, so we’d probably be okay with a foreign entity owning <a “href=”http://www.connect4consulting.asia/”>www.connect4consulting.asia. But we definitely would not like another agency to grab www.connect4consulting.marketing.
3. Get Up For The Sunrise
As each new top level domain becomes available, there’s a 60 day “sunrise” period for trademark holders to purchase their domains. For example, this will allow Hertz to scoop up www.hertz.cars and Amazon to get www.Amazon.book. Trademark holders still have to purchase the domains but they get first pick.
To view the list of all the new TLDs, take a look at Name.com’s TLD Watchlist Here you can see all the new TLDs and also mark the ones you’re interested in so that you can be notified when they become available. Your domain registrar may offer a similar service. As these new domains become available, you can purchase them for prices similar to those for your existing domains. Tip: Go to Name.com’s TLD Watchlist and see what TLDs are of interest to you. Then add these names to your Watchlist (right on the same page).
4. New Top Level Domains and SEO
According to Google’s Matt Cutts, the new top level domains won’t have an SEO advantage over existing domains. What will matter, however is the memory of the end user and your branding. Which is better Ford.com or Ford.cars? Hilton.com or Hilton.hotels? Today it’s easy to say that .com is better for brand recall, but over time I think we’ll see a shift as brands use the top level domains as part of their overall branding strategy.
The Bottom Line on New Top Level Domains
Our suggestion is that you register new top level domains that match your business objectives or that you want to protect, either because of your own trademarks or for future use.