If you’re pondering this question, you’re ahead of the game. The answer to this question will likely be very important in the near future. First, what exactly is a top-level domain (TLD)? The TLD is everything that comes after the dot in a URL, the most familiar of which is .com or .net. Over the years the number of TLDs has grown to include TLDs such as .agency .ninja and .guru. Recently Booking.com who clearly sees a change coming paid 2.2 million dollars for the exclusive rights to manage the .hotels TLD. Currently no domains ending in .hotels are available for purchase or use.
Many of our clients who stay up on business news now ask if they should be buying new TLDs and the answer is an interesting one.
The biggest challenge for the companies running these new TLDs is that legacy domain extensions like .com and .org are habitual now for the general population and habits are hard to change. There is a need to build consumer awareness that other domain extensions are possible and credible. Who will begin to educate the masses with regard to TLDs?
Our next challenge: predict how people will interact with the web in the future. For example, take a look at what happened to .mobi. The extention .mobi was made unnecessary by device-responsive programing. Rest in peace .mobi. Will TLDs be made redundant by a new technology?
Now that we’ve identified the challenges, let’s look at the benefits. We can often build a strong case that a new TLD is more than a name, but a new way to further define your identity. Using unique TLDs to build very specific landing pages that serve a niche need for your customers is one way to leverage this.
There is also a case for a brand protection strategy. Recently Taylor Swift began buying up .xxx and other unsavory domain names in an effort to guard against misuse of her name aka, her brand. If your brand names are adequately protected with copyright, then you should be able to retrieve a hijacked domain. But why wait and use legal resources when you can ensure its protection today for minimal investment?
In essence, deciding whether or not to buy TLDs for your business can be answered by weighing up the registration costs to the potential risk of not registering and the benefits of registering, which will vary between brands and domains. In some cases, it might be easier to avoid the risk of a potentially time-consuming dispute later on. Unless you have significant value in your brand, we might advise that a defensive domain registration strategy across all new domain extensions is probably unnecessary. Selectively registering in the extensions that are most relevant to you could be a worthwhile strategy for their potential benefits.
Now let’s talk about search engine optimization goals. Will using TLDs make any difference to your business on search results pages? Google’s John Mueller confirmed in a Google Hangout that keyword-rich TLDs, such as the new top-level-domains that have keywords in them like .LIVE, .NEWS, .ATTORNEY and so on, do not count for ranking purposes at this time. John Mueller said Google completely ignores that for ranking purposes.
At the 12:45 minute mark into the hangout, John said, “the TLD is not something we take into account there,” saying they “completely” ignore the words in the TLD portion of the URL. But will this change?
Let’s talk about whether or not you should buy TLDs based on your particular business. Please reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 720-493-1020.
Find a list of valid TLDs here: http://data.iana.org/TLD/tlds-alpha-by-domain.txt.