In a move that will have far reaching effects for all Internet users and especially digital brand managers, Internet governing body ICANN recently opened the floodgates on allowing registries to create new generic top level domains (gTLD). But will the new domains assist domain owners to achieve better results for their websites? The short answer is yes, but acquiring a branded domain should not be your only focus.
The new regime will see global corporations permitted to launch domains specifically for promoting their own brands. This may result in the emergence of a number of restricted domains such as .apple, .ibm or .bmw for example. In general these domains will not be available to the public. Open generic domains such as .food, .radio, .app or .sport will be of far greater interest for marketers and product developers looking to capture more eyeballs in particular verticals however. Some cities are even considering developing unique domain brands, notably Berlin and New York. Imagine the benefits of owning a domain such as pizza.nyc !
Opening up more domain real estate is both good news and bad news for marketers. The downside is that brand managers will need to monitor and acquire additional domains. The upside is that users who missed out on their preferred .com, .net or .org domains will now have an opportunity to shop around. Unfortunately there are no guarantees regarding securing the gTLD of your choice. Sunrise periods on some new domains are expected to commence in 2012 and registrars are gearing up to receive bids. During the sunrise period, only users with registered trademarks can apply. After the sunrise period closes, initial allocations are made and then registrations are opened to the general public. Of course you could always start your own domain; but the legal and financial barriers to entry are high. ICANN require an initial application fee of $185,000 plus there is an annual fee of $25,000 if the proposal is approved.
Acquiring a relevant keyword based domain name certainly helps with search engine rankings, but it is only one part of a good search engine optimization (SEO) strategy. Search algorithms are constantly evolving towards ranking better quality content, rather than better optimized content. Retaining or improving your site search ranking is an ongoing project. Apart from owning a cool new domain that reflects your brand values or individual persona, plus seeking specialist advice on SEO, the best thing you can do to gain trust and credibility and lift your search ranking is to ensure your website content generates interest and adds real value for visitors.
This article was contributed by Paul Spence, a co-founder of global domain registrar iWantMyName.