ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) described its decision to approve the creation of new gTLDs such as .PARIS, .APPLE, .LONDON, etc., as historic, and believe the new extensions will ‘shake up’ search results.
This initiative means that website addresses could adopt almost any word, in any language as their extension, making the Internet open to users whose language contains accented characters. It will give organizations the opportunity to optimize their brand, country or highlight their ‘good cause’.
Early applications include:
•.EARTH, .HOTEL, .MUSIC, .RADIO, .SHOP
•.AFRICA, .LONDON, .NYC, .PARIS
•.GAY, .WINE, .GOLF, .PEACE
•.CANON, .DELOITTE, .UNICEF
Is it worth it?
Unfortunately, these new extensions are not cheap, with $185,000 application fee, followed by a $35,000 management fee per year. You must also demonstrate sufficient capital to keep the registry operational for a minimum of three years. As with VeriSign, who are responsible for all .COM TLDs, you will be wholly responsible for all the domain names registered with your .NAME gTLD.
But, could that expense and additional work be justified if the new TLD web addresses are automatically favoured over a .COM name? Of course it could, if we are to believe that the new TLDs may receive preferential treatment.
Alas, Google says no!
Google has emphatically stated that content and relevance will remain the deciding factors when ranking websites, not giving preference to the new TLDs. They strongly warn against registering a new ‘name specific’ TLD expecting it to improve your website’s search engine ranking, as you will be disappointed. (1)
This is not a new concept with previous ‘name specific’ TLDs already in use, such as: .MUSEUM, .NAME, .COOP, .AERO, .JOBS, .TRAVEL, .CO and .MOBI. Regrettably, these early TLDs did not always prove successful; .MUSEUM, created in 2001, shows approximately 500 registered domain names, whilst the big names felt safer keeping their original domains: louvre.fr, tate.org.uk, guggenheim.org.
Despite its rather unsuccessful history, businesses are applying for their own domains, concerned they will lose out to their competitors if they don’t.
Don’t forget, Google said no! But…
If they were to be acknowledged as keywords and rated, .MOBI, used by mobile devices for accessing the Internet via the Mobile Web, would benefit from Google’s search engine as they give priority to .MOBI sites when searched from a mobile device. .COM and .MOBI were indexed in less than 12 hours by Google spiders, performing a keyword search and .COM and .MOBI were the only webpages found.
Should you choose .MOBI? Google said yes when they, along with Microsoft and several tier one CSPs, financially backed the domain.
The clue’s in the name
The IHRA (International Hotel & Restaurant Association) is actively pursuing the .HOTEL extension for the exclusive use of hotels, thus reassuring visitors that they are on genuine hotel sites. It can only help hotels when appearing in searches with this extension, returning control to the hotel industry and away from commercial distributors. Whilst the extension .COM provides no clue, .HOTEL broadcasts its content without question. Adopting place name extensions would also help local hotels in searches, how could besthotel.paris fail?
When publishing your website it is worth remembering that for Google to present the most appropriate page in a search, it is advised that a ccTLD should be used when producing content specific to a particular country. Therefore, when publishing content in French or German, use .FR and .DE, respectively.
A small, French baker’s website, written in French, would have more success with boulangerie.fr, keeping it local and talking to a specific audience, rather than using boulangerie.com and advertising to the whole world. Boulangerie.paris would appear in searches for Paris, again attracting too wide an audience, but if you were a large chain with branches all over the world then boulangerie.paris, boulangerie.co.uk, may strengthen your branding, and improve results in country-specific searches.
Using the right tool for the job
Should you wish to improve your brand’s exposure, these new TLDs offer a possible opportunity. .CO is working well for start-up businesses, and the media industry has readily adopted the .TV extension. So, whilst they may not improve your keyword usage, they should be recognised as a beneficial marketing tool.
Food for thought
It has been predicted that by the end of 2012 there will be approximately 1000 extension applications approved. Are we really to believe they will be ignored in search engines? That Google, for instance, has not already considered the implications and begun integrating them into their algorithms.We will have to wait and see!
April 12, 2012, ICANN announced that the TLD Application System (TAS) was, temporarily, taken offline due to a bug in the system, allowing a number of applicants access to other applicant’s data.
April 20, 2012, with new procedures in place to improve system performance, and testing underway, ICANN say they are committed to reopening the application system as soon as possible, and endeavouring to notify all affected users.
April 20, 2012, ICANN will not be providing a date for reopening the application system until all affected applicants have been identified and informed. They said, “In order to give all applicants notice and an opportunity to review and complete their applications upon reopening the system, we will keep it open for at least five business days. No later than April 27, we will provide an update on the reopening of the system and the publication of the applied-for new domain names.”