Does your business have a great domain name? If not, you're about to get another chance to name your online home, with the introduction of hundreds of new top level domains (TLDs for short).
But what is the point in changing and what would it actually do for your business?
It’s all about relevance and being easily found in searches. For example if your business is in Wales you should have .WALES as your TLD. If you are a law firm its .LAW.
This doesn’t mean that you will have to change your current website or presence, if it’s working stick with it. However adding another string to your bow may well be a good tactic.
We have increasingly seen businesses having multiple websites to attract customers. Now they can have even more relevance for a niche market and get ahead of the competition. You can see the next batch of TLDs and reserve for free at 1and1.com
CR4L has already reserved several TLDs for clients in certain industries: for example in the caravan park industry in Wales. There will be a distinct advantage to having the correct TLD to get ahead in searches. CR4L offers free consultancy on this and can help you and your company get a suitable advantage.
All this change came about because a few years ago ICANN, the organisation that makes key decisions about how the Internet work, decided that we need more domain names, especially for brands and for businesses.
That's partly a response to the way country-specific domains like .tv and .it get used for sites that are nothing to do with Tuvalu or Italy; something that Google says could make your website show up further down its search results.
ICANN said in June it had already evaluated nearly 2,000 new TLDs; 121 were dropped as unsuitable, 22 are getting more in-depth checks and 1,745 are now either ready to be sold or in the last stages of making sure they work properly everywhere in the world.
That means if you're based in Wales or you're a law firm, it's time to think about reserving domain names in the new top-level domains that tell your visitors – and search engines – a bit more about your business, according to Robert Hoffman, CEO of web hoster and domain registrar 1&1. "The landscape will change, because the domain will tell you more about a business than it does today."
Very few people type in domain names directly in their browser; instead they search or follow links. Search engines can use the fact you have a .london TLD to include your site when someone searches for your kind of business in London.
Will Google make the new domains easy to find?
Some of the new TLDs are controversial. Google wants to control the .search TLD, as well as .app, .blog and .cloud; that's caused an outcry from competitors who aren't convinced Google will be fair and unbiased when deciding whether a someone who wants a .app domain is part of a "relevant developer community".
Hoffman agrees with the concerns; "It's fine if .Paris is only available if your business is there, but .search shouldn't only be available if you have a Google account." 1&1 is bidding to run the .web domain and Hoffman says it wouldn't ever tie domain names to hosting with them. "This is a great opportunity for our customers but it's important to keep the business models separate, so you can have a domain registered with one company and choose to have your hosting elsewhere."
Other companies have also applied to run .search, and Google has already had to change its plans. It wanted .search to work as a 'dotless domain', where you can just type 'search' into your browser. ICANN said that would be confusing and could break some applications and Internet standards and it banned dotless domains.
There's a similar problem with the proposed .home domain; lots of companies use HOME as the internal domain for connecting to a server or the company intranet. Having it go to somebody's web site could cause a lot of confusion.
These problems are why the new TLD process is taking some time, but now that ICANN is signing contracts with registrars they will be able to put prices on new domains. Stuck for ideas? 1&1 has a search system where you can type in keywords about your business, get suggestions for appropriate top-level domains and reserve them.
Bear in mind that some domains are restricted - .bank and .law are reserved for banks and lawyers – and that you might have to go through the Trademark Clearing House to make sure you're not infringing another business's trademark.
If there is a TLD and a domain you have your eye on, reserve it with 1and1.com soon because the first new TLDs will be working by the end of the year.
For advice and a free consultancy service get in touch with CR4L. Don’t get left behind, get ahead and come out top of the searches. http://www.cr4l.com/contact-us.html
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