What’s in a name? More specifically, what’s in a domain name? Up until recently, most domain names ended with .com, .net, .org, or .edu, and they still do, actually — for now. But with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, or ICANN’s decision to create over 1,300 new extensions over the next few years, the landscape is about to change drastically.
Dubbed generic top level domains, or gTLDs, the new category will expand the possibilities for domain names from just a handful of top level domains (TLDs) and country code top level domains (ccTLDs) to literally thousands of extensions, or “strings.” In other words, the Internet just added a whole lot of new real estate.
Kinds of Extensions
Already, since October of 2013, 471 new gTLDs have been introduced into the Internet’s authoritative database, or Root Zone. What categories of extensions are there? Everything. With more being added regularly, it is difficult to list all of them, but here is a general breakdown with a few examples:
- Obvious – .technology, .directory, .legal, .money
- Services – .vet, .contractors, .actor, .consulting, .events
- Cities – .nyc, .london, .vegas, .paris, .berlin
- Industries – .construction, .clothing, .energy, .healthcare, .travel
So What’s in a Name?
With all of the possibilities, big trademark holders like Samsung and Cartier get a clean slate to claim a lot of new territory (.samsung and .cartier are two of the new gTLDs). As each domain is released, trademark holders who register their TMs with ICANN get first dibs during the domain’s “sunrise” period — at premium pricing, of course. You could see domains like NASA.space, Budweiser.beer, Goodyear.tires and Dominos.pizza if the big trademark holders decide to play along.
After the sunrise period, comes the land rush, or priority registration period, where prospective domain buyers can bid for domains through an auction process, or even buy them outright at premium pricing (GTLDs can run in the tens of thousands of dollars, depending on demand). And while you can pre-register for a domain at a registrar, it does not guarantee you that domain name. The owner of the domain is decided upon which registrar gets to the end first once the domain becomes available to the general public, typically around 10 a.m. CST on a specified date.
Should I Get a gTLD?
That depends. There are some advantages, in that with a little creativity you can come up with a dynamic new URL for your business that hasn’t been taken, as so many of the .coms have been, such as Goodbye.tattoo, Inspirational.photography, Rogues.gallery or Favorite.pizza. It also helps to have the dot separating your keywords, which wouldn’t otherwise be separated in a normal URL. Instead of nyccontractors.com, you could have nyc.contractors, or even contractors.nyc.
But beware! Anyone shelling out top dollar for a new gTLD thinking it’s going to buy them premium ranking on Google is wasting their money. Google’s Head of Webspam Matt Cutts has assured the public on more than one occasion that gTLDs will not rank any differently than .coms. And with some of the new gTLDs running as much as $400 a year on top of their initial cost, that can be a pricey mistake to make if you’re not buying it for any other reason than to boost SEO.
Where Do I Get a gTLD?
When it comes to registering a gTLD, the process is a whole lot more complicated than with the TLDs. Not every registrar will show every domain available. The best bet is to check the ICANN website to see what is being delegated and when, and then shop around with the various registrars and see who’s offering it and for how much. Prices vary from one registrar to the next, both for initial purchase and subsequent yearly registration, so it’s worth checking them all.
For anyone who’s ever been frustrated by the process of having to plug in numerous variations on a desired domain only to find them all taken, this new turn of events offers a whole new world of possibilities and unexplored territory. For start-ups, it’s likely to be a decided benefit. For those with an established web presence, however, it’s probably not worth changing over to a new Domain.domains.