It all started with a few top-level domain extensions (TLDs).
But within a few years of publicly-available domain names, it was clear to ICANN that more were going to be needed – the internet was growing at an alarming rate. In 2001, a test of a few names were released, and thankfully, the internet didn’t break.
So the free-for-all began.
ICANN allowed companies to petition to receive names, at a hefty pricetag, and for names that were contended, auctions would be held. Those auctions can run pretty high – Ask Amazon who just paid $4.6m for .BUY.
These new domains, aka generic TLDs, or gTLDs, cover the gamut of possibilities. They can be related to something or nothing. For example, you can get a domain name like MEGAWATT.guru or MEGAWATT.restaurant, or nab MarysTravel.LGBT or Gardening.ORGANIC.
Now, for the why you should care.
Have you tried to buy a domain name lately? You can spend HOURS typing words into the search box on GoDaddy trying to find an available string of your name. Companies often plan their campaigns – and sometimes their company name itself – on what is available. Forget about a generic name like food.com; it isn’t happening unless you have a huge budget.
But that is changing drastically. With over 1900 gTLDs in the hopper or already available, the neighborhood of the internet will evolve and change. Communities that were once connected by “link rings” will now have common domain extensions. Apps will be develop that find .RESTAURANT sites and merge them so that travelers can quickly find local eateries. Golf courses with vague names like Berry Acres or Willow Pond will be easily discerned by the .GOLF that follows their name.
Some new TLDs will require verification. Just like not just anyone can get a .EDU, not just anyone can get a .ORGANIC so consumers will be able to quickly identify an organic skincare company from its natural competitor. Grocers will have target marketing on their BobsGrocery.ORGANIC site, with specials or coupons for organic shoppers.
But the best news for small-to-mid businesses, as well as marketing and branding firms is that desirable domain names will again be easily-obtained. Get food.ORGANIC, food.NYC, food.SEARCH or any host of others. Plan campaigns with ease because you don’t have to create a completely absurd word or hashtag.
You can just get what you want…without a whole lot of effort, or waiting on a name to become available, or paying a domainer.
And one of your keywords may just become part of your actual web address.