The Internet as we know it is rapidly changing. Since its public introduction in 1991, we’ve grown accustomed to the everyday generic top-level domains (gTLDs) such as .com and .net, .gov and .org, and more recently, .biz and .info. Now hundreds are about to join the domain family as registries roll out new gTLDs and ICANN, the organization that oversees the Internet’s domain name system, also allows brands their own specific domains such as .canon, .ferrari, and .google.
Companies and netizens will now find themselves with newfound freedoms when it comes to domain registration. No longer restricted to the overcrowded .com, businesses and individuals will be able to get creative with their online presence through their Web addresses. With such a large selection of new gTLDs to choose from and the possibility of owning a brand TLD, the way has been paved for www.apply.amex, www.iphone.apple, www.vintage.clothing, and www.thewateringhole.pub to make up the new Internet environment.
Creating a Narrative
The new gTLDs offer Web site owners the unique opportunity to tell a snapshot narrative of who they are from a browser’s address bar. The URL of any given Web site is the very first impression experienced by most consumers, and the new gTLDs offer visitors a clear idea of what to expect, helping to pique initial interest and usher in potential visitors.
A recent example of two celebrity musicians taking advantage of a new generic domain name are both Fifty Cent and Demi Lovato through their adaptation of the .club gTLD for their fan Web sites, www.50inda.club and www.lovato.club respectively. Their use of .club makes a more distinct URL that tells a narrative — that both musicians are associating their music with the imagery and community of fan clubs — resonating with consumers, customers, and fans alike as both creative and memorable.
The Semantic Internet
The marketing opportunities created through the domain expansion are not limited to creative URLs, either. Since Google launched Hummingbird last summer, its latest search algorithm version that favors content over SEO keywords, user searches conducted via Google are now more human-like, yielding actual results that match our interests. Throw the new gTLDs into the mix and Web users are able to create URLs that are both self-descriptive and intuitively searchable, as now it is much easier to create addresses with semantic meaning.
For instance, take the above example — www.vintage.clothing. From this URL, consumers can easily deduce that a Web site at this address is a vintage clothing store — possibly a consignment shop or thrift store, and not just consumers, but Google’s Hummingbird as well. While the owner of vintage.clothing would have to also maintain relevant content to be well ranked by Google, we can expect to see new domains ranking high up alongside other local vintage stores and standing out due to their compelling name.
The new gTLDs’ enhanced semantic value also makes for easier direct navigation. With new self-descriptive domains names, consumers can now take a wild guess as to what is behind any particular web address. Searching for a particular shoe? In the new Internet environment, consumers can take their stab at entering URLs such as www.tennis.shoes, www.designer.shoes or www.leather.shoes to find exactly what they’re looking for, making for an easier and more streamlined experience for shoppers; and domain names like these in the hands of Zappos, Nike, or an aspiring entrepreneur could go any number of ways!
For businesses looking to expand their operations on an international scale, the new Non-Latin Script (IDN) TLDs should be considered for Web sites launching in foreign markets. When it comes to global communications, it’s always smart to adjust to the culture of the targeted market so potential customers can access content in their own native script and language. Given that the majority of the world’s Internet users are not native English speakers, it only makes sense that ICANN has finally allowed gTLDs in Arabic, Chinese, and other scripts, making for a more comfortable navigation experience for global Internet users and more consumer interaction.
The new gTLD program, now in full swing, is allowing businesses and Web users to lay claim to this new Internet real estate for their own personalized use by creating web presences that engage and speak clearly about their content. Whether your business sells Halloween costumes or is looking to educate the world on global warming, new gTLDs should be considered to better leverage a strong and memorable online presence.