New domain names are just better…right?

When searching online, Google gives you three opportunities to work out if a result is worthy of your click. The page title – that’s the blue bit in a larger font. The green bit – that’s the domain name. The grey bit – that’s the page description, words that describe what the page is all about.

The domain name is a key chance to persuade a visitor to click. And thanks to launch of new gTLDs towards the end of 2013, every website owner has an opportunity to make their domain more relevant, distinctive and memorable.

If you’re looking for cheap shoes to buy in London, you might search for: “luxury sofas London”. Now if one of the websites listed on the results page had the domain luxurysofas.london, it would stand a strong chance to get your click, right? It is this that should make marketing teams eyes light up.

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) rolled out new domain names to increase the availability and relevance of domain names in both an ever expanding and more specific internet space. This lead to:

  • Brands being able to purchase industry and location specific domain names like .london
  • Brands having the opportunity to highlight to consumers exactly what they do and where they are from
  • Making it easier for consumer to navigate the internet and find exactly what they were looking for

So what do we mean by a gTLD?

  • New generic top-level domains (gTLDs) are an expansion of the existing gTLD options such as .com, .org and .net
  • They provide greater variety, opportunity and definition to the internet

It’s simple branding, but the benefits are beginning to be realised by a few pioneers. In May 2015, Barclays announced their intention to move from .com and the Hunger Games series of movies announced in June that they would move to the forthcoming .movie domain name. Meantime Brewing Company has also made the switch to a Dot London domain name.

The internet is an incredibly competitive environment and for even the world’s largest brands moving to a new domain name can be a daunting thought. So why would a brand take this seemingly giant leap into the great unknown?

Local: Localisation is vital in modern marketing and appearing local to consumers should be a key focus for businesses. This includes local SEO, which refers to optimisation techniques that would make it easy for potential customers to find you online when searching near them. Having a local domain name will help businesses to rank in this space.

Relevance: Having a domain that describes what you do (such as .shop or .movie) helps consumers understand what to expect when they visit your brand and your website.

Branding: One of the biggest attractions of new domains is the opportunity for branding wins. New domains provide brands with a clear differentiator and the chance for a short and memorable name.

There are those that don’t see a future for new domains, but people take time to adjust to new things. The Internet has grown from just a handful of domain names to close to 1,000 in a very short space of time. An international awareness study conducted by ICANN found that 46% of international internet users were aware of the seven most popular new domain names. However the same survey found that just 50% were aware of .biz and .info which launched over 15 years ago. Things take time; who would have predicted that by 2015, that there would be more than 250 million domain names registered worldwide.

Businesses certainly see the opportunity – new gTLDs accounted for 21% of the net growth of domain names in 2014. As consumers become more comfortable with new domain names, marketing teams have a unique way of connecting with their audiences. Leading domain names like .com are incredibly powerful and are not going away, but the expansion is healthy for the industry. Telling people where you are, what you do and what you offer is on the whole pretty effective branding.

Nick Leech, Digital Marketing Director at 123-Reg, will be one of the guest panellists at Dot London’s event, ‘It’s all in the name – The importance of having the right online brand identity’, on 18 June as part of London Technology Week. To register, visit www.dotlondon.eventbrite.com

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