ICANN, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, has begun accepting applications for new generic top-level domains (TLDs), allowing organisations more choice in selecting a domain name or even allowing them to request their own private ‘dot anything’ names.
Why the change?
With over 200m active websites, the internet is running out of domain names! The most usable names are already taken in the most popular suffixes such as .com, .net, .info and .co.uk, making it increasingly difficult for organisations to find a meaningful domain name to use with their websites.
So what do the new TLDs mean for businesses?
Over the next three years we will begin to see over 1,000 new suffixes become available, with proposals already submitted for domain names ending in the names of popular business types and professions such as .finance, .hotel, .lawyer, .architect, .ngo and many, many more.
Large organisations with US$185,000 to spend on application fees and the resources to run their own internet registry can apply to ICANN to register their own name suffix, creating ‘private’ domains which they can control as they see fit. Examples of these corporate applications include Amazon (.amazon, .audible, .buy, .kindle, .music, .play, .shop) and Microsoft (.azure, .bing, .docs, .office, .windows, .xbox).
What should I do about it?
Assuming you don’t have the cash to splash on your own suffix, at least make yourself aware of what the new TLDs are and consider if there is any point in registering additional suffixes. It might be worth registering your trademark, if you haven’t already, to stop someone using your business name as a new TLD. Our own view is that the average web user is going to become confused with so many new names appearing in a short space of time so early adoption is to be avoided. Also Google’s search algorithm values ‘older’ domain names (based on their registration date), so using a new domain in place of one more established will likely be detrimental to your site’s results.