The Infectious Spread of New gTLDs: Good For Your .Business?
June 10th, 2015 by
Over the last year and a half, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, or ICANN, has been releasing more than 1,300 new gTLDs, or generic top-level domains. During this time, there has been a growing conversation amongst business owners as to whether or not they should make the switch to an industry-relevant TLD or stick with their current .com.
Remind me again … what exactly is a TLD?
Though you may not realize it, every time you type in a URL in your browser, you are using a TLD. It is everything that follows the dot in a website address. The macdaddy of TLDs is, of course, .com (used by 51.6 percent of all websites), with a few hundred others taking up the rest of the market share. These little identifiers help give a piece of information about the website itself, such as its purpose or geographical area. Because of TLDs, we know that websites that end in .gov are government related and websites that end in .edu are education related.
So why are they rolling out new TLDs?
Before June 20, 2011, there were only 22 gTLDs available. But on that day, the board of directors at ICANN almost unanimously voted to stop restricting generic top-level domain names. The chairman of the board, Peter Dengate Thrush, explained it like this in The Guardian: “Today’s decision will usher in a new Internet age. We have provided a platform for the next generation of creativity and inspiration. Unless there is a good reason to restrain it, innovation should be allowed to run free.”
Alright, I understand now … but should I get one for my business?
More than likely, no. In almost all cases, it is completely unnecessary, and switching over to one of these new top-level domains may actually hurt your company’s website more than help it. When the announcement of the rollout came in 2012, Matt Cutts, head of the Web spam team at Google, said on his Google+ page that, “Google has a lot of experience in returning relevant web pages, regardless of the top-level domain (TLD). Google will attempt to rank new TLDs appropriately, but I don’t expect a new TLD to get any kind of initial preference over .com, and I wouldn’t bet on that happening in the long-term either. If you want to register an entirely new TLD for other reasons, that’s your choice, but you shouldn’t register a TLD in the mistaken belief that you’ll get some sort of boost in search engine rankings.”
So if you are a bank and think that registering for a .bank TLD will benefit your search engine optimization strategy, think again. As Cutts stated, a website will rank because of its relevancy for a search, not because of the letters after the “.” in its URL. In fact, because the age of your domain is an important ranking factor in Google’s algorithm, switching to that new .bank domain may actually hurt your website’s relevancy in the eyes of Google and other search engines.
I have a new business and am just getting a website. What about me?
In the case of new websites, it is totally up to your preference. One important thing to remember is that these new domains are extremely new, and most people are not used to seeing them. Because of this, you will want to consider registering for the more common versions (.com, .net, .org, etc.) of your domain in addition to the new gTLD before redirecting customers to your .bank website, for example. This way, if a consumer ever types in your website but makes the assumption that it is .com, they will be redirected to your actual site.