Originally posted 2014-04-07 17:32:19.

By Kathy Stewart | amdlawgroup.com

 

icann

As society of internet users we have all grown comfortable and accustomed with the existing Internet domains, which have suffixes such as .com, .net, .edu and .org. However, several new suffixes have hit the market, and they are accompanied with a variety of considerations, offering both advantages and disadvantages.

The Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) currently distinguishes the following groups of top-level domains:Infrastructure top-level domains (arpa), country code top-level domains (ccTLD), internationalized top-level domains (IDNs)  and generic top-level domains.

A generic top-level domain (gTLD) is one of the categories of top-level domains (TLDs) maintained by the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) for use in the Domain Name System of the Internet. It is visible to Internet users as the suffix at the end of a domain name. The core group of generic top-level domains consists of the .com, .info, .net, and .org domains. (“Internet Minders” 2011)

However, on June 20, 2011, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) board voted to end most restrictions on the generic top-level domain names (gTLD) from the 22 currently available. (“New Internet” 2011) Now, companies and organizations will be able to choose essentially arbitrary top-level Internet domains. ICANN, the domain issuing authority, said “There are now almost five times more generic Top-Level Domains (gTLDs) than there were only a few months ago …” (Kay 2014)

According to Forbes magazine, Donuts registry (a company from which one can buy a domain), introduced .bike, .clothing, .guru, .holdings, .plumbing, .singles, and .ventures onto the market in early 2014 and plan to introduce several more suffixes totaling, 105  suffixes being introduced into the market.

Below are seven considerations a company or organization should contemplate before utilizing an uncommon gTLD, including Customer trust, investment protection, cost, partner motivation, reliability, potential for confusion and name length. Below is a brief discussion on why each consideration is crucial when choosing a domain name suffix.

  • Customer trust — Consumers have grown used to the existing set of domains, and with that familiarity comes trust.  The new domains are unknown and may cause potential customers to hesitate before establishing a relationship between a site and an unfamiliar gTLD.  A recent study conducted by Domain Name Wire found that consumers are in fact wary of the new suffixes to domain names. They believe that the prospect of new website suffixes provokes suspicion and concern.
  • Investment protection — Having a reliable and trustworthy domain name and suffix protects the money invested into the creation of the website and registration of domain name. Utilizing an uncommon gTLD may limit the visibility and access on search engines, and negatively affect search rankings and online traffic to one’s website. Therefore, if a business depends on retail traffic coming into the virtual door, it should tread cautiously before adopting a new uncommon domain suffix.
  • Cost — “Existing domains like .com and .org, which can be obtained from hundreds of registrars, typically cost about $10 per year to maintain. New domains may cost a lot more. For example, bespoke.bike, which is already taken, costs $29 per year at United Domains. Even rogerkay.bike, which is eminently available, costs $29. By contrast, rogerkay.com (taken) is only $9.90 on the same site, and rogerkay.net (available) goes for only $14.90.  But rogerkay.cab, which uses one of the new domains will set you back $39 per year. In addition, for trademark holders, pre-registration pricing for new domains starts around $200 and rises to as high as $25,000. Choosing “priority” pre-registration for a “sought-after” domain can run as high as $13,000 per name. But even paying this princely sum is no guarantee of obtaining the name. When more than one party pre-registers the same name, it goes to auction, with an unknown (and potentially very expensive) outcome.” (Kay 2014)
  • Partner motivation — Many new gTLDs will be operated by new registry operators.  Businesses expecting to enter into a long-term partnership with a registry operator should choose one with a track record.
  • Reliability — Inexperienced operators may have issues with reliability, suffering downtime due to cyber-attacks or technical issues. Such interruptions may prevent customers from reaching their desired sites, with the resulting loss of business. Thus, it is prudent to choose a gTLD operated by a known, reliable operator.
  • Potential for Confusion — Due to the growth of domain names, there is a high likelihood of confusion. For example, “ICANN has allowed both singular and plural forms to exist. Thus, .hotel and .hotels as well as .hoteles and .hoteis will likely go live in 2014.” (Kay 2014)
  • Name length — Short domain names are desirable because they are more memorable and generally are easier and faster to type in by the consumers. However, longer domain names and longer names can include keywords and phrases that will come up more frequently in search results.  Keyword/rich domain names attract higher click through rates.

As a growing corporation or organization, domain name choice and the suffix behind it is an important decision in today’s virtual world. Having a domain name that is easily memorable, with a suffix that is recognizable are key aspects to create a strong virtual presence.

References:

Kay, Roger (1 January 2014). Forbes: Tech. Retrieved 4 April 2014 from http://www.forbes.com/sites/rogerkay/2014/01/30/seven-things-to-think-about-before-you-register-that-new-domain/

New Internet Name Rule Opens Door to Huge Changes.(20 June 2011). Voice of America. Retrieved 2 April 2014 from http://www.voanews.com/content/new-internet-name-rule-opens-door-to-huge-changes-124180874/141045.html

Internet minders OK vast expansion of domain name, (20 June 2011) Associated Press. Retrieved 2 April 2014.

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