The Internet Corp. for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is in the process of authorizing thousands of new domain names, which means instead of naming a website with “.com” or “.net” at the end, now you can be the proud owner of a domain ending in: .careers, .tips, .voyage, .sexy, .tattoo… and more! Or buy all of them, just in case you should want to blog about tips on taking voyages where people can get a career as a sexy tattoo artist!
If you are a website owner, you might be wondering how this affects you. Here is what you need to know about the new TLDs of and why this is actually a good thing for you:
Some news sources are suggesting that with the release of new TLDs, cybercrime and phishing will increase, but this just isn’t the case. The number of cyber criminals out there is set for the most part, and they have all the tools they need to continue running their online scams even if we eliminated all gTLDs except for .COM.
The problem of cybersquatting is also mentioned. While annoying, it’s not illegal. In a free-market economy, cybersquatting is like buying a piece of land and sitting on it until a developer (business) comes along and wants to build something of value on the land (a website). Then the business and the cybersquatter can work out a deal.
What makes this process annoying is usually just a breakdown in negotiations. The business balks at paying anything more than $10 for the domain which is about how much it costs to register in the first place and the cybersquatter thinks the business is building the next Google and wants to charge $1000’s of dollars.
Creating more gTLDs may actually reduce cybersquatting a bit because it becomes more expensive for a cybersquatter to purchase and lock up multiple versions of a domain name. It also gives small businesses the chance to purchase alternative domain names that may already be in use as a .com or .net.
By the way, the worst cybersquatter is a business you’ve probably heard of, GoDaddy. They have a practice of snatching up domain names that their users search for using their domain search engine. If a small business is researching domains through GoDaddy, they may come back later and find that all the good names are being cybersquatted on by GoDaddy, at which point they will have to pay a much higher price to secure the domain name. And then there is this case brought by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, the organization behind the Oscars, which just happened this weekend in case you’ve been under a rock.
Finally the article claims small businesses will be made more vulnerable to trademark infringement. Again this is a hasty generalization and for some of the same reasons I’ve already mentioned, the number of gTLDs is not going to affect the number of trademark infringement cases out there.
User behavior is very hard to modify and it will be a long time before any gTLD has as much credibility as .com. Does anyone remember .net? 10-15 years ago this domain had value as an alternative to .com. However it’s hardly used anymore and from a marketing standpoint is very difficult to implement, because even if you get a person to remember yourverylongdomainname, they’re not going to remember if it was .com or .net. 99% will use .com as their first try.
Small business owners have had years of a head start on these new gTLDs, so search engine ranking isn’t going to be affected by someone buying a new version of your domain name. As long as you’ve had some kind of internet strategy in place, a slew of new gTLDs will not affect you much at all in terms of search ranking.
So basically what I’m saying is, keep calm and carry on.
If you want a full list of TLDs becoming available, check out the ICANN website.