New Top Level Domain Names
You may have noticed the recent wave of new top level domain names being released, with extensions such as .plumbing, .systems and even .ninja flooding the market, but what do these mean for your business?
In the many years we've been developing websites it has become more and more difficult to find good domain names for customers starting new businesses. Finding a domain that hasn't yet been registered can be challenging now and you may be at a disadvantage with search engines who have been known to prioritise well established websites in their results based on the age of the domain name.
It's no surprise then that the industry has taken action and has made new domain extensions available for registration in a bid to help businesses better demonstrate who they are and what they do through their domain name.
After many years of planning and deliberation the United Kingdom now has it's own .uk top level domain, putting us on a par with countries like France (.fr) and Germany (.de). This new domain extension isn't available to just anyone to purchase though, if you already own a .co.uk domain you are automatically entitled to purchase the .uk counterpart.
From the launch of .uk on the 10th June 2014 you have a whopping 5 years to decide if you want to purchase your .uk domain name before it's up for grabs to anyone, so there's no rush whatsoever to make a decision.
If you decide early on that you don't in fact want the .uk domain, entitlement then passes to the .org.uk owner and so on.
Some argue .uk will also help with search engine rankings in the UK, however it is debatable. As long as your site is hosted in the UK, search engines should be able to identify where you are based and rank you accordingly.
For only a few pounds per year .uk could be yours so in our opinion there's no reason not to protect your brand and at least register this domain.
.uk is one thing but there's a plethora of other new top level domains (TLDs) now available, amounting to hundreds of choices for business owners like you. Here's a small sample of some of those now available to purchase and pre-order:
The list goes on...
To register or not to register
It's too early to tell what these domains mean for the industry and whether their adoption will actually catch on or not. Early indications are that the take up of these new extensions has been low but only time will tell.
In our experience it can even be a struggle for some people to remember the difference between .co.uk and .com so when you start throwing in so many other possibilities we find it easy to imagine potential customers landing on the wrong website or sending emails to the wrong address.
When we first started out in business we attempted to register ballyhoo.co.uk but it was already taken (though we have since acquired this domain name) so instead we plumped for ballyhoo.co.uk, which is solely available to limited companies. I can't tell you how many times we've had to spell out this domain to people over the phone or had people tell us they sent an email to .co.uk or went on the wrong website. When we had the opportunity to buy ballyhoo.co.uk we jumped at the chance.
Despite this we can still see value in the new domains for some industries, .london for the tourism industry for example, but on the whole are they really needed and who should register them?
To help we've put together the following points for your consideration.
As previously mentioned, will the public be able to remember these new domains? We think this is probably the biggest hurdle facing the new TLDs.
Is there a chance that if someone knows your business name they'll still assume you must be using .com or .co.uk? Do you have any competitors that will benefit from your customers getting confused?
In theory shorter domains like .uk are also easier to remember but with so many now available and with some extensions reaching over 10 characters, is it feasible that the public will remember them all?
Many of the new domains are industry specific so they'll instantly convey what you do to the public. This could be a benefit to any company with a generic or family name.
It's not yet known how search engines will prioritise these new domains in their rankings though it is popular belief that older domains get priority over new ones.
Do you have a common name within your industry? Is it likely that your competitors will register relevant domains before you do?
While .uk will only cost about as much as a .co.uk to register, many of the other new TLDs can cost upwards of £20, £30 or even £50 per year. If you want to protect your brand by registering everything relevant to your business you could see your annual domain registration costs increasing substantially.
Could this money could be better spent on an SEO campaign to improve your standing in Google so that you beat the competition in the rankings?
So, will you take the plunge and register any of these new domains? Have you already done so? Let us know! We look forward to seeing how this pans out.