Domain names have always been a great source of confusion and debate. With the recent launch of new generic top-level domains (also known as gTLD’s), I thought it might be worth explaining a little about them. This is not in any way a definitive guide but hopefully, will answer some of the questions we receive on this topic.
SO WHAT IS A DOMAIN NAME?
Well, think of your domain name as your telephone number for your website. The advantage is that you can select what you want it to be, so it is easy for your visitors and prospects to find you. They are cheap to purchase and relatively easy to set up. Your domain name can be used for your website as well as your email address and is usually purchased for a period between one and ten years; after which you have first option to renew, or let it expire, in which case it will go back into the pool of available domain names for someone else to purchase. A domain name is made up of a word followed by a dot followed by the top level domain so on theimagefile.com, the “dot com” part is the TLD.
With so many websites now online, finding a suitable domain name for your business has become a tricky and very time-consuming task. To try to balance the demand, new Generic Top Level Domain names are being released. This started recently and now new generic domain names are being released on a regular basis. An example of a generic domain name would be yourname.photography or yourbrand.photos. They removed the “.com” or “.co.uk” part and replaced it with a word specific to a trade, hobby or interest. There are many options already available, and very soon there are going to be even more; in fact, over 1900 of them!
WILL A DOMAIN NAME HELP MY SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMISATION?
At the moment it is too early to tell. Some SEO companies (and domain name providers!) say your domain name plays a part in your SEO, and if you have a domain name with “photography” in it you will be shown higher in the results pages, although personally, I have not seen any evidence for some time now. Maybe with the new gTLD’s, it will start to make a difference again?
SHOULD I BUY A gTLD?
Sure you can! They are fun, cheap and easy to use. The really great ones were available for pre-registration and went for tens of thousands of pounds each, so the “big boys” once again have a march on that, but you can certainly get your name or your brand if it’s still available.
SHOULD I SWAP MY BUSINESS TO USE MY NEW gTLD?
Well, I wouldn’t just yet. These are new. Your brand and your search engine optimisation take a long time to build. People trust your business name and could have it bookmarked in favourites. Will they remember that you are now trading as .photography… or was it .photos .shop or .web? If you have a brand buy a gTLD so you have it; use it as an additional marketing tool, but with a redirect to your main domain name. Make sure you have all traffic and search engine indexing goes to your one primary domain name.
That said…. fancya.beer? Yes, even .beer is available shortly!
P.S. There is now a further article on what makes a good domain name. Check it out!