The online world changes fast, sometimes faster than we would prefer. Ten years ago, CNOBI (.COM, .NET, .ORG, .BIZ, and .INFO) used to dominate the domain name market. The up-and-coming new gTLDs seem to represent endless marketing opportunities and to open up a whole new space of establishing a brand online.
Now, the questions are: Is there a shift towards using industry-specific domains, or is it only a short-lived trend that might lose its initial phase of excitement shortly? And, how much does owning one of the legacy domain extensions, like .COM or .NET, still matter for your business’s success?
Imagine the following scenario: After weeks, maybe even months, of hard work, you finally start your own business. Congratulations! This is an exciting time! But now the hard part begins, especially when you forgot to check if the perfect .COM domain name for your business is still available for registration. At this point, you can get creative and try to find another .COM name that somewhat fits into your brand, but keep in mind that consistency is one of the most critical elements of branding. If your web address differs from your trademark, website users or potential customers and clients will have a hard time locating your website. The smarter business move would be to take a closer look at one of the hundreds of new gTLDs. Your domain name can make or break the success of your internet presence. Chances are you will be surprised by the seemingly endless options the domain name industry offers you today.
Where it all began
The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is a nonprofit public-benefit organization that holds authority over the global Internet’s system of unique identifiers. The new generic Top-Level Domain (new gTLD) program first became available in 2012, which marks a significant milestone in the evolution of the Internet. ICANN’s program added around 1,200 top-level domains to the Internet’s Domain Name System (DNS). In 2020, the number of TLDs reached 1,246, to be exact. You can take a look at an ICANN accredited registrar like 101domain to see just how many options are available to you today.
Fast forward to today; Verisign’s latest Domain Name Industry Brief indicates that new gTLDs have found their niche in the marketplace with new releases month after month. They reported 24 million new gTLD domain name registrations by the end of the third quarter of 2019. It is safe to say that the numbers are picking up as well as the usage. Domain name registrants are starting to have more confidence in the legitimacy of the new(-ish) domain extensions, and the online world finally seems to recognize the benefits they provide.
New gTLDs gain more and more momentum
First and foremost, new gTLDs are available and open in a way that .COM typically is not. But that is only the beginning of a long list of advantages. New gTLDs present brand owners with the ability to personally brand their website. It can spell out the purpose of a website and inspire trust. It can help a business to find a domain name that closely resembles the industry they are in and the product or service they offer. As marketing tools, they can be used to build awareness, generate new leads, enhance a brand’s image, and much more. Last but not least, they can help you get identified as a local business. Many cities like .PARIS or .NYC already have their own new gTLD.
What’s more, Google officially stated that using a new domain ending will not hurt a website’s search presence and that .COM domains do not rank higher since they have enough other ways to analyze the quality of a website. Moreover, the multinational technology company is showing support by hosting some of its own websites on new gTLDs like .XYZ or .NEW.
Even if you already have a successful, well-ranking website or you do not want to abandon your .COM page, building up a domain portfolio and registering a number of gTLDs can help protect you against cybersquatting as more and more businesses have to deal with an online threat like that. Since you do not have control over a squatted domain, it can have a devastating impact on your brand. Domain parking allows you to protect your name and brand.
Opponents & Compromises
The top three gTLDs are .COM, .ORG, .NET — none of them are new gTLDs. .COM has a market share of a whopping 72.90%. World-renowned companies like Tesla still believe in the importance of the legacy domains and have proven this point by spending around 11 million dollars on tesla.COM. New gTLDs can be quite pricey, too. The domain extensions .HOTEL or .MAKEUP are only available at a cost of thousands of dollars. But prices vary because the cost for registration as well as for renewals of each domain name is determined by the domain registry and the domain registrar.
Which industries trust in their new gTLD?
New gTLDs continue to grow in popularity in some industries more than in others. In particular, three business fields stand out in their use of their industry-specific new gTLD or even ccTLDs (country-code Top-Level Domains, which are assigned or reserved for a country, sovereign state, or dependent territory)
- Tech – .TECH and .ICU (most used ccTLDs in tech are .IO for British Indian Ocean Territory or .AI for Anguilla)
- Finance – .BANK, .CREDITUNION, and the new .BOND domain
- Legal – .LAW and .LEGAL
It is more likely that a tech-savvy audience is familiar and, even more importantly comfortable, with the use of new gTLDs. Tech companies pride themselves in being early adopters of new technology and emerging online trends. A tech business using a fitting domain extension has the chance to become more memorable and relevant for their customers. Your domain name is a valuable commodity and can affect how your business is viewed and trusted.
Banks and credit unions in particular have hopped on this trend. Over 450 .BANK domains are already live. One reason for this trend is that the .BANK domain upholds strict security standards and is required to have a DNS service that implements SSL, web standards, and vanity nameservers.
The legal field is already over-saturated, which has made it harder to acquire new clients and to stand out from the crowd. In the legal field, you want to make sure that the first thing a visitor notices about your website is professionalism. A .LAW domain extension has the advantage that it can build trust before a potential client even arrives at the page. It can help to generate more leads and sign more clients through inbound marketing. That is because only attorneys or authorized legal institutions qualify for the new .LAW gTLD, or its Spanish pendent, .ABOGADO. Since its launch, thousands of verified domain names have been registered by licensed professionals. You can see a pattern of the legal community trusting the market leader Join.LAW as their registrar. Choosing a reliable domain registrar that does not just offer a good price structure, but is also technically competent enough to maintain the security of your domain name and is a reliable long-term business partner, is essential for your success.
With time, even new gTLDs will not be considered “new” anymore and will become more common. The chances of them dethroning the legacy TLDs is seemingly low, but that is also what people said about the medium radio when the television was first introduced. At the end of the day, only time can tell how prevalent new gTLDs will ultimately become.