Q: Should I switch my company's URL to one of the new domain extensions?
A: You're referring to the recent decision by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers to open up more than 1,000 generic Top-Level Domains (gTLDs) to domains outside of the .com, .net and .biz variety. Now, new gTLDs--.florist, .gallery, .repair, .homes, .technology and more--are just as easy to register as .com. This means a small business such as Sunrise Coffee in Las Vegas could switch from its current URL, SunriseCoffeeLV.com, to the simpler Sunrise.coffee.
We asked Joseph Peterson, a domain-name and branding consultant in the greater Seattle area, for his thoughts on the pros and cons of such a shift.
Should any business with a .com or .net domain switch to an extension that may describe its product or service better?
Not necessarily--.com will always be dominant. It works across all languages and borders, unlike English words such as .company or .cool. For branding purposes, .com is a nice blank and generic canvas. Microsoft is Microsoft, eBay is eBay, Amazon is Amazon, Wikipedia is Wikipedia--each is followed by .com. Such websites can only lose their brand authority and identity by relaunching tomorrow as Microsoft.technology, eBay.auction, Amazon.store or Pedia.wiki.
But what about businesses with burdensome URLs, such as TheLawOfficesOfInsertNameOfFirmHere.com?
Then it makes sense. In the case of your law-firm example, it works to change its URL to, say, the .legal domain name extension to simplify things.
Shouldn't I lock down these gTLDs and prevent competitors from using them?
It would be silly for Disneyland to ignore Disney.land--and it didn't. But in most cases, I view this fear as a colossal waste of money. For example, I see no benefit to registering TDAmeritrade.plumbing, TDAmeritrade.diamonds, TDAmeritrade.bike and other expensive yet irrelevant domains and then having them forward to TD Ameritrade's main site. Domain forwarding only makes sense when it helps people find you online, not as a protection measure.
Can these new extensions help my digital marketing efforts?
Sure. If you're running a promotional campaign that offers a bike as a prize, then you can set up something like WinA.bike, which allows you to create a special landing page without disrupting your company's main site.
Think of your existing URL as your company's online front door. Figuratively speaking, you can use these new gTLDs to relocate, open up an additional location, add a side entrance or buy the vacant lot next door without messing with your current URL.