Top Level Domain Name Game
The Internet has been around for a few decades now and during that time it has grown so much that the organizations that govern it, have had to expand upon the things that were first thought to be practicably inexhaustible.
Take IP Addresses (Internet Protocol Address) for example; originally the Internet relied upon Internet Protocol version 4 but before the year 2000 they had to create a new protocol to accommodate the growth of the Internet. This new version, IPv6, took a few years to create during the mid to late 90’s and was introduced about 2005 and continues to be deployed to date.
IPv4 is still in use right alongside IPv6 but don’t worry about feeling short changed if you are using IPv4 instead of IPv6. The Protocols are about assigning addresses to servers so that computers know how to find each other and not how quick your connection is.
For example IPv4 would assign an address as 4 groups of up to 3 numbers separated by a dot: 000.000.000.001. While this range of addresses made for a very large number of addresses, we actually figured out that we would be running out of these addresses around 1995.
IPv6 uses 8 groups of up to 4 characters that are separated by colons rather than dots. Skipping over the technical bits all together, suffice it to say that the potential addresses should be enough for the foreseeable future. Funny but isn’t that what they said about IPv4 way back when?
Something similar happened with domain names.
I fondly remember the rush on domain names back in the mid 90’s. Naturally all of the best single word dot coms went right away in spite of the fact that in the beginning, you had to prove that you were eligible for that domain name. The core generic Top Level Domains were.com, .net, .org and that eligibility for each was as simple as being a company for .com or a network for .net and an organisation of some sort to get the .org.
There was another group of TLDs known as Sponsored Top Level Domains that were considered restricted to certain types of registrants like .gov and .edu. The .gov reserved for official governmental uses and of course the .edu for educational institutions. These are fairly well known but there are two lesser known ones, .mil for military uses and .int for recognized international organisations.
Still another group of TLDs were known as Country Code Top Level Domains which were geographically targeted for each country. For Canada the .ca is used and for America the .us is available. You get the picture as some part of the country’s name form the TLD like .uk for the United Kingdom and .me for Mexico. Some of the ccTLDs restrict registration to citizens of their own country while others that have cutesy characters like .me are globally open to maximize revenues.
In spite of all of the available TLD options to use when ordering a domain name it didn’t take too long for us to run out of good options. Back in 1997 I made a little discovery that in spite of virtually all of the good words being used already; I could register any brand name I wanted to as long as I wrapped the brand name in the words “free” and “game”. I quickly registered thousands of dollars’ worth of domain names like freepokergame.com, freebigmacgame.com and freeairmilesgame.com to name a few. Great Internet marketing idea but the timing was off as the dot com crash happened soon afterwards but that is a different story…
Soon after the recovery of the dot com crash the latest domain craze was hyphenation. It started out slow with people registering multiple word domain names separated by hyphens. This wasn’t too bad with 1 or 2 hyphen domains but as it always seems to, these types of domains soon got ridiculous. Before too long we were starting to see addresses like my-mom-went-to-las-vegas-and-all-i-got-was-this-t-shirt.com. Pretty sad and something had to be done.
I, like a lot of other people who were registering domains for clients, thought that they should come up with more TLD’s for specialty things like .xxx for adult content or .mov for movies. This was again around 1997 and it took the creation of ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) in 1998 to finally address the problem of too few TLDs. Two years later they called for proposals for new TLDs and in November of 2000 they announced the winners as aero, biz, coop, info, museum, name and pro.
It took almost 3 years to roll out these 7 new TLDs and they were not well received. Dot biz and info were badly abused to the point where there is almost no value in securing a .biz or .info unless you are looking to use them as a throw away domain. I can’t say that I have ever registered any of the other 5, opportunity lost ICANN.
The next batch of TLDs ICANN approved was sometime around 2004 and they were asia, cat, jobs, mobi, tel and travel. As far as I was concerned the only ones that made any kind of difference was the .mobi and .asia but just like the others, it resulted in another land rush. The .mobi was significant because of the growing use of cellphones that could access the Internet. Problem was that websites didn’t look very good on a cell phone so website owners would register .mobi and build a cell phone specific website.
In March 2011 the .xxx TLD was finally approved but only after an independent review had found that ICANN had violated its own bylaws when rejecting the proposal back in 2007. I don’t know but it seems to me some people’s morals were interfering with common sense on this one. Had they heeded my emails on the subject back in 1997 they could have avoided a lot of useless TLDs. I am not trying to take credit for the .xxx or any other TLD as I am sure others were submitting similar suggestions back in the day too but, common sense should have prevailed a lot sooner.
During the summer of 2008 Public ICANN Meeting in Paris a new process for TLD naming policy took place which paved the way for hundreds of new generic top-level domains. It took a few years of meetings and discussions and in the summer of 2011 ICANN voted to remove most of the restrictions on the creation of generic top-level domain names. Up until that time there was a grand total of 22 gTLDs available for use.
Sometime in 2013 the program rolled out and for $185,000 you could apply for your own TLD under the creative name of New generic Top Level Domains or New TLDs for short. As of the end of 2015 there were some 700 TLDs available with another 1900 applications or so waiting in the wings.
Given all of these New generic Top Level Domains the question is should you get one? Well, the easy answer is you should if it makes sense for you and your business. A perfect example is what we did for a client.
A business approached us to develop a web presence for their rental property business in Hawaii. Try to find an easy domain name that represents rental property in Hawaii, pretty tough right. Well not when you use a New gTLD. We took a look at just which new TLDs were available and quickly landed on .rentals. Naturally we tried to go as generic as possible but most Hawaii related rental domains were already scooped up so we then decided to get creative and viola, we secured Mahalo.Rentals for them. Needless to say they were pretty happy with the choice.
The next question is how do the search engines react to the New TLDs? Well I have not seen any negative reaction to them. They are just like any other TLD; if you abuse the search engine guidelines the domain may get into some trouble.
What about the cost of a New TLD? This is a great question as some of them can get pretty pricey, comparatively speaking, to register for a year. Some can be as high $100 or more per year but these would be for highly competitive TLDs like .casino or some such.
So far the only issue I have personally come across using a New TLD is when trying to use the TLD in a form requesting a website address. On some, not all, but some, I have experienced the form not recognizing the New TLD as an actual URL. I am sure that it won’t be too long before this oversight is addressed net wide.
If you are looking for a New TLD but are unsure just how to register one, or you need help figuring out which one works best for you and your business, feel free to contact me through this website.
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