Cast your mind back, what was the first thing you did when you thought of your first website name? You probably jumped online straightaway and bought the .com top-level domain (TLD) name for your site. While it would be foolish to suggest that .com will never be the most prominent TLD, the introduction of literally thousands of New Generic Top-Level Domains (gTLDs) has reduced their value somewhat. There are actually a number of reasons why you should look to ditch the .com. Why not concentrate your efforts on a more personal branded domain name?
Don’t be held ransom
To many people the .com TLD gives the idea that you are international. It gives the impression that you cover the globe although you only wish to target a specific area. If for example you operate in the UK and somebody acquired your domain name with the .co.uk TLD what do you do? Do you continue to push the main .com domain or do you also acquire the .co.uk and all other major country variations?
There is an argument that buying the .com variation to both protect your business and give the impression of a wider market can open you up to ransom demands. In many ways you are forced to buy an array of Country Code Domains (ccTLD) to cover your brand and website. Even though each individual name may be relatively cheap to buy off the “domain squatters” it can soon add up. You could take the route of legal action over a particular brand or a particular trademark but this can prove costly and time-consuming. If you buy the .co.uk variation this shows that you operate in the UK and even if you were not able to acquire the .com variation it would not necessarily ruin your business.
Localise your domain
While the likes of .co.uk, .us and other developed country TLDs have been around for many years, we have seen a raft of Other ccTLDs released over the last few years. Each and every country in the world seems to have its own TLD. When you bear in mind for example the TLD for Tuvalu is .tv you can begin to imagine the potential value of these additional domain names. Looking at this from a business perspective, the .com variation does give a more authoritative feel to your website and business but it is not instantly clear where you are based. What markets do you cover? Are services in multiple languages? What currency do you deal in?
We know from various studies that those surfing the Internet have a very fickle attitude to sites and site names that make no immediate sense to them. If there is any confusion regarding what you do and where you are based, you may lose visitors. However, when we look at Amazon.co.uk it is obviously the company’s main site for UK shoppers although they can access Amazon.com and have items shipped from America. If we look at less well-established companies for example, UK shoppers may feel “safer” if there is a .co.uk TLD. The same could be said of any country around the world which is why we have seen an array of Other ccTLDs introduced to the mix. Stay local and stay personal to attract (and keep) customers.
Personalise your domain name
While many of the traditional TLDs such as .com and .co.uk can be an integral part of your business, there are also occasions where it may be better to personalise your domain name. We have seen some extremely interesting domain name extensions released over the years which allow you to say exactly what you do even if the visitor knows nothing of your brand name. What do we mean?
Check out this array of more descriptive TLDs which say exactly what you do in a split second:
This is just an example of the domain name extensions now available which show visitors exactly what you do before they even land on your website. In the future, if they can remember your company name, they will no doubt remember what you do and use your personalised domain name extension – a possible type-in opportunity. The beauty of this type of TLD is the fact that not only does it immediately say what you do but preceded by your company name what other TLD do you require?
Brand your domain name
Back in 2011, ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) launched what are commonly known as gTLDs. This took in everything from media domains to shop domains, project team domains to xyz domains and more. We know that nearly 2000 organisations applied for their own branded gTLDs including the likes of:
There were also various geographical gTLDs:
As well as professional gTLDs such as:
Interestingly, the introduction of gTLDs prompted many companies to ditch the .com URL as their main website address in favour of a branded variation. For example, Barclays Bank, an international banking conglomerate, ditched the Barclays.com website address for Home.Barclays. We have also seen similar actions by other leading companies and organisations with new domains often offering a warmer more welcoming feel than the .com variation.
One interesting development we have seen over recent years is that of using separate domain names to push individual offers and events. For example, those companies managing events around the world from music to conferences can now spin-off separate more focused media domain names to push particular events. For example, you could use ‘EdinburghMusic2018.Festival‘ if you were promoting a music festival in Edinburgh but wanted a separate website for more clarity.
This will ensure that those looking for information on the Edinburgh music Festival know exactly where to go. There can be links and cross links to your main .com website but satellite domains covering individual events can make them more personal and the website more focused. This is just one example of using one of the new TLDs as a means of promoting and advertising certain events or certain products.
It would be foolish to suggest that the importance of .com TLDs to businesses and organisations will be eliminated. For many people it will always be the first port of call and the catch all domain name. However, the value of such TLDs has diminished as more TLD and gTLD extensions have been released. In business the key to success is building a personal relationship and trust with your customers. While .com certainly gives your presence it is maybe not as personal as .accountant or even .Barclays as mentioned above.
If New gTLDs say exactly what you do, whether via a brand name, company name or profession, this is enough. Yes, “domain squatters” will still try to sell you different variations on your domain name. The fact is, you can’t buy every extension. Stick with those that say exactly what you do, create a personal relationship with visitors and above all give your visitors the confidence they are at the right place and secure. If you can manage this, you will hook more long term customers.