.com, .biz, .uk, .org, .net. These are all top level domains. Until recently, ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) allowed 22 of these TLDs, but now, businesses can create and register their own customised TLD. President and CEO of ICANN, Rod Beckstrom, says, “New gTLDs (generic top level domains) will change the way people find information on the Internet and how businesses plan and structure their online presence.” Will it affect your business’s online presence? What’s the scoop with TLDs?
According to ICANN, Internet addresses can end with almost anything; if a business sells shoes, for instance, it could capture the .shoe TLD, so they would be: http://www.BestStore.shoe. The idea is that this will help make your website more relevant to both Google and consumers. Businesses have until 12 April to apply for a TLD with an opening bid of $185,000 – but is that money well spent?
Depends who you ask; some experts say that .shoe, or .dentist, or .cola will boost your visibility because you have the built-in keyword. Adrian Kinderis, CEO of ARI Registry Services (coincidentally a domain registry company), writes, “Will car.insurance rank higher than carinsurance.com (for example)? All the evidence suggests the answer is yes, provided that the .insurance namespace builds value and perhaps verification into its space to ensure it is a signpost for good, trusted and authoritative content.” He argues that .whatever will rank higher than the corresponding .com.
Not according to Matt Cutts, head of Google’s webspam team. He says that Google will “attempt to rank new TLDs appropriately, but I don’t expect a new TLD to get any kind of initial preference over .com, and I wouldn’t bet on that happening in the long term either”. He says businesses will not see a boost in search rankings just because they have a shiny new TLD.
Many others in the SEO and search fields believe that TLDs dilute the efficacy of the Internet. For instance, if you want to visit Best Store’s website but don’t know the address, you’ll have reasonable luck trying BestStore.com. With customised domains, the choices are virtually endless, so you can’t depend on luck to navigate directly to a website. It may also confuse and annoy users.
Many say ICANN is more interested in boosting revenue for itself than boosting websites’ visibility.
Posted by Ed Shutenko, SEO Manager at Bullseye Media