While the number of domain names has been expanding over the past decade, the recent shift to allow for hundreds of more extensions is causing a stir. On the one hand, it is a reasonable response to the growing global use of the Internet, but it has some experts worried about how well an unknown extension will fare against a dot COM. Overcoming the stranglehold on identity that a dot COM name holds may be an uphill challenge, but the online community appears to be read for it.
The way it was, and the problems it caused
There have been more domain names available then just COM for some time, but only certain ones were considered to have social and commercial value. This limit not only restricted the available names for a company, infringing on brand strategy but it also led to the parking of desirable names. The gamble on reserving a brand name as a dot COM for later resale has been the source of many lawsuits.
The increase in name options
The shuffle in naming options for domains is leading to an increase in available domains that are more specifically identified with their purpose, product or service. We first say a hint of this type of structuring with the global adoption of dot EDU to signify educational institutions. Dot BIZ and ORG have also been available as viable alternative to COM, but they have been slower to catch on. Breaking the association of a dot COM name with reputable service and business is a continuing struggle in the online culture. The new expanded domain offerings may be what it takes to get people to start thinking different about the value of domain names.
The Internet began with the adoption of English as the common language. As its global use has expanded, and coding has become able to support different fonts – other languages are now used for sites. It makes sense that the conventions for domain names has changed to allow for Arabic script and Pinyin to reserve domain addresses. This both seperates out language and country specific domains while reopening up English site names that may have been placed in reserve with no intention of use.
Borders on the web
Part of the expansion of domain names came from pressure from governments to reserve, control and identify public and government sites on line. Perhaps the best structured example of this lies with India. The dot IN has been around for a while, but they have become more proactive in making sure that only active sites have reserved names with this domain, and that those sites are government or public service sites. The advantage is you can use a country specific extension to identify your products sold in a given area – that means more SEO power.
What this means to you
To survive the change you have to have a solid SEO marketing strategy in place. While it was hard to get the name you wanted before, now you can get the name you want, but increasing its visibility to your target markets has become more difficult. You need to be aware of geographical boundaries that affect domain name conventions, and the restrictions they carry. If you are going for global appeal, you are going to have to work harder to get your brand known – but it can be done with a website builder that works to help your brand grow. The change in the domain name offerings is too new to be recognizable by the search targets, given time, if you have positioned yourself with the right names you will have a strong brand.