As you read this, the web is undergoing one of its most dramatic changes ever. The move will have a fundamental impact on the way websites are named and that means it will have a fundamental impact on online businesses. If you’re not up to speed with things, this guide will answer the most important questions.
So what is a new generic top level domain? You’ll already know what a generic top level domain is even if you don’t realise it. Examples of gTLDs include .com and .net. Up until recently there were just a handful of these types of extensions, but now they are being joined by things like .bike and .plumber – these are the new gTLDs.
So how many of these new gTLDs will there be? Thousands, although not all of them will be made available for sale and many others are in non-Latin alphabets such as Arabic and Japanese.
Do I need to buy one? You don’t need to buy one, but there are a number of very good reasons you might want to.
What are those reasons? If you’re running a business based on an existing extension such as .com or .co.uk, you might want to buy up the same domain across a number of new gTLDs to stop others hurting your brand. Alternatively, if you’re starting a new business you may find there is a new extension that matches your niche or location such as .plumber or .london.
When can I register a site on a new gTLD? The first few extensions have already launched, meaning you can register a site immediately. Other extensions will continue to be rolled out over time and you can get an idea of when they’ll arrive by looking at this list from ICANN. If you’re a 123-reg customer, we will notify you when we are about to start selling a new extension. If you want to see what’s already available, you can use our new gTLD search function here.
I’ve noticed the new extensions have something called a sunrise period. What is that? It’s a period of time during which trademark owners can buy domains that feature the marks they have registered. This allows them to protect their intellectual property.
So if a domain featuring a trademark is still available after this period, can I buy it? You can, but you might end up in legal hot water. Trademark owners have powers to seize control of domains that infringe their intellectual property so be careful.
That makes sense. And the landrush period? What’s that? The landrush period allows people to register domains before they go on general sale. That means they can snap up attractive domain names before they hit the open market, although they will have to pay a higher price for the privilege.
So what are the advantages of getting a new gTLD? In short, you can get an extension that matches up with your niche or location. You are also more likely to get the name you want on a new gTLD than on an established extension as many short, meaningful names on .com, .net and so on have already been purchased.
And the disadvantages? The biggest drawback to new gTLDs is a lack of familiarity among the public – .com and its ilk have had years to build up recognition, while by definition the new arrivals haven’t. That said, brand recognition for online businesses is not founded on the extension they use – we talk about Facebook, Amazon and Twitter not Facebook.com, Amazon.com and Twitter.com.
So how do I know which new gTLD is right for my business? That depends. As we’ve seen there are extensions that perfectly align with certain business niches and locations so that’s a good starting point. Branding is also an important consideration. A .guru domain may be great for a marketing agency, but if you’re a small law firm that particular extension might not be the right fit. Ultimately, picking the right gTLD is as much a part of your branding as is deciding on your company name in the first place.
If you have any other questions, leave a comment and we’ll answer them for you.