There’s no denying the power of a great domain name. Your domain name is the digital address for the way people find you online. It’s not uncommon for businesses to brainstorm several potential domain names before deciding on one that represents their brand and bolsters their online presence.
You’re probably most familiar with the original top-level domains (TLDs) like .com, .net, and .org. While .com sites continue to be the most popular, there’s currently more than 120 million .com sites registered globally – making the search for the ideal web address a bit more challenging for business owners. For some companies, the old TLDs like .net or .org may not seem appropriate for the nature of their business.
Enter a growing list of new, generic top-level domains (gTLDs) to increase your options and potentially help you land your perfect web address. With new domain extensions like .clothing, .coffee, .investments, and .xyz, there are innumerable (and sometimes overwhelming) website possibilities. But do the new gTLDs on the block give your brand the same credibility and security as a .com or .net?
Let’s examine some of the pros and cons of choosing a gTLD to see if it’s a good fit for your business.
Pro: It’s an innovative branding opportunity for your business.
For some companies, the cost to acquire the quintessential web address may come with a hefty, unaffordable price tag, requiring you to consider alternatives. One of the main reasons to look at the new gTLDs is to differentiate yourself from your competitors. From a quick glance at your web address, your customers and consumers can associate you with a specific subject, location or passion. For example, Chicago-based designer, Erin McDonald (erinmcdonald.design), chose his domain extension because it sounded “chic” and “different.” “I thought it would put me in a different position outside of my competitors,” said McDonald.
Con: You’ll need to educate and remind people of your web address if you decide to go with a new gTLD.
A .com is easy and recognizable, and it’s already etched into the public’s mind as the end of most web addresses. No additional education required. If you use a new domain extension (like .pets or .yoga), you’ll likely have to spend some extra time and money to teach your clients about your new web address. To date, .com continues to be the most popular domain extension, so it’s almost automatic for someone to enter it when typing in a website.
Pro: The chances of finding a good web address for your business just became easier.
Is www.yourperfectwebadress.com in use? Now, you can use any domain extension that aligns with your business rather than inserting hyphens and additional words. An actor can use .actor, a brewery can use .beer, and a pizzeria can use .pizza (and who doesn’t love pizza?). The new generic domains can define your business in a specific and compelling way.
Con: You may experience some unexpected circumstances.
Joel Miller, co-owner of the website marketing and design company, The Sky Floor, notes that some businesses may encounter some operational challenges with email validation.
“Form validation systems for email inputs look for a .com, .net or other major TLD. So a custom TLD may not pass validation, and therefore, won’t submit through the system.” These sorts of bumps in the road can be frustrating for both the business and the customer.
Pro: Google will treat a new gTLD just like an old gTLD.
In their July 21, 2015 official comment, Google stated that overall, their “systems treat new gTLDs like other gTLDs (like .com & .org). Keywords in a TLD do not give any advantage or disadvantage in search.”
For businesses who fear they’ll be outranked but want to consider a new gTLD, Miller reminds us that “these sorts of concerns can be addressed in a variety of other ways to make sure you’re noticed. It’s not just about the website.”
Con: Currently, a new gTLD could signal a lower brand strength to some consumers.
Even though the .com name you ended up with might not have been your first pick, critics of the new gTLDs say that a long .com name creates more consumer confidence and security than a website on a lesser known domain extension. Ultimately, they believe a .com extension will create a stronger brand for your company and drive more traffic to your website.
One thing is for sure – whether you’re for gTLDs or against them, you’ll want to gather as much information as possible before deciding which domain extension will represent your business and work to your advantage.