There’s been a lot of press lately regarding ICANN’s decision to allow the creation of just about any type of domain ending. Meaning that .com, .org, .edu and others which currently number about 25 could potentially reach millions in just a matter of a couple of years. So, what does this mean for the average web developer and business owner and more importantly, what does it mean for SEO/SEM professionals?
Top Level Domains and ICANN
ICANN stands for Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers. They are the governing body when it comes to creating TLD’s or top level domains. Since the web has come to fruition, new domains have been added, but for the most part, the same domains still dominate commerce and information on the web. You are already quite familiar with these TLD’s which include: .com, .net, .org, .gov, .info and .edu. Besides these TLD’s, there are over 200 country codes such as .us, .cn, ca, .it and even .eu for those in the Eurozone.
Throughout the years not only have many words and keyword phrases become difficult to own in .com and other TLD’s, but many corporations and trade organizations would like to add cache to their businesses, as well as help organize the web by having their own TLD.
With the latest announcement from ICANN offering new TLD’s, this means that large corporations, organizations and private individuals can now apply for a TLD that fit their specific needs.
Want Your Own TLD?
If you are saying to yourself that creating your very own TLD is great, not so fast. In fact, the only ones that will be able to afford or even apply for a new TLD will be the very rich. It’s because in order to apply for your very own TLD, you must first pay $185,000. If you want a TLD that is only yours (can not be shared by others) it will cost you even more.
Who Can Benefit from a Top Level Domain?
Unfortunately, at the moment, the ones most likely to benefit from this announcement will be large corporations and organizations- think, .toyota , .microsoft or .cocacola. However, organizations such as trade organizations might start a TLD such as .cafe or .restaurant where small businesses can purchase a url under that TLD.
In addition, ICANN has stated that besides offering these new TLD’s, they will also be in charge of enforcing trademark and cybersquatting issues to ensure that a business or individual doesn’t take ownership of a rightful entity’s name.
Pros and Cons of New TLD’s
Obviously, cost is a definite con for most people and small businesses, but there are a few ways in which these new TLD’s may be beneficial. First, phishing scams, where a scammer tries to get a person to click on a link may be reduced, because you know that your bank (let’s say Citibank) has a url with .citibank at the end of the url. Another benefit may include that you may be able to find businesses easier by searching for sites with a specific TLD.
What Does This Mean for SEO/SEM Professions?
While I like the idea of more TLD’s. The fact that the cost is so high reminds me of a vanity license plate- but way more expensive. These TLD’s will probably be used mainly by large corporations to add status or cache to their brand. They will also be used by other businesses or even individuals for bragging rights. However, some trade organizations might create useful TLD’s that will be beneficial to all.
Regarding SEO, I don’t think it will make a difference to your rankings to have a unique TLD. It might help a little, but only if it is unique- and then again, these are super large corporations, so they usually already rank high for their brand name and main keywords. As for marketing a business with its own TLD, you can leverage the cache of having its own TLD, but I think for the near future, when it comes to searching on the web for a company, most people will still use .com instead of typing out .cocacola!