On November 26, 2013 the first seven of the new gTLDs were launched. It has been a long time coming, with rumors running rampant for a couple of years. Over the course of the next two years, a planned 610 more gTLDs will be launched, giving us a grand total of 639.
What the heck is a gTLD anyway?
In a nutshell, gTLDs, or “generic top-level domains”, are a category of top-level domain maintained by the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority, or IANA. TLDs are visible to the average web user as the suffix (such as .com or .net) at the end of websites.
Originally, gTLDs consisted of .com, .info, .net, and ,org. Over the years, ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) has received numerous proposals for an establishment of new gTLDs, but has mostly refused any additions. On June 20, 2011, however, the ICANN board voted to end most of their restrictions, and applications for new gTLDs were accepted at the hefty price tag of $185,000.
Out of more than 1,900 applications, 617 were accepted and will be released over the next two years.
Why are new gTLDs being introduced?
The World Wide Web is a big place, but there are limitations. One of these limitations is the choice in domain names for potential website owners. The addition of new gTLDs helps to promote competition and increase consumer choice.
Can anyone apply for a new gTLD?
Absolutely. Application does come with that hefty application fee of $185,000, and as with any application, this does not mean your gTLD will be accepted, or when. There is also a $25,000/year fee once the application has been accepted.
Where do I keep track of newly approved gTLDs?
As of this writing, the current list of new gTLDs include .bike, .guru, .holding, .clothing, .singles, .ventures, .plumbing and .holdings. You can keep track of any new additions by checking the gTLD page of the ICANN website periodically.
What effects will the new gTLDs have on SEO?
In the past, Google and other search engines have said that domain names had definite impacts when ranking websites. Essentially, if Pam had a coffee shop in Billings, Montana, you could apply for the gTLD “.billings” and have pamscoffeshop.billings as your web address. You could also have a different gTLD for each location, if you have several, with a different gTLD for each. Here are 4 big questions regarding gTLDs and SEO:
- How will search engines respond to the new gTLDs? To be perfectly honest, there will probably not be any changes to how search engines view content, whether it has a new gTLD or not. Search engines have always tried to reward websites for having high-quality content, relevant to the search query. This will likely not change.
- Will the new gtTLDs help fight spam? This is a tough one. Initially, due to the high cost of gTLDs, only major brands will likely bother with them. This could lead them to become somewhat of a signal with the search engines. However, if the gTLDs become more affordable, and more common, there is a good chance of them being misused to game the search engines. In the long run, this could lead to penalties if the search engines see this happening. Honestly, it is too early to tell.
- Will the new gTLDs build trust? Trust is definitely a big deal with the search engines, so websites are constantly looking for ways to add more trust signals. The problem lies in whether jerrys.cafe is any better than jerryscafe.com. For smaller businesses, the benefits (if there are any) would likely not outweigh the cost.
- Will consumers catch on to the change? Another tough question. Based on the principle that most people do not like change, and attempts to make .biz and other gTLDs in the past catch on have ultimately failed, it is unlikely people will take to the new gTLDs well. However, the Internet caught on pretty well, so this is another questionable area.
Should I care about gTLDs as a Brand?
All online marketers understand the value of a good domain name. While they don’t offer the same “punch” as they once did in regards to ranking signals, a great, memorable domain is still a great benefit – helping businesses stand out in the search results. Some additional benefits the new gTLDs could offer include:
- Better Pricing – If the new gTLDs are accepted and used by internet users, it will add a whole slew of possibilities to the World Wide Web. While some domains can currently fetch millions of dollars, businesses could potentially acquire premium names for a much better price.
- Innovation – With the ability to apply for gTLDs, big brands will likely utilize it to their advantage. Companies like Nike and ABC will no doubt apply for extensions for branding, and allowing them to utilize website addresses which can better promote different aspects of their business.
- Community – Small, local companies could potentially see a chance to better build community with their customers by utilizing location-based extensions, such as .nyc, or .nola.
Overall, the new options will provide an opportunity for businesses that can afford them by allowing for more descriptive web addresses that have never been seen or used before. At the end of the day, however, it all comes down to whether the new gTLDs catch on with consumers. If you have the assets to get your foot in the door early, you could potentially buy valuable real estate – the question is: is the potential reward worth the initial risk?