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Web Addresses Are About to Change—A Lot

Have you ever heard of a gTLD? If you haven’t, then you aren’t alone. A gTLD, which stands for “generic top-level domains,” is the string of characters that sits to the right of the dot in an Internet domain name. You’ve probably seen plenty of gTLDs like “.com” or “.net.” What you may not know is that a slew of new gTLDs are about to hit the market.

About two-thirds percent of small and medium-sized business owners have no idea that these new gTLDs are coming. Neither do 78 percent of customers. Let’s explore what they are and how these new “.somethings” might affect your business.

What’s in a Name?
Currently, websites can choose from about 22 gTLDs. New options can give your business a way to brand itself. Do you own a restaurant? Then you can attach an approved gTLD such as “.restaurant” to your Web address. Businesses with highly recognizable names can also apply to introduce their own gTLDs. For example, names like “.apple” or “.google” can be sold by the companies that own them.

ICANN, the agency that is fielding applications to create new domains, says that the new domains will open up cool domain extensions and opportunities for a variety of businesses, organizations and services. Search engine companies have been silent so far about whether the new domains will affect search rankings when they roll out. Danny Sullivan of Search Engine Land notes that neither Google nor Bing prioritizes websites based on gTLDs. In other words, a “.com” doesn’t necessarily rank higher than a “.net.”

Should a Business Purchase One of These gTLDs?
Let’s stick to the restaurant analogy. Let’s say that you own a pizza restaurant called “Dynamite Pizza.” You may already have a website with an address like http://www.dynamitepizza.com. However, with the new gTLDs, you could purchase a new domain name like http://www.dynamitepizza.restaurant. Is the investment worth it to your business?

Probably not in the beginning, according to experts. First, why would dynamitepizza.restaurant be any more memorable than dynamitepizza.com? Second, spammers may abuse the new gTLDs. The “.info” extension, for example, was co-opted by spammers soon after its release, which meant that many legitimate websites did not choose to use a “.info” extension.

If you watch the market and see that the new gTLDs catch on, then you might want to purchase some domains that make sense. You could purchase dynamitepizza.restaurant and then map this domain back to dynamitepizza.com. In general, most experts are recommending a “wait and see” approach.

Potential Problems
One major concern that businesses have is that the new gTLDs could have the potential for fraud. For example, a customer wishing to login to PayPal.com could be directed to a domain like PayPal.finance. If that domain contains a malicious website, then a PayPal user could inadvertently type in his or her username and password, which the malicious website would collect for potential theft.

Another problem is that ICANN hasn’t put emergency plans into place if the new domains cause problems. According to The Washington Post, ICANN may roll out these new names at a pace of 20 per week. If they cause a major online disruption, then ICANN has no plans in place to fix the problem.

Ultimately, no one knows what impact the new gTLDs will have on different organizations. For this reason, you may want to stay away from them for a little while.

If you’re looking for ways to improve your search engine rankings or your branding, then contact a Web professional from Infintech. Call us at (504) 717-4837 for a free quote. You can also fill out our contact form. One of our professionals will get in touch with you shortly.


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