The world of domain names can seem a strange one. If you run a website, you’ve probably encountered it, if only briefly. Look beyond the .com and .co.uk domains that we’re all familiar with and you’ll find an absolute plethora of other domain name extensions – or top level domains (TLDs), as industry insiders call them.
The domain names of today
Every country has its own TLD. Unsurprisingly, here in the UK it’s .uk. You might also be familiar with .de (Germany), .fr (France) or .it (Italy). You’re less likely to be au fait with .so (Somalia) or .su – which should have died along with the Soviet Union, but continues to survive even today.
Then there are the generic TLDs. These don’t relate to a country, but were created for some other reason. The most common – by far – is .com. It stands for ‘commercial’, in case you’re wondering. Others include .info, .biz, .xxx (you can probably guess what that one’s for) and .net.
New TLDs coming our way
So there’s quite a range of domain name extensions to choose from already. Although having said that, if you’ve opted for something other than .com or .co.uk, you’ll certainly be in the minority.
Why then, has ICANN – the organisation that administers domain names – decided to push ahead with its liberalisation of the domain name market? Its plans mean businesses and organisations are able to apply to create their own TLDs.
Think .coke, .facebook, or .microsoft. It’s expected that big brands will put proposals forward to create and run their own TLDs. In fact, the first phase of applications has closed, and we should learn soon what new domain names will be emerging.
Will you register new domain names?
Of course, in addition to big brands that want their very own domain name extension, some companies will be looking to create desirable TLDs so they can sell domains on to other people. Local domains have been proposed, like .london. Would you buy one for your business in the capital?
Other names that have been mooted include .bank, .free, .health and .hotel. Any of those sound of interest?
If the competition for domain names has ever made it hard for you to register the one you wanted, it’s easy to see how these new TLDs could be of benefit. With more domain name choice, it’ll be easier to get a good one. So instead of settling for your-company-name-online.com, you might be able to grab yourbrand.local.
But it feels like this could go one of two ways. These new domain names could have little impact. If popular extensions like .com stay as popular as ever, other TLDs might get left on the fringe, along with underused extensions like .biz.
On the other hand, perhaps this does mark the start of a domain name revolution. The first wave of new TLDs could be met with excitement and enthusiasm, with businesses eager to enjoy the branding opportunities they offer.
Is that likely? Watch this space and we’ll soon find out. But don’t expect .com to fade from prominence any time soon.