If you’ve recently heard people talking about new generic top-level domains (gTLDs), you’ve probably wondered: “Should we switch?” It’s a fair question. Switching to a different gTLD besides .COM, .ORG, or .NET can give you a huge boost in online traffic. But a simple yes or no answer won’t suffice.
Before we offer our take one way or the other, there are some positive aspects that new gTLDs are bringing to the internet as a whole that need to be addressed. Whether you’re learning about gTLDs for the first time or currently thinking about purchasing a new domain, consider this.
Positive Changes Brought by gTLDs
Change comes with unknowns. And for businesses, not knowing what you need to be successful down the road can keep you from doing something important now. With a growing number of new gTLDs, setting yourself up for success may be easier if you switch sooner rather than later. Here’s why:
URLs in the last few years have gotten out of hand with hyphens (-), numbers (123), or long phrases (haveyouseenaurllikethis.com) that are hard to remember, let alone type. This isn’t necessarily the fault of the businesses and organizations using them. It’s because so many domain names were already taken that those late to the internet game had to take whatever was left.
With new gTLDs, shorter URLs can exist once again and will be available to businesses that may have gotten online later than others. Consumers don’t like having to remember how to find you. If all they need to do is type one word like, say “Google” or “Facebook,” it’s easier to remember in between seeing it on TV or in print and searching for it later.
More Web Categories
With new gTLDs, the domain string itself helps consumers identify the content of the website they’re about to visit. This reduces time searching for the right website.
This categorization is seen in some of the biggest gTLDs currently available:
- .TV: When searching for video streaming services, you’re likely to end a URL in .TV. This is already being used today with one of the largest live streaming services, Twitch.tv.
- .CLOUD: Companies that specialize in the cloud, which can be anything from storage to file sharing, can easily be grouped thanks to .CLOUD.
- .CLUB: The fifth most purchased new gTLD today, according to ntldstats.com, is .CLUB. This gTLD created a platform for clubs and membership organizations, such as coffee.club.
Unlike a legacy TLD (that is, .COM, .ORG, and .NET), not every website will fit into each new gTLD, but that’s okay. With more categories, you can target your niche audience, and they can find you more easily.
Even though new domains aren’t widely accepted or used on a larger scale, at this point, they have shown early signs of being more trustworthy and authoritative.
Earlier this year, GlobeRunner ran a test through AdWords to see how consumers would react when choosing between a website ending in .BEST or .COM. Without knowing the data, one might assume that consumers would pick a website ending in .COM because it’s something they recognize. But in almost every test they ran, the opposite was true.
Across the board, it was shown that, in a side-by-side test, .BEST had higher click-through rates (CTR) and lower cost-per-click (CPC). For smaller businesses looking to compete online, especially in the competitive world of paid advertising, the numbers show that new gTLDs could pay off in the long run by saving you money that you can then put toward other marketing strategies.
gTLD Growth Continues
In mid-2015, availability of new gTLD domains was still low (only 6,667,367 available). Since then, every month over the last 14 months has seen positive growth, going from the 6.67 million available domains last July to over 24 million in September 2016.
Much of this jump can be attributed to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) releasing a new batch of gTLDs earlier in the year, but that hasn’t kept people from purchasing a domain earlier.
The growth of domain availability is an attractive idea for anyone who had to live with a long domain name and saw low traffic because of it. With more availability than ever, domain numbers will continue to climb in the next two years, when ICANN will once again release another new batch of gTLDs.
Should You Purchase a New gTLD?
This isn’t a simple answer. With a new gTLD, you can find shorter URLs that are categorized to either your industry as a whole or a niche audience that you market to. You may also find the exact domain you’re looking for based on the overall availability with new gTLDs. Plus, having the ability to compete in the hyper-competitive and often expensive world of AdWords can make this decision a “yes” in most books.
But right now, we have to leave you with a “maybe.”
Most new gTLDs require some form of registration to prove that you are part of the industry the domain is associated with, which means many businesses will stick with a .COM until a domain associated with their industry is released. But that shouldn’t deter you for when the time comes. As more domains hit the market and more show up in search, their authority among consumers will only grow.
If you can make the switch, it’s in your best interest to consider the change.