Blog | Website Wizardry

The Evolution of Domain Names

13/03/2015

Nowadays many people are very used to the common domain names we’ve seen since the birth of the Internet, such as .com and .co.uk, but a couple of years ago things were shaken up and now the list is ever-growing!

It all starts with ICANN, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers – the organisation that is responsible for dishing out domain names into the wild for registrars to then sell on to the public.

The theory behind the system is easy enough but once you start to get into the functionality and how it all works with IP addresses and Domain Name Servers, it quickly gets complicated. So you can imagine releasing new names into the wild would be hard work, right? Well ICANN have approved over 1,000 new extensions and it’s growing.

A couple of years ago┬áICANN began accepting applications from companies that wished to have new TLDs (Top Level Domains) and now there are two types of TLD available – gTLDs and ccTLDs (gTLD stands for Generic Top Level Domain and ccTLD stands for Country Code Top Level Domain). Below are some examples of each;

gTLDs you may know of:

  • .com
  • .net
  • .org

ccTLDs you may know of:

  • .fr
  • .de
  • .gr

Now the main focus here is the gTLDs. These are generic words that have been deemed necessary to release into the public to make the categorisation of websites easier so people know what to expect from a website. However, one argument that was made against the proposal of these new domains is that it essentially floods the market with new options and makes it easy for people to grab and ‘squat’ on a domain name from someone else.

Some measures can be put in place to stop this though. For example, .uk (a ccTLD for the United Kingdom), which is a new (ish) domain that was released last year, can only be registered if you own the .co.uk version or no one has the .co.uk version at all.

It also takes into account those who have registered .me.uk and .org.uk as well, provided the .co.uk version is still unregistered. This preventative measure will only last until 2019 though, so you own a .co.uk, you don’t have to worry about getting your .uk version for a few more years.

That’s only one example though. At the time of writing there have been hundreds of new domains made publicly available and it’s become a mad rush to buy the best ones and then sell them to the highest bidder. Understandably though, you should be looking at buying a new domain with SEO in mind. Due to many people being comfortable and trusting of .com and .co.uk domains, it means using a new domain name can be dangerous.

From a search engine point of view, if you are in the plumbing industry, it won’t affect you if you begin using the .plumbing domain as your main address and you are also including a keyword relating to your business in the address, which is good.

However you should also turn your attention to the user. If you say to a potential client that your website address is example.music or example.pub, it’s likely someone who doesn’t know about these new domains might add .com to the end of it instead. So be careful and consider what your website users may do as that’s the most important thing to consider.

In conclusion, it’s definitely worth looking into the new names out there. There is a huge variety available and you might be able to get a good version of your company name if you time it right. A few things to remember though; make sure your domain is relevant to the type of business you operate in and/or has your name in it, that it is short and easy to remember and that it is spelt correctly.

Here is a list of some new domain names that has been released already (in no particular order):

  • .science
  • .ninja
  • .construction
  • .photography
  • .coffee
  • .clothing
  • .academy
  • .florist
  • .cool

If you’re interested and want to see more domain names that have been released as part of this new wave of names, you can visit ICANN’s website and see the full list of delegated strings there. Additionally, make sure you shop around before purchasing. The prices can vary greatly per website!