If you haven’t purchased a domain name yet, now is a good time to get involved. You will probably think that I have some infatuation with domain names as this is the third article in a month but after years of relative inactivity in the domain name world, there is a lot going on now.
A few years back, ICANN asked for applications to open up the domain industry for many new extensions. They received thousands of applications from lots of companies around the world (including applications from companies that have never previously been a domain authority). Of course, these companies were thoroughly vetted to make sure they could become a domain authority and had the infrastructure and finance to support it.
There are many new domain authorities and names that have been approved for use in 2014 and I’ve listed those below either as available now or the date that they become generally available. Some new domain names have become available this month for GA, including some being released today (26 February 2014) or in the months to come. These new domains tend to be a bit more expensive than the most popular extensions but over time when the rush has died down, I’m sure the prices will drop.
Some companies are offering pre-registration for these new extensions but they will be on a first come first served basis on the day of general availability. In the past, the more electronic applications a domain registrar has had to submit the less chance you’ll have of beating others to it. Smaller domain name registrars with less to submit may be your best bet for a short or popular name that you want to pre-register (pre-registration is no guarantee whoever you go with) or maybe you could preregister with a few as they usually will not charge unless you are successful. Some registrars/authorities may use a different system other than first to submit electronically but I haven’t heard of any doing so. Of course with so many extensions you could just wait to see if it becomes available on the day and if not, choose another.
Companies have traditionally been protective of their name and brand by buying up all the related domain names including all the extensions but I can’t see that happening now. With possibly 1,500 new domain extensions costing on average £30, it seems a lot of money to spend on something that should really be protected by law. If you own an international trademark and another company purchases a domain with a similar (or even the same name) and starts trading in the same business as you, you can sue them and take ownership of their domain. I guess companies will have to weigh up; cost and bother of possible litigation for infringement against the cost of buying everything remotely to do with your company or brand.
If you already own the domain name you want and it has a decent extensions or your domain name is also your company name then there seems to me, little point in buying up several others. I can see that you might want to do this if you want; another domain name pointing to you, an extension that describes your business better or one of the extensions actually forms part of your company name such as leehollick.photography (for photographer Lee Hollick\’s business).
- A domain name is a website address made up of a name and an extension. It makes it easier to use than a set of numbers.
- ICANN is the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers. They are responsible for overseeing the whole domain name industry.
- A domain authority will control specific domain name extensions and is the only authority that can issues domain names with that extension. They operate a registry of domain names and make sure that each is unique on the internet.
- A domain registrar will sell domain names and register them on your behalf with the domain authority. Other companies that are not registrars can also sell domain names themselves on behalf a registrar.
- General availability is the point the registry is open to first-come, first-served registration. There are several stages before GA but these are reserved for special circumstances.
It may not be a bad idea to have other sites up and running that are for the purpose of directing traffic to your main domain but you need to be careful. It’s one of those practices that some digital marketing agencies have been exploiting for quite a while and the search engines are now wise to it. They will penalise a site that does this unless the linking site has a purpose other than to redirect traffic. You could create a website with lots of information all about your industry and as long as it doesn’t just link to your main site then it should be OK.
The new domain name extensions are supposed to better describe the content on the website but, like those that have been released before, the purpose of the site will be forgotten over time. When names start to run out people use whatever they can get for whatever purpose they want. In the past, when a new top level domain extension has been released, there is a mad rush to buy them and very few of them actually get used. I’m sure this will be the case too with the plethora of new domain name extensions. Single word English dictionary names will go first in the hope of reselling them later at a profit.
Whether a new domain name will serve you better than your existing one, will depend on what you have now, how customers find you and if one of the extensions is a keyword for your business. I’m sure the search engines will continue to give domain authority to .com (or .co.uk in the UK) but they also give a preference to domains names with the search term in them so that might be worth looking at.
If you haven’t purchased a domain name yet, now is a good time to get involved. So if you are looking for a new domain name for the reasons above or just fancy a new fun name then here’s a list of what you can expect in 2014. This is not an exhaustive list as there may be many more getting approved in the coming months.
Available 5 March 2014
Available 12 March 2014
Available 19 March 2014
Available 26 March 2014
Available 2 April 2014
Available 9 April 2014
Available 23 April 2014
Available 30 April 2014
Available 7 May 2014
Available 30 May 2014
Available Quarter 2, 2014
Available Quarter 3, 2014
Available Quarter 4, 2014
There are many places available online to purchase one of the extensions that are available now or where you can register an interest (get on the pre-order list) for ones that will become available in the future. Feel free to contact me if you’re not sure where to go. If you have purchased one of these names then please share your experience.