When your business is online, one of the biggest decisions you can make is choosing a domain name.
Choosing a domain name is just as important as naming your business – it’s a huge part of your branding.
But finding the ideal domain name is tougher than coming up with a business name – good dot-coms are hard to come by. Most of the good ones have already been taken.
Luckily, there are some big changes happening in the world of domains that are about to make registering a great domain so much easier: namely, hundreds of new domain endings that are a great alternative to your generic dot com.
Is the dot com era really over? Is it safe to build your business on another domain ending? Here’s how to weigh the pros and cons and decide for yourself.
The Rise and Reign of .com Domains
Since the dawn of the Internet, .com has been the top choice of TLD. (TLD stands for “top level domain,” and refers to domain endings such as .com, .net, .org, etc.)
“Dot com” is synonymous with the web itself. Think about the “Dot Com Crash” around the year 2000 – not all of those failed startups were actually .coms.
Though other TLDs have existed from the beginning, none of them have enjoyed the ubiquity of .com. It’s what everyone knows, recognizes, and expects to see.
And therein lies the trouble. Because of its default status and popularity over the past few decades, most of the best .com domains are already taken.
Short, memorable domains now sell for a premium:
- Insure.com sold for $16 million in 2009
- VacationRentals.com sold for $35 million in 2007
- Internet.com sold for $18 million in 2009
- Facebook bought FB.com for $8.5 million in 2010
If you want to register a new .com domain, you’re going to have to be creative and settle for less-than-ideal, unless you can shell out a ton of money for the domain of your dreams.
Enter the New TLDs
ICANN (The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, the nonprofit organization responsible for domain names), has made a few more TLDs available since the beginning, but none came close to .com’s popularity.
But in 2011, ICANN removed most restrictions on the creation of new TLDs, and in the next few years hundreds of new extensions have become available.
Anyone can now apply to create their own new TLD extensions. Dozens of brands have begun to register their own trademarked names (including .aaa, .aetna, .aol, .chrome, .chrysler, and many more), and many more TLDs related to technology, industry, geographic locations, and hobbies are now available to register.
The new TLDs include:
- …and many more
(You can see a list of available TLDs at IWantMyName.com domain registrar.)
Brands Using New TLDs
While it’s taken some time for the new options to gain in popularity, they’ve started to pick up steam in the past year or so, with some big brands leading the way. One big example is Google’s new parent company, Alphabet, for which they cleverly chose the domain abc.xyz.
Many of the new TLDs are centered around specific products and physical items, including .wine, .watch, .toys, .tools, etc. Some brands are taking advantage of these new choices to switch to more memorable domain names:
- WarriorPoet.Clothing: This clothing brand used to be located at WarriorPoetClothier.com (quite a mouthful). The new domain is much shorter, catchier, and brandable.
- Driftaway.Coffee: Previously located at driftaway.co, this company opted for a new domain that’s a perfect match to their actual business name, instead of leaving their audience guessing at the meaning of “.co.”
- Nneyah.Cards: This customized greeting card company was previously located at nneyahcards.co.uk, but also decided that they were better served by a domain that matched their branding.
The new TLDs also offer tons of options for service-based businesses, including .accountant, .attorney, .builders, .catering, .lawyer, and more.
- Screenprinting business Doomd.ink made the move from doomdink.com to shorten their domain. .ink would also be a great choice for a printing business or tattoo studio.
- Rostrum.agency used to be located at Rostrumpr.com, but decided that the new .agency TLD was better for branding.
- Extrabold.design made the move from Extrabolddesign.com, simplifying and unifying their branding.
- Festival.Melbourne is much catchier and more memorable than their old domain, Melbournefestival.com.au.
- Fatbeard.Vegas was previously at fatbeardstudios.com, but they decided a localized TLD would be a better fit for their intended audience.
- Scratchtown.Beer is a much shorter and more memorable domain than their old domain at Scratchtownbrewingcompany.com.
- Halfhitch.London used to be located at Halfhitch.co.uk, but the new domain name looks much more modern – and the location is more specific.
Should You Register a New TLD?
If the .com domain you want is taken, your only options in the past were to come up with a new idea, or create a workaround.
VacationRentals.com already taken, and can’t afford the multi-million dollar price tag? You could get creative and:
- add numbers (VacationRentals1.com)
- add your location (VacationRentalsUSA.com)
- add words (BuyVacationRentals.com)
- use hyphens (Vacation-Rentals.com)
- use a country-specific TLD (VacationRentals.ly or VacationRentals.me)
These types of workarounds will sometimes take off, but there’s always the risk of looking cheap and spammy. You don’t want to give the impression that you’re not willing to invest in your website, or that you’re trying to rip off or assume the identity of your direct competitor.
Now, there are more options than just coming up with a whole new business name: you can use a new TLD instead.
- There are many, many more possibilities for domain registrations – no need for awkward workarounds.
- You can create short domains that your audience can easily remember.
- A TLD that’s part of your business name is an opportunity to build a strong brand around your domain. As in the example above: Scratchtown.beer is much easier to brand than a long name like scratchtownbrewingcompany.com.
- New TLDs are the trend of the future! Let your audience know your finger is on the pulse of the Internet.
- About 50% of all domains on the web are .com, and that’s what your audience will assume you are. According to MarketingLand, the original TLDs (.com, .net, etc.) have more than double the awareness of the new TLDs among the general internet-using public. You may have to spend more resources (time, energy, money) on branding to make sure users don’t accidentally go to a competitor with the .com name.
When considering a new TLD, it’s important to consider your audience and your competitors:
- If your audience is not tech-savvy, they may be confused by a new TLD. But a tech-savvy audience may be impressed.
- If a direct competitor owns the .com version of your domain name, it’s not a good idea to register the same domain with a new TLD. If your customers type in your domain name with a .com by mistake, you’ll be sending them directly to your competitor.
Resources for Choosing a Domain Name
Not quite ready to register your new domain? Here are some resources for brainstorming and researching names:
- All You Need To Know About Domain Names
- Everything You Need To Know About Choosing A Domain Name
- 10 Tips for Choosing the Right Domain Name
- Tips & Tools On Selecting The Right Domain Name
Even if the reign of .com isn’t quite over yet, it certainly can’t last forever. With all the good .com domains running out, the new TLDs will have to take .com’s place.