Just when you thought the Internet had run out of Internet addresses, think again: a new era of URLs is nearly upon us.
On July 2, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced that the Big Apple will be one of the first cities in the world to provide a geographic-specific Internet domain: .nyc. The International Corporation of Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) recently approved the new address, or generic top-level domain (gTLD). The nonprofit ICANN regulates naming conventions on the Internet like .com, .net and .biz.
New York City officials expect to put the new Internet addresses up for sale later this year, according to the mayor’s website. The nation’s largest city was one of 1,006 entities ICANN recently approved for a new gTLD. ICANN also gave the go-ahead for .toys, .mba and .poker.
Large corporations also got in on the action, paying a $185,000 fee for each application to scoop up new branded gTLDs like .lincoln, .redken, .merck and .safeway. According to Crain’s Chicago Business, seven Chicago-area companies also successfully applied for gTLDs: Allstate Insurance, Jones Lang LaSalle, Discover Financial Services, McDonald’s Corp., Citadel LLC, Transunion LLC and Abbott Laboratories.
Allstate’s picks? .allstate, .goodhands, .autoinsurance and .carinsurance.
The steep six-figure price tag undoubtedly discouraged many businesses from applying for a vanity gTLD in the first round of applications – and likely will in the future, too. Still, as these addresses will likely become commonplace in the coming years, here are answers to three questions business owners might have now:
Should I start or continue to run analytics on my company’s website? Yes and yes. Without analytics, it will be impossible to make “apples-to-apples” comparisons of before-and-after Web traffic if you ultimately decide to make the switch to a new gTLD.
Should I drop everything immediately and go out and buy a .shoes gTLD for my shoe business or .tires gTLD for my tire business? No, don’t do that. First, these applications were just approved and it’s too early to determine what it all means. The first wave of gTLD applicants was primarily trying to warehouse domains for one of two reasons: protecting valuable brand names or, like New York City, launching Web hosting businesses that will sell new URLs ending in.nyc.
What will these new Web addresses mean for SEO? Uncertain. Until new gTLDs are up and running, it’s impossible to discern whether they’ll be more effective in generating search results than old standbys like .com and .org. Writing in the Guardian, Search Online Marketing’s Adam Grunwerg put it this way:
“If these new gTLDs are helpful for Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), then we must remember that spammers will quickly abuse them. It could be the .info situation all over again, where extensions quickly become tainted and promoted for spam purposes. In this environment, it’s the trusted domain extensions such as .com and .co.uk that will be the biggest winners.”
Are you considering a new gTLD for your business? Why or why not? Share your thoughts in the comments below.