Introduction to the new gTLDs – Generic Top-Level Domain Names

Summary – Impact of New generic Top Level Domains

In 2014 more than 1,000 new “.anything” generic top-level domain names will start becoming available for registration in phases.  Examples include .photography, .flowers, and .healthcare.

With more than 250,000,000 domain names registered, 42% of which are .com, the ‘ole Interweb is getting a bit crowded. To the people, companies and organizations who want to represent themselves with descriptive and relevant domain names these new gTLDs offer more choices.  They also offer more revenue to the domain name registrars who will gladly take your money during this new Internet land rush.

For businesses and trademark holders, now is the time to decide which, if any, new domain names to register and protect. For some, registrations of new domain names are purely defensive, whereas for others it represents a great opportunity.

The initiative of introducing new gTLDs has taken eons as measured in Internet time. Meanwhile, Internet usage has changed from surfing to searching to mobile app launching, and brand discovery has changed from reading the Sunday newspaper to asking friends on social networks and reading blogs.  All of which means these new names and the money spent on them may mean nothing to consumers – at least not yet.

gTLD new generic top level domain names

Will Having a New gTLD Help SEO?

The answer is no more than a .com domain.  According to Matt Cutts, the Google search guru whose quotes are followed as closely as the Federal Reserve Chairman’s:

Google will attempt to rank new TLDs appropriately, but I don’t expect a new TLD to get any kind of initial preference over .com, and I wouldn’t bet on that happening in the long-term either. If you want to register an entirely new TLD for other reasons, that’s your choice, but you shouldn’t register a TLD in the mistaken belief that you’ll get some sort of boost in search engine rankings. (Matt Cutts, Google Search)

However, Google limits search results on the first page from the same website or sub domains of a website.  A keyword-packed new domain name can help dominate results, but only if you put the same time and effort into the new site content and backlinks as the .com website.

What is a gTLD?

A Generic Top-level Domain, such as .com, .org, and .net are used in the domain name system of the Internet to identify a particular resource such as a website.  In addition to generic there are also infrastructure, country code and internationalized top-level domains. See examples below. The structure of a domain name can be broken down by what comes before, between, and after the dots.

Protocol Subdomain . Domain . Top-Level Domain
http:// www . TodLock . com
  www . FTD . flowers
  notears . shampoo . baby

Just as a telephone book matches a person’s name with his phone number, the Internet matches a domain name to an IP (Internet protocol) address. That way you don’t have to remember the number, but only the name to “dial up” your favorite website.

And that still works – unless the name is John Smith or Jim Johnson.  These days there are over a quarter billion domain names registered, making it hard to find a good new name for a home on the Web. Plus, a third of all domain names are simply “parked” and forgotten or waiting for a buyer to pay a premium price to the speculator who registered it. For example, in 2012 privatejet.com went for $30 million; and the most expensive domain name ever, vacationrentals.com, sold for $35 million.

gTLD Strategy

If you are a trademark holder, or trying to protect your brand, then you should take defensive measures.  Even if you’re already sitting on a portfolio of domain names just so nobody else will get them, the game just changed and got a little more complex. Unfortunately, the new gTLDs pose a competitive risk, and also open the door to spammers and scammers and domain name squatters.

  • Trademarks not registered may be up for grabs to highest bidder
  • Even protected trademarks are not completely safe
  • SPAMmers and SCAMmers now have a new tool
  • Competitors may try to steal traffic

 

The new gTLDs also give the opportunity to go on the offensive, especially if (or once) one of the domains is a perfect match for your business or industry.

  • Great opportunity for keyword-rich, descriptive domain names
  • Can shorten domain names while still capturing keywords
  • Ability to dominate search results with more branded websites
    • But still requires all the SEO and content work
    • For example, todlock.photography will likely rank no better or worse than todlockphotography.com all other things being equal.

What You Need to Know about New gTLDs

List of New gTLDs – What are the New Names?

It’s hard to find a full list, as the process is still ongoing. Most lists are sorted by their status or availability date. Initially, applicants offered up $185,000 and the name of their sought-after domain.  Undisputed domain applications were accepted and scheduled for release while other domains are still waiting.  Some new domains are privately held brands such as BMW; some have geographic restrictions; while others such as .mormon might be restricted to religious affiliation.

See gTLD list sorted by application status: https://gtldresult.icann.org/applicationstatus/viewstatus

However, you can subscribe to several update services to get the latest news and see which domains are coming next.

When Should I Register a New gTLD Name?

Each new domain name has a schedule that starts with a Sunrise protection period for trademark holders.  Trademarks must be previously registered in the Trademark Clearinghouse. Once successfully registered in the Clearinghouse, a trademark holder is issued a Signed Mark Data (SMD) file or key that can be used to register a new domain name during Sunrise.

Following the Sunrise period is a Landrush (optional depending on the domain registry).  However, it’s not first-come, first-served: in the event of duplicate registrations the domain name may still go to auction. Open Registration or General Availability is just that, except for domains that have been preregistered.

Trademark  Clearinghouse

If you’re serious about protecting your trademarked brand name or company name, then start with the Trademark Clearinghouse – for a fee. Trademark owners can then use the Sunrise registration period. Any disputes or duplicates involving a trademark may be resolved – for more fees – based on notification service following the Sunrise period.

If you’re willing to take your chances, then you can wait until the Land Rush or General Availability registration periods.

Trademark owners or agents can register at the Clearinghouse in a three-step process, and either pay by credit card, or prepay by money wire.  Prepayment is $15,000.00.  When paying by credit card using the Basic Fee Structure, to register one trademark costs:

  • $150 for one year
  • $435 for three years
  • $725 for five years

Only ten trademarks may be registered per credit card.

An Advanced Fee Structure offers discounts based on a point schedule and is only available to those who prepay.  Registrants earn points for multiple trademarks, multiple years, and etc.

Some new gTLD registries may be private, for example Johnson & Johnson’s new baby, .baby.  And in some cases, registry companies may withhold premium domains and sell them to whomever they want, for whatever price they can get.

How to Register a New gTLD

gTLD registries such as Donuts (see below) use domain name registrars such as GoDaddy, 101 Domain, CSC, Tucows or Network Solutions. To ensure you’re dealing with an accredited registrar, you can research the registry’s site.  You can also just go to your favorite registrar’s site and they’ll tell you what is available.

For open domains it’s just like registering any other domain name.  In some cases, however, there are geographic or industry requirements.  These requirements should be listed in the summary information about the domain from the owner/registry. For example, an attorney might need to provide his license number when registering a .lawyer domain name.

A Brief History of Domain Names

Year

Event

# Registered Domains

1985

1st commercial domain name registered – symbolic.com

1

1992

NSI granted registrar status.  Mosaic web browser invented.

15,000

1998

Available gTLDs: .com, .net, .org, .edu, .gov, and .mil plus .int and .arpa. Also ccTLDs (.us, .uk, etc.)

2,000,000

2000

Added .aero, .biz, .coop, .info, .museum, .name, and .pro

27,000,000

2004

Added .asia, .cat, .jobs, .mobi, .post, .tel, .xxx and .travel

45,000,000

2008

ICANN begins process of new TLD policy

105,000,000

2009

21 gTLDs and 250 ccTLDs available

192,000,000

2012

Of the 106.2 million .com domains registered; 21% are one-page holding sites; 15% are parked

250,000,000

2014

Over 1,000 new gTLDs scheduled for release (in some phase)

265,000,000

Who is Donuts?

If you’ve already investigated the topic of new gTLDs, you may have run into a company called Donuts. Donuts is a new Internet domain name registry founded in response to the new gTLD land rush.  Financed by venture capital and financial companies, Donuts may end up controlling 200-300 of the new domain names.

Donuts cannot sell domain registrations directly, but rather must use registrars such as GoDaddy.

Donuts will gladly offer trademark holders a defensive subscription service called DPML (Domains Protected Marks List), where for the low price of $2,995 a trademark or a keyword related to or contained within a registered brand with the Trademark Clearinghouse is blocked from registration within any of the new domains controlled by them for five years.  It also blocks the registrant (you) from using it for a website or e-mail.

About the author

Tod Lock is a marketing guy in Dallas, TX blogging on social media marketing, SEO, mobile marketing, reputation management, and promotions. Find him on Blogspot, Bigsight, Crunchbase, Facebook, and LookUpPage.