dot WHAT ???

Techy Intro Bit …

This first segment’s a bit dull. Sorry – it gets relevant in a minute …

Back in the middle of 2011, ICANN announced that they’d be opening up applications for new generic Top Level Domains (‘gTLD’).
ICANN is an organisation that’s, basically, in charge of the Internet.
The gTLD is is the bit at the back of web addresses – such as .com, .net or .uk.

So now companies could apply to secure their own top-level domain – but the cost ($185,000) is prohibitive to all but large organisations. MacDonalds and The Guardian are amongst those who’ve applied – partly to protect their brands.

But ICANN also allow applications from organisations who want to run a registration service, effectively “sub-letting” gTLDs to interest communities – either individuals or SMEs.

A year later – 13th June 2012 – ICANN has revealed a list of these applicants.

OK. A Bit more Detail, please ?

Well, here are some of the proposed gTLDs :

.photography
.photo
.pics
.pictures
.events
.studio
.design
.fyi
.news
.fashion
.wedding
.style

There are also some location based gTLDs – such as ‘.london’, ‘.wales’, ‘.cymru’ and ‘.scot’ – and some entity-based – such as ‘.ltd’.

Obviously there’s some duplication, and there’s a consultation process going on to decide which ones actually get adopted.
The way each of the new gTLDs is used will be decided by the registrar for that site, although they’ve had to include a summary in their proposal (that’s been vetted).

It’s expected that these will start to operate from January 2013.

Arrrghhh – so Which do I Choose ?

We’ll have to see how this pans out, but I suspect that search engines (such as Google) will factor this in to how prioritise your site – so if someone’s looking for designers, then websites in the ‘.studio’ or ‘design’ gTLDs will get a higher score.
You can choose the rest of your domain name to target the search terms you’d expect your target customers to input.

Now, as a photographer, your first instinct might be to buy a domain name such as ‘john-doe.photography’.
If you specialise, you could build that speciality into the domain, and buy – for example – ‘john-doe-pet.photography’.

(As an aside – you don’t have to think too hard to see there are some big opportunities out there – if you’re quick off the mark)

Alternatively, if your work is identified with a particular market segment – then you could choose a gTLD that identifies more with that sector – such as ‘john-doe-photo.fashion’, or ‘john-doe-photo.wedding’.
Be careful about this, though – if you try and get a slot in the ‘.archi’ domain (for architects) then you could upset potential clients – who would want to limit the domain to qualified architects.
In some cases, this limitation may be imposed by the gTLD registrar.

There’s a page about how gTLDs can work for small businesses on the ICANN microsite.

Remember- be realistic about who you’re trying to attract. Your domain name shouldn’t mislead – there’s no point in bringing visitors who’ll never buy your services. That’s just annoying.

If you already have a website, then it should be possible to redirect our traffic to the new domain name (when you get it) with relatively little pain.

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