The internet is growing fast, and it's almost impossible to get your choice of domain name let alone one with a .com ending.That's all changing with over 700 new top-level domain names such as .london, .bike and .wedding. See also: New domain names are launching - don't miss out.
If you want your business to stand out and compete you need not only a great website but also a memorable - and preferably short - domain name.
There are around 110 million .com websites registered, which leaves the option of settling for another so-called top-level domain (TLD) such as .co.uk, .org or .net, or compromising and using a longer name for your site.
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Even if you already own a .com or .co.uk domain, you'll do well to pre-register one or more of the new domain names that are appropriate for your site before the prime candidates get snapped up by savvy website owners.
Since 2003, there have been just 22 TLDs and most are geographic, so you're limited to using .co.uk if you want Google to highly rank your site in UK search results. Starting soon, though, there will be a whopping 1,400 new TLDs, with around 700 available to consumers and businesses - the rest are largely brands such as .microsoft, .ferrari and others which only those companies will be able to register and use.
New TLDs: pre-register .LONDON now
As of 29th April 2014, businesses, organisations and individuals can register for a .LONDON domain, to be delivered this summer. For example, Fasthosts is offering the domain for £19.99 ex VAT (plus the .London registry’s one-off £5 processing fee).
That's a small price to pay to get a new domain name that helps people to know where your business is located as well as boosting the prominence of your brand, adding to existing .co.uk or. com domains. Many companies have already registered their .london domain, such as Fortnum & Mason:
We asked Simon Yeoman, General Manager of Fasthosts how popular he thinks .London will be. "Across the whole market, whilst we will not know definitively the demand level for .London until the day of general availability, all indications we have show that demand is very strong. We estimate that a total of between 50-100,000 .London domains will be registered in the days following", he said.
When asked how are Londoners given priority and whether they are genuinely from London, he commented "During the London Priority Period the registry for .London applies a tiered system for priority in awarding the domains – and manages this process itself. Priority is given to people and businesses located within London and its 32 boroughs before the extensions become available to those outside."
"The four categories of priority for applications are: 1. Trademark holders that are verified with ICANN’s Trademark Clearing House database. 2. Those applicants with a physical address in the City of London or its 32 boroughs with a UK trademark or rights to a name such as proof of business or trading name, charities and personal names. 3. Those applicants with a physical address in the City of London or its 32 boroughs without the corresponding right for a domain name. 4. Applicants who do not have a physical address in the City of London or its 32 boroughs."
If two or more applications are received for the same .London domain name, you will be asked to provide proof of business/trading name and address. Once this has been submitted, the rules above in relation to priority will apply. In the event that a domain is applied for by two or more applicants with the same level of priority, these will go to auction after the close of priority applications on the 31st July. The auction process will be managed by the Registry.
Similarly, you can also buy you .London domain name from web host 1&1 for £19.99 plus VAT. CEO Robert Hoffman said "Londoners know and trust their local businesses, and now London firms are able to prove their London credentials directly from their web address.
The brand of ‘London’ is in great shape – it is viewed internationally across many business sectors as popular, trusted, and prestigious. These values can now be utilised to the advantage of all sizes and types of London business. A .London domain will be a highly useful addition to how companies can market themselves to overseas audiences. The result for firms will be great new potential for capturing traffic and developing their digital branding.
For consumers who make searches for retailers, products or services in London, it is also likely that a .London domain will be a useful factor in obtaining the most useful search results", he said.
New TLDs: what you should know
ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) is the organisation responsible for releasing the new names but you will be able to apply for a domain name with any company that sells the new domains.
This means that even if bluelagoonhotel.com is taken you might be able to register bluelagoon.hotel since .hotel is one of the new TLDs. As well as business categories such as .florist, there are also other names such as .ski, .wedding and .photography which could be either a business or a hobby site.
Alternatively, if you want a geographic domain name you could pre-register Collins.london if you'd always wanted collins.co.uk but the domain was already taken.
If you'd prefer a non-geographic name that still tells people you're a business, there are .ltd and .limited options. You'll also be able to register .mobile, .web, .online, .site and .website.
Google has said that websites using the new TLDs will rank highly as long as the content on the site matches the name, so Annabelscake.shop would be a bad choice if the site doesn't contain lots of information on which cakes you can buy from Annabel's cake shop.
If you want to find out which TLDs are available, the best way to do it is to visit 1&1's site where you can pre-register a domain name. There's also a suggestion search engine which will launch imminently that allows you to enter keywords and find out which of the 700-odd New TLDs will best suit your website.
New TLDs: more confusing for customers?
One of the many issues with the new TLDs is that people are used to the .com and other geographical domain names. While the Trademark Clearing House should stop Joe Public from registering Harrods.mobile, the new system is bound to be used and abused by criminals looking to set up phishing sites, or simply cybersquat.
In theory, new rules should mean fraudulent sites are taken down within weeks rather than months, but it’s still worth being careful before entering your details once the new domain names are in use.
What do you think of the new names? Are they a good idea or not? Let us know by commenting below.
See also: Build a website with 1&1 MyWebsite