Since the dawn of the internet, the most popular web address has always been the .com. Along with .org, .net, .gov and .edu, this set of domain name extensions has dominated the online world. But now there’s a new batch, ready to make your website stand out even more!
What Do Domain Name Extensions Tell Us?
These extensions have more or less told us what kind of website we’re visiting. Is it a non-profit? A commercial site? Or an educational or governmental one? But because these major domain name suffixes have historically been so limited in number, there’s been an unintended side effect: huge competition for URLs and domain names. However, thanks to the growing demand for URLs all over the world, that has changed in a huge way over the past year or so, ever since the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) opened up the web so that there could be a virtually unlimited number of domain name suffixes.
As Forbes notes, “Once upon a time there were only 22 generic top-level domains (sometimes called gTLDs, Internet domains, Web domains, or just domains) with type suffixes like .com, .net, .mil, and .gov, and geographic suffixes like .uk, .ru, and .jp. Now there are close to 500 — with potentially 900 more to come in the next few months.”
So what effect is this having on the internet? And what does the ever-expanding variety of domain name extensions mean for any online business owner who wants to set up a website? In a way, the expansion of domain name extensions is a huge asset. Different extensions like .work, .community, or even .me can be far more applicable to the type of service, product, or idea you’re building a website for. If you’re running a fish restaurant, for example, why not you’re your web address end in .fish? Finding a suffix that suits your needs can not only allow a website owner to get their first choice domain name (whereas it once might been already taken with a .com suffix) but also get something that is logically suited to what you offer.
Are There Any Pitfalls of the New Domain Extensions?
However, there is a slight danger when it comes to recognition. Even though these new suffixes have been in use for a good period of time, some internet users might not be entirely familiar with them quite yet. While this aspect will eventually fade, you may at first find that people are typing in .com when they should be typing in something else, so this is something to be mindful of.
Another major question with using another domain name extension has been surrounding SEO. Suffixes like .com, .org, and .edu tend to be favored by search engine algorithms, so some say that by choosing an alternative suffix, you could be risking your SEO status. However, this isn’t necessarily true. If you follow all the other rules of building good SEO—such as keyword rich content, and tagging your pages properly—there is no real indication that having an alternative suffix could hamper your discoverability. One study done by Daniel Negari, CEO of domain name registry .xyz, found that “ it’s definitely possible for a brand to rank on the top of Google’s SERPs (search engine results pages) with a new domain name extension.” Meanwhile, Entrepreneur wrote that when it comes to using these extensions, the “expected negative impact is actually lower than the SEO community predicted.”
This is good news for internet commerce, as without this expansion of domain names, we would have seen increasingly complex web addresses all trying to fit into the .com format. Studies show that shorter URLs are more memorable and impactful for consumers, so there’s a great case to be made for online businesses to use these extensions to streamline their online address without the fear of sacrificing their SEO rankings.
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