Back at the very beginning of the internet, before the days of the World Wide Web, networks were accessed not through a web address but through an IP address. If you wanted to access a network you wouldn’t type ‘example.com’ you would type ‘198.51.100.0’. As more and more people wanted access, and create, their own networks, the demand for IP addresses grew, so it became necessary to re-think the current naming strategy. Long strings of numbers were hard to remember so in 1985 the Domain Name System was introduced. This meant that each network was assigned a name that comprised of a ‘Top Level Domain’ (TLD – the ‘.com’ bit) and a Second Level Domain (SLD – the ‘example’ part of ‘example.com’).
In 1985 you could choose from three TLDs; .com, .org, and .net (four other TLDs were created but these were not available to the public). When the internet exploded in the 90s and the World Wide Web was introduced people flocked to register domain names in bulk. Since then, over 300 million domains have been registered.
As the demand for domain names exponentially increased it became necessary to expand the TLDs as well. Since 1985 over 1000 new TLDs have been introduced. The .com TLD eventually grew cluttered. In the modern era where businesses are thriving on the internet they need to be able to stand out. In the 90s it was easy to get yourbusiness.com, because there were very few people around to compete with you for it.
Say you wanted to make a website for your pub. Back in the day you might’ve been able to register “redlionpub.com”, but if someone beat you to that domain you might have to go for “redlionpubgloucester.com” instead, but you find that someone beat you to that as well. In the end you settle for “redlionpubgloucstergloucestershire.com”. Now your web address is so convoluted that it’s not memorable, and if no one can remember what the site is called then you’re not going to get the traffic you want.
Keeping your web address as short as possible makes it stand out. A .com domain is very generic, there’s nothing in it that tells the user what your business does, so you have to clog the SLD with that information. But now – with new domain extensions like .pub, .wine, .pizza, .photography – it’s immediately obvious what your site is about. Instead of having the long winded and unmemorable redlionpubgloucstergloucestershire.com, you can maximise your brand and keep your domain short by registering ‘redlion.pub’. With new generic TLDs it’s once again possible to give your domain individuality and uniqueness, while keeping it memorable and relevant to your brand.
If a user makes an online search for a pub and gets a result that says “theredliongloucester.com”, there’s nothing in the domain name that tells the user whether that website is for a pub, or for some form of extreme taxidermy service. Registering “redlion.pub” eliminates this issue.
One other way to utilise TLDs is by making sure they’re relevant geographically. Country-Code TLDs (ccTLDs) like .co.uk, .ca, .de were introduced as a way of helping search engines figure out where a business is based. This has benefits within SEO. This thinking has been extended from countries to cities. A .london domain not only shows your pride for your city, but it lets the user know that the website is relevant and local to them. Although Google confirmed that geoTLDs for cities (.london, .nyc etc) do not affect SEO rankings, there are huge benefits of each one.
Your perfect domain should be relevant and memorable, gTLDs help with both of these things. A shorter domain is usually better, and going for a new gTLD means you can be more specific, while keeping the domain short.
New TLDs are released as often as every month. Visit the Networkmanager website for a timeline of their release and for more information on specific domain names.