New top-level domains open doors for small business

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New top-level domains open doors for small business

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) have recently delegated new generic top-level domains (gTLDs) as part of their New gTLD Programi. A top-level domain is the last segment of a domain after the final dot in the web address, with .com being the most widely recognisedii. Just a few years ago, businesses had 22 top-level domains to choose from; highly generic TLDs like .com, .net and .org didn't leave much room for imagination in the creation of URLsiii. Since applications for new gTLDs were opened in January 2012iv, the list of available domains has rapidly increased to include over 270 new gTLDs such as .solutions, .finance, .club, .buzz and .agencyv.

ICANN has released a large number of more descriptive top-level domains for businesses to choose from.

So what does the arrival of new gTLDs mean for small business, and how can you capitalise upon the recent changes?

Provide greater clarity about your business

The New gTLD Program includes three different types of domain registries: open, closed and restrictedvi. Domains in an open registry can be applied for by anyone, which provides opportunities for small businesses to create a stronger branded online presence. If you own a coffee shop, it might be a good idea to register a .coffee domain and think of creative ways to integrate your brand name into an exciting new URL. The new range of open gTLDs also offers a great opportunity for businesses to shorten URLs while still retaining their familiarity. For example, photographers who currently have a long URL in the format of '[fullname]' can now register a .photography domain name, eliminating the redundant .com from their website's URL. Boutiques might find a similar use for the .clothing or .boutique domain, while businesses in the trades may find .builders and .repair to be an attractive alternative to traditional gTLDs.

Local geographic domains may help small businesses such as cafes or retail stores appeal to the local market.

Appeal to the local market

Domains in restricted registries are only open to members of a specific community or geographic areavi. For example, Google applied to manage the .blog domain registry and plans to offer .blog domain names to registered Blogger users onlyvii. Similarly, domain names based on local geographic locations are only available to businesses which are located within the geographic area defined by the registryvi. Geographic domains may help small businesses such as cafes or retail stores appeal to the local market, and can particularly benefit businesses which compete geographically, or wish to increase their marketability by placing emphasis on their location. The good news for Australian businesses is that the registries of .melbourne and .sydney have already been confirmed by ICANN, with the first .melbourne domain names likely to go live in mid-2014viii.

Closed registries are mostly aimed at major brands and corporations, who apply and pay for a domain registry for sole use by the company, or as a brand protection measurevii. A number of large Australian companies have already applied for branded top-level domains, with the Commonwealth Bank applying for .netbank, .commbank and .cba, and the AFL applying for .afl.ix While you may not be able to fork out USD$185,000x to secure a branded top-level domain for your business, you can choose from the wide variety of open and restricted domains.

Before you rush out to buy a new domain name for your business, keep in mind that not all registries are ready to accept applications for newly introduced gTLDs. However, many registries are offering the chance to pre-register and secure domain names.

There are over 1481 applications for new gTLDs still being processed by ICANN, with the likelihood of a suitable domain for your business increasing with each release of delegated domains. For a full list of gTLDs that have been delegated by ICANN so far, visit the ICANN website.

iICANN, 'Program Statistics', New Generic Top-Level Domains, viewed 3 June 2014,

iiTechTarget, 'Definition: top-level domain', viewed 3 June 2014,

iiiMirani, L, 'The biggest land rush in the history of the internet starts on February 4, Quartz, viewed 3 June 2014,

ivICANN, 'About the Program', New Generic Top-Level Domains, viewed 3 June 2014,

vPearce, R, 'More than 100 gTLDs added to the root so far', ComputerWorld, viewed 3 June 2014,, 'The different types of new gTLDs: which one is right for you?', viewed 3 June 2014,

viiMurphy, K, 'Closed gTLD debate threatens Google and Amazon', Domain Incite,

viiiPearce, R, '.melbourne top-level domain moves closer to Web', ComputerWorld, viewed 3 June 2014,

ixPearce, R, 'Australian banks, universities set sights on new top-level domains', TechWorld, viewed 3 June 2014,

xICANN, 'Frequently Asked Questions', viewed 3 June 2014,