We’ve had some questions recently about the new generic top-level domains (gTLD) that are hitting the marketplace. It seems phone book companies are at it again, telling their customers “just buy this domain name and it will help you rank high on the search engines!” If only it were that easy, Mr. and Ms. Phone Book Rep.
In years past exact match domain names (domains with your keywords in them such as www.florida-web-design-company.com) did get preference with the search engines. Problem was, people were buying these kinds of domains and putting up crappy websites that weren’t useful. Over the past several years, Google has taken steps to devalue “exact match domains” in their results. Historically Google hasn’t given preference to one TLD over another either, and so far Google says they don’t have a reason to give preference to gTLD’s.
But today’s blog post is regarding a discussion of the TLD itself: .com, .net, .biz, .org, etc. ICANN, in its infinite wisdom, is unleashing a ridiculous number of gTLD’s to the marketplace. (See the entire list here.) So if you’re a plumber and your domain name is HandyPlumber.com, you could potentially purchase HandyPlumber.plumber–or Handy.plumber. Wow doesn’t that make life easy!
Well now hold on a minute. Didn’t they learn anything from the O.co debacle? When the .co TLD was released, Overstock.com thought they would make it easy on their customers by changing their domain name to O.co. So instead of having to type thirteen whole characters to get to their website, consumers only had to type four! The masses obviously said, “Thank you Overstock.com! We love you!!” Right? Nope.
Customers weren’t so grateful. In fact, there was such a backlash from confused customers Overstock.com had to stop advertising O.co. How people could be that confused about something so simple, I don’t understand… and the good people at Overstock.com who paid $350,000 for O.co sure didn’t anticipate it either. (You can still get to their website by typing O.co into your web browser if you want to take advantage of the streamlined domain.) So now that the market is going to be flooded with a f*ckton of TLD’s how do you think consumers will react? Think there will be some confusion out there?
Many top brands sure are paying attention. They’re concerned confusion will become rampant and they will lose control of their brands and internet presence. Heavyweights such as Kraft Foods, Proctor & Gamble, Samsung, WalMart, Siemens and many others have voiced concerns about it. But ICANN, who likely stands to make money from this initiative (they deny this by stating that they are a not-for-profit organization), participating registrars, and the denizens of lawyers who will be fighting copyright battles are quite content with the move. It sounds like a confused CF waiting to happen, but only time will tell.