If you’ve ever searched for the perfect domain name for your business, you know there’s a problem.
All the good .com domains are taken.
And nobody really wants a .biz or .net domain. They just don’t have the same ring, don’t elicit the right response, and are oft confused with their .com namesake.
But there is good news. A couple of months ago the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the organization in charge of managing the top-level domain name space, made a big splash voting in dot-anything domains. This comes after six years of serious thought and discussion on the concept.
1) What is a dot-anything domain?
Current domains like .com, .biz, .info, .net and .us are known as generic top-level domains, or gTLDs. ICANN has opened the doors for businesses and organizations to create their own unique gTLDs.
The open possibilities make this a land rush for big corporations. Well-known brands will work quickly to snap up advantageous domains and turn them into private domains. Think .starbucks, .nike and .ibm. Even cities are planning on setting up recognizable domains names (New York City can’t wait to get .nyc up and running).
Apart from these private domains, there will be limitless public domains shooting up. Entrepreneurs will use the opportunity to create targeted gTLDs and sell domains under them. Pizzerias could flock to a .pizza domain, while yoga studios could settle in comfortably under .yoga.
2) When will I start seeing dot-anything domains?
The earliest you’ll see a dot-anything domain is 2013. Why so far away? It’s because the evaluation process is quite thorough. Part of the process involves making a domain application public, so legitimate concerns and protests can be filed. The approval of a new gTLD doesn’t occur until almost a year after an application is accepted.
3) What does the application process entail?
Essentially, to own a dot-anything domain you need a lot of money—$185,000 just to apply, plus a $25,000 annual ICANN fee. ICANN considers it a great responsibility for a business or organization to own a gTLD, a slice of the Internet. A gTLD owner effectively runs a domain registry, and needs to be well capitalized to start and operate.
4) I don’t have that kind of money. How does this affect my small business?
The current capital and fees prevent the ordinary small businesses from creating its own, branded gTLD. But all is not lost.
As more gTLDs are created, you will have more creative, market-specific domain name options to choose from. Instead of relying on .com domains, you can pick a domain name which better fits your brand, is easier to remember, and helps with search engine optimization for your website.
When these new domains starting appearing, it may be a good idea to see how things play out before deciding to switch your existing domain name. It’s possible only a few new gTLDs will stand out and garner respectability, similar to what .com has over other domains.