New Domain Name Extensions (gTLDs) Coming Soon

In 2011, ICANN, the organization that governs the domain name industry, decided to introduce over a thousand new gTLDs (generic top-level domain names). To date, there has been over 1,900 applications submitted for new gTLDs. ICANN is still in the process of reviewing and processing many of those applications, and it will probably be well into 2014 until most of them are released. The current gTLDs amount to about 22, which include familiar extensions such as .COM, .NET, .ORG, and .INFO.

As of this post, there hasn’t been any gTLD released to the public, but it’s getting very close. In fact, last week, ICANN announced that the first new generic Top-Level Domains (gTLDs) were delegated. This means they were introduced into the Internet’s Root Zone, the central authoritative database for the Internet’s Domain Name System.

New gTLDs

Here are some examples of newly approved gTLDs:

.CLUB
.FLOWERS
.FOOD
.GAMES
.GOLF
.TECH
.SHOP
.WEB
.XYZ

I’m not a fan of this new gTLD program. For one, I don’t buy into the idea that ICANN is pushing these new gTLDs for the sake of innovation and growing consumer choice. I think they are simply trying to cash in on this opportunity. If anything, consumers are going to be more confused than ever before. With the release of these new gTLDs, consumers will now have to remember the keywords before and after the DOT, instead of just remembering the keywords before the DOTCOM.

Secondly, I wonder about how it will affect search engine rankings once the Internet gets filled with these new domains. It’s possible that the big corporations who have applied for these new gTLDs will fill the Internet with thousands of new pages to dominate the rankings for their industries, further giving a leg-up over small businesses.

While applicants of the new gTLDs are excited about this new expansion, there are some in the industry who are not. For example, Rick Schwartz, known as the Domain King, who has been publicly vocal against the new “.WHATEVERS”. Also, Esther Dyson, the founding chairperson of ICANN, who wrote that the expansion of new gTLDs “will create jobs [for lawyers, marketers and others] but little extra value.”

According to a research conducted by Afilias, consumer awareness of the new gTLDs is pretty low. Only about 20% of those polled in the UK and US were aware of the new domain extensions. Furthermore, a majority of those polled were less likely inclined to visit a website with an unfamiliar or new gTLD.

It took .COM and .ORG nearly 30 years to get to where they are now, so I’m hopeful that they will only strengthen in value as the rollout of the new gTLDs occur.

What are your thoughts?

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