Publishers Can Boost Discoverability with Newly Released Web Domains
A slew of new web domains are dramatically changing the face of the Internet by providing more tailored domains beyond ".com" and ".net" that speak to websites specific interests. With this sudden rush of new online real estate, publishers can capitalize on the domain expansion to make their websites and products more accessible to readers.
Since last February, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) -- the international non-profit charged with overseeing the Internet's infrastructure -- has opened the way for website owners to adopt new web suffixes other than the commonplace .com for their online presences. These web suffixes are known as generic top level domains (gTLDs), and they allow businesses, publishers included, to secure short and succinct web URLs that are specific to their work. Coming at a time when current options are becoming increasingly sparse in availability, website owners are no longer forced to settle with an undesirable domain just because their first choice was already taken.
New gTLDs also go beyond publishers being able secure a desirable URL. As Internet searches become increasingly more semantic (that is to say, searches yield more "human-like" results, such as Google searching "weather" and displaying not only weather-related websites, but also the actual forecasts), domains create URLs that are self-descriptive and intuitively searchable. Consumers searching for fantasy books, for example, will be more likely to notice a publisher's website if it was fantasyworks.book just as Google and other search engines will be. Content will surely continue to be more important than keywords, but given that Google itself applied to manage 101 new gTLDs, we can only assume that top level domains will become an important factor in its next generation algorithms.
Choosing the Right gTLD
With the new gTLDs, from the first glance at a website's URL, customers are able to gain a quick snapshot of what the website is and the type of content they can expect to see -- something blanket domains such as .com and .net haven't been able to do as aptly.
The publishing industry, like many others, is in a prime position to adopt new domains such as .book and .ink for their web presences. The former has real-world relevance to the industry itself and the latter, .ink, takes a more thematic and trendy approach. Small publishing outfits will also find gTLDs for them with the .boutique and .shop domain extensions.
Publishers who are centered on a particular industry will also find new opportunities to create web URLs that are more directly related to the material they publish on a regular basis. For example, a firm that specializes in college textbooks may want to consider .university or .college, and if cooking guides are a common staple in a publisher's business model, it's a good idea to keep .recipes in mind.
For publishers with an international presence in markets where the de facto language uses a non-Latin script, ICANN is enabling the opportunity to use domains in Arabic, Chinese, and other scripts. The Internet, after all, is global and the inclusion of these scripts will make for a more comfortable navigation experience for Internet users across the world.
First Come, First Serve
As ICANN awards more and more gTLDs to registries (businesses like mine that own the actual namespace), they'll become increasingly available to the general public for their own commercial and individual use. To purchase a new gTLD for a company's website, simply go to any accredited registrar, such as GoDaddy, eNom, or Network Solutions, and search for the desired domain. Be aware, though, that most domain registration happens on a first-come, first-serve basis. For a full list of currently available and soon-to-be gTLDs, publishers can visit the ICANN-centric wiki describing them in full detail here, as well as their current application status (that is, which registries applied for ownership of the extension).
The Internet's biggest expansion to date is now in full effect. The Internet is evolving, and in turn, so must today's approach to online outreach.
Ray King is the CEO of Top Level Design, a new domain registry behind the .wiki and .ink top-level domains.