When it comes to online business, a strong identity is important. You need to set yourself apart from the crowd so that your name can be known, recognised and remembered. The foremost way to do this online is with your domain name. A catchy domain name that is easy to remember will attract customers and ensure that your website sticks in people’s minds. One way that domain names are being revolutionized is with the growing emergence of Generic Top-Level Domains (gTLDs).
gTLDs are maintained by the internet Assigned Numbers Authority and used in the Domain Name System. Appearing to the right of the domain name, the most well known and widely used gTLDs include .com, .org and .gov. Unlike the DNS, which is required for basic functionality of the internet, gTLDs are essentially used for identification purposes in regards to the domain class. These include government services (.gov), commercial services (.com) and non-profit organisations (.org). As time has progressed, however, companies have a desire to utilise more unique gTLDs as a means of either setting them apart from the crowd or due to advancing technology, such as the creation of .cloud for cloud-based services. This desire has led to the release of more gTLDs onto the internet, creating numerous top level domains. The internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) manages these.
In recent years, an explosion of gTLDs has occurred as consumers request more and more personalised and top level domains. These include .guru, .club, .xyz, .post and .green. In response, ICANN is releasing more and more top level domains via auction, all of which are being eagerly snapped up by registrars. Some gTLDs, however, require their registrants to adhere to certain criteria, usually to prevent cybersquatting or the purchase of domain names for malicious intent. These include .trust, bought by British security company NCC Group which requires registrars to submit identity documentation, proof of naming rights and proof of intellectual property; .archi, limited to businesses and individuals within the architectural industry and .fly, restricted to verified airlines and travel agencies.
New gTLDs recently released include .plus, .gold, .news, .golf and .school, all of which were won by Donuts Inc, an internet domain name registry operating since 2011. Others which have made recent news include .monster, purchased by career website juggernaut Monster; .baby, taken up by pharmaceutical titan Johnson & Johnson; and .cloud, won by Italian web hosting company Aruba which managed to overcome competition from Google and Amazon. More gTLDs are already expected to be released through auction via ICANN this year.
The sheer explosion of gTLDs, with the release of more to come, means that companies can vastly improve their exposure on the internet. It means that a company or business can customise themselves and ensure that they have a huge market share, and also provides their customers with an easier means of recognising the goods or services provided. The regular influx of new gTLDs means that companies and businesses will have to keep a close eye on top level domains and registrars over the coming year to ensure that their impact on the web is maximised.