What is the value of having a top level domain name? The most common TLD is .com. People usually perceive sites that have a “dot com” domain ending to be the most authoritative, as it is usually a sign of quality web hosting. Despite this, after ICANN’s new changes to TDL regulations, a revolution of the internet is underway.

Current Top Level Domains

top level domain names

Right now, there are many TDL’s that have already been used for several years. Originally these were organized into three groups: multi-organizations, countries, and categories. Multi-organizations are those whose domains were adjusted or assigned to fit their intended purpose. The categories group includes the general top level domains, such as .com, .gov, .net, and .org.

ISO Country Codes

The last group includes the two-letter country codes set forth by the IANA (Internet Assigned Numbers Authority). These country codes are an abbreviated version of the country’s name. For example, .us stands for the United States. Others include .br for Brazil and .uk for the United Kingdom.

New Top Level Domain Names

ICANN, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, has come up with a new system for creating top level domain names. Their method introduces more consumer choice, because in essence, they would be able to choose their own TLD.

top level domain nameWith all the competition going on for domain names, options for marketers and branders are very limited these days. They have to be very creative to think of a domain name that is not already taken, as well as make it keyword-friendly. However, with ICANN’s new system, with any new product that a company creates, the domain name would be open because of its “personal” top level domain name.

For example, .nike could create individual pages for each of their products. They would have no problem registering the domain for shox.nike because they already own the TDL. Also, this change will differentiate between similar searches—for example, clearly demonstrating the difference between John Smith the historical figure (johnsmith.history), John Smith the carpenter (johnsmith.carpenter), and John Smith the lawyer (johnsmith.law).

Top Level Domain Registration

Although the ideas behind this new TLD process have merit, of course there are some alternative views and downsides to this new system. First of all, what about all the money that has already been spent on marketing and obtaining a .com domain?

Also, the registration process seems to be extremely time-intensive and expensive. Approval of a registered TLD such as .sports could take anywhere from nine to twenty months, and could cost as much as $185,000. TLD’s will be granted on a first-come, first-serve basis, and yet the registrar can then allow other people to register domains including their registered ending. In the result of a tie for registering a TLD, it will be given to the highest bidder.

Immediate Impact?

Although these changes are currently underway, the immediate impact will not be felt that strongly by internet users. Of course, owning a TDL such as .google or .nike will only be affordable by an elite few, these prices may become more reasonable in coming years, just as owning a website is tremendously less expensive than it was a decade ago.

Would you be willing to go through the process to have your own customized domain name? What are the benefits and drawbacks to having a top level domain name?

Jamie Bates
Online Marketing Director