I’ll be the first to admit that historically I’ve been involved solely in the trade of dot com and dot net domains, and as I spoke about recently, the power of the dot com isn’t going to fade any time soon. But while currently it’s the same TLDs ruling the roost as has been the case for many years, of late, I’ve noticed a new trend among businesses, one that has serious implications for the domaining market.
It seems that people establishing new companies are quite prepared to settle for a dot co or dot info domain – depending on the nature of their business – if they can’t secure the dot com or dot net. After all, it makes sense; dot co appears to stand for “company” and dot info has always been the abbreviation for “information.” The dot co suffix comes in a tad more expensive than a dot com, but has nowhere near the level of public familiarization that dot com boasts…yet. However, dot co, coupled with the right name, is very brandable. One name that struck me recently was new social media enagagement company WePlay.co. The suffix sits very well with short domain names, and in an era where domain names are being shortened and often abbreviated for increased user memorability and public brandability, dot co works very well.
As for dot info, well if you are giving away information then it’s perfect. Not to mention dot info is very cheap right now; Namecheap are flogging them off at $2.49 a piece, so it’s no wonder people are taking a punt.
Most of those who’ve registered a dot co won’t be aware that the suffix is actually the ccTLD for Columbia, but is recognized by Google as a gccTLD (global top level domain) which anyone can register. All the same, it sort of looks like dot com without the ‘m’, which has made it appealing enough as a second choice option.
So why the sudden shift in attitude? In the past companies would reluctantly pay on the aftermarket to secure the dot com rather than be lumbered with an unrecognisable and somewhat awkward suffix that hindered the marketing process, but now this seems to be the absolute last solution if all other domain name variations are unavailable.
I believe the shift is part risk, part evolvement. The notion that Google favors dot com, dot net and dot org may have at one time held some weight, but the algorithm changes of the past 2 years have pretty much eliminated any favouritism, and if you check out the SERPs today you will see that dot info and dot co domains are gradually becoming a staple feature in the top ten. Companies are prepared to risk a lesser-known TLD because after market domains are an expensive outlay, one that historically was worth making, yet not so much anymore…perhaps. With an increasing amount of traffic being driven through social channels, the domain suffix is often rendered irrelevant in this new web environment, especially when you consider that URL shorteners mask the majority of links users follow.
Veteran domainers like myself need to recognize that this is the new web era, with a new generation of business owners holding the reigns. They are a confident bunch, prepared to set trends rather than follow. And that’s all it takes; a few mavericks to lead and before you know it a revolution has started. But let us not forget, where offline marketing in the “real world” occurs, dot com is still the most memorable TLD. If a consumer sees an advert and forgets what domain suffix the URL ends with, the likelihood is that they will go home and type in dot com first and dot net second. In this respect the “lesser” TLDs have a long way to go.
So where does this leave us domainers with our large portfolio of dot coms and dot nets? Well, there will always be a market, certainly for dot coms, but the smart entrepreneur goes first, and perhaps it’s about time we started taking so-called “less important” TLDs more seriously. It’s certainly time to start branching out, that is, if you haven’t done so already. If new businesses don’t mind settling for dot co or dot info then we need to put the squeeze on and register first.
Dot com is still King but dot co is fast becoming a Prince, and .info a Princess, of sorts.