:: By Pete Peranzo, Imaginovation ::
Some call it a fad, some say it fulfils a need, but the .io domain extension keeps gaining popularity among startups here in the U.S.
.io is the Internet country-code top-level domain (ccTLD) for the British Indian Ocean Territory. It has existed since 1997 and has steadily become popular, though it has never been as visible as it is today. Among the big name companies that have used the .io extension is Levi Strauss & Co, which purchased the domain in 1998.
The increasing acceptance of .io is an interesting trend since we associate TLDs with specific countries: .au for Australia, .ca for Canada and .uk for the United Kingdom.
The .io extension, therefore, would give the impression of the website being registered in the British Indian Ocean Territory, but that is not the case.
We have seen over the past few years that TLDs have ceased to matter in the way they used to. They no longer denote the geographical registration/location of a website. Instead, startups have been having fun with domain extensions and the popularity of the .io TLD seems to be yet another example of it.
Is the .io domain right for your business?
A compelling case can be made in favor of the .io domain if you are starting out as a tech business and are about to set up a website.
You can come up with clever domain hacks
With an extension like .io, you can come up with original and interesting domain names. For startups, this can be a way of showcasing creativity as well as character.
Goo.gl, Bit.ly, time.ly, instant.ly, inter.net, and blo.gs are some popular domain hacks that come to mind. Time.ly especially is a very clever and appropriate domain name for that company, given what they are about.
Domain hacks are easier to remember because they stick around in the minds of people. That can be a huge marketing advantage for a startup. Pistach.io, another memorable domain hack with the .io extension, has been booked, but you get the picture.
.io can help position your company
In a very crowded market, a startup should use all the marketing leverage it can gain. With the .io extension you have the opportunity to create a name that can tie in with the branding (capturing the essence of your business) to uniquely position the company.
It’s especially relevant to technology startups
“io” can also refer to input/output. A glance at the .io extension can convey the nature of the startup to its audience, which makes it a tremendous marketing tool.
Prominent examples include: socket.io, firepad.io, forecast.io, and AdStage.io.
It has an artistic vibe to it
This is a matter of personal preference, but the .io extension does sound slick. A Reddit user called it “the TLD for techies with taste.” The kind of companies that have chosen this TLD also seem to be doing a commendable job on the whole as a business (particularly with the “quality of service and user experience”), which has set a good precedence for those that follow. You could say there is credibility associated with this TLD.
.io extensions are available
Almost any .com name you can think of is taken, whereas .io’s comprise a mere 0.1 percent percentage of websites worldwide. Since the .io TLD is still gaining in popularity, there are many interesting domain names up for grabs. For startups that want to stand out or position themselves in a particular way, .io extensions provide with much greater options than the standard .com variants.
But they are expensive
.io domains do not come cheap. They are priced relatively higher (because of the high demand at the moment) at $32.88 per year. Compare that with other TLDs, some of which cost as little as $2. That said, they aren’t the most expensive domain extension either. If it is within your budget, a, .io domain can make a memorable name for your technology startup.
Stand out with .io
There are more than a billion websites in the world and .com is by far the most popular extension, comprising about 50 percent of all TLDs in the world. Contrast that with the tiny market presence of .io, and indeed that of many other TLDs. It’s no wonder all kinds of other extensions are gaining mainstream acceptance. The purpose of a website is to give the business a public face and a solid online presence. While smart SEO and content marketing will ensure your website shows up in related Google searches to attract traffic organically, a unique domain name is still desirable.
Pete Peranzo is the CEO of Imaginovation, a full-service, turn-key digital solutions company serving Raleigh, NC and Charlotte, NC. He is a results driven individual with over 15 years in the IT and software industry. Pete’s background in customer support is a driving factor in the company’s long-term success and reputation. He has embedded customer service into the company's core culture, and feels that fast turnaround, great communication and high quality support are keys to long-term business relationships. Follow him on Twitter @PetePeranzo.