Dot.Everything Strategies for Web Business
For years, the Web has been defined by over 22
different generic top-level domains (gTLDs, such
as .com), and nearly 290 country code TLDs
(ccTLDs) including internationalized domain
names (IDNs). That’s about to change with the
introduction of new top-level domains.
With this looming shift, the brand strategy of your online enterprise
will also need to make a significant adjustment in the
years to come. Smart enterprises are preparing now for the
new world of dot.everything and dot.anything domains.
The well-publicized adoption of these new generic toplevel
domains, which will be associated with particular brands,
interests and business sectors, are aligned exceedingly well
with modern-day organizations’ focus on improving their
brand awareness, further driving revenue, increasing security
and deepening user interaction simultaneously. And the benefits
extend to everyone who conducts business on the Web.
Big Brand Territory?
A survey from registry services provider Afilias found that 82
percent of major brands are aware of the opportunity to apply for
their own TLD, and 54 percent of those companies intended to
apply — totaling 44 percent of all of the companies surveyed.
“What’s clear is that awareness of the new TLD program is
high, and that brands now understand the potential power of
their own TLD and are going for it,” says Afilias chief marketing
officer Roland LaPlante. “Unfortunately, many were unaware
of the application deadline (April 12, 2012), and this
means that some may miss the boat. Given that tight timeline
– and no indication from ICANN as to when businesses will be
able to again apply for a dot.Brand domain – companies had to
But few organizations by themselves will be able to meet
the rigid requirements necessary to obtain approval for their
preferred gTLD. Outside of the initial application fee, applicants
are also required to prove they can provide a secure infrastructure
on which they will operate the gTLD. That’s no
easy task, even for well-established and technically sophisticated
Many of the organizations that are applying do not have
the expertise necessary to maintain the required levels of DNS
(Domain Name System) stability, one of the primary objectives
of ICANN, which is the organization leading the charge into
this new world of domains. For this reason, gTLD applicants
must turn to companies that do have this type of expertise, including
Afilias, Verisign and Neustar, to name but a few.
These well-established providers will help new gTLD applicants
capitalize on the many well-documented benefits, including
the ability to implement their own security features
(such as DNSSEC), set acceptable use policies, establish dispute-
resolution policies, and formalize brand infringement
These aspiring TLD holders also need to make an important
decision, however, in whether to make their new dot.anything
extension open or closed — for public use or private.
While you can expect many to be closed (not available for public
registration — likely the brand-focused TLDs), others will
take the public route and in so doing offer up a viable opportunity
for the Web community as a whole to establish themselves
in new, valuable and exciting ways.
With over 1,500 new gTLDs expected when the final release
date approaches (the initial rollout is expected to occur
some time in 2013), Web enterprises that do not at least have
some strategy in place for this significant eventuality will be
sent into all but a virtual tailspin in this new Web world. While
it is a relatively small group that will ultimately be sponsoring
these new top-level domains, the remaining larger populace of
Web workers is left to leverage the opportunity.
Industry watchers expect that the new extensions will
likely revolve around four distinct categories — brands, communities,
geographies and broader, more generic extensions
where many assume “anything will go.” What is most important,
however, is how your organization/enterprise reacts and
how you want to let it evolve in the future. Knowing even a
minimal amount about the new gTLDs can help to position
your enterprise for greater exposure in key communities and
bigger profits in the future. But you need a strategy, and herein
you will find exactly that.
So, what can you expect when we collectively land in the
world of these new gTLDs? This is where things get interesting.
A Dot.Everything Strategy for Every Business
Every Web worker will be affected by the new top-level domains.
The benefits to those entities running their own TLD are
clear, but what about for everyone else?
The first step that most enterprises are considering, and
which was exemplified well with the release of the .XXX extension,
was the “defensive domain strategy.” Businesses take
their brands very seriously, and the mere thought of a brand
being associated in a negative way is grounds enough to register
a domain name to prevent others from beating them to it.
There are, of course, also many “offensive strategies” that
you can employ today. Many new gTLD owners will likely use
their new platform to enhance brand image by establishing
communities and building out a stronger geographic presence.
Let’s look at three different approaches your enterprise might
consider taking in the months and years to come.
Establish Formal Content Communities
As a Web worker or digital marketer, the currency you essentially
trade with (ideally for leads and revenue) is, without
question, content. With the introduction of new gTLDs, a fascinating
opportunity exists for content marketers — topic-specific
Each and every business has different groups of audiences
that they serve. As someone responsible for marketing the
products and services of an enterprise, you likely know very
well exactly who they are, what they are interested in, and are
already producing content for their benefit and yours.
And if you’ve followed many of the best practices for website
architecture, then you probably have a good head start over the competition. Those Internet properties that segment their
content into topic-specific silos will be able to either port that
content to one of the new top-level domains entirely (taking
the necessary precautions to indicate to search engines that the
content has been permanently moved via 301 redirects), or use
the new gTLD if available to simply curate and aggregate related
content and drive new website visitors, and awareness, in
Strengthen Existing Partnerships
There are no freebies in life, and the same holds true on the
Web. If you’ve spent time building vendor relationships with
complementary products and services that are exploring the
use of their own gTLD, or see the potential in exploring new
markets entirely, then a partnership strategy will certainly set
you on a positive course towards Web success in the future.
The reason this partner-based approach could be so viable
is that branded gTLDs will signal legitimacy and safety to endusers.
Some go as far as to suggest that search engines will be
forced to treat the new gTLDs differently, particularly as it relates
to brand-specific mentions. That’s a perfect opportunity
for your existing channel partners, as users will over time come
to understand that only legitimate, approved parties will be
able to participate on particular domains.
Build a Geographic Presence
For enterprises serving a specific geographic area, the new
gTLDs will likely serve as a rather significant blessing. One of
the categories of new gTLDs will likely be those serving regional
areas. If you’re a brand that concentrates on serving
multiple geographic areas, you should be all but licking your
virtual chops in anticipation.
Search engines could treat geographic-centered domain extensions
favorably in the future. Signs of this are already emerging.
Google’s Venice update, one of approximately 40 updates
the search engine announced in February, essentially localized
organic results for broad search queries.
What that means is that if a user is logged in to Google and
their location is set, they’ll see results from a particular area. Of
course, all of those traditional quality and relevance signals still
apply. Local landing pages should be produced, as should appropriate
titles, tags and descriptions (location + keyword),
and localized page content and link profiles.
But imagine how easy it would be for search engines to factor
and value geographic domains higher. It doesn’t take a master
SEO to figure out that this makes a lot of sense to do. That
being said, however, Google’s search quality maven Matt Cutts
has tempered the enthusiasm of many by indicating that he
does not expect a new TLD to get any kind of initial preference
of .com, and doubts that it would happen in the long
You’re Already Ready
Anything you read today related to strategies for the introduction
of the new generic top-level domains will be nothing but
speculation — this article included. With some creative — and
positive — thinking, leveraging the hard work you’ve put into
building relationships, and focusing more on attracting specific
audiences through topical content or geography-based
queries stands only to serve your business well as the top-level
domain extensions are released.