On June 20th 2011, ICANN, a non-profit corporation that helps regulate Internet domain addressing, made the decision to allow new generic top-level domains.
Why is this getting so much attention?
If you are the owner of a website, this means there will be a lot more possibilities for similar addresses. For instance let’s say you have a website and the address is www.vimm.com. To make sure people looking for your site actually find it, you also purchased www.vimm.net and www.vimm.org. You have pointed all three to the same site. This gives you the assurance that a user looking for your site will find it whether they type in .com, .org, or .net. If no one already owns them, you may purchase all 22 of the possible domains.
According to ICANN’s latest press release, we will start seeing new, personalized domains on the web in late 2012, which will add a tremendous number of new domain extension choices to the existing 22 that we have now.
To better understand how this all works…
Domain addressing allows you to type what is called a friendly name e.g. www.vimm.com into your Internet Explorer, instead of a hard to keep track of “IP” number like 188.8.131.52, to get to a particular website or email.
Out on the Internet there are huge indexes of every website and address. For everyone in the world to reach the same website at the same address these indexes must be universal and kept up-to-date. There are certain criteria to keep these indexes from becoming too massive and unusable. This is where ICANN comes in. They decide the criteria by which websites are named.
Next, generic top-level domains or (gTLDs). gTLDs are the concept of adding an extension to the end of a domain name to make it more easily accessible in the huge indexes. When you look at the end of a website’s address you see something like .com, .org, .net etc. Those are gTLDs. What they say is, “if the address ends with .com, it goes in the .com index”.
ICANN decides what gTLDs may be used. If everyone was able to add whatever extension they wanted to their site’s address, there would be no way to keep the indexes efficient. The Internet would slow down and there could easily be inconsistencies of which website you get when you type in an address. With their new application process, they will provide new opportunities within a nicely regulated system.
How does this affect you?
For the average person, there will be more extensions to remember when looking for a particular site. This means checking your Internet Explorers address bar more frequently to make sure you are not on a “spoofed” site.
With the new gTLDs there will be a lot more possibilities for the same address. Someone else could buy www.vimm.bic for instance and now Internet users looking for your site may inadvertently end up on a different site by accidentally adding the incorrect extension.
Quick Take Away
- The .com ending is not going away
- It is still recommended you secure at least one .com domain for your website
- Purchasing a variety of “new” domain endings will soon be available
- Additional domain name endings can be a good idea for some website owners; talk to your project manager
- Alternative domain name endings are NOT required; again, .com is not going away
Do you have more questions about domain names? Maybe you’ve heard about something else in the news that you are wondering about in regard to your website or online marketing. Please don’t hesitate to contact your project manager or email us at email@example.com