Should Your Company Consider Alternative Domain Extensions?

An increasing number of small-business owners are trying new domain extensions like .art. Learn how your company may benefit from additional URLs.
June 02, 2016

It used to be that there were only seven options when it came to top level domain names (TLD), or that part of the domain located to the right of the dot. (.com, .org, .net and .edu are the best known of the original TLDs.) But alternative domain extensions are quickly gaining in popularity.

Businesses can now select from many other options, with extensions such as .live, .reviews and .video, according to Bill Glenn, vice president of marketing for Rightside, a domain name registry. “New domain extensions are steadily increasing, and brands and marketers will soon see that these domains are a part of our online ecosystem.”

Companies such as Apple, Google and Dow Jones have embraced the use of new domain extensions. “The belief is that more descriptive and targeted URL extensions offer diverse benefits, such as better calls to action and enhanced branding,” says Glenn. “One of the newest domains is .family, which [was] announced just last month and has already been embraced by companies worldwide, including Amazon.”

Digital Identity Can Become More Multi-faceted

Ten years ago, a brand could rely on a single website to promote a product or message. “To carry their brand’s messages, today’s small businesses typically need a website, as well as profiles on third-party social platforms,” says Glenn. “The old approach of a single domain carrying your brand forward simply isn’t enough, especially given that these third-party platforms understandably put their brands first, like www.facebook.com/yourbrand. Brands that want a thoughtful, curated experience for their customers and audience need to take a creative approach and register complementary domains like www.yourbrand.live.”

Such complementary domains may help give businesses the ability to maintain more control over their brands and create a better experience for their customers. “Complementary domains simply means differentiating the URL through the TLD, while keeping the domain name itself static,” says Glenn. “The Los Angeles Times' web properties are a good example of this strategy. They’ve split various pages into LATimes.video, LATimes.social and LATimes.news.”

Adopting New Domain Extensions Can Pay Off

With competition becoming stiffer when it comes to organic and even Pay Per Click (PPC) search results, it may pay to experiment with alternative domain extensions, believes Glenn. “Some of the most expensive Google keyword phrases are related to legal services. In March 2015, attorney Eric Block decided to forgo the PPC-heavy approach of his competitors and moved from EricBlockLaw.com to his current Jacksonville.Attorney domain. Within months, Eric saw huge gains in traffic and search rankings. Today, the site ranks as high as the first overall search result for keywords like ‘Jacksonville attorney.’ This is an example of how new domain extensions are a boon to search engine marketing efforts.”

Get a niche-specific domain name, and you can track specific branding campaigns. It’s also a good idea to buy new domain extensions with your company name, even if you don’t use them, because domain jacking is a serious issue.

—V. Michael Santoro, co-founder, Vaetas

There are a variety of reasons to buy new domain extensions such as .attorney or .accountant, believes V. Michael Santoro, co-founder with John S. Rizzo of InVidz, LLC and Vaetas, an online video marketing syndication network that helps users brand their businesses as an authority while generating organic leads from search engines.

“Get a niche-specific domain name, and you can track specific branding campaigns,” says Santoro. “It’s also a good idea to buy new domain extensions with your company name, even if you don’t use them, because domain jacking is a serious issue. A competitor can buy the available domain names using your business name and try to steal your traffic and leads by ranking the site for your business name in the search engines.”

For some companies, the push towards alternative domain extensions is purely economic, adds Jay York, senior digital marketing strategist for EMSI Public Relations. “Either the .com domain a company is interested in is in use or being ‘squatted,’ which could potentially cost thousands of dollars or more to retrieve. For other companies, the end extension is aesthetic," says York. "Domains such as .co and .io are being used by developers, branders and designers to differentiate themselves from the standard .com extension and elevate their domain name.”

Other benefits of adopting domain extensions may include:

  • The ability to create shorter and easy-to-remember internet addresses
  • The opportunity to amplify brand awareness and make it easier for customers to access information about your company and its services
  • Creating second-level domains for peripheral services and products
  • Increased security against trademark abuse
  • Offers new possibilities for online marketing campaigns

A Tip to Help Benefit from Domain Extensions

In order to help get the most benefit from adopting domain extensions, Glenn advises ensuring that the domains are complementary and not complicated. “The proliferation of new TLDs gives businesses a novel way to strengthen their brand while streamlining the audience's path to reach them,” says Glenn. “Complementary domains simply mean differentiating the URL through the TLD, while keeping the domain name itself static. This doesn’t mean you need to create a new microsite for every new domain, but you always want to re-direct the TLD to your website, which doesn't penalize your SEO.”

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