Tired of limited .COM domain options? ICANN has started towards solving that issue by announcing the applicants for a bunch of new generic Top Level Domains (“gTLD”). Today was the “reveal day” for finding out which companies paid the $185K registration fee to grab everything from .PARIS to .WALMART. There were 1,930 applications in total; a copy of the complete list is available for download, and should convert to a little over $357 million in fees back to ICANN.
Google alone got so excited they spent 18.6 million to lock up some of their brand-connected services areas like .DRIVE and .TUBE; along with some worthy business extensions: .CORP and .LLP.
Oh yes, I said “.LLP” which means that Google could be administrating your next law firm domain! There will lots of law related domain options, in fact, including .LAWYER, .ATTORNEY and .LAW. Full marks to Bruce Carton over at Legal Blog Watch for summarizing this bullet list of law-oriented applicants:
- .blog (requested by nine applicants)
- .corp (requested by six applicants)
- .gmbh (requested by four applicants)
- .inc (requested by 11 applicants)
- .law (requested by five applicants)
- .lawyer (requested by two applicants)
- .legal (requested by two applicants)
- .llc (requested by nine applicants)
- .llp (requested by four applicants)
- .ltd (requested by seven applicants)
Any oversights for you? Personally, I didn’t see a .PA or .PLLC which are also common business structures for many firms, and could be added in the future. You get the idea… lots of room for growth.
So what does this mean for law firms? Should you suddenly be thinking of switching your primary domain in a year’s time because of these great new options? For me, the answer is a definite “no”. Especially after firms have invested years of time marketing their primary domain name, it would be foolish to suddenly swap to a new name. Yes, there are methods to redirect users and notify search engines; but these switches don’t happen quickly. There are also some search ranking factors like domain age or aged links coming into that domain that won’t transition over in the switch. Cleaning up the resulting ‘link rot’ would be a huge challenge for most firms.
Where I think the impact might be felt more is with: A) brand new law firms, or B) with smaller service-line driven microsites. As much as I’d prefer all of our client’s websites to be on .COMs; that’s probably not going to be a practical request in the future. Shorter domain names are going to be more memorable, look more professional, and be far easier to build an online brand around. If we then factor keyword-embedded domains, which were already doing pretty well in the search results, then niche topical websites are going to be a great fit for these new gTLD options.
ICANN’s changes will remove many of the barriers associated with domain acquisition. Finding and registering a domain should be easier. But at the same time, I can see how these changes are going to put the pressure squarely on Google’s (& Bing’s) shoulders to reduce the importance of domain keywords — or be forced to show 10 replicate domains on every search, with only the gTLD extension changing.
So start thinking about it. These changes are going to completely change the rules of the game.