According to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the increase in the number of general top level domains (gTLDs) is not likely to negatively impact the stability of the internet, just the way that people seek information online.
ICANN has stated that between 300 and 1,000 niche TLDs could be released per year under the diversification program, depending on the governing body’s capacity to process applications.
Historically, only twenty-two gTLDs were user-approved, a number which included the now universal .com and .org domain names.
In 2009, around 3.7 million domain names circulated the internet and by 2011 that figure had grown to 4.5 million. It is estimated that 150,000 new domains are registered each day and these figures are rising exponentially.
Effects on SEO Algorithms and Branding
SEO experts are anticipating a shift in SEO practices as many online brands will need to adapt to the evolving algorithms of the internet search. After decades of ingrained consumer search behaviour however, it seems doubtful that the process will be swift.
Current algorithms love brands as signifiers for trust and authority. There will be a transitional phase for early adopters as they come to grips with re-strategizing and rebranding their business models.
Buyers and sellers of domain names must be especially cautious when it comes to algorithm updates as it can be difficult to isolate those which are temporary for test purposes from permanent adjustments.
Preferential Treatment of New Top Level Domains
Reigning search engine champion, Google has appeared to have updated its algorithm regarding some country-level TLDs and now treats them as though they were generic.
Google’s algorithm changes have affected the internet in the following ways:
- Other TLDs such as .co, .fm, .la, .tv and .me and others are now grouped alongside .com
- Country-specific TLDs are now given just as much weight in international searches
- Such domain names will start to see more traffic from international sources
Some experts agree that these decisions are indicative of Google’s intent to favour niche TLDs which is good news for domain name traders.
What Does This Mean For Domain Name Flippers?
Registration of a .com domain name via the secondary market has always been an expensive endeavour. There were fewer options left open to domain name flippers as many TLD variations on the desired name were already taken.
Country-level TLDs will become highly prized for their newfound ability to attract levels of international traffic on par with the universal suffix .com.
Image courtesy geography.oii.ox.ac.uk
Changing Consumer Search Behavior
Consumers are continually rethinking their approach to online discovery as a result of the now unprecedented immediacy of access to information.
The way these changes will affect consumers depends upon whether or not successful applicants will be able to offer the new extensions to others outside of their organizations, a detail pending the decision of ICANN.
For now it seems that only domain name flippers and large corporate conglomerates are aware of the rollout. It is important to remember that it took decades for the established TLD structure to emerge as it is known today.
As awareness builds with consumers and the supply and demand of the new TLDs increase, the internet will begin to look differently.
Take some time to read the article entitled Will New ICANN Domain Suffixes Help You Succeed? for more information regarding their effective implementation.
The Benefits of a New Search Experience
Domain names derive the majority of their value from their position within search engine rankings. Now, with the advent of niche TLDs, their value draws more evenly from a range of other areas.
Search engines will be optimized to return results based on relevant TLD groupings. Effectively, consumers will have much more control over the types of results returned.
For example: a user searching for content regarding books or mobile applications would be able to limit their search to purely .books or .apps websites respectively.
Image courtesy newgtldsite.com
In practice, location-based suffixes such as .boston could become location tags which would then push domestic SEO efforts and offer businesses another way to geographically target their audience.
Impacts on Pricing Models Online
The changes may seem slight but they have the potential to radically open up new vistas of doing business online which directly translates into high levels of perceived and actual value for buyers and sellers.
These new suffixes are already being adopted by forward thinking businesses and are opening up opportunities for many domain name flippers to source URLs that may have been priced exorbitantly in the past.
Domain name marketplaces such as Flippa and others will be leading the charge in the resale of new and interesting TLDs.
There is more variety in the volume of inventory online. It’ll be years before you find a better time to develop a commercial portfolio and by then it may be too late. Get in on the ground floor and take advantage of the changing online landscape while you still can.