What is a domain? Just like a postal address, which is a person’s physical address, a domain is a digital address. People can find you over the Internet through your domain. According to Wikipedia, a domain can be defined as a string that identifies a realm of administrative autonomy, authority, or control within the Internet. It appears after www. in a web address. For instance, www.google.com, where google is the domain.
What is a domain extension? Since every postal address also has a ZIP code, domain extensions are the ZIP code for the digital address (domain) online. It is the suffix that follows your domain. For instance, www.google.com .com is the domain extension.
If we take a look back at the history of domain extensions, they were limited in number and did not have as many diverse categories as we have now. In 1948, the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) created the first six domain extensions which were .com, .edu, .gov, .mil, .org, and .net. Then they introduced two more extensions to the family, i.e., .uk and .us, which was soon followed by .int. Flash forward to the present; you can create any domain and domain extension, no matter how bizarre it sounds. Today, more than 1500 domain extensions exist, providing plenty of room for every user to choose one.
Can Domain Extensions be used for Branding?
As the Internet is open to every individual, and anyone can create an online presence. It could be for the reason of establishing a business brand or for fun purposes as well. So the domain extension plays a very important role in portraying the type of your website. Let us compare this with an example from our daily life. Consider that you are planning to go out for dinner and you are going through a list of restaurants. The name of restaurants will most certainly create an image of them in your mind. Some names will suggest that they serve Chinese food, some will suggest that they have Continental food, and some will say they serve all. It is exactly what a domain extension does for your brand. It tells your audience what type of website you are running and what services you provide. A .edu domain extension will instantly create an image that it is an education-related website. A .gov domain extension shows that the site under consideration is related to a government organization. Domain extension saves users time by providing the basic info of the site.
Can Domain Extensions be beneficial for SEO?
The answer to it is that it does not have much effect on the SEO if the .com domain extension is being used. Because the .com suffixes have been saturating the market so, this does not make much difference. But if your site has a unique domain name, it could impact your ranking in SEO. The reason is that people are usually amazed by them and click on such sites to explore more about them. The increased interest of the audience tells the search engine that people want to see such results more often, which in turn improves the ranking in SEO.
Moreover, if you have a catchy domain and domain extension, more people will likely remember it; thus, you will have more traffic. Similarly, there is a high chance that if your site has a specific domain extension, it will appear higher for the people who search with specific keywords. Suppose that some searches for cat food; the website with a domain extension like www.petshop.catfood will have more visitors than a website that goes with www.petshop.com. So we can infer that the domain extension selection might not directly affect the SEO ranking, but it surely creates an image in the audience’s mind, which can increase the brand’s clicks, hence improving the ranking.
Top-level Domain (TLD):
A domain extension is also known as a Top-level Domain, and as described above, it is the part of the web address after the domain name like .com. We can categorize TLDs into three groups that are:
Country Code Top-level Domain (ccTLD) is intended to specify the country where the website is registered. They usually comprise two alphabets from the name of the country, like .pk for Pakistan, .se for Sweden, etc.
Different countries have different rules to allow discreet people to register under their ccTLD. You have to be a citizen of the country for which you are applying for the domain extension. But some countries do not have such hard and fast rules. For instance, if you want to apply for the .us domain extension, you do not need to be a nationality holder. If you live there, you can have it.
On the other hand, some countries have no restrictions. Anyone from anywhere can register under the domain extension .co and .ly for Columbia and Libya, respectively. And .fm, for the Federal State of Micronesia, is unofficially being used by FM radios, podcasts, etc.
Sponsor Top-level Domain (sTLD) is a domain extension with a sponsor representing a specific community served by the domain. In simple words, it means that a community or an organization supports the website. For example, .post shows that this site belongs to the postal service. These domain extensions also follow a set of rules and have some kind of restrictions for providing their ownership.
Generic Top-level Domain (gTLD) is a third type of domain extension that might hold the most potential for branding the business holders. These are not linked to any country codes, do not need a representative, and do not have strict restrictions on their ownership. Although some of the geographic gTLD require the business holder to live or do business in their area. We shall talk more about this further in the article below.
Some examples of gTLDs are as follow:
- .tourism can be used for any tourism or travel company.
- .blog can be used by bloggers in any part of the world.
- .info can be used by any website that aims to spread any kind of information through its platform.
- .press can be used for magazines or news websites.
- .fun can be used by entertainment websites.
Nowadays, you can even register a gTLD to portray the specificity of your website. For instance, .doctor, .career or .tips etc. And this provides amazing branding opportunities as well.
How Can Domains and Domain Extensions Be Helpful In Branding?
As mentioned above, there are surprisingly more than 1500 domain extensions available today. And if you are struggling to find the right domain name for your business, you have plenty of options to choose from. However, it might seem a little overwhelming too. You can always go for the conventional .com domain extension, which many people use but still is the most recognizable and frequently typed by users. But now, the trends are changing drastically, and people are opting for non-traditional ones. For instance, you can use .shop as your domain extension to create an online shop. Similarly, you can use .makeup for a makeup store, .pizza for a pizza-related site, or .health for a medical-related website.
Suppose someone wants to register their domain as www.example.com, but the .com domain extension is unavailable. You do not have to worry at all and can go for another domain extension like
Actor Oleg Taktarov said that these new gTLD’s are really hot. He was the star of Rollerball, 15 Minutes, and Predators. “They are fantastic for branding yourself or your business. People breaking into the [entertainment] business can easily market themselves with a .actor domain for their website and show the world that they are in the trade.”
The opportunity to register for any domain extension according to the nature of your website is a perfect way of branding. Let us see how? You can use a domain extension that can be descriptive and creates an image about your business in the minds of your audience, which you could not do with a .com extension. And undoubtedly, remembering your web address has become more effortless and easy to search. Like if someone wants to have cake, they will instantly use a .cake web address.
Always prefer to choose a web address (domain name and domain extension) that actually defines you; if a .com domain extension is available, go for it because it is still the most popular one at the moment. But if it is not available, do not feel the need to change your domain name but go for a different domain extension.
If you have a domain name with a .com extension, it is better to register your name with other extensions as well for the sake of brand protection. For instance, if you have a website, www.betacakes.com, you might also want to register www.beta.cake before someone else takes it. But make sure you do not get overboard with registering multiple domains unless you do the business of buying and selling them because it can get pretty expensive per year. A couple of fitting new extensions will do the job for you.
How can Domain Extensions help in Creative Marketing and Customer Engagement?
It may not come to you as a surprise that domain extensions can be used as an effective method to carry out marketing campaigns and increase customer engagement to support your marketing objectives. Placing these extensions purposefully within your existing website and making it a quick shortcut URL to move the audience directly towards your primary website. The following are some ways in which you can use domain extensions to create several landing sites to enhance customers’ engagement and fulfill your marketing objectives:
For any small business owner or merchant, new domain extensions can help you in launching your customers’ loyalty programs. Let us say that you have a small bakery by the name of Happy Bakers. You can register a domain name as www.happybakers.club and link it to your current website or make loyalty cards with easy-to-remember domain names written on them.
Let us suppose you want to launch a new product and want people to get excited about it. It has become so easy. Add a domain with an extension of .buzz to your marketing campaign for the new products. Adidas uses the same method and has a website, www.adidas.buzz, to promote their upcoming products, engage with the audience more, and branch out of their existing .com extension.
Most businesses partake in seasonal sales. A great way to promote your sales is using a specific domain extension. For instance, if you have a business by the name of Happy Clothing and you offer a summer sale. You can simply use a domain and extension, viz. www.happyhands.summersale. You can link it to your current website and branch it out further.
Promote a Competition:
The easiest way to promote competition among people and create all the hype is by using a domain and domain extension like www.competition-name.win. You can also use some easy-to-recall URLs to boost your competition on social media platforms as well.
Collaborate on an Event:
If you are onto collaborating on any event with any other organization or person, you can use the domain extension of .event to promote it online. Ask your collaborators to promote the URL and reach out to as many people as possible. These URLs will move your audience to the website with all the information about the event.
As your domain reflects what your website stands for, therefore, it is better to use a domain with a domain extension that helps you do that smoothly. And with a plethora of domain extensions nowadays, it is a walk in the park to find a short, related, and easy-to-remember domain and domain extension that will really align with your business objectives.
Promoting Digital Ads:
Using the most searched keywords while choosing your domain extension is most certainly recommended, and it helps in Google AdWords Campaign, said SEO expert Bill Hartz. His recommendation was based on the positive results from an AdWords test campaign that used the exact keywords, ad copy, and landing pages to direct traffic to a .com domain and simultaneously to the .diamonds domain. He described the results in detail and said that at first when they first ran the ads, they established that they got more impressions on the .diamonds ads, and its clicks were cheaper as compared to the clicks on the .com ads that were more expensive, but ultimately the .com clicks converted into better leads. Eight months later, however, we ran the same ads again and found that the .diamonds clicks were still cheaper than using a .com domain name. But, it turned out that the .diamonds clicks were converting better than they had before.
I’m now recommending that if you’re running Google AdWords ads, consider using a keyword-rich new gTLD domain name. You should, of course, do your own testing, but you may end up paying less for clicks and getting more conversions.”
But the results still do not guarantee us anything because we do not know how the new domain extensions would perform on the search engine search page. Still, it is no harm in having multiple domains with keywords rich extensions and hoping to get an SEO boost.
How can you connect with customers through Geographic and Commerce specific Domain Extensions?
gTLDs can be used to refer to the geographical location of the local business holder that can help to connect better with the customers. Using domain extensions to show the country, city, or area where you are located, for example, .la for Los Angeles, can help the customers locate you conveniently. Following are the reasons that could help you establish a healthy connection with your customers:
Sense of Pride:
People feel a sense of pride and harmony with the people from their locality. For instance, people will support the business that they find near them or that has the same place of origin. For instance, the people of New York are very proud of the city’s growth over the years, and any site with the extension of .nyc will automatically be successful in gaining support from New Yorkers. Similarly, domain extensions like .pk, .uk, and .vegas are some examples of such TLDs that can attract local customers.
True to Yourself:
You can build a sense of trust between you and your customers. If you buy a couple of domains with new domain extensions, you can ensure your business’s identity. For example, suppose you have a bakery by the name of Khalifa Bakers in Lahore(which every Lahori is familiar with), and you register your website by the name of www.khalifabakers.lhr. In that case, people will be able to know that you are the original Khalifa Bakers and someone imitating your brand name. You can also create a domain for a specific group of people to update them about a specific event. Consider throwing a bridal shower in the Maldives, and you want to share the details. Create a website www.bridalshower.mv. Keep in mind that these geo TLDs only register websites that fulfill their residency condition.
Show What You Offer:
You can tell people what you have to offer using the right domain extension. Like .cake extension will immediately tell people that this website deals in cakes. If you deal in a variety of foods, you can go for either .hospitality or .food extensions. You can even become more specific by using a .cafe, .menu, .pizza, .recipe, .catering, .restaurant or .bakery to name a few.
The people who are into the travel business can now benefit from the new domain extensions like .travel, or you could use .vacations to communicate your services clearly to the audience. You can also use some more specific ones like .cruise or .fishing.
New domain extensions have been introduced, which can be used by educational institutes like .school, .academy, or .degree are some of the many available. These extensions also help in shortening your web address.
Similarly, people related to the construction business can use the .construction domain, and those related to the media industry could use .news or .live. In addition to this, people who want to target a specific community can use the .club extension and form book clubs, sports clubs, entertainment clubs, etc. You can easily redirect the public to your groups using these domains and extensions. You can even create a community of people with the same political thoughts as yours by using the extension .politics. If you feel like we did not mention a domain extension related to your business category, it does not signify that they do not exist.
What if your desired domain extension does not exist yet?
It is very likely that you will find something related to your business category among the existing 1500 domain extensions so far. And more are still announced to be released soon like .spa, .skin, or .beauty. For the sake of the article, let us consider that the domain extension you are searching for is unavailable. Then it would be best to settle for the one similar to your category. For instance, if you want a .boardgame and it is unavailable, then you can use .games instead. And rest assured, the new extensions are growing popular with time.
To conclude, domain extensions are the best way to market your business and communicate with your audience. Choose a domain extension that reflects your brand. It can help enhance your relationship with your clients and sometimes generate more leads. As domain and domain extension is your digital address, choose it wisely, and keep it short and easy to remember.