The benefits of using new generic top level domains 

Geraint Evans discusses the advantages of considering alternative domains for your business web address.

The Dot London internet domain was announced in April this year, to much fanfare. One of the first location-based generic top level domains (gTLDs) available, along with others including .berlin, .vienna and .paris, the move has caused ripples across the London business community.

According to Dot London there were 50,000 expressions of interest before the domain even officially launched and a number of Dot London ‘pioneer’ sites are already up and running, including,, and

Along with the new location domains, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), which has jurisdiction over the management of internet names and addresses, has also given the go-ahead for over 1,000 other personalised domains. To give you a flavour these include .coffee, .construction, .holiday and .clothing, amongst many others.

The raft of new gTLDs has promised a wealth of new branding and identity options for businesses of all sizes, with Google, Amazon and Microsoft among a large number of companies who applied for new gTLDs. However there is a particular focus on the benefits for smaller companies, who may have been unable to secure their ideal web address in the previous system.

But the huge choice can also be daunting for small business owners – is it worth the investment and if so, what domain name to go for? These can be difficult questions to answer during the early days of the new system.

Reasons to go for gTLDs

One of the biggest attractions of the new gTLDs is their potential for branding purposes. The new domains are no doubt a differentiator, which can quickly and simply associate a company with a particular location, subject or aspiration, especially those companies proud of their London heritage and see the city as central to their business now and in the future.

Another argument for the new domain names is the boost they could give to search rankings and web traffic, with reports claiming that location based domains will rank higher for customers living in or visiting that area, for example. There are mixed views on the value the new gTLDs will bring for SEO in reality, with some arguing that it will be minimal and others saying it will help but only if the gTLD is complemented by the content of the site. With Google’s algorithms invariably designed to keep us guessing, only time will tell on this one.

A final incentive for getting on board with the new domains is simply to stop others from getting them! While the initial phase gives priority to registered trademark holders and London businesses, once the general availability phase opens in September, plenty of businesses and individuals will be buying up domains with the hope of making a fast buck. These so-called ‘cybersquatters’ can choose to hi-jack the domain of a brand either to tarnish its image or sell it back to them at an inflated price.

No guaranteed success for new domain names

Before jumping in head first, it’s important to research and consider what is right for each particular business. There is no guarantee that all the new domain names will be a success and their profile will very much depend on the investment in marketing by the domain holder and subsequent popularity. Think about .biz and .info for example, which, despite launching over ten years ago, have never really taken off on a large scale.

The gTLDs could also cause confusion if a business not registered to the .com or domain then takes another version of that address, potentially leading to the loss of valuable customers or sales due to misdirected web traffic. Some argue that the original domain names such as .com and will always remain the most popular, with specialised versions staying on the periphery.

In such uncharted territory it is difficult to come to any definitive answers about the likely success or not of the new domain names on offer. But these are certainly exciting times and I for one will be watching the new system intently to see how it develops. Just remember that, as with many business decisions, while it’s important to exercise caution, a calculated risk can often reap rewards.

Further reading on domain names

Geraint Evens

Geraint Evans

Geraint Evans is sales and marketing director at Avanta Managed Offices.

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