Specialty Top Level Domain Names: Are They Worth It?

As an entrepreneur or a small business owner, you know you need to have a website for your business to succeed. Aside from having consistent branding, you need to determine what the URL, or domain name will be for your new business website. This domain name is probably the most important aspect of your business website. With that said, a lot of consideration should be taken in coming up with a name. A domain name should be unique, catchy and easy to remember. It needs to communicate what your business, products or services are all about.

Whatever you decide on, you likely figure that your page’s top-level domain (TLD) is going to end in the typical .com. What about the .co, .net, .edu and .org endings? Why would companies pick those?

The So Called “Bright Side” of Specialty TLDs

Earlier in 2015, Google announced expanded domain name registration for small business owners. Instead of the common .com ending found in the vast majority of us domain names, small business owners are now able to choose unique domain names such as .accountant and .pizza. This comes on the heels of the growing popularity of non-.com ending domain names which became noticeable in 2012.

Start-ups have begun choosing domain names not ending in .com for many reasons: to be unique and save on costs. The competition is much lower and the domain name availability is much better with these alternate domain name endings. Small businesses and start-ups benefit from the fact that XYZ.biz will have lower up-front and long-term costs than a more competitive XYZ.com domain. For TLDs, the law of supply and demand really applies. As registered .com domain name endings become more scarce, the more competition there will be. More competition means higher bidding prices. This increased competition means a potentially costly investment to purchase such a domain name for a start-up or small business. Often times, the possible fierce competition of a .com domain name leaves the cash-strapped start-up or small business on the sidelines.  In the .com sphere, it is the big companies that often come out on top.

Some over-zealous business owners may believe that a specialty TLD name is not only unique, but it makes clear to website visitors what their business or specialty is. Clicking on a doctor’s office website domain with .doctor at the end of the URL will seem credible, right? As will be discussed later, this is not necessarily the case.

Over the last four years, specialty TLDs have seen a slight uptick in popularity. Their use is predicted to become more common in the coming years. Before you jump on the specialty domain bandwagon, there are some drawbacks to them along with their benefits.

The Downsides of Specialty Domain Names

Man pushing virtual domain name on white background, internet concept

While the alternate domain name endings may have caught you eye, you likely may have had some questions or suspicions about the authority and safety of the site. While come such as .lawyer and .biz seem more specific and, therefore, more trustworthy, they still may make some web users hesitant. Web users are conditioned to seeing the .com that anything different will automatically raise red flags. This can have negative effects on your business.

It is still the norm for big, wealthy, established companies to vie for the .com domain name ending. In fact, companies will bid thousands of dollars for .com to be included in their webpage’s URL. In the online world, .com is still seen as a status symbol alluding to page authority and trust.

As counter-intuitive as you may think, custom TLDs are actually harder to remember, especially when .com has been the norm. Healthcare.com, for instance, saw a great uptick in website visits from people wanting to access healthcare.gov to enroll in health insurance. If your company name ends in something other than .com, customers looking to purchase your products or service may very well visit a website with .com version of your page’s URL. Your customers, in essence mistakenly flock to another website (possibly a competitor’s).

Besides looking different, most are often longer than the three letter .com. Some approved TLDs are 12 or 13 letters long, such as in .construction and .international. In today’s fast-paced society, who would want to type all those letters in, especially on a mobile device?

Earlier attempts of unique TLDs have resulted in failure, such as .pro, .law, .sport and .love. .Com has been the only domain name ending that has truly persevered through time. Not only do specialty domain names lack authority and lessen the user experience, representatives from Google also mentioned in a Search Engine Land article that it won’t include keywords in the TLDs as factors in its search algorithm. This seemed to be contradictory to Google’s expansion of it domain name registry extension.

Navigating the world of internet marketing can be challenging and difficult, especially for start-ups and small businesses with little knowledge of how to reach their customers online. At Seo.com, our team of web developers can not only help guide you through the TLD and domain name selection decisions, but we can also build an optimized, mobile responsive website to get your business valuable brand awareness. We are an internet marketing company specializing in businesses of all sizes and budgets. Contact us today for a consultation or with any questions you may have. If you don’t believe us, take a look at some of our client testimonials and case studies.

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