Geek Speak: New Top Level Domains


What is a top level domain anyway?

First, we'll start with the description of a web domain, which is pretty much always the name of the website or the URL.  Taking it one step deeper, we have the top level domain (TLD), which is the dot plus a few letters at the end of the domain name that tell what type of website it is.  While .com, .net, .org, and .edu have been quite popular choices in recent years, new top level domains are turning up and causing a stir in some industries.

What's the hype with "new" top level domains?

The primary idea behind opening up new top level domains was to lighten the pressure on .com and other domains (such as .net).  While it may seem a bit like the wild west with all of the new TLD options available now, ICANN does have to approve new generic top-level domains.  Following approval, there are three required stages of introduction for each new TLD:
  • Sunrise - ICANN-mandated 60-day period for legal trademark owners to claim a TLD for their organization before registration opens.
  • Pre-registration - Landrush period when new TLDs are typically available to a select group for a higher price.
  • Open registration - Anyone can register at this point
While the number of new TLDs is increasing, here is a small sample to give you an idea of what's available or should be available by the end of 2015:
  • .healthcare
  • .university
  • .church
  • .bank
  • .lawyer
  • .jobs

Click here for a more complete list of available or soon to be available new TLDs categorized by industry.

Click here to see all the new TLDs still waiting for approval.  (Hint: Go to page 4 of the results to see some in English)

Wait, my .org or .com TLD isn't cutting it anymore?

In short, yes, your existing top level domain is probably still perfectly suitable, but depending on your industry, you may want to consider the pros and cons of securing one (or a few) of the new top level domains for your website as well.

Why choose a new TLD?

    1. Security
    For those in industries such as banking, having a .bank domain can offer a higher level of security than a .com address.  Due to the due diligence done prior to issuing .bank domains and enhanced security requirements, only verified members of the banking community will be given access to these top level domains.  If more financial institutions move toward .bank domains, this will make it easier to spot phishing and cyber-crime attempts.  While not all new TLDs will come with the same registration scrutiny, there are several that do, including .esq for lawyers and attorneys and .organic for verified members of the organic community.

    2. More Marketing Freedom & Brand Recognition
    With over 600 million active websites on the Internet, the fight for meaningful domain names is real.  The increasing availability of top level domains provides the opportunity for organizations to get more specific when communicating what their business is about through a URL.  Using TLDs to indicate location (Ex. BobsGarage.NYC) or type of business (Ex. CuriousKids.Toys) can instantly give consumers an idea of what to expect from your company.

    3. Reduce the Need for Subdomains
    Often a subdomain or more descriptive URL might be used for an organization's microsite that only displays specific information (Ex. jobs for business or a foundation for a hospital).  By creatively using new TLDs, you can take your company's primary domain name further.  For example, Amazon's online shopping website is, but they have set up to post information regarding career opportunities. 

    Not so fast on giving up your .com/.net/.org

    Of course, there are a few cons to the new TLDs:

    1. Browser/Application Compatibility
    Some browsers and applications aren't yet recognizing the new top level domains.  For example, most Android phones did not recognize most new TLDs in early 2015.  So, while it might be an okay idea to grab a fancy new top level domains for your organization, hold onto that .com or .org for a while longer while browsers and software applications catch up. 
    2. Lack of Trust
    One of the major challenges for new TLDs is that online visitors don't innately trust sites with unusual TLDs more than ones with more known endings. It will take time to create awareness and acceptance for new TLDs.
    3. Confusion
    New top-level domains could confuse the less technical Internet users, the elderly, or those who do not speak English.

    Will it matter for SEO?

    For now, websites using new TLDs are treated no differently than those using others.  There is no indication that this will change any time soon.

    Important Note:  If you do have multiple TLDs, you should make sure that no matter how someone gets to your site that they resolve to one final primary URL.  If you aren't sure about how to do this, we can help!

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