Weigh the options for choosing your business’s domain name

To gTLD or not to gTLD?

For any of you out there trying to find the right name for your business, you might have heard about new domain name extensions becoming available. Maybe you’re wondering whether these new domain names are something you need to worry about.

The change is pretty huge. Thousands of new domain name extensions will be available. In the past, most domains ended in .com, such as godaddy.com or mikespizza.com.  But, now that the Internet’s been around for a while, a lot (that’s a bit of an understatement, since more than 100 million .coms have been registered) are taken. So, to allow more people to get the name they want, the Internet gods (well, ICANN) are creating more than 700 domain name extensions — like .guru, .club, .shop, and .pizza, just to name a few. Instead of mikespizza.com, you could choose to use mikes.pizza or mikespizza.shop or mikespizza.menu.

Should you purchase one of these new domain names to be your main domain name? How about to be an alternate domain name or to protect your turf? Let’s take the considerations one-by-one:

Branding and naming

Certainly, one of these new Web addresses is more descriptive and explains what you do in a simple and easy way. On the other hand, .com is so ingrained in our psyche that customers might not remember a Web address that’s not a .com.

But, as more and more of these new extensions become available, we’ll all become more accustomed to alternate addresses. A lot of them might become even easier for us to remember. Looking for a pizza for dinner tonight? Go to a .pizza address.

A related question: If the .com I want isn’t available, should I grab a different extension or do I need to change the name of my business? My vote goes to the new extension. You aren’t the only person in this boat, so the new extensions are going to become more commonplace. It’s better to have a name that you love with a new extension rather than a .com that doesn’t suit you as much.

The verdict? For now, a .com might be the way to go, if it’s available. But, if it’s not, don’t hesitate to get a new extension. Even if you already have a .com address, you might want to consider a new extension as an alternate, or vanity, Web address.

Protecting your brand

For those of you who already have a .com address, you might be wondering if you should scoop up your name with the new extensions so that you can protect your brand. After all, if you are mikespizza.com, you would want to have mikes.pizza rather than letting someone else take it.

Should you do it? I vote yes, but don’t go crazy. You really only need the addresses that are truly relevant to your business. In our pizza example, scooping up mikes.pizza and mikespizza.shop would make sense, but grabbing mikespizza.shoes or mikespizza.vegas might not make sense. Unless, of course, your pizza shop is in Las Vegas.

The verdict? You should protect your brand by purchasing your name with a new extension, but there’s no need to go overboard. You probably only need a couple truly relevant ones.

Getting found and SEO

Google® currently doesn’t use a domain name to determine search results. If you search for “Mikes Pizza,” mikes.pizza is no more likely to show up on the top of a search than mikespizza.com. Why doesn’t Google care? Because they’re interested in finding the best sites with the most relevant content. If you go to mikespizza.com, it doesn’t have a lot to do with ordering pizza for dinner tonight. Google relies on the content in your website and on the links to your website to determine ranking.

But this might change. Think about it. If I’m searching for pizza, it’s likely that a website that ends in .pizza is relevant to me. Google is always improving its results to make sure we get what we want from searches. If a domain name extension helps us find relevant results, they’ll use it.

The verdict? Right now, it doesn’t matter whether you pick a .com or another extension for your website address. But a more descriptive domain name extension could make it easier for us to understand what you do — it might increase the number of people who click your website in a list of search results. So, the slight edge goes to the new domain extensions, since this might become a factor in the future.

Overall verdict

There are good arguments on both sides of this coin. Net-net, you want to pick the best name that describes your business so that customers will know what you do and be able to find you.  That will likely mean using a name with a new extension, but that doesn’t mean .com is dead.  Many of you might decide that you can find the perfect .com name in addition to a name with a new extension. If you need some ideas for a company name check out our Business Name Generator.

Laura Messerschmitt
Laura Messerschmitt is the Vice President of Social Media and Customer Advocacy for GoDaddy. Prior to working at GoDaddy, Laura ran marketing for the Sequoia Capital backed startup, Outright.com. At Intuit, she lead product marketing for QuickBooks and established Intuit’s small business presence in social media. She won a Forrester Groundswell Award for her efforts and was a finalist for the Marketers That Matter award. Laura has her MBA from Stanford University Graduate School of Business (GSB) and graduated Summa Cum Laude from UCLA with a degree in Mathematics.