The Internet is the first place a typical user will go for information about your company or organization. Not having a website for your brand is basically akin to not existing. Deciding where to set up shop online is an important step toward establishing a legitimate brand and effectively getting the word out about what you offer.
It isn’t quite as easy as it used to be. With an estimated 100 million websites using the .com extension, the options for many small businesses and startups have all but dried up. Until recently, entrepreneurs either had to burn vital seed money for the .com name they wanted or settle for a second-rate choice such as .co or .net.
Fortunately, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the non-profit group that manages domain names, has begun approving new extensions that provide additional opportunities for entrepreneurs to set up a more appealing and descriptive space on the web. Soon you’ll have the choice of endings like .app, .design, .dev, .health, .wiki, .systems and .tech. Consider some of the benefits below of using these and other new TLDs as you prepare to set up shop on the web:
Use them as a brand building tool. Creating a strong online brand presence is crucial but, given the sheer number of companies on the web, chances are high that someone has already registered the domain you want. Companies looking for an is easily searchable URL that resonates with their target audience can get more creative with these new domains.
The app, Putty, has now set up shop at Putty.Ink. While it’s indeed a bit of an offbeat name, Putty.com looks to have already been taken. The .ink extension was playfully brought in as a workable alternative since the app is all about sharing print articles online. Given the competion between startups in Silicon Valley, Silicon Alley and other tech hotbed areas, some companies might want to distinguish themselves via their geography. Companies attached to specific locations, like the “Made in NY” brand might want to consider moving to the .nyc extension that will be made available to the general public in October.
Boost the online presence of niche industries. New TLDs present a huge opportunity for niche businesses like tattooing, wine making and screen printing to really enhance their existing web presences. The tattoo industry, for example, traditionally relied on word-of-mouth to attract new customers. Today, with increasing acceptance of tattoos as well as the advent of social media to share and compare ink, tattoo artists and shops can’t afford to miss out on the benefits of being online. It’s a creative industry that could easily leverage a variety of new domains like .ink, .tattoo, .art, or even simply .studio, to boost its online presence and start appealing to customers researching where to get new ink online.
Expand to other languages. Country specific extensions like .ca (Canada) and .it (Italy) have been around for a while now, but with new domains there is a critical opportunity to reach users in their native languages.
Related: The Multilingual Web
ICANN has begun rolling out domains in scripts like Arabic and Chinese. Major companies like Amazon and Wal-Mart have already begun applying for international domain names for their specific brand names and for terms like “.store,” “.electronics” and “.fashion,” translated into Japanese and Chinese scripts. They understand the value of appealing to potential customers in the languages they use every day.
While major brands will have their own TLDs in these foreign scripts, generic terms like “.shop” in Arabic, Chinese and Japanese will be available for registration by entrepreneurs exploring opportunities in Asia and the Middle East. Soon, no one will have to navigate the Internet in a language not their own.
Over the next few years, as new gTLDs come to market, brands will unveil the many ways they plan to make use of them. Entrepreneurs are wise to keep an eye out as more extensions become available and leverage those that best enhance their online presence. There are many newsletters you can sign-up for to stay alerted to domains you’re interested in and you can see a full list of applied for TLDs at ICANNwiki.
Copyright © 2013 Entrepreneur.com, Inc.