In 2012, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) decided that the number of top level domains (TLDs) available for use by the public needed to be broadened. They opened a window of several months for anyone who was willing to pay ($185,000) to apply to register the top level domain of their choice and hence claim their own little corner of the Internet. This year, the application process for all 1900 of the first wave of applications will be complete, and the last of around 1300 new TLDs (about 600 applications went belly up for various reasons) will be made available for use and, in many cases, for sale to the general public.
Some of these TLDs will likely remain exclusive to the companies that registered them (.samsung, .apple), but addresses on other new TLDs (.blog, .lawyer, . fun) will probably start appearing for sale en masse in the coming months. Most of these will cost a little more than your average .com address – .luxury domain names, for example, can cost several hundred dollars a year – but as they become widely used and recognized, these new TLDs have the potential to become very impactful.
Imagine, for example, a world where city names as top level domains have become commonplace (that world is next year). Instead of a Google search for “theatre london”, traveler start to think “let’s just type in “theatre.london”. To https://theatre.london they go, without passing go, potentially without even hitting the SERP. Need a lawyer in Denver? Type in denver.lawyer. Whatever clever sod scored that address early on gets the traffic and gets the business.
Anyone preparing to move their website would do well to take a closer look at the new TLDs becoming available and consider whether it might be worth waiting (and paying) to score an address on their niche domain.
Now, we realize, that for those who are new to the web hosting world, acronyms like “ICANN” and “TLD” might not mean much. So we’ve created the infographic below to explain a little about how domains are made, who runs them, and what the heck is going on with the new top level domains.