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A generic Top Level Domain (gTLD) is the part of the web address that follows the dot that is located to the right of the specific address. For instance, .com, .org, .net and .gov are all used to designate specific domains so that when you do a search for information, you get it from the source you need. Indiana.gov will take you to a government website about Indiana, where as Indiana.org might take you to a charity site for Indiana or some other user-generated site that is not a government site. This helps users to get their information from the right source on a particular topic.
Controversial Top Level Domains
A few years ago, one of the most controversial gTLD’s that was presented was the .xxx gTLD. While there were quite a few people who thought that this gTLD should never exist, it did make the idea of keeping X-rated material out of the general Internet searches a lot easier to do. It also started a trend in gTLD that could change the way searches are done on the Internet. The more you can refine the gTLD, the more you can get your search results from the types of authorities you are looking for.
Establish Authority with Your gTLD
With so much random information on the Internet, the main goal of anyone who has anything to share is to prove their authority in their field of expertise. That’s why .gov belongs to government sites rather than just the average user. The Internet is all about marketing and experts are looking to have their name at the head of the line. So much so that tags, titles, and content all reflect SEO practices that use related terms to lure in viewers. Having gTLD that reflects your expertise means that you will get the traffic that is looking in a specific area. For instance, you might look at .barbie for collector Barbie dolls before you would look at collectorbarbies.com.
Newly Applied for gTLD
When the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) released the list of 1,930 applications for strings, the whole concept of gTLD changed. Until now, the concept of “generic” fit the current use of strings perfectly. They referred to the source of the information, rather than the topic at hand. If these new gTLD’s are approved, the topic is going to be promoted through the address itself rather than just the title, giving the owners of such addresses and untold advantage when it comes to directing Internet traffic.
Google applied for some of the more obvious strings that would narrow down the source. Strings like .youtube, .google, and .ads tend to fit the way most users search. Only instead of using the search bar to look for “Phil Collins YouTube” users will be able to type in philcollins.youtube directly into the address bar, making for a much faster search. And since the Google toolbar has the auto fill feature, users probably won’t even have to type in that much.
Some of the other strings that were no surprise included “bible”, “AARP”, “ACER”, and “porn”. Several automotive companies applied to use their brand names as strings as well, like Ford and Dodge.
What is probably the most interesting is the fact that there was a trend for topics, rather than sources. “Coffee”, “bingo”, “pizza”, “beer” and “vodka” are just a few of the strings that relate more to topic than source. We all knew this was coming, but what does this mean for people who provide information on the Internet and want to continue to build a solid reader base? It means that it may be time to rethink the way things are done.
What is the Cost of a New gTLD?
Can anyone create a new web address extension? I suppose you can if you can come up with the $185,000 USD filing fee. And that’s the floor price you’ll pay, if anyone else is interested in the same extension a bidding war will drive the price up.
Currently, if you try to create a blog on a site like Blogger, you are limited in the gTLD’s. For instance, you can’t just make a website called kathy.gov. If the terms that are focused on topics are managed in the same way, those who want to write about something like beer are going to have to work twice as hard to get traffic to their site if they have to compete with those who can use the term.
One of the most interesting aspects of this is that you would almost expect Google to be the one to apply for topic specific terms if that is the direction that the search engines are going to follow. But, they picked terms that still referenced their own products, with the exception of terms like “boo” in reference to the way the term is used as one of endearment.
Then again, since most sites utilize Google Adwords (or on the publisher side, Adsense) anyhow and Google is the one that most marketers seek to get “the juice” from in terms of search result, this may be a smart move on Google’s part. They don’t focus on particular topics. Instead they focus on search results that guarantee the right traffic is getting to the right place.
In other words, Google just saved themselves the time and money that might be spent on applying for such specific topic oriented strings, but they will benefit more than anyone since those strings may make it easier for Google to direct Internet traffic where it needs to go.
Advice for Marketers
The only thing left to do now is to keep focusing on quality content, something Google has been trying to prioritize. The days of keyword stuffing to get traffic to a site are over. Google wants original, useful content. Panda (a Google algorithm update) made that very clear when spammy, auto-generated content sites felt the pain of that update. The key is not just to get people to your site, but to keep them there.
If the new competition is going to have leverage in the form of topic specific gTLD, then marketers are going to have to step up their game. Hopefully, if the past is any indication of the way that Google works, quality content will look better than any gTLD, topic specific or not.