All About ngTLDs: Why Are They Valuable and Who Decides What’s Released?

All About ngTLDs: Why Are They Valuable and Who Decides What’s Released?

You’ve probably visited a fair share of .coms and .orgs in your life. You may even have wrangled with a few .edus or flirted with the occasional .net. For a long time, these generic top level domains (gTLDs) made up the entirety of the online world. But now, with increasing pressure to secure a unique and captivating handle in an uber-crowded digital sphere, new generic top level domains (ngTLDs) have emerged.

What is an ngTLD?

ngTLDs claim space in an over saturated domain environment

New gTLDs are anything…well, new. That is to say, they’re any domain that deviates from (what used to be) the norm, like .SUCKS, .beer, .car, .lol and so on. And there are plenty of reasons to use them: ngTLDs can help to claim space in an oversaturated domain environment, launch a specific project or campaign (like TrademarkInfringement.Sucks) or amplify your brand messaging.

Who Decides Which ngTLDs Can Be Used?

In 2005, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) introduced a  plan that would allow registrars to apply for ngTLDs. When the program launched in 2012, they received over 1,930 submissions. But you won’t just be approved for any ngTLD you want. ICANN has developed an extensive evaluation process to determine whether or not the domain in question is a valuable asset that can ensure fair competition while aligning with consumer interests—this includes assessing whether or not the applied-for string affects DNS security or stability, making sure they don’t overlap with existing domains or reserved names, and ensuring the label is 63 characters or less, among other criteria. (In case you were wondering: our own domain passed the test in 2015).

The Pros and Cons of ngTLDs

Pros and cons of ngTLDs

According to Google, ngTLDs will neither increase nor decrease your site’s SEO rank. The search engine has explicitly stated that it treats all domains (new and old) the same and has confirmed that including keywords in an ngTLD will neither harm nor help ranking (though a group of German researches begs to differ).

But even though they’re not guaranteed to boost your SEO rankings, keyword-rich ngTLDs have great potential to increase your site’s organic traffic—especially if the domain is memorable and hyper-specific to your customers’ needs and wants. In some cases, ngTLDs have even been said to improve click-through-rates and conversion while lowering  bounce rates and overall cost-per-click.

Ultimately, weighing the pros and cons leads us to a bit of a moot point.

Like most savvy business moves, what you accomplish with your ngTLD is entirely up to you.

The Takeaway

As new gTLDs continue to populate the web, you should really look to snag one (or a few) for your brand. As with any other business initiative, it’s essential that you be proactive with your ngTLDs—much like a Google ad won’t automatically earn your site a #1 SEO rank, ngTLDs cannot single-handedly put your brand in front of consumers. Effective digital marketing strategies are comprehensive and nuanced. If your ngTLD is keyword-friendly and intuitive, customers will react positively to seeing your domain listed in a search result. So go forth and be new.

Photo Credits: Shutterstock / GaudiLab, Unsplash / Jens Kreuter, Shutterstock / I AM NIKOM