You’ve probably already read about the new generic top-level domains, or gTLDs, being released. These are the famous and most widely used suffixes such as the familiar .com, .org, .net, and .info. In 2012, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, or ICANN, started accepting applications for new gTLDs. Since then, hundreds of gTLDs have been added to the root, giving website managers a much wider choice of names from which to choose.
After a gTLD is approved, it goes through the Sunrise phase. This is essentially a pre-order system that allows companies with copyrights to stake their claim on domain names before they are released to the public. New gTLDs range from the more generic to the very specific, and cover a huge range of industries and subjects. They are rolled out progressively each year, with new gTLDs becoming available on a regular basis.
2017 has had somewhat of a slower start than past years, but has provided the internet with at least a couple of options that should have a wide range of uses. According to newgtlds.icann.org, the first new gTLD of 2017 was released on 15 February, and it’s one that contests country-specific extensions by using an entire continent: .africa.
The list of potential uses for this extension are wide ranging. Any business that operates within Africa should strongly consider reserving a .africa extension – it immediately tells your consumers where you are located and that not only are you proud to operate within the African continent, but you also understand the ins and outs of doing business there. Websites reflecting a strong link to African heritage can also make use of the .africa extension to speak to their cultural identity. These are just a couple of examples of how this aptly named generic top-level domain may be used in the market.
The next gTLD was released on 7 April and it also has a very wide reach: .hotels. We’ve mentioned before that gTLDs are an excellent way to tell your customers more about your business even before your website has loaded, and this is a great example of a gTLD that accomplishes just that. Adding the .hotels extension to the end of your website address will pop you smack-dab into the accommodation industry, and help customers identify your brand; this can be especially helpful if your business’s name is somewhat obscure or doesn’t necessarily insinuate that you are a hotel or group of hotels. Letting a gTLD do this legwork for you is yet another way to make your spot in the industry crystal clear.
The third gTLD to be released in 2017 also came to us on 7 April, and it’s the most specific of the three released to date. Enter .rugby into the gTLD ring. Although not all countries have a great interest in rugby, the ones that do more than make up for it. According to totalsportek.com, rugby is the 6th most popular sport in the world, beating baseball, American football, and Formula 1 racing. The Atlantic writes that outside North America rugby comes in at number two, beat out only by football/soccer. We all know that where there is a popular major sport, there is a market to be tapped, so we have no doubt the .rugby extension is one to keep an eye on.
With more gTLDs being released each year it’s important to keep your finger on the pulse of what’s coming up. Keep track of delegated gTLDs here, and if you would like to know a bit more about the history of TLDs and gTLDs, ICANN has a great in-depth resource here revealing more about how it all got started.