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April 29, 2012

New TLD's a Headache for ICANN, SEO

By Chris Vendilli 2 Minute Read

Will a new TLD or Top Level Domain really help your business? After all, don't we already have thousands, if not millions of possible domain combinations based on the TLDs that are already in existence? This is especially true if you take into consideration that most internet users have only ever heard of the .com, org, .net and .info extensions. This leaves the vast majority of people unaware of extensions like .us, .me, .co, .mobi, .biz, and many country-specific TLDs like .ca, .nl, and .uk. So with the ICANN announcement that hundreds and possibly thousands of new TLDs will soon be available, it's no surprise that many people are…well, surprised. And some are downright outraged.

Of those who are outraged, Tim Berners-Lee seems to be leading the charge, and with good reason; he invented the WWW or World Wide Web. According to a recent article in Wired, Berners-Lee has stated that there's no reason whatsoever for these new TLDs, and that they will in fact only serve to complicate matters for the average business person. Specifically he cited the nuisance and expense of having to register a ton of new TLDs in order to protect trademark and brand names.

However, in the organic SEO industry there's already been chatter and excitement concerning the new extensions, and most of this isn't going to be good for the average end-user. The reason for this is that in the SEO world, many will likely register new TLDs in order to obtain exact-match domains. However, there are two problems with this thinking, other than the fact that exact match domains rarely paint an accurate picture of what a website is all about:

1.) Google (via Matt Cutts) has already stated that things like exact match domains, keyword-rich titles and so on are in reality a dying set of tactics.

2.) The registration of a slew of new exact-match domains will naturally devalue the corresponding established ones that are already in position and ranking well – provided they have the content to back up their rankings

So in reality, the use of new TLDs for SEO purposes isn't going to do anyone any good, but it's still going to happen anyway.

Apparently, the new TLDs are supposed to offer serious branding benefits. For example, there could be an extension for branding purposes called ".pepsi."

Seriously? Does this mean that we're actually going to have website addresses such as "pepsi.pepsi"? How else could that TLD be used? "getdealsat.pepsi"? In this case, websites that register these new extensions for purposes like this would actually be creating an entirely new website for every "page" they create.

Additionally, does this mean that anyone can register a .pepsi domain, or only the Pepsi Cola Company? If the latter is the case, then what exactly is the point, and where is the branding value in such a set of domains?

As you can see, there's a warehouse somewhere in E-land that's overflowing with cans of worms over this, and they're all about to be opened up at once. That is of course if ICANN can get its systems figured out in order to start doling out the new TLDs. As of last week the company's TLD registration system revealed a flaw that allowed some users to see the file names and other information of other users, raising the distinct possibility of some type of brand-related TLD war.

At the end of the day, Tim Berners-Lee is almost certainly right in that there are plenty of possible combinations of Top Level Domains currently available. And for those who are just seeking exact match domains, it's likely that Google will see through this ploy unless your content and backlink profile is of exceptional quality.

To learn more about what all this means for your business and whether you should register a version of the new TLDs to protect your intellectual property or trademarks, call the number at the top of your screen now for an immediate consultation.

Chris Vendilli
About the Author
Chris is the founder and CEO of Vendilli Digital Group. In his free time, you’ll find him camping, fishing, or playing beer league ice hockey with a bunch of guys who refuse to admit they’re already over the hill.

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