Dot Brand TLDs: My Predictions

ICANN are getting ever closer to allowing companies to register their own Top Level Domains. They have been planning this, literally, for years and years and at this stage I’m actually a little surprised to see it going ahead.

When the news of ICANN’s latest decision was announced last month [see more in articles from Reuters and Advertising Age] we discussed this internally at Distilled, and I made some predictions about what would happen as this goes through.  I thought that I’d share these predictions with you, to see which you agree / disagree with, and to hear your own predictions. Plus, in two years time we can come back to this post, and see how wrong I was.

My Predictions:

There will be at least one more wobble before custom TLDs goes live, which will lead people to believe that it’s not going to happen. (It’s still possible that something scuppers it altogether, and we never get to see this happen.)

The first movers will be wealthy groups with a smart marketing person pushing this internally. It will perhaps also include brands who are already a little frivolous with their marketing budget. For example: GoldenPalace will no doubt put in bid for something like .poker and Tribune could be bid for something like .news.

Some aggressively minded SEOs will no doubt shout for people to be buying up exact match TLDs, such as .laptops. Other - more analytical SEOs - will doubt that the TLD will have any benefit, or might want to see if there’s any kind of SEO benefit from them. Do search engines trust these TLDs? Will they use the it in determining keyword relevancy?

Some consortia will emerge; for example:  a few big film studios might buy .movie to host websites for individual films - , etc. (However, this example won’t happen: movie marketers are too fragmented across markets and - for the most part - unorganized)

At first there will be massive user confusion, and there will be lots of videos, infographics etc, for “What are these new TLDs?” and “How to explain the new gTLDs to your Granny” etc. At least one will be published by Distilled.

There will also be reactive marketing campaigns by at least one established TLD. For example: “Dot Net: the trusted top level domain for the internet” or “People only know where to find you, when you’re a .org”

A couple of well-funded startups will buy a TLD so that users have domains instead of subdomains. Eg: http://robousbey.tumblr or http://robousbey.etsy

A small handful of savvy people will make great money off creating their own domain registrar at .shop or .site or something, at a price point slightly below that of a .com - maybe $5 - $7.

There will be some registrars that are really cheap (in the ~$1 range) and get spammed to death, so no-one (users or search engines) trusts them. There will be at least one expensive registrar (think, ~$1000 / year) - and the domains will come with some inherent trust.

There will be at least a couple of new groups that buy something like .blog or .git and then give it away for free to anyone who wants a domain like http://myproject.git. This might be someone like Matt Mullenweg or Mark Shuttleworth.

Brands will rush to buy nonsense like .cocacola and then realize that they can’t use it as http://cocacola - so instead http://www.cocacola will just get redirected to their main .com site.


OK; these are my predictions. Do you think this will ever happen? Is there anything you anticipate happening that I’ve not thought about?

And the $185,000 Question: which TLD will you be bidding for?

Rob Ousbey

Rob Ousbey

Rob joined Distilled’s London office in 2008 as an SEO Consultant. Over the years, he’s developed and executed SEO strategy for clients from small businesses to large organizations, and managed Distilled’s Reputation Management projects, where he’s...   read more

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  1. I just can't even envisage the rebranding exercise that brands would have to go through with personalised tld's.

    Top quality link bait for the first who adopt though? Surely pretty much every news/technology etc site in the world will write about it and be looking to use a link as an example perhaps..?

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    • Rob Ousbey

      Both great points Barney.

      I spoke at the last Distilled conference about new online technologies, and how people who implement them first will get links from relevant press, even if it doesn't really change much. Handled properly, this is definitely a great opportunity for getting some coverage.

  2. My guess: take a look at the Fortune 500 list and pick the most tech savvy (read SEO-savvy) and that will be one of the first newsworthy purchases. I would imagine many web-based companies will buy and probably redirect back to their main site. Unless Google's alogo changes to help exact match TLDs (like the exact match domains), the benefit will be small and the rebranding cost will be huge. Most users will have to go through a redirect as the web will still know the old URL. And trying to get all your links to update... well good luck.

    The anchor text benefit is definitely something to think about. Imagine all your junky full URL links matching your top keyword... But then again if Google actually does reduce the exact match benefit this year, that anchor text benefit might be hurt as well.

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  3. Dave Ferrara1

    Great predictions. I will be on the bandwagon as I am sure many others will be with clever uses like:


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  4. You might be right about more spanners in the works before it goes through. From today:

    You'll definitely be right about some big corporations buying one and regretting it. I've been recommending not to bother, as you say - why change from to www.brand or website.brand?

    I don't think we should get too carried away about what will happen from an SEO or spam perspective, given the cost of registering will be $185,000.

    Also bear in mind that .travel has been around since 2005. No major site that I can think of is using it, there are none in the top 500 on Google UK for "cheap holidays" and domains such as are still available - $98 a year if you're interested ;-)

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  5. I love this stuff and have been following what TLD companies will go and get.

    For example, cocacola will get .cola and then have their main site as coca.cola and can grow like cherry.cola or might even claim .coke

    Although, the number 1 on any seo's shoppig list would be something like .SEO. Just makes perfect monetary sense.

    I would try to jumping onto .insurance and .health, etc

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  6. I cannot stand this idea - I think it's awful and it's probably one of the worst ideas ever thought of.

    It's an absolute joke in terms of cost and what is to gain from it? Nothing.

    It's going to confuse everybody with many aspects for many websites.

    This idea needs ripping up and binning up - it will be a bigger disaster than .co so don't worry.

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  7. I believe this will be a success. Why do you ask? Because it not only will improve your natural search rankings, but also your paid search efforts. Think about it, your quality scores based on your top keyword phrases included in your vanity url - it's a win-win. If you can afford it, I would highly recommend it.

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  8. Great post, thank for share! I will return this blog to read more useful posts. Thanks!

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