ICANN, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, is the agency that gives out all the domain names. In early 2012, they made a decision that might change the Internet landscape forever. They're offering new generic top level domains (GTLDs). If you don't know much about domain names, these are commonly called suffixes. For example, .com, .net, .org, .biz.
Take a minute and think of all the different suffixes that are out there. How many can you think of? If you're like me, it's tough to think of more than about 7 or 8. I've probably only ever seen about 10 in my life. There are actually 22, but only a few are commonly used.
What ICANN is doing is opening it up so that any word can become a suffix. The possibilities are limitless. You can get GTLDs for popular things like .pizza, .cars, or .cash. You can get ones for ideas like .selfhelp or .spirituality. You can even get your own geographical suffixes like .mississippi or .losangeles.
What This Means for Internet Marketers
This is going to open up a whole new world of domain names. No longer are you stuck choosing between a .com or a .net suffix. If you're going for a specific keyword that's taken already with the common GTLDs, you can get something totally different. For example, www.DogGrooming.com is obviously taken, as well as all the other common ones; but you could have a fair shot at www.DoGgrooming.dogs.
This may not affect you, but another big change is that they're going to offer domain names in other languages. You're not just limited to the alphabet. If you're targeting Chinese, Arabic, or Russian markets (and lots of online marketers are taking the step of going global), you can now use high traffic keywords in those languages in your domain name.
You can register your own suffixes by applying with ICANN. This would mean creating your own GTDLD and you'd become the registry. You would own and control a part of the Internet infrastructure. Just imagine if you owned the GTLD .pizza.
The Bad News
The only problem is that if you want to create your own GTLD, there's a lengthy and expensive application process. They set the application period from January to May 2012 planning to take 1,000 applicants, but there were over 2,000. They also charge a whopping $185,000 application fee, and most marketers I know can't pay that. Still, it would be a heck of an investment if you choose a profitable niche.
It'll be interesting to see how all of this develops and nobody can really say what changes are in store. But no matter what happens, it looks like we'll have way more choices for our domain names, and that's always a good thing.
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