In 2015, Google became a part of Alphabet. With this change came another surprising bit of news – Alphabet’s website would not be abc.com, rather, it was announced as abc.xyz. This came as a surprise to many who wisely expected the internet’s biggest brand to opt for something along the lines of Alphabet.com, or some other .com option. Instead, the internet giant opted for a .xyz extension. So what does this mean? Is the .com extension no longer special?
In 2014, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) made available over 500 new extensions which provided prospective web owners more options beyond the typical .com, .net, and .org options. This development made it possible for internet users to opt for websites with personalised names that meant more to them, and also removed the restriction of being limited to just a handful of top-level domain (TLD) options.
The arrival of the new extensions from ICANN has left many prospective web owners wondering if they are better off sticking with the well-known and very familiar .com or if they should be looking into quirky options such as .pizza and the other new options available which could make for a more distinctive domain name with more personality.
Many top website gurus, such as Paul Graham, are of the impression that a business with a domain name other than a .com one is doing itself a great disservice. This is because there is a general perception that a .com extension lends more credibility and seriousness to a brand. Naturally, an exception to this rule would be if the brand in question is already well known and accepted as is the case with Alphabet.
.com domain names are so highly sought after that they have attracted huge investments over the years, some of them costing as much as tens of millions of dollars. For instance, Internet.com was sold for $18 million in 2009, while Insurance.com fetched $35.6 million in 2010.
For the average internet user, a .com website feels more legitimate and less likely to be a spammy or fraudulent site. Just seeing .com at the end of a website instinctively generates trust and confidence in a website’s validity for most people which is why most businesses are willing to shell out thousands of dollars for a .com domain name.
And with reputable firms such as SearchMetrics and other SEO analysts constantly harping at internet users to always opt for .com if they want best SEO results and brand credibility, there seem to be more and more reasons why brands should only opt for .com.
So for some reason that contradicts all of this, Google chose not to acquire a .com domain and instead went for .xyz. Does Google know something the rest of us don’t?
ICANN’s new TLDs and Google’s choice to grab one instead of a good old .com might be a good indication that the age of .com reigning supreme may be coming to an end. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing considering the fact that domain investors sometimes demand ridiculously high prices for their .com domains. Such exorbitant prices make grabbing a .com domain an expensive venture for many startups who now have the option of opting for less costly alternative TLDs.
Another benefit that those shunning .com for new TLDs can also brag about is the new TLDs give them an opportunity to really stand out from a teeming crowd of online competitors. Putting it succinctly, the new TLDs offer prospective web owners availability, affordability, and distinguishability over a .com domain.
With Google’s move, who knows, .xyz may in time become the new .com. And the chances of this happening become higher if other big brands follow suit and go .xyz.
How TLDs Are Changing the Internet
Looking through ICANN’s list of new TLD names, so many varieties jump out at you and you wonder what person in their right sense would choose some of the options. The truth is, the diverse list makes sure there’s something for everyone regardless of their niche or idiosyncrasies.
There’s .pizza which is clearly for those in the pizza business, there’s .nyc for those with a New York brand, there’s .sucks for those who suck or simply like to document things that suck, .adult for those in the adult industry, .kitchen for the foodies, .soccer for the soccer-crazy fans, and so many more. It’s simply a simplified way to let internet surfers quickly understand what your website is about with just a single glance at your domain. The potential power of the new TLDs is something many brands should really begin exploring.
When is Opting for .com the Only Option?
It used to be .com or nothing else, but now, there’s a little bit more wriggle room. And with more and more internet users opting for mobile devices for their internet surfing, the need for a .com domain is gradually becoming less and less important. How so?
When a company builds a business primarily for the web and a broad audience, then a .com website will be effective in bringing the company closer to achieving its goals. But for a company that’s completely focused on mobile in the form of apps, the type of domain they own will have less of an influence on their success, as the popularity of their app will be driven mostly by positive reviews, word of mouth, and discoveries on app stores.
Also, there is the fact that most people simply search for a brand name on Google and then opt for the most relevant search result instead of directly typing in the URL.
This doesn’t change the fact that .com is the most familiar extension and most online users automatically expect a website’s URL to end with .com. This is especially the case for online users that are not exactly tech-savvy. And for individuals who are automatically suspicious of anything unfamiliar they come across on the website, a domain name that features anything but .com will likely raise red flags in their minds concerning malicious content, fraud, data theft, and so on. Simply put, compared to a .xyz website, a .com website will put a user’s mind at ease regarding safety concerns.
So if you are an upcoming business and winning over the trust of your target market is important to you, then you might want to invest in a .com domain. Sadly, thanks to cybersquatters who hoard .com names with the aim of selling them to new companies at hefty prices, this can prove to be expensive, especially if your startup is on a tight budget. If you can’t afford the cost, then the alternative is to opt for a .net, .co, .biz, or other sub-optimal top-level domain.
Also, according to a study by Searchmetrics, the .com extension plays a big role in having a new website found on the internet quickly. Their research which looked through more than 100,000 domain names found without a doubt that .com is the most visible TLD in a keyword search.
So Does the Domain you opt for Matter?
Definitely! More than 1.17 Billion people use Google to perform their online searches, so it only makes sense that you optimise your website in every way to make it to the top of search engine results. Your domain name may have a role to play in this. Google tends to favour companies that have reputable brands and most reputable brands have a .com domain. With just 11% of the web being visible, it’s important that you have a domain name that not only increases your chances of being among the visible 11% but also puts you ahead of all other brands within your niche that are among that 11%.
The Google search algorithm is constantly being tweaked to ensure its users get the most relevant search results in response to their queries. As things currently stand, a .com is an authoritative way to guarantee your website pops up prominently in a search result. But as Google’s algorithm continues to evolve, this may not remain the case forever.
Also, it’s not in every niche that the use of .com is necessary. For instance, if your operations are in the higher education, government, or non-profit sector, extensions such as .edu, .gov, or .org respectively will serve perfectly.
So before you decide if .com is still relevant or not, ask yourself, how do you feel when you see a professional website without a .com extension? How you feel is probably how most of your potential clients will feel if you have a domain that isn’t .com. So you have a choice, be brave and bold like Google and delve into new waters and pave the way for other brands to opt for new TLDs, or stick with the trusted, known, and expensive .com. Which choice gets your brand to where you want it to be faster should be what guides your eventual choice. For more information on domain names, visit domains4less.co.nz.