Thursday, 14 June 2012

Domain Name Optimisation - the New SEO

When the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) was formed in 1998, it was given responsibility for overseeing the workings of generic domain names such as .com and .net, as well as country-specific domains such as .uk, and ensuring that control was delegated to the appropriate organisations. As a simple example, the .uk domain is actually managed by Nominet in Oxford.

In 2011, ICANN's directors voted to allow any organisation willing to pay $185,000 up front (and a further $25,000 per year) the ability to register their own generic and regional top level domains. The list of all applicants was released on June 13th 2012, and contains a number of applications that were to be expected:

MICROSOFT Microsoft Corporationhttp://www.microsoft.com
APPLEApple Inc.http://www.apple.com
IBMInternational Business Machines Corporation http://www.ibm.com

and a lot more that weren't:

PIZZAFoggy Moon, LLC
Asiamix Digital Limited
Uniregistry, Corp.http://www.uniregistry.com
Top Level Domain Holdings Limited http://www.tldh.org
MUSICDotMusic Inc.http://www.radixregistry.com
DotMusic / CGR E-Commerce Ltdhttp://music.us
CY/AP Community
dot Music Limited
Amazon EU S.à r.l.http://www.amazon.com/
Victor Cross
Charleston Road Registry Inc.
.music LLChttp://www.farfurther.com
Entertainment Names Inc.
SEARCH Charleston Road Registry Inc. 
dot Now Limited
Amazon EU S.à r.l.http://www.amazon.com/
Bitter McCook, LLC 


These are all very generic terms, ones that you could imagine yourself searching for rather than visiting a known site. Check on your browser: that searching can just be performed by typing the word or words into the URL bar, which sends the user to a search engine showing those terms. Try it now - just type "pizza" and see what happens. Me? I get Dominos as my top hit.

But there is no technical reason why one of these companies, once they've gained control of this top level domain, cannot run a website on just that name:

    http://pizza/

This is exactly the way thousands of companies' internal websites work. When a single word is entered into a URL bar the browser will first check to see if that is a valid website; only if it isn't will it pass control over to the search engine.

These new domains will allow registrars to take users - their potential customers - directly to their own websites when they put "pizza" into their web browsers, cutting out the search engine entirely. This isn't Search Engine Optimisation, this is Domain Name Optimisation, and for $185,000 it is almost certainly worth every last cent.

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