In 2014, the domain names market received a major shakeup as ICANN introduced over a thousand extensions. With the change, new extensions like .club, .healthcare, .sports etc. came into the market meaning that people were no longer compelled to use country TLD, .com, .net or .org alone as extensions.
Introducing the extensions to the market, however, did not involve listing the names out in the open for everyone to scramble for. It would have been chaotic if that was the case. ICANN has a multi-layer process that is targeted towards making the process fair for everyone involved.
ICANN has two important phases in launching new domain extensions. They are known as the Sunrise and Landrush periods.
The Sunrise period is a 30-day window during which trademark holders are allowed to claim domains that are related to their trademarks before everyone else is allowed to register them.
The Landrush period is used most by new registries. During this period, premium names are sold at premium prices to high net worth businesses.
These two periods are the only times when businesses can purchase domains from registries directly. After these periods, the domain names become available for purchase on typical registrars and web hosting companies.
If you want to avoid missing out on the perfect domain, therefore, you will need to be ready to snap up domains before they become generally available to everyone. Missing a good domain often proves costly in the long run as you will end up paying a lot more for it if someone has bought it by the time you are ready.
To help you wade through this new era of domains and put the domains to good use, here are some things you need to know.
Using both sides of the dot
The new domain extensions mean that that you no longer have to cram your business name and keywords to the left of the dot in the URL. The new extensions mean that categories and niche keywords can now appear either side of the dot giving you more opportunities to put keywords to good use. With the new domains, medical.careers, London.auto, running.shoes, etc can now be used. That combination is great for keyword integration and quickly showcasing what your business is all about.
The earlier the better
There are over 1000 new domain extensions available right now and dozens more are in the pipeline,but not all of them are relevant to your business. To wade through them, you need to start looking at the domain extensions that are about to be announced so you can immediately see which ones you can use.
Here is a good list of new domain extensions that are about to be launched and their Sunrise and general availability dates.
Don’t misunderstand pre-registration
Pre-registration is a way in which individuals can get names they want before they are released. It is offered by many registrars today. However, some people misunderstand preregistration as an iron-clad guarantee that they will get a domain. This is not the case.
Pre-registration means you have asked the registrar to purchase a domain for you as soon as it is declared available. There is a chance, though, that someone else could have pre-registered for the same domain with another registrar. You should be ready to lose some of your pre-registered domains and have contingency plans in place.
This, however, doesn’t in any way water down value pre-registration. It is something all serious business should pursue in this era of new gTLDs.
Be ready to spend a little more
The new TLDs are cheaper than .coms in many cases. However, there are instances where you will have to pay high prices for them. This is especially the case where multiple parties are interested in the domain. If it goes to auction the market value could end up in 7 digit figures. It is, therefore, important to be prepared to spend a lot more money to secure your domains, but you shouldn’t forget to decide beforehand what the name is worth to you. Don’t get caught up in the moment and overspend.
Use the trademark clearinghouse
As a business, constantly searching for domain names and registering them defensively with new registries is not always cost effective. This forces many businesses to miss out on good domains. The Trademark Clearinghouse (TMCH) is there to deal with this problem. TMCH is an ICANN-mandated service under the management of IBM and Deloitte.
Being a registrant with TMCH means you can buy a domain under any new extensions that contains your registered trademark. Registration with TMCH is compulsory if you want to take advantage of the sunrise period in the first place. Every big business with an online presence needs to be registered with them.