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‘New domains offer a massive opportunity for brands’

Brands are cleverly using keyword rich domains such as .STORE .WEBSITE .ONLINE .TECH and .PRESS to communicate key messages that resonate well with customers and communities

Top-level domains like .COM and .ORG may be easier to remember, but brands are boldly embracing new TLDs such as .STORE. But what is the advantage of the new TLDs and how are people supposed to remember them?

In an email interview with Digital Creed, Sandeep Ramchandani, CEO, Radix gives us examples of how brands are using the new TLDs. He also tells us how Indian institutions are adopting the new TLDs, the technical challenges and workarounds.

DC:  Apart from branding, what is the advantage of choosing the new top-level domains (TLDs) over the conventional ones like .COM and .ORG?

Sandeep Ramchandani, CEO, Radix, domains, TLD
Sandeep Ramchandani, CEO, Radix

Sandeep Ramchandani: One of the most important benefits is the sheer availability of the names. With new domains, one need not compromise on the name that they want for their business or personal use.

Just as .COM means ‘commercial’ and .ORG means ‘organization’, new domains such as .TECH is for technology and .STORE is for eCommerce. Technically, they are all the same but linguistically each of them means something different. So, another big benefit of new domains is that they add a layer of meaning to the website name and make the Internet more organized and business friendly.

These aside, new domains offer a massive opportunity for brands to pick keyword-rich domain names without making the website name long. For example, Edward Snowden’s Freedom of the Press Foundation uses the domain www.freedom.press. The domain name communicates the key message of the Foundation and resonates with the community without making the domain name long or complicated. Rather, it is a memorable name that stands out.

Some global brands such as Viacom are using new domains to identify their specific projects. Examples are Viacom’s tech focused portal www.viacom.tech and Emirates’ merchandise store www.emirates.store.

DC: How are people supposed to remember these TLDs when .COM comes to us so naturally? For instance, if my domain is DigitalCreed.tech one is inclined to type DigitalCreed.in

Sandeep Ramchandani: One of the most important aspects of new domains is that the domain extension becomes a meaningful part of the brand. For example, threadly.store is an Indian startup by the name ‘Threadly Store’ or consider thatmerch.store or lovable.tech. These are creative domain names that are also the brand names. This is possible only through new domains, otherwise it’s unlikely that you would find a domain name that matches your brand name perfectly.

In the case of generic extensions like .SITE or .ONLINE, they are great alternatives when your exact name is not available in .com or .in. For example, Nobel Peace Laureate Kailash Satyarthi’s Bharat Yatra initiative is on bharatyatra.online. Indian actor Amrita Rao’s website is amritarao.website and Ram Gopal Verma’s latest movie website is on godsextruth.online.

DC: Some years ago, there were reports in the media about the Internet running out of addresses under the IPv4 system. Have all the core Internet systems in the world been upgraded to IPv6 yet? Will we really run out of web addresses?

Sandeep Ramchandani: We’re in the naming business and issuance of IPs is something outside of our immediate purview, however, as per Google’s statistics about IPv6 adoption, around 18% of global internet traffic and 25% of India’s internet traffic is running on IPv6 as of January 2018.

Since IPv4 only allowed for 4.3 billion IP addresses, they have simply run out.  IPv6 is the new version of the Internet Protocol and the number of available addresses it offers is 340 trillion trillion trillion. So, it’s safe to say that we won’t run out of them anytime soon.

DC: What has been the acceptance and response from Indian companies towards the new TLDs?

Sandeep Ramchandani: As per nTLDStats, close to 2,00,000 domains in India have been registered across 426 new domain extensions. Some promising  Indian businesses on Radix’s domains include LinQ Store (www.linq.store), OCEO Water (www.oceowater.online), FreshUp Space (freshup.space), Casa Decor Store (casadecor.store)  and Noticeboard (www.noticeboard.tech).

India is a fast-growing market in the domain world. Currently, there are 460 million internet users in India, second only to China. By 2021, this number is expected to be 635.8 million. India is the 3rd largest startup ecosystem in the world and has 42.50 million SMEs but the domain penetration rate in India is 1.1%, compared to  3.6% in China and 43.6% in the US. This gap will soon begin to close and the demand for websites, professional email addresses, and consequently, domains names, will grow at an even faster pace.

DC: How much does it cost to register the new TLDs for one’s website?

Sandeep Ramchandani: New domains such as .ONLINE, .SITE, .SPACE, .TECH, etc can be registered for as low as INR 99 for the first year.  The renewal fee for each of these domains differs. It is advised that you check the renewal fee of the domain name before registering it.

DC: Can a .COM TLD be converted to say .TECH? Is this done through redirection?

Sandeep Ramchandani: Yes, this is indeed called redirection or domain forwarding and is very simple to implement. If you have an existing .COM domain, you can set it to automatically forward to your new .TECH domain. This means that you won’t lose customers if you choose to switch your primary address. Your customers, who type in yourbrand.com, will automatically direct to yourbrand.tech. Several businesses purchase their brand names on various generic and relevant domain extensions from a brand protection standpoint and redirect all those to their main domain name. Another great way of using a direct domain redirect is to point to specific pages on your website to make it more accessible. For example, www.kindle.store points to Amazon’s Kindle page which has a long, awkward, unpronounceable URL. So, if you are launching a new product or a new promotion campaign, it’s easier to communicate a short, memorable link in your marketing.

DC: How have the core DNS servers in the world been upgraded to accept the new TLDs?

Sandeep Ramchandani: The authoritative name servers that serve the DNS root zone, commonly known as the ‘root servers’, are a network of hundreds of servers in many countries around the world. The management of DNS root zone is one of the responsibilities of Internet Assigned Numbers Authority or IANA, which operates under the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).  ICANN is also responsible for the policy development for internationalization of the DNS system, introduction of new generic top-level domains (TLDs), IPv4 and IPv6.

In 2012, ICANN opened up the new generic top-level domains program to enable the largest expansion of the domain names system and ensured that all root DNS servers were capable of supporting every new domain. More information about this can be found on IANA’s website.

DC: Are government research and scientific institutions like ISRO opting for the new TLDs? What about academia (IIT, IIMs, IIISc)?

Sandeep Ramchandani: The world’s very first space nation, Asgardia, uses asgardia.space. In India, there are various educational institutes that use .TECH. For example, imad.tech is an online course offered in partnership with IIT Madras, and IIT (BHU)’s fest is on codefest.tech. Some other India based developer focused initiatives are hackdtu.tech (Delhi Technological University’s hackathon), iosd.tech (International Organization of Software Developers), girlscriptsummit.tech (part of GirlScript Foundation, an NGO) and hackdav.tech (India’s first hackathon exclusively for high school students).

DC: Is there any advantage from a page ranking and SEO point of view for the new TLDs?

Sandeep Ramchandani: Google has clearly specified how they treat domain names and new domain extensions on their Google Webmaster Blog. In this post, Google stated, ‘Overall, our systems treat new gTLDs (generic top-level domains) like other gTLDs (.com & .org).

However, if used cleverly, new domain extensions can work to your advantage for SEO. There are hundreds of algorithms that decide which pages will show up organically for certain keywords in search engines but two of the most important things are quality of content and quality of backlinks. If you have a keyword rich domain name such as www.hollywood.tech and if you get backlinks on anchor text ‘hollywood tech’, it will give a positive signal to search engines. Recently, GoDaddy published a detailed article on how deep links can help drive more traffic to your website. I recommend reading that for a deep dive into how new domains can help with SEO.

You might also want to read: 
Is Google AdWords Right for Your Website?

About Radix

Started in 2012 with an eventual investment of INR 160 cr, Radix is fully owned by Bhavin and Divyank Turakhia and is focused on new internet domain extensions. Through several years of active bidding for domain registry licenses, Radix has won the global and exclusive rights to 9 new internet domain extensions that include .ONLINE, .STORE, .TECH, .WEBSITE, .SPACE, .PRESS, .SITE, .HOST, and .FUN; as well as 1 re-purposed ccTLD, .PW.  Radix has quickly grown to become Asia’s #1 and one of the world’s largest internet domain registries with 30 lakh Internet domains under its management. Radix’s annual revenue for the calendar year 2017 was over INR 80 cr. To know more about how Radix is leading the way for Internet namespace, visit www.radix.website.

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Brian Pereira

Brian Pereira is an Indian journalist based in Mumbai. He has 25 years of technology journalism experience, and he's well known in the Indian IT industry. He is the former Editor of CHIP and InformationWeek magazines in India and has written technology articles for India's leading newspapers groups such as The Times of India and Indian Express Newspapers. Brian also writes on Aviation, startups and covers topics directed at small and medium businesses. He also has event experience and once put together the conference program for CeBIT and INTEROP events in India. Email: brian9p@gmail.com Twitter: @brian9p Linkedin: https://in.linkedin.com/in/pereirabrian

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