Domains are something we use everyday and are essential to our journey through the ever-expanding world-wide web. But despite their ubiquity, most people know precious little about the genesis of these internet suffixes.
Domains were established to help create a more organized and easily navigated internet. Not only did they succeed in doing so, but they continue to evolve as we learn how to better use them for marketing, branding and selling.
The Early Days of Domains
Domains were invented in 1983 by University of California, Irvine computer scientist Dr. Paul Mockapetris while working on a project called the Domain Name System (DNS). DNS was created to help computers communicate with each other on the internet. Before DNS, computers had to use IP addresses to find each other—a difficult process that often resulted in errors.
Mockapetris recognized that if each computer had a unique name, it would be much easier for them to find each other. Realizing the vast potential for brands to take advantage of an interconnected digital marketplace, the first domain registry was established as “.com”—short for “commercial”. The first domain was registered in 1985 by Symbolics Computer Corporation (now defunct), which used symbolics.com.
At first, .com domains were primarily used by businesses and organizations, because early versions of DNS only allowed a limited number of characters in a domain name. As a result, most people couldn’t register a .com domain that was catchy or easy to remember. This changed in the 1990s when DNS was updated to allow for longer domain names, representing the nascent phase of businesses or organizations being able to customize web addresses for use as foundational elements in their marketing strategies.
Brand Expression Beyond the Generic
Through the years, we’ve all become acquainted with domains ending in .com, .org. and .net. These generic top-level domains (gTLDs) are the most common type of domain name ending, and provide the foundation for much of the online browsing we do every day.
However, there are many other options for top-level domains that can be used for marketing campaigns or initiatives. These are called non-generic top-level domains (ngTLDs), and they can help your website be more memorable for your target customers.
So if you’re looking to cut through the noize of the internet and stand out from your rivals, using ngTLDs is a natural place to start. With some creative thinking, domains can help you hone in on a specific audience, communicate what your website is about more clearly and even boost your SEO.
It’s important to choose the right TLD for your business—one that will be relevant to your audience and easy for them to remember.
For Better Brand Marketing, Make Your Domain Rise Above the Crowd
Here are some tips on how you can use ngTLDs in marketing:
- Choose the right TLD for your business. With more than 1,000 different TLDs available, it’s important to choose one that will be relevant to your business and easy for people to remember.
- Address the problem you are solving for your customers. The reason why people love .SUCKS domains is because you can speak directly to whatever problem your customers are facing. Addresses like Sweat.SUCKS for a deodorant brand or FatShaming.SUCKS for a public service campaign garner attention far more effectively than the standard “brand/service.com”.
- Future-proof your marketing strategy. What campaigns, products or services might you launch in the future? Claim your ideal domains now before someone else gets it.
- Consider SEO. By using a custom domain name, you can make your site more memorable and easier to find. Incorporating keywords into your domain name can improve your site’s search engine ranking.
- Think about brand voice. Your domain name is your identity on the web. A good domain name will exemplify your unique brand voice. Are you quirky? Sincere? Pointed? Sassy? Customize your ngTLDs to reflect your brand’s attitude.
- Keep it short and sweet. The shorter your domain name is, the easier it will be for people to remember and type.
- Avoid hyphens and numbers. Hyphens can be hard to remember, and numbers can be easily confused with letters (such as “5” and “S”).
- Get creative to be unique. With over 1 billion websites on the internet, it’s easy to get lost in the shuffle. A unique domain name, with .SUCKS being an obvious example, will help you do just that.
Domain names are a key part of any online marketing strategy. They’re ground zero for engaging new customers, and as such, should be top-of-mind when crafting your plans to boost brand awareness. With so much competition for attention, the right selection can ensure your brand’s online presence is a call to action—not a missed opportunity.
You’ve established a solid online presence, but competitors are coming to sully your reputation. Fight back strategically by assembling a domain portfolio that owns those trying to own you.