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New niche Internet domains come to boating

By Tim Claxton

There is a big expansion happening with the Internet that you need to factor into your digital marketing plans.

Do you remember when TV only had a few channels? Until recently, the Internet could be compared to that, because there were only a few applicable domain names: .com being the most common, but others include .net, .org, .co, .info, and .edu.

The limited domain name choices make it very hard and costly to get a .com name registered. GoDaddy recently published a report saying 53 percent of domain name searches came up as unavailable.  If you are starting a business or launching a new website today and want a better domain, your choices are fairly restricted.

Now the good news! This is changing and the rollout is already underway. The Internet’s governing body is releasing thousands of new more specific Global Top Level Domains (or GTLDs for short) that focus on business and community themes

 

 

As with TV, this opens up opportunity for niche channels to flourish on the web. Over 1,500 domains have been released to date. Popular domains include .xyz, .online, and nyc. GoDaddy has an extensive list.

But should you jump in and get a new domain name? For marine businesses, there are some relevant GTLDs to consider. I found several options, including .boats, .club, .life, .surf, .forsale, .reviews, .holiday and .yachts that look highly targeted.

Using one of the new GTLDs could be an opportunity for your business.

  • Better search engine ranking – A lot depends on Google, but in the future, search engines may use the GTLD extension in ranking results. This could mean a chance for you to raise your search ranking.
  • Secure a better address – If your current .com name is not ideal, truncated or hyphenated, a more tailored domain such as (for illustration purposes only) charter.yachts, offshore.yachts, Annapolis.boats or [sailingclubname].club could provide an easy to remember name that aligns with a business name or purpose. And easier for your customers to remember.
  • Promote your personal brand – This one is particularly interesting in a world of personal branding. If you’re a broker, for example, you could buy a domain matching your name to promote your own inventory or niche expertise.
  • Launch a new business - You want to launch a new business. New GTLDs off a broader range of name options compared to a .com domain.
  • OEM Brand control - At a more basic level, it might be worth buying your own business or product name just to protect your brand and avoids the risk of someone else using your name.

While most GTLDs are open to anyone, the .boats and .yachts domains are only being made available to eligible industry participants. That means the websites that are created could have more credibility in consumers’ minds. Some names are being held back from general release and will require registrants to submit a proposal with their intended use. While this will keep quality high, the application process will likely take more effort. These GTLDs are being released April 6th and prices start at $149 a year

Dominion Marine Media (DMM) is heavily involved in the launch of the new .boats and .yachts domains via www.buydomains.yachts and www.buydomains.boats. According to Ian Atkins, DMM president, “For the first time in the history of the Internet, we are able to create a verified and gated community of marine internet sites, where users can be free of doubt in who or what they are dealing with."

But if you’re happy with your current domain, you might be thinking, “Here we go, another cost for my business!” And you could be right - there are risks. The new GTLDs may not take off, consumers may not adopt them and there are ongoing yearly registration fees. And if you do buy one, you then have to build a website to make use of it.

It’s early days still, but there is some evidence of interest in the new GTLDs. The .club domain is very popular and Amazon has bought www.amazon.boats and Rolex has bought www.tudorwatch.yachts to promote their brands.

My recommendation is to invest some time searching the domain websites for your business name, and seriously consider the purchase. It is a relatively low cost to join the party, and better not to lose out on the opportunity than regret it later.

Tim Claxton is a freelance marketing consultant, and periodically writes articles on boating, digital media and new technologies. He can be reached at tim.claxton@me.com

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