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July 3, 2011

Could New Generic Domains Spell Trouble for Google & Webmasters?

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ICANN, the governing body for all Internet addresses, has announced new changes on how domains will be named in the future, which could definitely spell trouble for not only Google but all the other search engines as well. But they won’t be the only ones. Small webmasters and online marketers should be more concerned and troubled by the introduction of these new “generic” or “dot anything” domains.

Why?

Mainly because these new ICANN changes will transform and alter the web forever.

The impact and range of this transformation will largely depend upon two factors. First, how wide or liberal will ICANN be in their interpretation and implementation of these new domain naming changes? Second, how quickly Internet users adjust to these changes and for that matter, whether or not, they will even use these new generic domains.

However, if human nature stays true and previous Internet usage stays firm, web users will want the fastest and easiest way to find what they’re looking for on the web. This is where the new “generic” domains could change the whole playing field. It could even possibly transform the web as we know it today.

Starting next year – between January 2012 to April 2012 – companies can apply to ICANN (The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) for a “generic” or “dot anything” domain. Instead of using say a “.com” “.net” “.biz”… a company will be able to buy a domain such as “www.hotels” or “www.hotel” for a price tag of $185,000 and a $25,000 annual fee, which will probably mean anyone searching on the web for a hotel room could just type “hotels” or “hotel” directly into their browser and the site holding this domain will pop-up.

After a recent vote to approve these changes, the Chairman of ICANN’s board of directors, Peter Thrush, stated: “Today’s decision will usher in a new internet age. We have provided a platform for the next generation of creativity and inspiration. Unless there is a good reason to restrain it, innovation should be allowed to run free.”

Unfortunately, this new Internet age comes with a hefty price tag which will be out of reach for the average site owner, leaving the Internet accessible only to the elite or the rich. An open and free Internet will still exist, but certain sections, mainly those which control all the lucrative e-commerce and business on the web, will be firmly blocked and regulated. The prime real estate on the web will no longer be open to anyone who has 8 or 10 bucks to buy a domain. Only wealthy individuals and companies will be able to afford these new top-level domains.

As every webmaster or online marketer will tell you, getting the top spot on the web is everything. These new changes could spell disaster for current “.com”, “.net”, “.org”… domains because the loss in direct traffic alone could be very significant. Web users will simply type in “loans”, “cars”, “hotels”, “banks”, “laptops”… into their browsers to find what they’re looking for on the web. Also, since a “dot com” will no longer be “king of the hill”, its value will be somewhat diminished, along with millions of other domains ending in a suffix, resulting in a potential paper-loss in the trillions of dollars.

The only saving grace here is that most surfers use “long tail” keywords or phrases to find what they’re searching for on the web. For example, someone looking for a vacation rental in Florida will usually type in something like: “florida vacation rental” and it is very unlikely that someone would purchase this domain for a 185 grand, unless the traffic and economics were feasible (Even then most people are not going to type in “floridavacationrental” when they’re looking for “florida vacation rental” so the direct browser route might be useless, unless of course, future browsers are designed to automatically combine these words together and read them as a top level domain). Another more likely scenario is where we could possibly see a company paying that amount for say a generic domain “rentals” or “rental” and having sub-domains such as “florida.rentals” or “florida.rental”.

The SEO fallout from these new “dot anything” domains will probably be the most important factor to consider. These domains will quickly rise to the top of the search engines. They simply will have the keyword DNA to reach the top, unless search engines put rules into place to lower their importance or rankings, which is not likely to happen. Besides, most companies buying these new domains will already have tons of backlinks and top rankings for lucrative keyword phrases in their niche markets and acquiring such a generic domain will be a way of cementing their dominance in these markets and/or to protect their trademarks.

But getting back to our original discussion or question: how can these new domains spell trouble for Google and the other search engines? The trouble lies in how surfers use the web and how they start their Internet day. It all has to do with “portals” or “points of entry” onto the web. Facebook is Google’s biggest competitor, not because it is a rival search engine, but because people start their Internet day by logging onto Facebook and staying there for the rest of the day. While they are on Facebook, they’re obviously not using Google to find what they’re looking for on the web.

With the introduction of these new top level generic domains, Internet users could have thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of extra “portals” or “points of entry” for accessing the web directly. They won’t be anywhere near the importance or size of Facebook, but they could be much more detrimental to Google, because these will mainly be the “commercially keyworded” entry points. Google’s bread and butter is advertising, mainly delivered through its Adsense and Adwords properties, which are mainly dictated by lucrative keyword phrases. Could these new “portal entry points” eat away at Google’s most important and lucrative keyword traffic and ad offerings?

Will Internet users bypass the search engines and go directly through their browsers to these “on topic” portals? Will a new generic domain quickly develop a prominent status or recognition on the web with surfers? When searching for rentals, we don’t need Google to tell us to go to a comprehensive rental portal which lists and directs you to the right house or apartment rental you need. Need a loan? Forget Google – go directly to a portal which will direct you right to the loan you need. Need a laptop… well you get the picture.

All this will take some time to blossom and we are talking years and decades here rather than months. BUT, we are talking about the future of the web and how that future will be significantly altered by these new changes.

There is much speculation on how all this plays out. Will companies have the marketing savvy and Internet know-how to make these “portals” popular like Facebook has done? Over time will they have the “business sense” not to use “powered by Google” search and develop their own “in-house” search engines promoting their own partnered interests and companies? More importantly, will new companies gradually start to come to these “portals” for their advertising, rather than to Google?

Let’s face it, Google is very diversified and probably strong enough to weather any kind of storm coming its way, but a potential wave of thousands of direct portal sites or domains, offering competition on all fronts, might prove troublesome. Let’s just hope all the good folks at Google are 10 steps ahead of the rest of us. After all, didn’t waves of barbarians conquer Rome?


All opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author who is a full time online affiliate marketer with numerous niche sites, as well as two sites on Internet Marketing. If you want to discover more about search engine marketing simply download our Free Online Marketing Course. You can find the author’s page here: Titus Hoskins Copyright. This article may be freely distributed if this resource box stays attached.

20 Responses to “Could New Generic Domains Spell Trouble for Google & Webmasters?

    avatar Dashworlds says:

    Playing the TLD Game For Free (ie without paying ICANN $185,000 plus potentially unlimited annual expenses)

    Anyone can create now their own set of Top Level Domains at no cost and without reference to ICANN, simply by registering new Dashcom (instead of Dotcom) Domains.

    Dashcoms are memorable and relevant web addresses such as “business-com”, “jazz-music” and “social-network”. Available in any language or text, you can also use Facebook Emoticons (like musical notes “♫♫-♫♫”)

    Totally outside ICANN’s control and with users in over 90 countries worldwide, resolution is via an APP; although new ISP links are coming online to make that unnecessary.

    I already do that now – type a search term into the browser’s address bar and it takes me to the search engine of my choice showing the search results for that query.

    I think you left out browsers, and the inelligence of their manufacturers, out of the equation. They will make updates, and everything will keep working approximately the same as now.

    Also, i think people got so used to the format of web addresses that they will be confused if they see a web address without a .com / .biz / … Top level domain at the end. They already find it hard to type http://something.domain.com without the leading http://www...

    avatar Ahmed says:

    First of all I would like to see this is a very good article. By my understanding the worrying factor is that all these new “generic” domains will create more portals. Therefore Google and all of it’s perks (i.e. Addwords) will suffer leaving small Business’ with less of a chance than they already have. I don’t think Google will suffer too much. When I search for something I don’t even us Google.com as the website, I just use the toolbar or Chrome directly. I will not be willing to have say 30-40 different toolbars just to search for something.

    Also it’s a big possibility that Google already has plans to buy several of these Domains and link them with the Google search engine. It will be easier for a well established search engine Portal to make several portals as they already have “the know how”. I just feel the developers working for Bing, Google, etc. already have the upper hand than some rich Business man who wants a piece of the action.
    The average site owner is already losing against the big boys so not much will change there, only now we stand less of a chance. With the price being so high I’m not sure who will purchase these domains that has not already made his mark in the Web.

    avatar Jake Burdess says:

    This is quite possibly the scariest news I have heard to date, at least in terms of the manipulation that the Internet could suffer in the future. We must join forces to ensure that the Internet remains a free form of personal expression, and not a corporate machine, monopolized by big business. “…Creativity and inspriration”? Yeah right, for those with the fattest wallets…

    avatar Scott says:

    I agree 100% Steve.
    Anyone who actually believes that by simply eliminating the .com, .net, or .org, from a domain URL will somehow supersede the search engine algorithms that decipher and rank URL’s on “their” search engine results pages is a fool!

    Google, Yahoo!, Bing and many other search engines are the one’s who determine what shows up and where, not ICANN. What a ridiculous hypothesis!

    avatar drew says:

    this is not gone happen at all.
    if it does there is so many webmaster
    who has content which people want
    so people will do anything to reach those site with .com .net and so on.
    and google is there to stop all this

    avatar Grey Olltwit says:

    I think you’re overreacting. The most popular browsers are funded by microsoft and google, both with an interest in generating revenue from search so they are not going to easily allow domain name entries in the address bar to circumvent their pages. If you type in an address that is slightly incorrect, google et al already take you to their search pages. Without a .com etc., at the end I cannot see that Google and Bing will give up on that redirection.

    Most users also want local search so how will typing just hotels get me hotels in the UK for instance. I don’t want to be sent to just one site with hotels around the world at possibly more expensive prices than just UK based hotel sites.

    avatar Steve says:

    So what happens to your $185,000 and a $25,000 annual investment, when google completely devalues the concept of exact matcch domains? Surely it’s comming!

    avatar Dashworlds says:

    New ICANN TLDs – But Not For You!

    ….As ICANN won’t even consider applications from individuals or sole proprietorships, effectively ignoring the interests and needs of the majority of Internet users worldwide. Take this a step further and add non-refundable fees of $185,000 per TLD plus mega-running costs, and how many new ICANN TLDs will actually be launched?

    ICANN’s main aims have always been to convince Internet users that they’re the only game in town and then try to herd everyone into a tiny part of an otherwise infinite universe. In this respect, ICANN has been quite successful. However, it’s rather like telling people that the only place they can shop on the entire planet is your local Safeway (not that one…the other one) and that really, there’s nowhere else to go. Of course this is sheer nonsense and now people are starting to look at alternatives.

    New Domain Name options (like Dashcoms) are already here and it’s only a matter of time before more options surface – and none of them will have anything to with ICANN.

    avatar Ros says:

    Unlike most internet marketers, I love Google and it has driven results for me. With my method of affiliate marketing, I don’t need these changes and, as you say, let’s hope Big G is a few steps ahead. I can’t imagine that they will want just rich site owners to be at the top of the search results as that is NOT a level playing field and wealth doesn’t always equal quality or value. However, I can imagine that purchasers of these new domains will have some big carrot dangled in front of them to encourage them to pay the extortionate fees.

    avatar TV WATCHER says:

    O, this news is very hot! But it affects to small or middle business firm. For common users this has not an effect, because the praice is very high for domen name.

    avatar FireUps says:

    Interesting topic. I don’t think this will have the impact that you describe. People go to a search engine in hopes of finding quality and options. Most people don’t place search terms in the address bar “on purpose” I would equate this to AOL’s old keyword purchase and we all know what happened to that.

    avatar Beamer says:

    This could get very interesting indeed. Maybe the scenario could be lawsuits. Oh yes, lots of lawsuits. The ultra rich against Google for devaluing their “generic” dot anything names. Since when did generic cost $185,000 down + $25,000/yr?

    These entry portals, how do I get one?

    Then I like the part about the many different portals, as well as FB taking mucho wind out of Google’s sails. ‘Bout time!

    Love what I’m hearing about mobile text message marketing, which also does not need Google. As a matter of fact, G is bypassed altogether. Aaahhh the sweet winds of change…

    Hold on to your panties, folks. I hear there’s another Google Panda coming down the pike to a top placement near you. I can hear aortas slamming shut right now.

    Some think the big G is too big to fail. lol! ‘The bigger they are the harder they fall’ never fails.

    There might even be a mass Google exodus, much like the smaller one that’s going on now.

    Can hardly wait to see how all this plays out.

    avatar THOM says:

    THat’S not going to be a big deal, cause you probably wont be able to purchase .laptop or .rental

    You will only get a domain name if you have a copyright, so big firms could buy .apple or .microsoft
    Cities can get .ourcity and resell to local businesses. Commercial Keyword targeting will not be available. And this is despit the fact there are are just very rare keywords that would allow you to pay that price and make a profit.

    Very good article – have you sent it to ICANN? You should present this article to them!

    Any new development or innovation that can challenge Google’s dominance, is most welcome as far as I’m concerned.

    avatar Earn moneyonline says:

    A quite huge innovation from ICANN,I wonder who pushes for this changes…

    I’ve got 5 bucks that says these things end up being nothing more that the Internet’s version of vanity plates.

    ~Aaron

    avatar MikeP says:

    What does Titus mean by “a company will be able to buy a domain such as “www.hotels” or “www.hotel” ?

    As I understand, Ford, for instance, would be able to purchase the “.trucks” domain. Then they could have as a URL “http://www.ford.trucks” This is a gamble that Ford would be able to change web user behavior by pounding away with expensive TV commercials.

    So, how does all this new domain real estate benefit anyone but ICANN? I for one do not want to be the first guy betting on a brand spanking new top-level domain. I’ll stick with .com, thanks.

    avatar remonatrix says:

    for sure this is a weird moment in domain history.

    Domains with city names and services like http://lawyersjobs.info or http://assuranceoutaouais.info might have to compete with .lawyers or .jobs or .cityname …

    I think it will change the scene a bit but I don’t think it’s the death of all that is currently in place …

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