Memorable

Being able to remember an URL is thought by some to be important for driving traffic to a site. If the users can’t remember some oddball combination of words and numbers they might have difficulty finding a site. This rationale is why short domain names are considered more valuable than long ones. The old system of having only a handful of three-letter-long, top-level domains simplified the task of remembering URLs. The consumer just needed to remember the first half of the URL and apply logic to come up with the top-level domain portion of the URL- .com, .edu, .org.

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Searchable

However, most people don’t actually make any effort to remember URLs. They bookmark some, and the rest they actively search for using a combination of keywords. Being able to easily search for a specific URL is far more important than having an easily remembered URL. Domain names with high-value frequently used keywords are far more valuable than domain names with more esoteric words in them. Using a generic top-level domain name that pops up often in keyword searches will drive traffic to the site. Selecting a generic top-level domain name that consists of a good short keyword may assist in designing domain search strategies and also assist consumers in recognizing the name of the website they are looking for.

Informational

For top-level domain names, informational quality is an aspect to consider. Prior to the release of the new top-level generic domains the top-level domain was used to inform web users of the type of site the URL belonged to (e.g. business, educational, organization), and sometimes its general geographic location country code. Continuing with this organizational strategy for selecting a generic top-level domain may have great utility in driving traffic to your site because internet users are already familiar with the concept. For example, a company that repairs bicycles could use .fix as a top-level domain to inform consumers about their company versus a company that sells bicycles that could use .sales as a top-level domain. This strategy can direct users to click on the kind of site they are searching for instead of randomly looking through sites with “bicycle” in the domain name hoping they offer the desired service.

Locational

Location-specific top-level domain codes can be very useful for some types of businesses. For example, someone looking for a local handyman might preferentially click on an URL that has the local city name as the domain. Or a restaurant chain could buy domain names with the name of the restaurant as the main domain and the city as the top-level domain. Any potential diner would immediately know which URL to click on to make reservations. An international company that deals with individuals from across the globe might not benefit from choosing a location-specific domain at all- quite the opposite in fact.

Traditional

But there is the trust issue to consider. The majority of consumers and internet users just don’t trust the new generic top-level domains. If they don’t see the traditional .com code they don’t think the site is a legitimate business and keep moving on instead of clicking. It is possible that this perception may change in the future as generic top-level domains become more common.

The future

According to dottab.com the domain .guru is currently the most popular generic domain among domain purchasers. Other popular top-level domains include references to locations, type of services, and general categories of products. The free availability of any top-level domain name right now is an opportunity waiting for businesses to seize it. Instead of waiting to see if consumers will continue to prefer the .com name, maybe now is the time for businesses to shape consumer perception.