With a plethora of new generic top level domains like this gradually saturating the online space, it seemed an ideal time to ask around the 4Ps office for some expert opinions. Here’s what we found…

“I personally think these are great in theory, but in reality add an unnecessary level of confusion for users when people are buying up multiple variations on their primary domain. If you never had a website then potentially yes, great but otherwise, perhaps just a redirect to your existing site” – Matt Stannard, Head of Analytics & Technology

“I like the idea too – but where does it stop? Are we going to have gTLDs for every word in the English language?” – Jeff Mainwood, Digital Executive on the Motoring Team

Smells like a money making scheme. “Oh you don’t have a .london? Someone will steal it!” – Jennifer Lacey, Senior Digital Executive on the Education Team

Great in theory but expensive and confusing! I remember looking at these when they first were being discussed: I know some horrible companies were applying to own ‘.sucks’ or similar. Then they could have held companies to ransom essentially…you’d have to buy ‘thisbrand.sucks’ so no one else could have it! The idea of more gTLDs is good, as the number of sites is growing at such a fast rate, but they should just introduce a small number (like .net) of universally understood ones as opposed to hundreds of pointless ones. – Kit Nichols, Senior Digital Executive on the Insurance Team

Some interesting differing views there – but the best comment probably comes from Matt Phelan, Planning Director at 4Ps:

The domain is just the thing you type in to find the website. Google Maps doesn’t panic when new roads and houses are built so I don’t think this is good or bad for SEO. It is just the growth of the world wide web. I think this is more of a branding question than an SEO subject in all honesty. Telephone numbers became longer as the telephone network expanded and this is just the same thing but for web addresses; so the question to ask is not about the type of domain you have but how visible the website is that sits on it. None of the rules for good search practice have changed because of the new domains; brands just need ensure more than ever that they are equipped with a robust digital strategy that incorporates all their key channels, including search, so their customers can find them.

So, what then is 4Ps advising for businesses when it comes to .uk domains (and other variations like .london and so on)?

  • Focus on the domain properties that are important to your brand – if it is logical for your customer base to try to find you at .uk then you should make sure your critical domains are secured in order to protect your brand for logical gTLD associations, and just 301 them into your principle website.
  • Don’t feel pressured into capturing your brand domain on every single possible gtLD variation – if your business is heavily London based then securing your .london is logical, but if you’re a financial services firm then don’t worry about getting .plumbing because it just isn’t relevant even for your brand name!
  • Avoid buying into the idea that redirecting lots of parked domains into your main site will give you organic search benefits – secure additional domains only if they matter to your brand, because there are literally dozens of more effective (and better ROI) ways to grow your organic search visibility.

If you do reach the brand decision to move to a new gTLD for your active website, remember to implement a proper strategy rather than just cloning everything over to sit at two domains. Aside from this mass duplication causing enormous issues for search, having your site at two different addresses will be immensely confusing for your users. A better approach is to do a complete site migration over to your chosen new domain – but again don’t forget to manage this with a proper relaunch strategy and a full redirection plan to ensure your visibility doesn’t drop. It may seem like a pain to do at the time but recovering from a botched sitewide URL change can take months or even years, which is a far bigger problem than worrying about how many of the new branded gTLDs you’ve got parked.

4Ps isn’t just another SEO agency. To discuss how SEO and content are evolving together in order to keep pace with new developments in user interaction all over the world, give us a call on +44 (0)207 607 5650 for a no-obligation coffee and chat about data, marketing and user behaviour across all inbound channels.