Thursday, August 14, 2008

Online Publishing Insider: How New TLDs Could Impact Your SEO

How New TLDs Could Impact Your SEO

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) announced June 26 that it had given preliminary approval to a recommendation to introduce a whole range of new Internet domain names, which would pave the way for a seismic increase in online real estate.

Talk about the Internet being like the Wild, Wild West. Along with the extraordinary expansion of domain name choices and opportunities would come HUGE potential for search engine marketing.

Currently, there is a limited range of 21 top-level domains (TLDs) from which to choose, such as .com, .org, .info and .uk. According to ICANN, this decision will allow applicants for new names to select the most marketable domains, making them perfect for attracting their target customers.

So businesses will now be able to apply for generic strings like .brandname or .yournamehere. ICANN even reports that there are already interested consortiums wanting to establish city-based TLDs like .nyc, .berlin and .paris.

At first glance, this seems to make perfect sense. But my hope is that it doesn't spiral out of control, becoming a field day for cybersquatters that register, traffic in or use domain names in bad faith, intending to profit from the goodwill of someone else's trademark.

That would create a huge nightmare for established brands like, which would need to procure a laundry list of domains -- everything from and to amazon.books and -- to prevent cybersquatters from wrongfully registering and profiting from its name.

It should be noted, however, that ICANN will not be selling the new TLDs for some time. The recommendation must first receive final approval early next year, followed by a limited period in which any established entity can submit an application for evaluation.

Search Engines and the Domainrush If and when it does happen, look for an immediate impact on search engine marketing. Search engines love keyword-enriched domain names, since finding exact keywords in domains proves to be an extremely strong indicator of a Web site's relevance to a search query.

By combining a newly acquired generic domain name with a very good search engine optimization (SEO) strategy, a small company could find itself ranking among extremely competitive search terms and among Fortune 1000 companies. Of course, Web sites need quality inbound links to rank high on Google, but a great domain name can go a long way.

Keyword-enriched domain names and URL paths (there is a difference) are usually what it takes to achieve a top-10 organic ranking. Take, for example, (ranking No. 4 on Google for "fresh seafood"); (No. 6 on Yahoo for latest breaking news") and (No. 4 on Google for "bagels"). I'm sure you get the point.

Still, non-keyword-enriched domain names can be optimized by adding keyword-enriched page names. For example, sits atop Google for "Brooklyn storage" and the URL path is; a Google search for "used Acura parts" returns as No. 1; and a search on Yahoo for "cardio exercises" yields on the first page of the search results.

Now that we've established that a keyword-enriched domain name can be extraordinarily valuable, just think about owing a domain like .insurance -- you could have,,,, etc. Beyond the obvious and tremendous SEO benefit, imagine what this will do to build brands.

I am curious to see if those who register new generic TLDs will use them to dominate their niche or resell domains. Only time will tell.

ICANN reports that there will be a six-figure charge for registering these new domains. That is chump change for major domains -- and even those that want to be

Andrew Hazen is founder and CEO of the search engine optimization firm PRIME Visibility, a rapidly growing SEO, Web 2.0 and social media marketing company.

Online Publishing Insider for Thursday, August 14, 2008:

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