If your domain is an address, then the domain zone is the ZIP code. It helps the user understand the scope of the website to which the link leads. For example, the domain zone .edu is a statement that the website belongs to a school or a university, while .mil is a dead giveaway for military organization.
But then there is .com, which hosts 47% of all domains. The name of the zone comes from the word «common» and originally it was meant for domains that did not belong anywhere else — up until it became the universal, default zone for any type of project.
Although, the online community no longer fits in the .com too well. Most of the actual, easy to remember domains have already been taken — either by the website owners or by domain flippers looking for making a quick buck. Therefore, specialized domain zones are making a comeback en force, offering a much larger choice of the domain names and actually telling you what lies on the other side of the link.
For example, can anyone tell me, without clicking the link, what is fatface.com? A joke website, a party catering service, a company website or a mask shop? Well, you’d never guessed it, but it’s a fashion store in UK. For comparison, here’s a specialized domain menfield.shop. It clearly tells you what’s on the other side — a shop. Similarly, you can play poker on virtue.poker, discuss the life of LGBT-community of Nanjang Technical University at NTU.lgbt and learn how to care for your pets at wikihow.pet.
But the main argument for specialized domains is SEO.
How the domain zone influences SEO
SEO — Search Engine Optimization — is the art of promoting your website to the first lines of Google Search results.
The foundation of SEO are the keywords. They are the most important words in the search request. Upon selecting the keywords, the search engine scans which websites fit the keywords the most and shows the list of the results. The important thing is that it counts not only the keywords in the title, description and content of the webpage, but also the domain.
For example, when it comes to a request with a keyword «poker», a website in the «poker» domain zone will have an advantage over a similar website in the .com domain zone. And the advantage will remain for requests «покер», «πόκερ» and even «პოკერი», since Google automatically translates the keywords.
Also, specialized domain zones offer more possibilities for pushing landing pages. For example:
- John has a credit union.
- John wants people that are looking for bad credit loans and makes a landing for those keywords. On the landing, he makes a link to the main website.
- In order to maximize the effect, John needs a corresponding domain — but badcreditloan.com is already taken.
- So, he makes a landing at badcredit.loan. The keywords and the effect are exactly the same.
How the domain zone influences the image of the website
Let’s come back to John — a hypothetical 50-year old credit union owner. Each day, after the work is done, John opens his laptop and browses internet. Then he checks mail and goes to sleep.
For John, .com is The Internet. The only time he sees the domains like .info, .biz, .pro etc. are when he reads letters from Nigerian princes, who are for whatever reason constantly writing to him offering to look at their websites. Which in turn are for whatever reason full of viruses. So when John sees such domains in the search results, he simply does not click on the link.
Unfortunately, John represents the majority of the internet users. So if your target audience are like John, then your main website should be on .com and have the company name in it.
But specialized domain zones are still good for landings that lead to the main website. In time, the stream of traffic from the landings will increase the rating of the website in Google and users will come directly to it.
Main website should be in .com. But you should make landings in specialized domain zones.
There’s also a case of spam zones. Basically, Google considers some domain zones too risky and detracts a little from their SEO score. As of now, .cf, .ga, .th, .cc and some other domain zones are on the list. Some administrators also prefer to lock down all mail from such domains — although they admit that it’s not the best decision.
Targeting and new domain zones
At the beginning of the internet, there were six domain zones — .com, .org, .int, .edu, .mil, .gov и .net. As of now, there are more than 2000. Therefore, the Google search results began to look like Attack of the Clones due to similar domains in different zones. And Google decided to solve the problem via geotargeting.
National domains are simple — they got their own rating inside the country. For example, if someone from France looks up Conrad Hotel, they will see Conrad Paris, not Conrad Tokyo. Even if Conrad Tokyo’s SEO is better, Google will still favor the local options.
Owners of the domains in the common domain zones (.com, .org, .net, specialized domains etc.) get an option to choose the region for targeting. Afterwards, Google will consider their domains national in the region of their choice.
But there’s also a third category — national domain zones that are not used as such. Google gives them a right to pick the region for targeting, but retains an option to take this right back. The list of such domain zones in September 2017 is: .ad, .as, .bz, .cc, .cd, .co, .dj, .fm, .io, .la, .me, .ms, .nu, .sc, .sr, .su, .tv, .tk, .ws. Recently, .to was also on the list.
In order to spread the growth of new domain zones, Unihost offers discounts on domains in 16 of them:
Shops — both online and offline.
Summits and people that reach them.
Professions and professionals. In order to register a domain you need a government-issued certificate that proves your qualification in any craft.
Any websites. Used to be Samoan national domain.
Anything you want. This alphabet domain is 4th in overall popularity ratings.
Everything black — from humor to Samuel L. Jackson.
Everything blue — from deep see to B.B. King.
Cloud storage and other services.
Everybody Kim — Chen Ung to Cardashian.
Everything pink. This innocent domain is highly popular in adult industry.
Pets and how to care for them.
Everything red — from cranberry juice to LaFerrari.
LGBT-organizations and websites.
Poker and everything that’s connected to it.
Informational resources. Previously, they were recommended to use .org.
Blogs and personal website. Used to be the national domain of Monte Negro.
Mobile phones and mobile websites.
Specialized domain zones cannot replace .com — yet. But if you need to make a landing or simply have a memorable domain, they are the perfect solution.
What specialized domains do you own? Write in comments!