British national daily newspaper The Guardian has unveiled plans to create a new global online identity, one that will serve as a home for its various digital properties around the world.

The Guardian’s publisher, Guardian News & Media, announced it is to introduce a single portal on TheGuardian.com, which will host Guardian.co.uk, GuardianNews.com – which launched for the US market back in 2011 – and its upcoming Australian edition, which is scheduled to go live later this year.

The Guardian was founded in 1821, but it was known as ‘The Manchester Guardian’ until 1959. Although it was slightly behind other publications in terms of launching an online presence, Guardian.co.uk finally landed in January 1999. This online portal hosted the whole Guardian Unlimited network of sites, which included News Unlimited, Football Unlimited, Cricket Unlimited and Jobs Unlimited. Later additions to the network include Film Unlimited, Education, Books, Shopping and Money.

Then, in 2008, the Guardian Unlimited brand was replaced simply by Guardian.co.uk, which also served as the domain for its Sunday title The Observer.

Tanya Cordrey, Chief Digital Officer at Guardian News & Media, made the announcement off the back of another record month for Guardian.co.uk, with ABC figures showing it secured 81 million uniquer browsers in April. This was the third straight record-traffic month for the publication.

It seems the Guardian is looking to adapt its online model to mirror something like UK tabloid The Daily Mail, which operates MailOnline – a single-identity .co.uk website that lays claim to being the world’s highest-trafficed newspaper website. That’s not to say it will be looking to replicate the Daily Mail’s content, however, but it will be interesting to see how a new global identity will reflect the kinds of stories it publishes.

Going global

Though the Guardian is primarily a UK newspaper, only a third of its online visitors are now based in the UK which is why it’s looking to capitalize on its international presence. Indeed, it’s an easy-win for a publication looking to increase click-through-rates (CTRs) – there’s an online population of billions, but only 60 million in the UK.

“This may be a small URL change but it marks a big step for the Guardian and reflects our evolution from a much-respected national print newspaper based only in the UK – reaching hundreds of thousands of people once a day – to a leading global news and media brand, with offices around the world, and an ever-growing worldwide audience accessing Guardian journalism every minute of every day,” said Cordrey.

“Our move to theguardian.com will only strengthen our global presence and is a loud signal of our status as a leading digital news provider and of the breadth and depth of our content,” she added.

From the Guardian’s perspective, centralizing everything makes a lot of sense in terms of creating a single, simplified brand against which it can attract more advertisers and other commercial opportunities from more countries. That’s the main appeal of a .com domain, but its content will also have to reflect this.

No precise timeframe has been giving for porting all the content over to the new site, but it should all come together by the end of this year.

“Over the coming months ahead of the move, our in-house digital team, working closely with the team at Yoast.com, will be working on this ambitious and challenging project,” continues Cordrey. “The Guardian websites involve millions of URLs and around 15 years’ worth of content, so it will take some time.”