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This article was published on March 3, 2014

Which top-level domain names are right for you?

Which top-level domain names are right for you?
Martha Pierce

New domain names are launching at a rate of seven per week just this past month alone. As more new domains become available, it may be difficult to figure out which is best for you to purchase.

Here’s a look at various industries and available domains that are right for you.

1. If you’re in finance

Finance-related domain names that have become available to pre-register include .bank, .loans or .ventures. Any strategy toward domain names that you develop should be primarily search-oriented, allowing your business to be pushed higher in Google.

According to NetNames, a popular site for gTLD info, users are more likely to develop what’s called a “domain name bias” – thinking certain domains are more legitimate simply because of the domain assigned to it.

Something like .ventures or .bank can be ideal for startups or small companies in personal and private banking sectors. Think Venmo, Simple (formerly BankSimple), and LearnVest-type services.

2. If you’re in the retail or fashion

Your best bets are going to be generic, near-basic gTLDs, like .clothing if you’re e-commerce, or .fashion or .style for more fashion-focused brands that are looking to amp up their brand and search ranking.

Elisa Cooper,  director of product marketing for brand protection firm Mark Monitor, advises that professionals should have clear policies set in place that determine when new domains should be registered, like a new brand product launch or brand campaign.

Highly specific domains in the retail industry are great for analytics-based startups and small companies who want to gain recognition in the same space as well-loved fashion brands, like Rebecca Taylor, Steven Alan, and the Alexander Wang’s of the world.

Registering a gTLD may not be a surefire way to make your brand as well-trafficked as these icons, but it can get you a leg up in the space.

3. If you’re a non-profit

Go for .ngo, .give, or .donate. The more basic, the better, as these businesses typically have the most uphill battles for being found. The non-profit industry is incredibly saturated and these brands often have limited budgets.

Risks involved in this sector include hackers who’ll buy similar gTLDs and incriminate your brand. They’re ever-popular for each of these categories, but especially for feel-good organizations whose Internet security policies typically aren’t high-level.

A simple domain like .give should be fairly popular, so it’s ideal to pre-register early on before demand drives up prices for smaller non-profits with conservative budgets.

4. If you’re an IT company

Your search strategy is probably down pat or at least halfway there, but if you need another layer of SEO optimization, choose a gTLD like .data, .search or .network as a social networking site.

It may be sort of a no-brainer, but defer this one to your tech team: high ROI and little effort. Offering a .support domain can also direct the right audience to the department they need.

Domains with strong IT keywords are best for everyone from data analytics software companies to small startups with your cat and your co-founder. Although you can keep optimizing it, remember to think long-term to ensure your investments will be worth the outcome.

5. If you’re in healthcare

The rise of ZocDoc and tech industries revolutionizing the medical industry mean there are more eyes than ever looking for health resources on the Web. Domains like .doctor, .care, .phd, and .dds can be useful in identifying the particular sector you represent.

Domains under the healthcare industry extend beyond strictly medicine. Wellness gTLDs like .yoga, .rehab., and  .diet can also help lifestyle brands increase their SEO capacities and authoritative voice.

6. If you’re an individual/consultant/job-seeker

Don’t skimp on the small stuff (but don’t sweat it, either!) It might be worth hiring a marketing consultant to analyze and come up with the best possible domain name for you, but personalize as much as possible.

Unfortunately, there’s no right answer or shortcut for this one since it depends on your work field. However, think about specific adjectives that make your brand special or that you want to highlight.

Domains such as .band (for music), .ads (for ad consultants), and .kitchen (chefs, specialty interior designers, or restaurants) are all examples of words that well represent an association with your industry.

7. If you’re thinking about launching a startup

Go for it, kid. gTLDs are most valuable to small businesses looking to make a name for themselves, so the more you can break out of your no-name startup with SEO and optimized keywords for people to find you, the better.

The only risk in this space are your competition, especially if you’ve got a common name in the English language. Buy before you’re bought out, and happy hunting!

Image credit: ShutterstockLloyd Paulson