A New Era for Domains – ICANN’s Internet Overhaul

Ever wondered who gets to decide on things like generic top level domain (gTLD) names?  We’re talking about the .com or the .org.au part of the web address.  The answer is ICANN – the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers.  And this group have made international headlines this week with an announcement that is set to “unleash the global human imagination”.

ICANN voted yesterday to allow anyone to register up to 1,000 new .anything domains – a big jump from the current (modest) list of 22.  Just think of the possibilities…. .telstra.google.microsoft … it’s a Marketer’s dream!  Providing they’ve got a spare $185,000 in their budget that is!

Interestingly, the head of domain registration company Melbourne IT – Theo Hnarkis – reports that they have received over 200 expressions of interest for these new gLTD’s, despite the official process via ICANN not scheduled to begin until January 2012.  If you want to read more about the official timeline, visit the ICANN website at www.icann.org.

The big question now is what all of this means for Google Rankings and SEO?  The answer is NOTHING.  As written about in our What’s In A Name blog post, and confirmed by Danny Sullivan on Search Engine Land – the gTLD has no effect on Google Ranking or SEO (I can hear a few sighs of relief).

In our opinion, this decision brings a minefield of opportunities and potential issues, possibly best surmised by Danny Sullivan’s article again:


“Of course, not everyone will necessarily be granted a top level domain name. Who gets lucky depends on what ICANN decides. Smaller brands — which are brands nonetheless — won’t be able to afford the names. Who gets to have hot generic names like .money or .tickets will be decided, to my understanding, solely by ICANN.

What happens when two companies with the same trademark both decide they want the same top level domain remains to be seen. Who gets to be .giants — the San Francisco Giants baseball team or the New York Giants football team. Maybe they could play each other. And those are the only organizations out there with a claim to the Giants name, right?”


Only time will tell!  In the meantime, you can read the official ICANN Fact Sheet on gTLDs.