Yesterday the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the people behind .com, .org, .biz, and the 20 other possible web suffixes, announced a new ruling. Companies, organizations and brands will be able to acquire virtually any internet suffix sometime in the next 18 months. This means that companies like Disney could move away from “Disney.com” and use “Purchase.Disney” or “Anything.Disney” for that matter.
There’s one little catch though – If someone wants to run out and purchase the domain suffix of their choosing it will require an investment of $185,000. According to Peter Dengate-Thrush, Chairman of ICANN’s Board of Directors, “It’s not the price of a domain name. This is to create a registry that. . . can sell and manage millions and even hundreds of millions of domain names. You’re talking a reasonably serious business investment.”
For years Google has fielded complaints that keyword-rich domain names shouldn’t outperform well known reputable brand URL’s in its search engine results pages (SERPs). Recently, Google has signaled that it would like to “dial down” the significance of keyword-rich domain names in their search algorithm.
Google’s own Matt Cutts said, “So we have been thinking about adjusting that mix a bit and sort of turning the knob down within the algorithm, so that given two different domains it wouldn't necessarily help you as much to have a domain name with a bunch of keywords in it.” When Matt talks about exact match domains he highlights brand over and over again.
Undoubtedly, the pressure on Google from very large brands is enormous. With the current structure of the Internet and with keyword-rich domains being so powerful for search the playing field is relatively level for anyone, regardless of brand or investment, to create a business online and be successful. The Internet destroyed many traditional barriers to entry for entrepreneurs and ushered in a new era of competition. That’s precisely why newspapers, yellow pages and magazines are struggling today.
How Google reacts to the new domain suffix ruling in their algorithm will either create new barriers to entry for entrepreneurs, a $185,000 barrier, or just merely add a new wrinkle in the SEO work being done currently. The weight Google attaches to the new suffixes has the potential of changing the Internet forever by slowly eliminating the “little guy” online by virtually eradicating the .com, .biz, .org, etc. from its SERPs.