SCORE Small Business Blog

New gTLDs: Can You Afford to Lose Consumer Trust?
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With potentially more than 1,400 new gTLDs being introduced into the Internet over the next couple of years, business owners have a very important decision to make as they consider all of the domain options available to them. Brand awareness, website traffic and customer trust are key attributes all companies need to protect. Just ask yourself: How will your customers respond to a new domain? Will they be confused? Will they be able to find your Web address, and if they do, will they trust it?

The rapid introduction of hundreds of new gTLDs will undoubtedly be confusing for even seasoned Internet users and much more so for the less tech-savvy. This is especially true given that we might see a range of new – and often similar – domain extensions that could cause confusion as to which new gTLD extensions are correct. For example: Will a pizza shop in New York choose JoesPizza.NYC, JoesNYC.pizza, JoesPizza.Menu, JoesPizza.Restaurant or one of the other applicable combinations?

All these choices could be overwhelming for consumers or difficult to remember. Businesses might be better served by sticking to a trusted domain extension such as .com or .net, to which customers tend to default when remembering or typing in Web addresses. And since purchasing all domain names applicable to your business might be cost-prohibitive, you might want to keep your existing TLD and redirect new domain name registrations to your established domain name.

In addition, recent data points to the fact that end users can be particularly cautious about visiting a website with an uncommon extensionMany small to mid-sized businesses would prefer to stick to their .com domain rather than adopt a new gTLDs.  That means that even if you have a great website, its success might be affected if it uses an uncommon extension that consumers do not immediately recognize or deem trustworthy. Since you cannot afford to lose traffic because of your domain name, consider taking a “wait and see” approach. Keep a watchful eye on how the new gTLDs you are interested in are performing and whether they are building an established positive track record of consumer recognition and operational performance before considering any of them good candidates for your business’s primary domain. If you would like to invest in a new gTLD now, start by finding ones that are logical for your business and register them to complement your existing name as redirects to your current website.

The bottom line is that for your online businesses to succeed, you need to make sure your customers feel that they can trust your site, aren’t confused about your Web address, and won’t wonder if they’ve reached the right business. Would you leave that to chance?

To learn more about new gTLDs and how to invest wisely, check out SCORE and Verisign’s new guide: “New gTLDs: What They Mean, What Your Options Are and How to Invest Wisely.”

Aliana MarinoCommunications Manager, SCORE
Aliana is passionate about helping small businesses thrive and getting the word out about the great work SCORE mentors do across the country.
score.org | Facebook | @SCOREmentors | More from Aliana

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