For nearly twelve years we’d been busy over at thisisgibson.com, our original domain name. Whilst it had a distinct rhythm, the URL meant that clients sometimes referred to us as This is Gibson. Which is kind of understandable, if they didn’t have a Gibson business card or invoice in front of them, with our logo on it.
The old URL got the job done but it was never going to be as pithy as gibson.com or gibson.co.uk. Both of those were taken when we opened for business. Inventing a new and unique name for the agency was always an option, given that we develop brand names for clients all the time. We would certainly have guaranteed ourselves a .com address, but Gibson was the preferred (if obvious) choice back in 2003.
In early April 2010, the .co domains were launched in the US to some almighty noise. The new .co domain was going to be blessed with top level domain status and was marketed as the new alternative to .com. By June 2011, more than a million .co domains had been registered in over 200 countries and territories worldwide. By January 2014, that number had reached over 1.6 million. Now that’s tiny compared to over 100 million registered .coms, but we’re Brits and we thrive on a little eccentricity.
The .co domain fitted our agency well. It meant we’d finally have our brand name in a short, memorable format and it sounded business-like, too. So we snapped up gibson.co and tucked it away for the launch of this website and the new email addresses that would issue from it.
Since the release of the .co domains there have been discussions all over the web about what makes a wise, memorable domain name. They go something like this: Do we need the www bit anymore? Probably not. Isn’t .com the daddy of all domains? In a US-centric world view, maybe, but the world’s a big place. Can people remember your alternative to .com? Of course, they can. They may not even need to, if you’re showing them a link or a printed document. Has that .co had an ‘m’ snipped off? Stick it in a browser and find out.
Very occasionally someone does ask ‘Is it really just .co?’ and we have a little chat. That can only be a good thing because our domain then sticks in that person’s brain and we’ve started a new relationship. They leave enlightened, having learned a little more about us, the worldwide web and it’s evolution.
And SEO? Google ranks .co domains perfectly well, if the content is properly targeted in Webmaster Tools. Our new website is no less effective, in SEO terms, than our old one. The phone is still ringing.
The .co discussion is really just the beginning. Take a look at any of the domain registrars and you’ll see that you can now buy over 50 different domain suffixes (not to mention the top level country domains). Here’s a handful for an imaginary brand:
The registrars are running businesses and it obviously serves them well to offer a broad range of products, but choosing a domain name that is a perfect fit for your organisation is now a great deal easier. And if it’s not a traditional .com? So what. That’s a positive point of difference in itself. Don’t be timid.
There is no status quo on the web. That’s the joy of it – it’s always evolving.