Editor’s note: This is a sponsored article, written in collaboration with our editorial team but financially supported by another organisation, in this case, .CLOUD. The author is Francesco Cetraro, Head of Registry Operations for the new Top-Level Domain.

As a self-confessed domain geek, every time I am at an event I spend quite a lot of time looking at the Web addresses used by exhibitors and startups to advertise their wares. The result of my informal survey is that still a large majority swears by the mantra that “.com is king”, even if it means having to go through all sorts of keyword acrobatics to find an available one.

Particularly if the name chosen for the product is a fairly generic one, their Web address will invariably swell to include generic keywords like “get”, “hello” or “app” and the occasional dash.

To be honest, I do understand why this happens.

For many startups (and businesses of all types in general, really), the early days can be a very stressful period: the focus is often on building up the product, trying to find a viable business model, looking for those initial paying customers.

Buried in a long list of very important decisions, business owners often just want to get online quickly and settle for the first available option. But what if instead of seeing this as one of many meaningless chores on the way to greatness, we stopped and looked at this as an opportunity to shine and differentiate ourselves from the pack?

What if the domain we choose actually contributed to making our story clearer and more compelling to our audience? What if, by simply taking a bit more time to look beyond what everyone else is getting, one was able to find something that truly fits?

In recent times, hundreds of new domain extensions have been hitting the market with the promise to make it even easier to find something unique and descriptive.

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However, the idea of using the domain extension to one’s advantage and include it in the narrative is definitely not new.

All Minion lovers out there will remember fondly the first time their yellow heroes appeared on the screen, in a movie that was cleverly promoted online with the domain name. For many, it was indeed the launch of .me that opened their eyes to the possibility of using domain names in a funky, more personal way.

But even before that, a few smart marketers were already pushing the envelope with cool domain hacks. A few years ago, my local Swedish milk company Skånemejerier launched an informational campaign to advertise the benefits of a varied diet and exercise for children. The campaign featured the adventures of the cool calf Kalvin – “kalv” means calf in Swedish – and his friends, printed on the milk cartons.

When the time came for Kalvin to get an online presence, there was really only one option that made truly sense: Where many only saw .mu as the country-code Top-Level Domain (ccTLD) of Mauritius, Skånemejerier saw the opportunity to truly engage milk lovers of all ages with a clever domain choice that gave a quirky spin and added credibility to the entire campaign. creative domain name

Another great example of adding useful context to a website through a ‘domain hack’ is open-source messaging app Pidgin. The URL provides immediate context to the fact that Pidgin is all about Instant Messaging, playing very effectively with an easily understandable alternative meaning of what is normally just the country code for the Isle of Man.

The obvious limitation of using ccTLDs for domain hacks is, however, that they are only good if your target audience gets the reference. For instance, using a .io domain really only makes sense if your services are targeted at a very tech-savvy audience. Anybody else will most likely completely miss the reference, making what you thought a very clever domain choice not so clever after all.

One of the key selling points of new extensions is that they make it easier to bridge that gap by offering meaningful context to those willing to consider a slightly longer Web address for their business. On top of that, another added bonus is that many good keywords that are taken in legacy extensions are still available in these younger top-level domains.

Take for instance Swedish startup “Confetti”: the domain has been registered since 1996, so even if the current owner were willing to sell, the price tag would probably be quite hefty. Not to mention the fact that even if they owned, most people would still be left wondering about what “Confetti” exactly does.

By opting for the domain not only did they manage to get an exact match of their name without too much fuss, but the “.events” extension gives a pretty immediate hint of what the company does even before visiting their site. Creative Domain Name

While many of these new extensions are however only relevant to a specific language context (for example, an Italian plumber will hardly find any benefit in its home market by using a .plumber domain), others like .online, .club or .cloud have a meaning that is more universally understood and gives them a broader appeal.

Companies that previously had to use these keywords as part of longer .com addresses like or now have the option to refresh and give a different spin to their online presence.

German company ePages, one of the leading providers of e-commerce solutions for SMBs, recently launched a brand new portal promoting their cloud-based SaaS offering to Resellers using the domain.

The new domain has not replaced their official URL, but it is instead used to highlight a dedicated ‘side-entrance’ to a a part of their business that is steadily growing in importance but that previously used to be buried under 3 levels of navigation on their large corporate site.

This is just one example of how even established companies can benefit from taking a deeper look at what is currently available on the market, and take full advantage of the important part that a good, more descriptive Web address can play in a well-thought-out online strategy, helping get a few more leads through the door.

In other words, it is definitely not a case of simply throwing away the old for the new, but rather to take a holistic approach and consider what ultimately makes sense for your business. On one side, this clearly means it would be very shortsighted to dismiss the importance that .com domains and the local ccTLD in each specific market have and will continue to have for the foreseeable future.

They clearly do have an established position on the market and in the mindset of end users: to put things a bit into perspective, new extensions only account for 11 million of over 299 million domains registered worldwide, ,and .com and .net alone added almost as many domains to the count just in the third quarter of 2015.

New gTLD Domains and distribution

This means one should definitely make a reasonable effort to obtain the .com domains matching one’s business and products’ name, as well as other relevant ccTLDs.

At the same time, it is increasingly becoming open for debate whether the .com domain should necessarily be considered the only option when deciding what Web address to advertise as primary.

It would be unfair and equally shortsighted to judge the value and potential of new extensions based simply on numbers of registrations, also considering they have only been around for a bit more than a couple of years now.

Smart marketers will instead increasingly see this as a great opportunity to pick and advertise the Web address that feels most relevant to their business and to the image they want to associate to it.

After all, it is extremely easy to simply redirect all the other URLs without losing any important Google juice.

With the number of available extensions constantly growing, it might however feel like a daunting task to keep track of what your options are. Many domain registrars are actively working to improve their search pages and will already allow you to search for multiple keywords rather than a specific string. They also often present a long list of available domains in their search results, including many new extensions, which should help narrow down the options to a few good candidates.

Furthermore, sites like ICANNWiki and nTLDStats offer a pretty good starting point to see which new extensions are available (or coming up soon). If you need inspiration, some registries have excellent resources highlighting how their extensions are used in clever ways, such as Name.Kitchen or Worldof.Cloud.

Thinking outside the .com box can really pay off. What will you register next?

Featured image credit: Bevan Von Weichardt / Shutterstock
Top image credit: Dan Taylor/ Heisenberg Media

  • Some great practical examples here Francesco. Too many are way to abstract, when explaining what a good web address is instead of displaying real cases.

    • Follow_TheMoney

      See what I just posted.

    • Follow_TheMoney

      P.S. I see no good examples in the article at all.

    • Follow_TheMoney

      .cloud is also unappealing as an extension, except for perhaps a few keywords. Waste of the $185,000 fee and other expenses.

  • Follow_TheMoney

    Here are the appealing new ones for *widespread* use:

    1st tier:


    2nd tier:

    Also, regionals, such as .Vegas, .NYC, .London, etc.

    The rest are either unappealing, or only useful in an appealing way for an extremely limited # of Keyword.TLD combinations, making them mostly a waste of the $185,000 application fee plus expenses.

    • Are you expressing the views of a domain investor or a marketer? There is a big difference between the two.
      What I look at is the perspectives for a brand to communicate to their clients. And the new extensions provide some great opportunities to do this.

      • Follow_TheMoney

        That’s a very good question and I’m glad you asked it. It happens that my
        perspective is most definitely that of someone who is an domain name end user
        publisher and marketer first and foremost, who also has a strong interest in
        domain names in general. I don’t look at the new gTLD phenomenon the way
        “domain investors” do. I look at it as an end user, even though I do
        like to occasionally make a sale and would gladly make a really nice sale if
        that were to happen. I have the advantage of both perspectives however, because
        I started around fifteen years ago as a “domain investor” first, and
        then later I transitioned to and end user publisher and have been that way for
        years now. But what I primarily do is seek to create and publish websites in
        order to use domain names commercially, or use them that way without always
        having a site attached. In many cases I will even use them to them to generate
        traffic – and most definitely not to some parking or for sale page. Out of
        still many hundreds of domain names I only have a few that I’ve decided to just
        place for sale and show that, like maybe around 5 or 6 out of many hundreds. I
        also have only one published website on a domain I’ve had for over ten years
        where there is a for sale link I just put on it literally yesterday, but it’s a
        small link at the bottom of the page and the domain is for publishing and
        marketing, not for blasting out a “for sale” message. It’s an
        extremely famous worldwide phrase, in fact, it has a history of trying to be
        bought before when someone else had it, so I will gladly let it go for a good
        price, but would also gladly keep and use it for the rest of my life.

        Okay, that was a really long-winded way of trying to convey to you that I am
        primarily and predominately an end user and publisher and look at it that way,
        but do not at all look at it mainly as “domain investors” do, with
        whom I and no doubt you are extremely familiar.

        So with that said, most the new gTLDs are crap, sorry to say. Some of the
        “domain investors” who predicted that were right, but I say that from
        a user/keeper perspective and not their perspective.

        Here’s the thing: if a new gTLD is only great for a very few # of keywords
        before the dot, even to the point where it is even “exquisitely
        great” for those few keywords before the dot, but awkward, unappealing or
        undesirable for most other words, phrases and numbers one would normally want
        to put before such a dot, then the TLD is still crap.

        So for instance, let’s take the new TLD “.center.” It’s not only
        great for a few of the best of the best keywords before the dot, but
        exquisitely great even. Domains like,,,, to name a few. But that’s it, as in there are
        only just a few. I’m sorry to say the same goes for “.cloud” in my
        opinion – as one who primarily looks at them for usage and publishing.

        The example of “Name.Kitchen” may be clever and cute in one sense,
        but really it’s a very awkward and unappealing name. It represents the phrase
        “Name Kitchen” of course. I’m certainly familiar with the concept of
        being “brandable,” but this still doesn’t fly in my view. Okay, so
        once someone receives the bit of extra info they need to even know what it’s
        about, it still falls flat and unappealing and awkward. Moreover, “.kitchen”
        itself is truly pathetic as a TLD, hardly worth the $185,000 plus other costs.
        And “Worldof.Cloud” is nothing less than appalling. That’s the kind
        of domain I was making up and paying full price for when I first started out
        and didn’t really know what I was doing at all, and later let go when I did
        know more what I was doing.

        So if you have a world in which every possible extension is simply allowed in a
        simple and streamlined way where registries and registrars can simply market
        them on tap, like commodities or utilities, then go ahead and have them all,
        and for many, only a few keywords before the dot would be desirable. But if you
        have a world the way it is now, in which businesses have to vie for the rights
        and pay huge $185,000 fees, plus expenses which I have seen estimated to really
        bring it to around $1,000,000 and not just the $185,000 fee, then a great many
        of them simply don’t make sense from a business perspective, and certainly
        don’t interest me as an end user and publisher.

        • Francesco Cetraro

          Thanks for your comments, and sorry if it took me a bit to reply.

          My main point with this article is not that everybody should get a new domain name, but simply that they should take the time to look before settling for the first available option.

          There are many products out there I personally cannot understand/relate to, but that others find attractive and spend a lot of money on, so it is clearly always a matter of perspective. Just because something does not work “for you” does not necessarily mean someone else won’t find a good use for it 😉

      • Follow_TheMoney

        Oh, I just now looked at your profile and what you’re into. Interesting. You got my perspective before I did that and knew who you were. Nice website.

        • Glad you like the website. Yeah, I’ve spend some time trying to understand the potential of the new extensions. I wouldn’t get too fixated on good and bad TLDs. E.g. I personally consider .xyz to be a bad one, but it makes sense to Google. was a brilliant way to communicate Alphabet, Each business communicates to their audience in a particular way leaving out none of these new extensions.