What Precedes the Dot in Open TLD’s?

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ICANN - Internet Corporation for Assigned Names & Numbers

As I mentioned in my post about that very odd ICANN decision to open up Top Level Domains (TLD’s) to virtually any words, it seems like a rather odd move toward confusion and a blow to the concept of Intellectual Property rights.

The first thing to occur to me when I heard this idea mentioned a few weeks back was “What comes before the dot?” Often mentioned in this discussion is the fact that eBay is agitating to be one of the first corporations to buy a TLD – dot ebay. But WHAT.ebay and do they now become registrars or do they simply now have the ability to control the domain name and add virtually anything they like ahead of the dot?

I imagine they’ll use the domain name to break out areas for product categories such as auto.ebay and cameras.ebay, etc. And/Or perhaps they’ll sell those domains to sellers who have “stores” on ebay so they have a “brand” on ebay. But what of those who start brand squatting within those sites – say Apple.ebay or Canon.ebay etc. Hmmm – not just ebay, but everywhere they can get hold of a new second level domain or even subdomain – who will police this? Wipo?

Below is a quote from Matt Hooker on CircleID about the new domain TLD’s.

… it will lead to absolute confusion, and people will not be able to remember one web site from another based on their names. People will not be able to differentiate one web site from another based on their names – and this is a disaster in the making, since we humans use names for everything. We use Language, and by allowing more gTLD’s we are creating great confusion in the language of the internet.

This isn’t just about confusion and IP protection, it’s got to affect reputation management for even the little guy online. If someone else takes your domain name as a TLD – or even as a second level domain within that TLD – how to you maintain search rankings, which until now have been helped by using your brand or keywords in the domain name.

Is Google looking nervously at this development? That element of the algorithm where keywords or brands in domain names carry significant ranking weight is about to be discounted unless they stick with dot com as the default ranking element and manually adjust each new, open domain TLD for it’s (subjective) authority – based on the owner of that new domain – the age and probably on inbound links.

Type-in traffic is about to go out the window with this development, cookies may become much more important to customer retention and search engine optimization may be negatively impacted by this potential dilution in domain name authority.

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