The Growing Popularity of New Domain Extensions
In recent years we have seen an explosion in the number of new domain name extensions becoming available beyond legacy top-level domains like .com, .net and .org. ICANN has steadily introduced hundreds of new generic top-level domains (gTLDs) like .online, .site, .tech, .store, .fun, .xyz, .club and many more.
This has opened up a world of new possibilities for finding a short, memorable and relevant domain name for your business or brand. New extensions provide more options to find domain names closely matching your company or product name. They also allow you to get more creative with domain names that spell out a key brand message.
We expect this trend to continue with ICANN planning to release even more new domain extensions over the coming years. With domain name registrations in legacy gTLDs often reaching saturation, new extensions provide a way for businesses to stand out online and build a unique brand identity through their domain name.
Some of the most popular new extensions to watch in 2023 include:
- .store – For online stores and ecommerce sites
- .site – For blogs, portfolios and informational sites
- .online – For internet-based businesses and services
- .app – For apps, web apps and mobile sites
- .tech – For technology focused sites and startups
- .design – For creative agencies and design professionals
- .cloud – For cloud computing and SaaS companies
The choice of domain extension sends a strong signal about what your website or brand is all about. As more new extensions become available, expect to see businesses getting increasingly creative with their domain name choices in 2023 and beyond.
The Rise of Domain Hacking
Domain hacking involves forming a domain name by combining words, abbreviations and numbers to spell out a brand name or phrase using the domain extension as part of the spelling.
For example, del.icio.us uses .us at the end to spell out "delicious". Other popular domain hacks include fli.ckr (flickr), blo.gs (blogs), and shrt.st (short.st).
Domain hacking makes it possible to create short, clever and memorable domain names even when the .com versions are not available. More and more brands are embracing domain hacking as a way to get a catchy domain name that stands out.
Creating a domain hack requires some creative thinking to brainstorm combinations of words and abbreviations that can incorporate the domain extension as part of the spelling. While .com remains the most popular extension, domain hacking works well with new extensions like .io, .ly, .me and others.
As domain extensions continue to diversify, expect to see more brands making use of domain hacking to create innovative, one-of-a-kind domain names. The technique allows companies to get a distinctive domain that aligns well with their brand identity and can even communicate something about their business or product offering right in the domain name.
Using Domain Names for Marketing Messaging
Savvy online marketers are moving beyond treating domain names as merely technical necessities for a website and are instead using them as an additional branding and messaging tool.
Using keywords, product names or branding slogans in the domain name itself allows businesses to communicate key messaging right in the domain name and reinforce it throughout the customer journey.
For example, a mattress brand could use a domain like BestMattressEver.com or LuxuryMattress.com to reinforce a key brand promise. An online course creator could opt for domain names like LearnPianoIn30Days.com or CookingClassesOnline.com.
This trend of using domain names themselves as marketing tools will continue to grow as companies seek memorable domains that communicate their core value proposition or competitive differentiation.
The availability of new gTLDs along with techniques like domain hacking make it easier than ever to secure a domain name centered around marketing messaging. Expect to see more brands factoring this into their domain strategy in the coming year rather than treating the domain as an afterthought.
Using AI to Brainstorm and Evaluate Domain Names
Coming up with a large list of potential domain name ideas and then evaluating which options are the best has traditionally been a time consuming and manual process. But AI tools are now emerging that can automate parts of the domain brainstorming and evaluation process.
AI domain name generators can churn out hundreds of related keyword variations and domain name suggestions based on your business name, keywords and other criteria. This expands the pool of options to consider beyond what a human brain could manually think up.
Then AI algorithms can assist with prioritizing and selecting the final domain name by analyzing criteria like length, memorandum, spelling, ease of typing, semantic relevance and more. They can even check for trademark conflicts.
Domain name experts will still play a key role in setting the strategic vision and making the final call. But AI will become an invaluable assistive tool to streamline the busywork of generating and evaluating potential domains.
Expect AI to take a growing role in the domain name ideation and evaluation process in 2023. This will allow businesses to find the perfect domain name faster than ever before.
Consolidating Domain Names to Simplify Branding
Many larger enterprises have accumulated vast domain name portfolios encompassing hundreds or even thousands of domains. This can lead to a complex web of different domains and subdomains across different regions and business units.
In 2023, expect to see more companies looking to consolidate and simplify their domain structures. This may involve phasing out regional domains in favor of a consistent global domain name. Or retiring sub-brands and redirecting them to reinforce the master brand domain.
Consolidating domains helps unify and strengthen a brand online. It also makes website structure and navigation simpler for customers. And it enables setting consistent SEO strategies across markets.
Look for more enterprises to reevaluate their domain name portfolios in 2023 and initiate consolidation projects. This will involve identifying primary and secondary domains, retiring unused domains and redirecting domains to strengthen Anchor domains. The end goal is to move towards a simpler, more consistent domain name structure aligned around core brands.
Short Domain Names Will Continue to Soar in Value
Ultra short one, two and three letter .com domain names have always commanded premium prices. But in 2022 demand has pushed their values into record breaking territory with sales like meta.com for $30 million and nft.com for $12.5 million.
This demand looks likely to continue surging in 2023 driven by Web3 and crypto projects willing to pay eye-popping sums for short, memorable domains as their public facing web addresses. Some recent projections estimate that the total market value for short .com domains could reach $1 billion in sales next year.
For traditional businesses, short .com domains remain highly coveted but often unattainable assets. While alternatives like mixing letters and numbers can provide similar brevity and memorability, expect any remaining short .com words still available to sell for rapidly escalating prices in 2023 as the domain name land rush continues.
Using Web3 Domains as Brand Identifiers
Web3 introduces new naming systems and top level domains tied to blockchain networks like Ethereum or Polygon. These include domains ending in .crypto, .nft, .wallet, .coin and other extensions specifically designed for the crypto and NFT space.
In 2023, expect to see growing adoption of Web3 domains outside of just crypto native brands. Traditional consumer and enterprise brands will increasingly acquire branded domains on blockchain naming systems to stake their claim in the Web3 landscape.
Owning matching .com and .crypto domains allows brands to establish their identities both on legacy web and emerging web3 infrastructure. Using Web3 domains for company sites, NFT drops or other metaverse presence can help futureproof brands for this next generation of the internet.
Rise of AI Generated Brandable Domain Names
Finding a good brandable domain name that's still available can be a difficult task these days. AI startup Domainai is pioneering a new approach using AI to generate completely original brandable domain names from scratch.
The technology combines language AI models with an understanding of linguistics, patterns, prefixes/suffixes and other domain name composition principles. This allows generating domains with qualities like brevity, pronouncability, spellability and semantic meaning that enable use as a brand name.
Sample domains generated include Silverkey.com, Aikly.com and Powai.com. Domainai checks availability and ability to register generated domains across all ICANN extensions.
In 2023 and beyond, look for AI to play an increasing role in creating brandable domain name suggestions – significantly expanding the pool of options beyond dictionary word combinations alone.
Growing Use of Domain Names as Digital Asset NFTs
Historically domain names have been considered important business assets but not investable digital assets. However, sites like Ethereum Name Service have introduced domain names as NFTs that can be bought and sold on blockchain based marketplaces.
In 2023, expect more brands and investors to explore premium domain names as alternative digital asset investments. Blockchain enables proven ownership, transferability and programmability of domains. Domains held as NFT assets can appreciate in value and provide potential revenue streams via services like ad shares.
Collectible NFT domains could emerge as an exciting new subsection of this market – similar to limited edition sneakers or rare coins traded among collectors. The ability to showcase domains as NFT assets in virtual worlds adds additional dimension.
Overall, get ready for domain names to increasingly take on dual lives as both critical branding infrastructure as well as emerging digital asset class in their own right in the coming year.
Renewed Importance of the Homepage as a Landing Page
In recent years, homepages have often been treated as low priority, given that most visitors arrive on other pages via search listings or links. But trends like Core Web Vitals are restoring the importance of fast, well-designed, engaging homepages.
Your homepage remains the front door making critical first impression on new visitors. Slow load times on the homepage have an outsized negative impact on user experience.
Expect SEO best practices in 2023 to emphasize optimizing homepages as landing pages – with fast load speeds, clear value propositions and effective calls to action to engage visitors.
This means websites should allocate resources to homepage design. Don't relegate it as an afterthought. Your homepage's layout, content and performance require thoughtful design and optimization to maximize its impact as a traffic landing page.
Domain Names as Search Signals Evolve
Google has long used domain names as one of many signals in inferring page relevance and authority. But recently Google indicated that domain keywords matter less than historically. The pendulum has swung away from exact match domains being seen as a silver bullet.
That said, domains still matter for search. Authoritative sites with a properly branded domain name aligned to the content remain helpful trust signals.
In 2023, the best practice is choosing a domain name for branding first and SEO second. Keyword-stuffed domains can look spammy. But a branded domain that matches the site content can still provide a useful relevance signal.
Overall, domain name and search engine optimization remain tied together. But it's a nuanced relationship. With domains less influential as raw keyword signals, focus instead on using names that build customer trust and speak to the brand identity.
Importance of Global IDN Support
Internationalized domain names (IDNs) containing local language characters and scripts are vital for global outreach and localization. IDN domain adoption has been steadily growing with support expanding across registries, registrars and browsers.
In 2023 and beyond, IDN support will become an even more important priority as companies expand into new global markets. Brands will increasingly incorporate local language domain names along with English domains.
Technical considerations like Unicode compliance, punycode support and IDN conversion testing will be key domain management tasks. Brands will also need to weigh options like having a primary IDN domain or purchasing the IDN as a variant to redirect to an English domain.
Thinking globally should always start with your domain strategy. IDNs help build trust and engagement by connecting with international audiences using domain names in their native scripts.
Better Tools for Monitoring Domain Threats
From phishing sites to cybersquatting, brands face an array of threats from malicious use of their domain names and trademarks in domains. Adopting proactive domain monitoring and protection is critical.
Look for better automated tools to emerge in 2023 to continually scan the web and identify threats across hundreds of TLDs. AI will also play a growing role in analyzing threats and prioritizing the most dangerous.
Registries are also getting more proactive, using domain usage to predict likely phishing/abuse and requiring verification for high-risk registrations. Some offer trademark blocking services.
Vigilance will remain important though. Expect better automated domain monitoring and prediction tools to provide brands with an enhanced early warning system against growing domain threats.
More Purpose-Driven Domain Management
As with other areas of business, domain management is increasingly moving in a more ethical and sustainable direction.
For brands focused on environmental, social and governance (ESG) values, domain practices provide opportunities to make a positive impact. This includes reducing unused domains, consolidating infrastructure, supporting green registries and using renewable energy in data centers.
There is also a responsibility to proactively monitor and mitigate abusive uses of a brand's domains that could enable phishing, misleading information, counterfeits and other risks.
Look in 2023 for domain management to be viewed as another facet of corporate social responsibility. Working with responsible registries and registrars committed to making positive change will be important for purpose-driven organizations.
Summarizing the Top Domain Trends for 2023
In summary, domain names remain as vital as ever, but the domain landscape continues rapidly evolving. Key trends to watch in 2023 include:
- More adoption of new global TLDs providing wider domain choice
- Increased use of domain hacking and marketing-focused domains
- Leveraging AI tools for smarter domain name generation and evaluation
- Brands consolidating domains for simpler structures and unified brands
- Continued inflation especially for ultra-short, generic .COM domains
- Expansion into Web3 naming systems like .crypto and .nft
- Generating fresh brandable domains using AI algorithms
- Emergence of domains as digital assets and NFT collectibles
- Renewed SEO focus on optimizing homepages as landing pages
- More nuanced relationship between domains and search signals
- Expanding IDN support for local language domain names
- Improved automated monitoring and protection against domain threats
- Increased emphasis on purpose-driven domain management aligned with brand values
Keeping pace with these domain trends will allow brands to craft domain strategies maximizing market visibility, trust, engagement and online growth in 2023 and into the future.