All website owners who know anything about search engine optimization will understand how important it is to register domain names that will help boost their websites’ rankings. Those owners who want to target traffic on a geographical basis have had the option to choose a domain name that indicates a particular country. Therefore, websites targeted at Germany could register a domain with a .de ending, those targeting Canada could choose .ca, and so on. These domain extensions are known as top-level domains, or TLDs.
Now, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the body charged with administering the domain name system, has approved the setting up of a .london TLD. This is the first time a city name has been allocated its own domain extension, part of a massive initiative by ICANN to introduce a slew of new TLDs. Website owners will be able to register domain names ending in .london from the spring of 2014.
The first city to have its own TLD was New York, when ICANN approved .nyc in June 2013. It is almost certain that other major cities will follow suit, with many of them believed to be already in negotiations with ICANN to establish their own TLDs.
There are two principal benefits to having TLDs that refer to cities. Firstly, individuals, businesses and public bodies located in that city can register domain names ending in .london, which immediately associates them with the London brand. Secondly, website owners who want to target London specifically can help their search engine ranking by using the city’s domain extension.
For example, a travel site that offers trips to London, and tours and accommodation in the city, will have a better chance of attracting precisely targeted traffic by using a .london domain name. The search engines will almost certainly rate .london domains higher than the more generic .co.uk for queries relating to Britain’s capital.
There will be a rush to register .london domain names when they become available. However, ICANN has stated that they will be vigilant about protecting trademarked names. That means anybody, other than the store owner, who tries to register harrods.london, for example, will be rejected.
Using city names as TLDs should make it easier for Internet users to find what they are looking for. Even though the search engines get more sophisticated all the time, it can still be very difficult to hone in on relevant websites for some searches. For example, searches for accommodation in London will usually return global booking organizations at the top of the results. Websites that are built to provide information about London get pushed further down the results. Once the new .london domain becomes active, searchers will be able to use the advanced search functions to limit the results to the .london TLD.
The launch of the .london domain will be carried out in phases. The first phase will focus on registering individuals, businesses, and organizations that are based in London. The next phase will deal with registering trademark domains. That will be followed by the launch of the most popular domain names, which are likely to be auctioned. Thereafter, domain registration will be done as a standard first come, first served process.
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