In an unprecedented move that will change the way everyone uses the Internet, the traditional .com domain names are being challenged by the introduction of more than a thousand new alternatives. These alternative domains, including construction industry focused keywords, such as .construction; .contractors; .lighting; and .plumbing, are intended to better target both business owners and their customers. But how significant are they and what options do brand and business owners have to protect their online presence?
The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the non-profit body that oversees web addresses, is launching over a thousand new Internet suffixes, called generic Top Level Domains (gTLDs). These new domains are intended to better organise the Internet, allowing for a more customised and targeted search experience.
For a construction business, the name, along with the service and experience, is the brand. It is critically important for the brand to be promoted and protected on the Internet. This new era of the Internet will directly impact SEO, sales and marketing for brand owners in the construction industry.
Here are four essential tips that every construction business owner should follow in order to protect their brands and trademarks in this expanding Internet landscape:
1. Learn about new domains before they launch
In order to get the most out of an online presence, it’s important to know which new gTLDs that are of interest to your consumer base are launching and when they will become available for claim or purchase. By monitoring for new gTLD releases, brand owners can effectively decide how better to use the Internet to market their construction business. Check out the Trademark Clearinghouse (TMCH) website www.trademark-clearinghouse.com, as well as other resources like www.calzone.org to learn more about these launch dates.
2. Be strategic about registration
As important as it is to seek out gTLDs that help your brand strategy, it’s equally as important to protect your construction business or brand name in domains that could send the wrong message to potential customers. Making sure your company isn’t associated with certain TLDs (e.g. .SUCKS, .WTF, etc.) can be done through various brand protection programs being offered. Domain registries like Donuts offers a brand protection program for its 200+ TLDs and ICM Registry offers a Domain Matching program for its TLDs (e.g. .XXX, .PORN, etc.).
3. Focus on SEO
This new Internet paradigm is changing the way SEO works. Construction business owners and operators should obtain their name/brand in TLDs that are most relevant to their SEO. For example, if your construction business who specializes in plumbing services, .plumbing would be an optimal gTLD to showcase your company’s past work and to use to garner new customers. When prospective clients or customers are searching for your company online they may type your businesses name and “contractors” into their search bar. By using the .contractors gTLD, the search will be optimised to push your company to the top of the search results.
4. Know your rights
If someone else has already purchased a domain name in a new TLD that matches your company’s name or trademark, there are solutions. You can proceed against them through either a URS or a UDRP, or private negotiation with the TMCH. Of course, these options are reactive and often cost substantially more than the costs of simply purchasing the domain names you want, in advance.
There are certain things you can do now to ensure the most appropriate visibility for your brands and marks:
About the author: Stuart Lawley is chairman and CEO of ICM Registry and has developed and successfully managed a number of U.S. and UK businesses in office technology and the Internet. In 2012, ICM Registry launched .XXX, becoming one of the first entities to release a new top level domain.