Understanding the Value of gTLDs and How to Use Them to Create Custom Short Links
By “new domain extensions,” I’m specifically talking about all the new gTLDs – generic top-level domains – that have been released over the last couple of years:
And the other (over one thousand) of them up for grabs.
So why are they so perfect for your custom short links, but not necessarily for your website?
And how can you use them to their advantage?
First, let’s backtrack a bit…
What on earth is a gTLD?
Let’s start by taking a website address as an example and break it down to better understand:
“.com” is the Top-Level Domain (TLD), “socialmediaexaminer” is the Second-Level-Domain, and “www” is the Third-Level Domain.
The biggest TLD around is “.com” but there are many others including “.org” “.biz” and many more.
TLDs are generally broken down into 2 main categories:
- gTLD – Generic Top-Level Domains
These are TLDs that aren’t specific to any country. They are “generic” as they can be used by anyone, anywhere in the world. The most common include “.com” “.org” “.net” and many more
- ccTLD – Country Code Top-Level Domains
These are TLDs that have been assigned to a specific country and are made up of 2 letters. E.g. “.it” “.uk”
There are a couple other kinds of TLDs, like sTLDs (Sponsored Top-Level Domains) and uTLDs (Unsponsored Top-Level Domains), but they are less important for the purpose this article. (If you are super interested in the technical side, read this after this article)
A TLD or gTLD is simply another name for a Domain Extension.
E.g. hubspot.com has the TLD “.com”
And this TLD is specifically a gTLD as it’s generic and doesn’t point to any specific country.
The Generic Top-Level Domain Extension Explosion – What Just Happened?
ICANN, the International Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers… Basically, the company that controls how the backbone of the internet works… Starting January 12, 2015, changed their policy to start accepting pretty much any gTLD application.
The last few years have seen an explosion, with over a thousand of new gTLDs have been released.
Since November 2013, tons of these new domain extensions are becoming available, and it’s only going to continue.
I mean, they literally have a launch sequence already lined up for this month alone, just so that you can get ready to purchase your unique extensions as soon as they’re out.
And there are some pretty cool ones to choose from:
You could even get .wtf if your heart desired.
But what is all the new gTLD Fuss about?
Well, who doesn’t like an easy way to stand out in the crowd?
Especially in the sea of competition online…
These new domain extensions, that come after your brand or personal name, can add that extra flair to get you noticed and be remembered.
Also, people are probably pretty bored of “.com”, since it launched in March1985.
Now, instead of sharing links under littlecesaers.com you could use pizza.pizza.
Think that might be a great branding play?
If you’re a yoga studio, you could get .yoga
If you’re a clothing brand, you could get .fashion
You should be.
Many companies, and personal brands are taking advantage of new gTLDs, as their branded, custom URL shorteners.
— Marketing Zen (@MarketingZen) September 1, 2016
She is using a custom short link under the .link gTLD to share her new book launch. Great work Shama!
This is just one of the dozens of ways to use a custom URL shortener to create custom short links.
Why Should You Use One of These New Domain Extensions For Your Custom URL Shortener?
So why is it OK to use a gTLD as a URL shortener, even if you’ve been told to keep the “.com” for your website?
Well… “.com” has been around from the beginning and has, undoubtedly, got the most authority online.
Let’s look at an example:
Your new company name is TastyFood.
And because you sell pizza you decide your website name will be TastyFood.pizza.
Sounds good in theory, but…
If someone was to do a search for your company at some point, the tastyfood.com websites are likely to come up first and can result in you losing valuable traffic because they are getting redirected to tastyfood.com instead of to .pizza.
And if someone searched for you directly in the web bar, don’t you think they’d try .com before anything else?
If they did, they’d go straight to http://tastyfood.com/ and you’d lose out on a customer.
For that reason, it is recommended by us and Rand Fishkin to always purchase the .com variant of your brand or business name. While you don’t have to use the .com variant as your primary address, you should at least own it to redirect traffic to the right spot and prevent branding mishaps…
Like how LeadPages resides under .net, and the .com site is actually a total spam site:
The owners of the .com site are probably getting tons of traffic and form fills when people mistakenly go to the site thinking it’s the high-quality marketing tool they were looking for. But fill that form out and you will be hit with quite a lot of spam.
This is a risk people need to know about, before settling on a brand name. It’s important to check for availability of that brand on “.com” and other extensions.
But no matter what the domain extension your main site resides under, there is no risk of running into the same issues under your custom URL shortener, thus a gTLD is perfect. You don’t have to worry about:
- the gTLD being a worse SEO ranking factor. Because custom short links pass “link juice” and don’t hold any.
- someone stealing a similar name as that gTLD, because if you do it right, its an exact copy of your brand (ie. mybrand.link is a copy of mybrand.com). So only your brand will benefit from the additional branding.
- Someone typing in the wrong domain extension when they think of your website because this is just your custom URL shortener, and not your website.
So How Does Adding one of these New Domain Extensions (gTLDs) help my Brand online?
Some of the ways these gTLDs can add value to your brand as a custom URL shortener:
gTLDs Add Personality
With the incredibly long list of options to choose from, you can choose a domain extension that adds to your personal or company’s brand personality.
By this I mean, if you’re choosing one for sharing News – You can pick an extension that fits with your brand tone.
A cooler brand may pick .buzz
While a more serious brand may pick .news
Domain extensions are all the buzz now and can be used to express your Brand Personality and connect with your target audience.
.xyz is the perfect example.
That is why we’ve created partnerships with gTLD company owners like Xyz, Radix, Uniregistry, and Rightside and offer many of their domains for as little as $2. This gives our users the best possible domain extension choices at the best prices.
In doing this, we’ve created probably the fastest search for new GTLD domains on the internet:
And the easiest way to purchase and connect a domain to use as your custom URL shortener.
gTLDs Help You Explain What You Do
Having such a diverse list to choose from, gives you the opportunity to make your links useful.
You are now giving people more information about what you do.
It’s an opportunity to increase engagement – If someone is looking for shoes, for instance, they’ll be more encouraged to click your link with .shoes as part of your link.
Simply put, they are generic but useful and descriptive names that you can use to your advantage.
Take, for example, the fashion brand TopShop. Don’t you agree that using
TopShop.fashion/Showspace is a lot more effective than bit.ly/2cpwiSK?
gTLDs Increase Link Trust and Clicks
Overall, adding more real-word-information to your shared links increases link trust and ultimately link clicks. Bitly says that branded links can increase clickthrough rate by up to 34%.
You can tell people right away, what it is you are sharing.
We even have a few different gTLDs that we use for different things.
When we share new blog posts, we’ll use “.news.” E.g. rebrandly.news/Link-Retargeting
For my personal use, I find that .link works well for me, e.g. sians.link/SMReport
There is a lot of spam out there, so the more you show people what you’re sharing, the more likely that are to click it.
gTLDs Allow You to Make Statements or Phrases With Your Domain
You can get creative and create a statement or phrase using your domain extension.
And the list of ideas for your custom URL shortener goes on.
So the domain boom has been a great thing for custom short links, and for you.
Now you have the opportunity to customize all the links you share online, not online with a domain name and custom URL slug, but also with a unique domain extension.
It’s a chance for you to turn those horrible long links into a meaningful connection that can build brand awareness and increase engagement (among other things).
Are you currently using a gTLD to create custom short links? Which domain extension is your favourite?
I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.
Originally posted: 15th Sept. 2016.
Post updated: 19th Oct. 2017.