Since 2014, hundreds of new domain name extensions (also known as top-level domains) have been introduced, opening a world of options to small businesses. In the past, businesses typically focused on the left side of the dot and hoped they would find something suitable when creating new sites. No longer constrained to .com, brands can now leverage a domain name that adds marketing value by providing a more relevant, meaningful, and memorable customer experience.

Options like .agency, .club, and .rocks are giving small businesses a chance to create domain names that not only resonate with customers, but also boost their SEO. With companies snatching up names with new extensions at a rapid pace, now is the ideal time to take advantage of the trend.

Why Domain Names Matter to Small Businesses

For companies that aren’t taking advantage of the new domains, the remaining .com options are pretty limited (and can become a bit long and even ridiculous). In lieu of short and snappy domain names, brands sometimes turn to lengthy and difficult-to-remember site names. For example, if Joe finds that the preferred .com for his Burger Shack isn’t available and instead establishes, it will be incredibly difficult for customers to find his delicious burgers online.

Smart startups are bowing out of the battle over complicated and convoluted .com domain names and taking a more creative approach. Country-specific codes like .ly (Libya), .me (Montenegro), or .tv (Tuvalu), for instance, are unique alternatives that customers can easily recall. Along those lines, Joe might consider a new extension and name his site to create a stickier experience that customers are more likely to remember.

Many marketers predict these new extensions may also require a vetting process for those using the domains, which would mean more security and trust for both customers and businesses. For example, sites using the .Realtor extension are only made available to verified Realtors. Likewise, sites using the .bank domain must be verified members of the global banking community.

Tips for Taking Advantage of Nontraditional Domain Names

There are a few ways you can make the most of an unexpected domain name.

1. Align your domain with your mission.

Even if your site already has a killer domain name, there are many ways to leverage an additional creative domain. Great places to start are campaign-based landing pages or microsites (groups of pages dedicated to one subject, service, or project that reside at a distinct URL). Your brand can also incorporate multiple domain names as shortcuts to specific aspects of your business. While may lead to the main portal, could take users directly to your mobile app, to press releases and updates, and to your company’s loyalty or reward program.

If you’re open to making a more radical change than simply creating a microsite, take a cue from Driftaway Coffee. The subscription-based coffee club made the switch from to Driftaway.Coffee to better align its online presence with its passion for coffee.

2. Point to social media.

Many businesses build thriving communities on social media and, in doing so, indirectly drive traffic away from their other brand channels. Even worse, this trend trains customers to go to third-party platforms to engage with your brand. What happens if you should decide that a particular social networking platform is no longer suitable for your brand? How would you direct those customers back to your website?

A smart solution is to create a memorable, branded domain name to redirect consumers to your preferred social media account. For example, award-winning actress Viola Davis uses to redirect fans to her Facebook page. This puts her in control, should she (or her fans) ever migrate to a different social media platform. In short, a unique URL that redirects users to your Facebook page today can be revised to lead to your website or Twitter account in the future.

3. Improve your SEO.

When ranking search results, search engines look to your domain name to decipher what your site has to offer users. Incorporating relevant keywords into your domain name will place your business higher in search results, not only making it easier for customers to find you, but also potentially boosting traffic and sales.

A recent study that analyzed the new extension .company found the extension ranking on the first page of search results within a year. To drive this point further, the study also determined that the domain name was the fifth-ranking result for the phrase “Estate Sale Company,” but it didn’t even appear on the first page of results when using “Estate Sales” alone. This finding clearly indicates that a meaningful extension can positively affect your brand’s search engine rankings.

Keyword-rich domain names with meaning have real value. Just like in real estate, a good domain is a true asset. For the same price as a full-page ad, you can own a great category-defining domain name that can be used for the life of your business and help solidify your position as a leading brand in your industry. Now is the time to explore how new domain extensions can shake up outdated online marketing strategies.

With nearly 20 years of experience in the Internet and mobile spaces, Jeff Sass is the CMO of .CLUB Domains, LLC, which operates the new top-level domain .CLUB, which is ideal for clubs, associations, teams, loyalty programs, and fan clubs. As a self-proclaimed gadget geek, early adopter, and experienced entertainment and technology executive, Jeff’s career thus far has spanned traditional film and television, computer games, and mobile technology. Jeff writes about marketing, mobile, social, startups, and digital media/content creation. He is a regular speaker at conferences, events, and schools on topics ranging from social media to mobile to entrepreneurship.

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