Why .com Will Keep Performing Well When New Top-Level Domains HitPosted: February 7, 2012
I’ve gotten into some discussions with people about .com, .co and new TLDs. Some believe that .co will inevitably take over .com because it’s shorter and can be taken the same way (as short for “company”). Some believe that descriptive new TLDs like .app and .music will win out because they’ll have more obvious meaning vs. the “generic” .com.
The truth is that both of those opinions don’t take into account many reasons why .com is far and away the #1 extension today, let alone why it will continue to be #1 for quite some time.
Why are other extensions not a threat to .com (yet)?
1. Nearly all the largest businesses use .com
Minus a handful of businesses that use .net or a local country-code extension (like .co.uk for a site targeting the UK), and of course large organizations that use .org, nearly all of the largest sites online are on .com.
Even if someone just started using the internet today, they would see in a short amount of time that .com is where these sites are. They too would believe that the best extension to get is a .com.
2. .com has history on its side
Normally, it might be dangerous to say “X has always been #1 so they should easily remain #1.” In fact, I’m not saying that .com may never be overtaken, BUT .com has survived many new extensions in the history of the internet and has still been far and away #1. No other extension has come close to penetrating its dominance.
The fact is that while new extensions will be coming out, people will still be more used to .com and will continue to default to it. In fact, early on .com may even enjoy a benefit of the many new TLDs coming out, as it will be chaotic initially and until everything settles, .com will feel more safe and comfortable to people (not just new businesses launching online but visitors as well).
3. High age of older .com domains help it perform well in SEO
Sure some .co sites have entered page 1 on search engines for a few good terms, as have some .xxx and other newer extensions. .com, .net and .org however continue to dominate the search engines largely because they have age on their side.
.co is less than 2 years old, .xxx less than a year old. A majority or .com domains are older than ALL of those domains, in some cases much older. That not only means higher domain age (which is one factor in Google’s algorithms) but also potentially more aged links and higher site age too. That triple threat combined with the fact of the largest businesses being on .com already helps maintain its dominance in search engines.
4. Other extensions still lose traffic to the .com
Recent cases like buy.xxx and o.co have outlined this to still be true – .com will get some traffic from established sites on other extensions. People do still default to .com when pulling a site up in their memory. Even if there is less traffic lost in this way than in years past, it’s still a significant enough reason to cause many businesses to use .com over other extensions.
5. The convergence of domain aftermarket and registrar favors .com
Registrars have traditionally been where people first look for a domain. If they did a search and a domain showed taken, they would look for something else. However, now nearly all registrars are partnered with at least one domain aftermarket to also serve up domains for sale.
Sure, domains in the aftermarket are more costly, and in many cases the domain may be too expensive for the person searching. However, while people may not have even been aware of these domains for sale in the past, they’re not being shown them right when they’re searching for them. Many are spending the extra money to get the name they want in .com and forego the risk of using a different extension.
The truth is that if the internet started today and .com and .co both came out, .co might win because of its shorter length. However, it is fighting history and struggling to gain solid enough “.com alternative” ground before new TLDs hit.
Additionally, if the internet started today and .com, .co and descriptive new TLDs like .app and .music came out, then there’s a good chance people would go for the new TLDs. Again however, those will also be fighting the history of .com along with the limitations of the new TLD program.
Since there will only be a few hundred released the first year, people won’t be able to assume there’s .anything and .everything whereas they can be sure of .com’s existence and that their favorite popular sites will still be on it for some time.
Could .com possible fall in the future? Sure – only time will tell what happens after several years of new extensions coming out, as it will be unprecedented. That said, while we’ve witnessed relatively successful extension launches of .co, .me and even .mobi, over time they haven’t been able to take away a significant share of .com registrations, and in fact .com has continued its growth.