Since the end of 2013, ICANN has begun rolling out the New gTLD program, enabling the largest expansion of the domain name system. The goals of this program are to enhance innovation, competition and consumer choice in the domain name industry.
ICANN (the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) and IANA (Internet Assigned Numbers Authority) provide core internet services managing the web's DNS root zones, which allow the internet as we know it to function.
So, what is a new gTLD anyway?
TLDs (Top-Level Domains) are the letters found at the end of an Internet address, such as .com, .net, .org or .au for us Aussies. Any TLD that does not represent a country or a territory is known as a generic TLD, or gTLD. The New gTLD Program has enabled hundreds of new top-level domains to be added to the DNS root zone, most of these sponsored by 3rd party organisations.
Nowdays you can find web addresses ending with .ninja, .xyz and even .melbourne! These are just a few examples of the hundreds of new gTLDs that have been rolled out, with many more planned to come.
As mentioned, allowing new gTLDs into the domain name system allows competition in the marketplace, as well as gives opportunities to those starting out online to find a web address that completely suits them. A .melbourne domain shows that you're one of the locals, a .science domain could be used to publish scientific journals or information, or a .wiki domain could be used for ssharing information in a collaborative environment.
As many of these domains have only been around for a few years or less, there are more names available in these new domain namespaces. This means that while the .com version of your name might be taken, but now there are new options that may even suit you better.
Who can register a new gTLD?
While the individual registries, or the companies that work behind the scenes to power each individual new gTLD, may set out guidelines or restrictions on who can register one of their new gTLD domains, many new namespaces are open for registration by the general public without restriction.
Are new gTLDs good for SEO?
While SEO, or search engine optimisation, can be quite a difficult topic to cover in such a short space, it seems that peoples experiments and experiences online show that using a new gTLD can help to improve your search engine rankings if used as part of a holistic approach to SEO.
Any brand new domain name, whether it be a .com or a new generic TLD, will generally be ranked lower than domains or websites that have been around for a longer period of time. Google has written about the topic in 2015, and suggested that they will generally treat a new gTLD as they would any other TLD without bias.
Focusing on creating quality content and following current industry best practices should always be the core of your strategy to moving up the search engine ranks. That said, having keywords relevant to your cause in your domain name can definitely help to give your website that extra boost.