Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
Understandably, people are skeptical of the emergence of descriptive domain extensions, from .travel to .live. After more than two decades of navigating an internet dominated by .com and .net top-level domains (TLDs), there have been mixed reactions to disruptions to this familiar landscape, but the fear and skepticism aren’t based on facts. They tend to stem instead from a few common misconceptions.
Popular misconceptions about descriptive domains
Despite more and more global brands and organizations choosing descriptive domains for their websites, landing pages, products, marketing campaigns and more, there are still a few lingering misconceptions about descriptive domains that have discouraged businesses from using them. Here are three we frequently encounter:
Misconception 1: Websites with descriptive domains aren’t as secure or trusted as websites with .com or .net domains. People are increasingly aware of the threats of phishing attacks, with 76% of businesses falling victim to such attacks in 2019. Based on the length and specific characters in your domain name, there could be anywhere from a few hundred to a few million homographic variations of your domain available for fraudulent use in phishing schemes. But thanks to new, built-in homographic blocking technology offered by some registries, purchasing a newly minted TLD can actually keep your business safer than opting for a legacy extension.
Misconception 2: Customers may be confused by descriptive domains. According to another misconception, people who aren’t tech-savvy don’t understand descriptive domains — and will automatically add a .com to the end of a URL that contains one. But these days, most people navigate to websites by typing keywords (like “Google Maps”) into a search engine — not remembering and spelling out an entire URL (like “www.maps.google.com”) in their browser. While it’s true that descriptive domains are fairly new and it will take time for everyone to become accustomed to them, it’s unlikely that they’ll lead people to the wrong website.
Misconception 3: Domains with new extensions are bad for SEO. Contrary to outdated false statements, descriptive domains don’t damage your website’s SEO or search engine results page citation. In fact, Google says that all TLDs are equal in the eyes of search engines, making this claim 100% baseless. With more availability on new extensions, a keyword-rich descriptive domain that has not been compromised with prefixes, hyphens or misspellings, can have more SEO impact than its .com counterpart.
Why people are resistant to descriptive domains
If these claims aren’t true, how are they so widespread? Throughout history, humans have always been slow to adopt new technologies.
It takes time for new ways of doing things to grow, and for the status quo to change.
Ecommerce, for instance, was introduced about 40 years ago in its earliest form but it wasn’t until more recently that it became a large representation of shopping behavior. In 2020 alone, over two billion people purchased goods or services online, and during the same year, e-retail sales surpassed 4.2 trillion U.S. dollars worldwide.
However, businesses are pivoting to new domain extensions. A report published by NetNames found that 92% of large companies surveyed in the U.S., Britain, France and Germany have already or plan on investing in descriptive keyword domain names with extensions like .studio or .life, over the next three years. The tide is turning as business owners and entrepreneurs are becoming familiar with the many benefits descriptive domains offer. It won’t be long until these domain extensions become ubiquitous.
Embrace the descriptive domain change
Descriptive domains are an increasingly popular choice for businesses looking to establish an authentic digital identity. In a crowded market, they’re a highly impactful differentiator, standing out from competitors using antiquated traditional domain names.
Rather than settle for your second- or third-choice domain, you can still choose from several descriptive domains that are relevant to both your brand and business, just like voila.coffee or cove.cleaning. Where there was once a scarcity of domain options, there’s now abundance.
Just as the skeptics came around to the utility of cellphones and electric cars, they’re warming up to descriptive domains — and joining the thousands of business owners who are already using them to strengthen their brand. A number of trailblazers, from Fortune 500 companies to nascent startups, have already taken the first step in adopting new domain extensions. But, as with any technological innovation, the opportunity to get in on the ground floor won’t last forever. In time, you’ll be thankful you seized yours when you did.