Journalists who've built their own website or online portfolio have likely faced the struggle of thinking up the perfect domain name, only to find that it's already taken. But you actually have options beyond the .coms, .orgs and .nets, also known as domain extensions or generic top-level domains (gTLDs).
The Internet is saturated with .com sites, making it more difficult to secure the domain name of your choosing. But companies like Radix Registry, Donuts and even Google are attempting to add more options to the domain naming space.
In 2012, The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the governing body over all domain names, gave companies an opportunity to apply for their own domain extensions, anything to the right of "dot" in the URL (the .org in ijnet.org). ICANN received close to 2000 bids for new gTLDs during the application process, and they're expecting about 1300 new gTLDs to make it to market.
Radix Registry applied for 31 extensions, and received the rights for one that's fitting for the journalism world - .press. Now not only can you build your own website or online portfolio to showcase your work, you can also brand your profession right in the URL.
Before applying for .press, Radix polled journalists around the world to check the need for a .press extension. It was also a highly searched term on Google, pinpointing some demand. Based on their study, they decided it was an extension worth pursuing.
"There’s a sort of universal appeal to .press," said Parag Barhate, category manager for .press at Radix. "The semantic value of .press translates to many countries and languages."
Journalists and media organizations alike have started to use .press, like Charlie Hebdo, Muck Rack, the Freedom of the Press Foundation and yes, even IJNet.
Journalists can buy a .press domain for a new website, a redirect to their current site, or even as a redirect to your social media account.
IJNet chatted with Barhate and Kevin Kopas, Radix's channel manager for the Americas, to learn more about the potential of the .press extension, why it’s fitting for journalism and how journalists can leverage the extension in their work.
Why is it important to add more options for domain extensions online, and why now?
Parag Barhate: When ICANN came out with the proposal of adding new extensions, the logic behind it was related to three things. The first was availability of domain names. If you do a quick search, most of the one-word or two-word domain names have already been taken, so many companies were finding it very hard to find high-quality domain names for their brand.
The second was to create context around domain names. A “.com” doesn’t really say the kind of business that you’re in. Whether you’re a hospital, bank or tech company, you’d have .com in your domain name. [Domain extensions] bring context or meaning to the domain name of a company.
The third one was giving companies more control over their domain names. If I’m starting a news vehicle to talk about investigative journalism, I'd search for a domain name called investigativepress.com. We can instead offer investigative.press, which is more likely available and offers an SEO (search engine optimization) benefit as well. All of the domain extensions that we’ve applied for are valuable to users in that sense. So basically when the Internet gets divided into contextual domain name spaces, we want to bring the most value to these extensions.
How do these personal branding/portfolio sites like about.me, flavors.me and WordPress sites compare to a .press domain? Why can’t journalists just turn to these? What’s the advantage of turning to .press?
Parag: Many of these services let their users customize their domains for their portfolios. So they can register a .press domain with us and use that as the custom domain for their portfolio. But there is a distinction from a portfolio extension like .me, which is a generic domain extension. So a graphic designer or a photographer could exhibit their work on a portfolio on .me . What differs with .press is that it aligns you with the journalism community. That kind of platform is required for journalists who want to tell their stories with an element of credibility.
How does SEO (optimizing your URL to appear as high as possible in search results) come into play?
Kevin: Google is already ranking some .press domains and .host domains higher than they would .com for a couple of reasons. Google wants the best results for their users, and if you’ve got a .press domain, Google assumes you’re in the journalism industry somehow. So if you’re a user and searching for something in the journalism industry, and someone has purchased and developed a .press domain, the result will probably be more relevant than just any old .com that could be anything.
Starting May 1, journalists can also get .press domains for a discount as part of Radix's World Press Freedom Month campaign. You can find more information at freethe.press.
Image CC-licensed on Flickr via remkovandokkum