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Top Level Domains – TLD's and the Future of Legal Marketing

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As an experienced digital marketer, I am closely watching the development of new top-level domains. I was hesitant to write about top-level domains for this blog because I thought the content would either be too technical or not of interest to the majority of our readers. In reading a few back issues of the American Marketing Association’s Marketing News, I noticed they covered the topic in their December 2013 issue, so I decided to go with it!

What is a Top Level Domain or TLD? 

A top-level domain (TLD) is a domain at the highest level in the hierarchical Domain Name System of the Internet. The right-most label in a domain name is referred to as its "top-level domain" (TLD). For example, in the domain name, the top-level domain is “.com”.

TLD History Lesson

In the 2000’s, additional TLDs have been introduced into the digital landscape, including .aero, .biz, .coop, .info, .museum, .name, .pro, and .xxx.

TLDs with two letters have also recently been established for over 240 countries and external territories and are referred to as "country-code" TLDs or "ccTLDs." A list of all ccTLDs can be found here.

ICANN has several thousand applications for new top-level domains, which are expected to go live anytime. Companies including Donuts Inc. and Famous Four Media have invested millions of dollars applying for new TLDs.

What is a Generic TLD (gTLD)?

TLDs with three or more characters are referred to as "generic" TLDs, or "gTLDs." A list of all gTLDs can be found here (.biz, .com, .info, .name, .net, .org, and .pro are unsponsored gTLDs).

gTLDs are managed by "registry operators" or "sponsors." Currently, many gTLDs are operated under contract with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), including .aero, .biz, .cat, .com, .coop, .info, .jobs, .mobi, .museum, .name, .net, .org, .pro, and .travel.

A sponsored gTLD (sometimes called an sTLD) is a specialized gTLD that has a sponsor representing a specific community that is served by the gTLD. The sponsor thus carries out regulatory responsibilities concerning the gTLD. Sponsored gTLDs include .aero, .cat, .coop, .jobs, .mobi, .museum, and .travel. 

Four Ways TLD's Could Impact Your Law Firm

  1. Reevaluate your existing digital assets to ensure that your brand remains relevant despite these significant changes to the Internet. 
  2. The branding of your domain name matters and may grow to matter even more – a dot com is considered more credible than any other TLD.
  3. Search engine optimization (SEO) can and will be impacted by the addition of so many new national and international domain extensions. Make sure that you don’t miss the chance to buy your own law firm name on upcoming TLDs.
  4. Will you be buying a dot law domain (see 

This is great but I just want a law firm website

I have worked with law firms and other businesses across the country to create dynamic, unique, and exciting websites for many years. If your business is looking for a fresh set of eyes to examine your existing digital marketing efforts, contact Stacey E. Burke, P.C. today.

Sidebar stacey e burke About Stacey Burke

Stacey E. Burke is both an experienced trial lawyer and law firm business consultant. She works with lawyers and law firms around the world to improve their business development, marketing, and infrastructures.

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