Can you imagine a world without Google?
It may be unlikely that we'll ever see a search engine-less world again, but by January 2012, Google and other search engines may begin to become less and less necessary. According to PCMag.com, The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has approved a plan for new domain name structures, including domain extensions-and it could impact the way people find sites on the web.
Rather than URLs ending in the usual .com, companies will have the choice to end domain names with a specific region, classification, company, etc. Kenneth C. Wisnefski, founder and CEO of WebiMax, a search engine optimization (SEO) company, says this means "niche" searching will be possible. The purpose of this switch, according to a WebiMax press release is to "add personalization" and to "help classify genres of websites into consolidated groups."
But how do search engines figure into (or out of) this? With the new structure in place, searching would be possible directly in the browser and therefore remove the middleman, which in this case is the search engine. "So now you may go to Google and you might type in ‘restaurants in New York City' and in a few years you may go directly to your browser and put in ‘restaurants.nyc,'" says Wisnefski.
The results returned have the potential to be much more relevant and clearly organized. "Google may not be utilized as much because people will go directly to that domain to find something in situations like that," Wisnefski says. He also stressed the importance of being able to search by location and region, connecting people to needed information about their surroundings more easily and efficiently.
"You can really target your localized traffic and target your search to something like ‘restaurants.nyc,'" says Wisnefski. While domain extensions will benefit the users, the SEO and search engine industry may have some difficulties ahead of them.
"This can work well for organizations that embrace this idea and want to characterize their organization by domain name, however, search engine optimization firms will be challenged with how a deviation from the norm will factor in on ranking webpages," says Wisnefski. "I suspect search engines, including Google, will address the new structure and discuss what this means for their search algorithms."
Whatever benefits there might be for a company interested in using these domain names, they don't come cheap. Applicants must pay a $185,000 evaluation fee, with $5,000 upfront and for that pricey reason, issues such as domain squatting could be all but eliminated. "There's a lot of regulation that goes into it," says Wisnefski. People, places, and corporations must meet the right criteria and provide certain documentation to prove that they are in fact the one who should own the domain. "For example, New York City would be a great one to own but if I went in and said ‘I want to own .nyc,' I probably wouldn't be able to get it because there would be specific requirements that I wouldn't be able to meet," he adds.
Acquiring one of these domains is not just a costly endeavor, but also a lengthy process, taking between 8 and 18 months. Of course, this all relies on companies actually adopting the new structure, and with the hefty price tag associated with these personalized domain names, whether or not this will catch on remains to be seen.
Starting on January 12, 2012-and running until April 12-companies will be able to start the application process.