A top level domain helps distinguish different websites by country and category. For example if your see a URL that’s something.co.ke and one that’s something.co.za you know that one is for a Kenyan company while the other is for a South African company. If you see one that’s something.shop or something.news you know that it belongs to an online shop or a news website.
For a long time the top level domains most people have been aware of are the likes of .com or .co or .net or .org. But a few years back we saw the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) announce over 500 new generic top-level domains (gTLD). These include the likes of .academy or .app or .game or .hospital.
These are quite direct in helping you know exactly what the website you’re visiting is about.
However, I’ve noticed something peculiar whenever a business or company has a website with such an extension. Most times people don’t know that they can just type it in to their web browser and visit the site.
A couple of examples come to mind in Kenya:
When Nation Media group put up a paywall forcing people to pay for their content, they also had this new website at nation.africa. And I remember it was quite the task explaining to some family members that .africa was it. There was no .com or .co.ke.
Same was the case with sky.garden when they first became available. Being an e-commerce platform, first the name wasn’t something that people would easily register as a platform for buying and selling stuff. Then, the domain wasn’t something many people would think of typing on their browser. Compare that to say Jumia.co.ke or masoko.com.
The good thing with nation.africa is that they had really good search engine optimisation (SEO) and it was easy for interested people to find the new site. They also had a huge following on their socials to direct traffic to the new site.
For sky.garden on the other hand, they managed to build a name by advertising with actual physical billboards and later on register skygarden.co.ke which re-directs to their original URL. Many people weren’t aware of the .garden extension and would be looking for either a .com or .co.ke string.
Recommendations if you have a generic Top Level Domain:
So, if you’re looking to get a website with a generic top-level domain (gTLD) or already have one, here are some recommendations for you.
- Have very good SEO – make sure you’re really findable on search engines.
- Buy a dot com domain and re-direct it to the gTLD – helps people visiting what they think is the domain and ending up on the actual domain. For example we have techishkenya.com redirecting to this domain.
- Make your users aware of ways to visit the website – use social media and make people aware of the domain. Stamp the URL on your pictures, signatures and more.