Regional web identity is here – will your business take advantage?
Simon Yeoman, General Manager, of Fasthosts Internet Ltd, www.fasthosts.london, explains how .LONDON or .WALES could be a great asset for your firm
This year sees the release of a number of new domain names which aim to give UK businesses a push by referring to their location directly from their Web identity, and email addresses. This Autumn sees the launches of .LONDON and .SCOT, and .WALES and .CYMRU will arrive early next year. The ability to showcase their location can be a real benefit for SMEs.
For example, a recent YouGov survey of 1001 London based SMEs found that 26 per cent of respondents said they were likely to register a .London domain, meaning an anticipated total of over 218,000 small firms. Some 48 per cent likely to register a .London domain reported that they were proud to be London businesses and wanted to associate their business with London.
Across the whole market, demand for geo domains is very strong. For example, we estimate that a total of between 50,000-100,000 .LONDON domains will be registered in the days following General Availability. Furthermore, pre-registrations for .WALES, .CYMRU and .SCOT are each looking healthy.
Across the world, many cities will be launching their own domains by the end of the year – for example, in America there will be .MIAMI, .NYC and .VEGAS. For example, in Europe the recent .Berlin launch was a big success with over 100,000 registrations made to date. The Japanese city of Nagoya has also launched its domain. Other European cities such as .PARIS and .WIEN will soon debut.
So how well is interest in .LONDON doing so far? In fact, expressions of interest for .LONDON within our Group are around double that relative to .Berlin at the same point in the launch process. As London is a larger market, one can assume that .LONDON could be bigger than .Berlin, and I think potentially the strongest city domain in Europe.
The appeal of regional domains
More businesses are learning that regional online identity can be a real advantage for them. For example, the city of London has an incredibly strong positive image both domestically and abroad, and London’s firms can now profit from this directly from their web address.
Tony Mitchell, owner of mobile disco company A1 Discos, www.a1discos.com, says “Having a .London domain is perfect. It will assist with organic search results”. Craig Gunthorpe, Managing Director of 0800 Sparks , www.0800sparks.com, adds, “As an electrical contractor in London, it just makes sense. We highlight our geographical location wherever we can, it will be great when we can add it to our vans”.
The .WALES domain is also generating enthusiasm. “We’re eager to add .WALES to our portfolio. Having a .WALES identity for our website would reinforce our Welsh roots and strengthen ties within our local community”, comments James Denton, owner of MGP Accountants, www.mgpaccountants.com, serving North Wales.
As awareness continues to rise steadily, it is logical that consumers will be attracted to new regional domains and we believe that they will be very popular with both businesses and consumers – for example, Wales and Scotland both have patriotic consumers who trust in their local suppliers, and wish to support them. .SCOT and .CYMRU are opportunities for the regions to develop their own regional identities in the Internet, and tie their internet activity into cultural and economic factors.
When making Search Engine searches for suppliers or products in your region, it is also very likely that a local domain will be useful. Search Engines have already indicated that if a new domain is reflective of a website’s content, it will indeed become a key ingredient in their delivering of the most relevant search results for consumers.
Regional values and trends can now be utilised to the advantage of all types of businesses through their web address and customised email, strengthening their brand locally and internationally. The result for firms will be great new potential for capturing traffic and developing their digital branding, and for consumers a useful factor in obtaining the most useful search results.
Internet Psychologist, Graham Jones, believes that new geographical domain names such as .LONDON and .SCOT will have an important role to play in how we browse the Internet in the years ahead. He said, “As the majority of Internet activity is focused locally, regional domains will be very important. Being able to instantly associate a website with our own regional identity is likely to appeal to consumers”.
Are regional firms given priority to secure a domain?
Each domain has an individual launch process with its own timeline. However, the process for each is similar, with most having a ‘priority period’ for residents of that region to secure their domain before those outside. For example, during the .LONDON ‘London Priority Period’ until August, the registry for DotLondon applies a tiered system for priority in awarding the domains – and manages this process itself. Priority is given to people and businesses located within London and its 32 Boroughs.
When new domains are being assigned during a Priority Period, registries will use a priority weighting system. They firstly look at whether there are formal rights to that domain, such as Trademarks, details of which need to be submitted to ICANN’s Trademark Clearing House database. They would then consider those applicants with a physical address in the region and then those who have expressed other types of rights such as a relevant business trading name. If a number of parties have applied for a domain with the same priority, the domain may be auctioned. Your web host will be able to advise you about the full launch process for the new regional domain you wish to buy.
All indications are that regional domains will become a real mark of trust for consumers, and a great help for UK firms seeking visibility online. For more details about .LONDON, .WALES or .SCOT domains, head to www.fasthosts.london. The full range of Fasthosts new gTLDs available for pre-registration can be found at www.fasthosts.co.uk/domain-names/new-top-level-domains
About Simon Yeoman
Simon is the General Manager of Fasthosts Internet Ltd, www.fasthosts.london, a leading web hosting provider and cloud computing specialist, and has worked for the company since September 2008. As General Manager he has overall responsibility for the company performance. Simon has widespread experience at executive level in the Internet, IT and Telcoms sectors.
Simon is also a Governance Board Member of the Cloud Industry Forum (CIF), a cloud computing industry body, with responsibility for overseeing CIF’s Code of Practice. Previously, Simon has held several management positions at mobile operator Orange. Simon is married with children, and is a keen sportsman.