NetNames the leading online brand protection and domain name management specialist has released its inaugural Internet 2020 report, revealing how the web is set to transform over the next five years. This follows the launch of thousands of new generic Top Level Domains (gTLDs) such as .london, .shop and .sport. The report comprises a survey of 6,000 consumers and 400 business leaders across four countries (UK, Germany, France and the US) and expert input from ICANN and other industry leaders.


In its research, NetNames found that 80% of internet users think the new domain names will make them more likely to enter a company’s web address into their internet browser rather than use a search engine. The simplicity and specificity of the new web address endings will make internet navigation less reliant on search, as users will be able to use direct navigation much more frequently. Businesses agree with consumers on this point, with almost half (42%) of corporate respondents identifying the biggest benefit of the new domain names as better search and recognition on the internet. 


Further to this, the survey revealed that over half (59%) of daily internet users think the new web address endings will make it easier for them to find things on the internet. This view was even stronger amongst businesses, with 89% stating they believed that new web address endings will help consumers find their website. The type of endings thought most likely to support this change were those related to relevant communities (e.g. .bank, .sport and .art), which were highlighted by 44% of consumers.


Search engines will need to evolve their algorithms to reflect the relevance of the new gTLDs and the web traffic they will generate, and offer direct search within the URL bar.  Some are already taking proactive steps in this area, with Google having set up a dedicated gTLD business unit to run the infrastructure of 100 new gTLDs.


Gary McIlraith, CEO at NetNames, explains why the new domain names are likely to impact search traffic: “The internet is vast and we need search engines in order to find the content we are looking for. In some ways, that is even truer with so much new internet real estate being created by the new gTLDs. However, in cases where they have a specific website destination in mind, the descriptive nature of new gTLDs will help internet users to memorise naming structures and facilitate browser-based navigation to the specific areas of the websites they are interested in, bypassing home pages. Consumers will therefore become less reliant on using a search engine to find a website.”


Gary McIlraith explains how brands can prepare: “The new domain names effectively represent the resetting of the internet. Brands need to consider which of the new domain names will provide the most business value and be most relevant to their customer base in order to strengthen their internet presence and remain relevant in the changing nature of the internet. By doing this, brands will be able to secure continued success in the internet of tomorrow.” 

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