Domain registrars recently made .photography domain names available for use. This raises a simple and straightforward question: “Do photographers need a .photography domain name for their website?”
Making an impactful and successful first impression online can be tough. Despite the fact that text and visuals go a long way in representing you and your company on the Web, it’s more important than ever to ask: “What’s in a name?”
Just as you take great care in choosing a business name, it’s equally important to establish an effective domain name for your business website, especially because it’s the first thing consumers see. A domain name is your Web address or what your visitors will type into their internet browser to find your website (e.g., photographyspark.com). The first choice, and the best choice, for most businesses is to register the business name as a domain name. But in some cases, short and memorable names are already registered in the familiar but crowded .com namespace.
As you may know, the .com section of a Web address is known as the Top Level Domain (TLD). Currently some of the most common TLDs are .com, .net, .org, etc. But beginning in February 2014 many more were released, including .photos and .photography.
How to choose a domain name
Think of a domain as the mailing address for your business on the Web. This is where your audience knows they can find you online and where they can learn more about your business. It’s a good idea to register a domain that clearly communicates your company – the actual name, what services are provided, etc.
Choosing the perfect Web address for your business is crucial to your brand reputation. Below are some elements to consider when choosing your domain name:
- Keep it Relevant: Your online presence is a representation of your business and your industry. I strongly suggest you use the name of your business because it will make a more memorable impression online and positively impact your business’s appearance.
- Keep it Short: Long domain names are hard to read and remember. Keep your domain as short and relevant as possible.
- No Shorthand: Abbreviations, like substituting a number for a common word like “for” or “to,” are easily misinterpreted. When deciding on a domain name, listen to it spoken aloud. Could your domain spelling cause confusion?
- No Hyphens: Unless a hyphen is always part of your business’s name, it’s better to avoid them completely. These domains are often forgotten when typing.
- Be Aware of Trademarks: There are a variety of legal considerations to keep in mind when choosing a domain name. Among others, ensure that you are not violating any existing trademarks.
- Do Not Overuse Keywords: Keywords, which are important terms relevant to your business, can be helpful to show what your business does, but too many keywords look sloppy and confusing. In terms of search engine optimization (SEO), using keywords in your domain name isn’t as important as using them within the content on your website.
- Check Availability: Finally, when you have narrowed down the options for the domain name you wish to register, the immediate first step should be to check availability on the market. You might discover that a name is already in use. Many domain registrars or Web hosts offer a simple online tool that checks for you.
What types of domain names are there?
There are many domain options for business owners to choose from beyond a .com. You may already be aware of ccTLDs, or country-code TLDs that are assigned to specific countries. This is where a website’s address ends in .US for the United States, .CA for Canada, .DE for Germany, and so on. Using these ccTLDs, local businesses can publicly identify themselves as a business of a particular country. However, ccTLDs are available only to those living in a country and some have registration restrictions, so it’s important to understand the requirements before registering.
With the introduction of new Top Level Domains (TLDs) this year, the internet has many new possibilities for domains, and they can be divided into specific groups: business industry, location, website type, etc. With new TLDs, there are more relevant and recognizable domains to choose from for your project or company.
Business Industry: These domains can be registered by anyone. Domains like .photos, .photography or .gallery belong to this category. For example, photographers should seriously consider options like .photography, .photos, or even .camera. It’s also possible to use the new TLDs to create a direct link between your business and any unique industries you specialize in. For example, the domains .wedding, .music, and .film could be interesting for photographers specializing in those industries.
Location TLDs: Local photographers could use these domains to attract more people in their area and clearly specify their territory. The names of bigger cities or regions like .nyc, .miami, or .boston can easily be added to the name of their business. Not only are there such options for the United States, but also internationally with domains like .madrid, .london or .tokyo.
Website type: These include examples such as .blog, .shop and .web. Businesses and individuals can utilize these names to better illustrate the type of website they manage.
In the past it was difficult to find an available domain that’s short and concise; with the new TLDs this is going to be possible.
Why are there new .photo and .photography domain names?
In short, one of the key commitments from the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is to promote economic competition in the market for domain names. These new TLDs provide more choices for businesses and consumers around the world, for the following reasons:
.com is getting too crowded: If you have recently purchased a new domain name for your business, you probably understand how difficult it can be. It’s challenging to find something that’s not only memorable and relevant, but simply available at all. With the introduction of 700+ new TLDs, there are innumerable opportunities for small and large businesses to claim new territory in the internet landscape.
You can more effectively define your brand: There are many opportunities to customize a new domain name to the industry in which you operate, such as .photos or .photography. This can increase brand awareness, credibility, and loyalty within your customer base.
There are now more specific geographic TLDs: For businesses that provide local services and products, a city or regional TLD can better indicate to potential customers that the business is conveniently located. A geographic TLD can be more visible within a list of search results or within an email address.
The secondary market is competitive: Currently if a user wants to purchase a short but memorable domain name, and it’s not available, a secondary market exists to purchase the name from the owner. It can be a worthwhile investment, but with the advent of more TLD options, there are more options to consider beyond the already registered .com, .info, .net, etc. domain names. This could save your business a significant amount of money.
How does registration of new .photo and .photography TLDs work?
As an official registrar for new generic TLDs, 1&1 Internet has identified three phases in the registration process:
Pre-reservation: With the staggered schedule of only a handful of new TLDs becoming available per week, it’s important for customers to stay informed on TLDs of interest to them. The pre-reservation process is in place for users to choose a desired domain name, even if it isn’t available yet. By taking part of this phase, 1&1 will send regular updates on the anticipated launch date, as well as when they can pre-register their name.
Pre-registration: The next step in the process, pre-registration, allows users to commit to purchasing their desired domain name. Typically specific domain names enter this phase a month or two before becoming available for full registration. Based on a ‘first come, first served’ process, pre-registering a domain name with 1&1 will guarantees that no other 1&1 customer can register that domain name on the official launch date.
General availability: When a new TLD becomes available for immediate registration, it has entered the general availability phase. Any user that has pre-registered a domain name with 1&1 will have their chosen name registered at this time, unless it’s a contested domain name from multiple registrars. The TLD also will be available for immediate registration to all customers. .photography and .photos already are in this phase.
How can I protect my brand online?
Proactively registering domain names in order to prevent others from registering your trademark or product is highly recommended and will help prevent most cases of cybersquatting. When you register the domain name for your business, you should consider registering that name with multiple TLDs or variations. If your website and trademark value is critical to your business, then a sensible protection strategy is highly suggested and can help avoid legal pitfalls in the future.
The addition of new Top Level Domains will affect photographers and their businesses in real, tangible ways. Below is an example of one photographer who adapted to the recently released .photography domain extension.
Joshua James: In some cases, extreme hardship can inspire beautiful art. That is exactly how Josh Horrocks went from living on the streets after his father’s death to being a professional photographer.
Since he was a child, Horrocks always has been interested in watching the world and its emotions. In his photography, he tries to capture these candid moments.
“I try to take multi-dimensional pictures, in that different people will interpret different meanings, and no matter the interpretation the viewer will be satisfied,” said Horrocks.
Global culture has also become a main interest for Horrocks, especially with the rise of instantaneous image viewing. “Internet photography has turned into a very fast-paced swipe and click experience, so to supplement and sustain “swipe viewers,” I also explore and portray natural beauty, usually in the form of landscapes, seascapes or anything that catches my eye and should be saved,” said Horrocks.
In today’s age, an average Web user sees hundreds of websites every day. Horrcoks wanted to properly communicate what his business could offer at first glance, something that the existing .com and .net domain endings couldn’t offer.
“It took a lot of time and trial and error to find the best name to portray my work. I wanted it to be simple, personable and have a good ring for memory. When I was comfortable with Joshua James, I set out to make it my domain. Evidently, there is more than one Joshua James. I’ve been stuck using a domain name that I never really cared for or wanted to “own.” The new TLDs have helped give me the professional and artistic brand I’ve wanted,” said Horrocks.
As a business owner, Horrocks understands the impact a domain can have on businesses, making the first impression count. That’s why he registered his new domain name – http://joshuajames.photography.
“The new TLDs offer the opportunity to be clear with your name and you no longer run the risk of looking silly or arbitrary with your domain name. As a business owner, a name is your first portrayal and first introduction. Domains are often the first method of that introduction, so I believe your domain should match your intent and it should be something you are willing to live up to, if not serve as a self-reminder,” said Horrocks.
The launch of more than 700 new Top Level Domain (TLDs) endings gives small business owners the opportunity to register custom and unique domains for their business websites. These new domains properly communicate to Web users exactly what they can expect to gain from looking at your website. Horrocks is taking full advantage of these new domains and plans to register all TLDs that are relevant to photography and art.
“I wanted to give myself future flexibility and also make finding and remembering my site easier, especially by utilizing .photos, .photography and eventually .art for the same site. In casual or professional conversation, you will know my name and will only be required to remember .photos or .photography. I find it much easier to remember .photos, and .photography is much more elegant and professional on business cards or print,” said Horrocks.
The sky is the limit for the future of Joshua James Photography. Currently considering a photography internship with NASA, Horrocks plans to continue offering his unique perspective of the world around him, taking his work one day at a time.
“I focus on my customers’ needs, my product’s quality and an individual’s overall experience and enjoyment. In the end, I have to live with a part of myself hanging on a wall, and I want my viewer to be satisfied for as long as it is a part of his or her life.”
To see if your .photography domain name is available, or to simply learn more information about top-level domains, visit 1&1 Internet’s domain portal.
So what do you think, are .photography domains necessary for a photography business? Are you going to get one before your name gets snagged? Comment below.
Photo credit: Byryo