For over 15 years, online businesses in UK have been using either .CO.UK or .COM domains, but we are soon likely to see a new, even more trustworthy and shorter alternative.
Why .UK instead of .CO.UK and .ORG.UK?
Nominet has started a consultation about launching .UK domains, the shorter and more memorable alternative to .CO.UK, .ORG.UK and .ME.UK (see video in the end of this post).
Likely reasons for this proposed change comes from how Internet has developed the last decade and the importance of short, memorable and domains that are easy to read and share. Most European countries use two letter extensions in their local domains (example: .DE in Germany, .FR in France, .IE for Ireland and .SE in Sweden). Having 3 or 4 additional characters in domain names is like giving a 100-meter runner an extra backpack that weighs 100 lbs. (45 kg). Can sprinters handle running with some extra weight? Surely, but it will effect performance and make it harder to compete. SEO Specialist finds it especially hard for international web users to recognize the various British domain extensions available today. What did you say: .com.uk? Stuff like that is not uncommon when speaking to people outside Great Britain.
Benefits and risks: .UK vs .CO.UK?
Apart from being way shorter, quicker and easier to share and type – the new extension might get quite a few interesting additions. While some might be very beneficial for most users, some of the proposed additions might be annoying for certain groups. Here are some examples:
• Safety: The new .UK domains might be more secure than old .CO.UK and .ORG.UK domains. Nominet suggest daily malware and virus scanning as part of their tasks and might disable unsecure or virus infected websites. By adding DNSSEC, .UK might benefit from less criminal activity. In order to make .UK a really safe destination, Nominet plans to verify that registrants have a valid UK address.
• Only for Brits: Only allowing British users to register .UK may seem to be a good idea in a world where fake identities and malware are becoming a serious problem for consumers, but what will foreign owners of .CO.UK think about this?
• Higher price: The new .UK might cost quite a bit more than usual .CO.UK and .ORG.UK domains. The proposed annual costs are proposed to be between £15-20 – or 800 % more than the current price for .CO.UK names. Many domain owners ask if this really is a reasonable mark-up? At the same time, if you cannot afford to pay £15-20 a year for a domain, don’t buy it or buy fewer domains.
• Allocation of new domains: In the current proposal, trademark holders are first in queue to get .UK. However, second and most likely to get a majority of the domain names are current holders of .CO.UK with an active website since at least 3 months back. Perhaps even .ORG.UK holders with active websites might be able to get a chance to get the domain names before they are available to the public (read: People with a verified British address).
• Implementing .UK instead of .CO.UK: Changing from .CO.UK to .UK might cause headache for a few companies. In the short term, it might be negative for search engine optimisation but in the long run there are many benefits. Businesses need to 301-redirect old content to the new domain (under .UK) and are likely to change email addresses, which is a one-time event that can be inconvenient for some companies without IT-staff on-board.
How might .UK influence British Internet traffic?
A new extension can impact British businesses, consumers and international companies doing business with United Kingdom. Here are a few thoughts:
• Increased CTR: .UK is quicker to read than .CO.UK and .ORG.UK. Especially when it’s new, people would be interested to read and discover the new domains when found in search engines. Click through rate from search engine listings are therefore likely to increase for the new extension.
• Increased trust: With additional security features, trust in .UK might increase even more. Nominet have done a good job making the current TLD (.CO.UK) more trusted than .COM among Brits, but over time the new ccTLD for UK are likely to become even more reliable.
• Typos: Some people, both local and international, might in the short run do quite a few typos. In the beginning, typographical errors might lead to increased traffic for .CO.UK domain holders but in the long run people are more likely to end up on .UK domains when doing misspellings.
• More type-ins: It’s been a bit confusing for European and international users with the additional .co (.CO.UK) in the extension and quite a few Europeans always thought the existing extension is called .UK. However, that will not be reality just yet but when it does – type-ins is more likely to become a more common phenomenon in United Kingdom. Doing type-ins with a 5 digit extension is simply too time consuming and involve too many characters that might be wrong.
• Quicker to type: By removing the .CO or .ORG characters, the economy in UK will become more efficient and productive. Imagine how many hours a year it takes for Internet users to type in the additional “.CO” or “.ORG”.
Average internet user type in 5 web addresses per day or 1825 a year (5×365).
Average time it takes to type “.co” OR “.org”: Around 1 second.
Average time spent on typing “.co” or “.org” for average British web users every year: 30.4167 minutes (1825/60)
Population in UK: 62,641,000 (Worldbank, 2011)
Internet users in UK: 52,700,000 (according to InternetWorldStats.com)
Hours saved by removing the .CO and .ORG: 1.6 billion minutes (30.4167 x 52,7 million)
The new extension might with other words save quite some time for Internet users and businesses when it’s fully implemented. British companies would at least increase productivity drastically if UK based business would use .UK instead of .CO.UK.
• Increased confusion: There might be quite some confusion the first year(s), but eventually people will get used to .UK and find it the most natural thing in the world.
• More professional: Using .UK instead of the currently available TLD’s for GB would allow businesses to look more professional and being more memorable, especially for people outside .UK. After all, more countries in Europe use a two letter extension, such as Germany (.DE), France (.FR), Sweden (.SE), Denmark (.DK), Norway (.NO), Finland (.FI), Russia (.RU), Spain (.ES), Italy (.IT) etc.
Video about the .UK consultation
Hear Nominet’s Director of Operations, Eleanor Bradley, explain about the benefits of .UK and the next steps in this process.
Have you say
While the consultation for Nominet members remains open until 7 January 2013, it’s likely that the proposed new three to four character shorter extension for United Kingdom will launch in the second half of 2013 or in the beginning of 2014. Want to know more or would you like to suggest any alternatives before the landrush? Read more about the consultation here. A new site about the launch of .UK is likely to go live next year, probably under the name direct.uk. At the moment, the focus is on the consultation and neither direct.uk nor nominet.org.uk/direct is live – only the government site with the same name (eg. direct.gov.uk). SEO Specialist cannot wait to get rid of all those 3rd level domains, it’s so confusing (eg. .ORG.UK, .CO.UK, .GOV.UK, .ME.UK etc).
What is your opinion about the proposal of a new domain extension for United Kingdom?