What is Internet Liberalisation and Why Should you Care?

Gandi, the ethical domain company have published an extensive report regarding the so called, “Liberalisation of the Internet”.

It’s certainly generated a lot of buzz with some people saying this will change the way the Internet operates, and others that it’s a cynical way to make money. It’s certainly going to be interesting to watch how it effects the Internet.

Obviously this is important to how SEO is implemented, but what do the experts think? I have asked a number of industry experts and professionals to give their opinion.

Mark Nunney

From where I search, www.hotels-london.co.uk is No.1 on Google for the search ‘hotels london’. This is partly because “hotels-london” is included in the text of many inbound links and Google’s algo likes this. If Google will also consider the domain extension as link text, eg .hotels, as in london.hotels, then $186,000 for some new gTLDs might seem cheap. What will .poker be worth? And does anyone fancy chipping in and buying .sex, if you know what I mean?

Mark Nunney, Website Marketing Company

Jeff Behrendt

The only clear winner of the proposed new TLDs is ICANN – at $185K per
application, that’s a gravy train they are going to want to ride for many

Some large companies will get their own TLD, but I doubt that it will be
very many. Big companies are not in the business of changing people’s
internet habits, especially when their current habits work fine for big

There will probably be many who start their own TLD to sell the promise of
quick riches to gullible speculators. Most of these TLDs will fail but
there will likely be a few success stories.

It will be very difficult for new TLDs to succeed as they will be
competing against the weight of all companies who advertise with
established TLDs. If I were to bet which ones stand the best chance of
succeeding I’d say geo TLDs where there is a large population and active
local government support – such as .nyc.

Jeff Behrendt, Aviva Directory

Andrew Burnett

The liberalisation of domain extensions will, to my mind, cause early adopters and nay-sayers alike to soil their collective briefs. There will be a hullabaloo over companies and individuals who do register their own TLDs as well as those who don’t.

Ultimately companies who choose to promote their industries, as opposed to themselves, will be the winners. Registering .bank makes much more sense than registering .royalbankofscotland for exampl – whichever bank does this first will forever have an advantage within that TLD and as such within their industry!

Andrew Burnett, designbuildpromote.com

Dave Naylor

Plain stupid for most cases, from an SEO point of view with more localisation in the search engines how the hell are they going to GEO target them by IP well that don’t work so well at the moment, I can see a few possible uses from the Branding side like bmw :


or we will see a boom in things like .con or .itter


time will tell I guess

Dave – www.davidnaylor.co.uk

Brian Turner

Liberalisation of domain names has been a topic for a while, but you only have to look at the record of non-TLDs – .info, .biz, .tel, .mobi – to see that these have effectively been an abject failure in user terms. New domain names do not communicate trust and do not empower consumers – they merely act to cash in for registrars in my opinion.

Brands have to buy new domain extensions, opportunities try to find clever names with new extensions. After that, it’s a process of barrel scraping.

In the meantime, liberalisation will not kill the public perception that TLD’s such as .com and .co.uk are the most important, and won’t turn around the fact that if you cannot register a brand on a .com or .co.uk extension, you’ll normally be unable to build it, because you need the authority those extensions are already granted by users.

Overall, I think the internet is going through an experimentation phase – but I think most of the changes cater for a very small minority of technical users, and few new internet innovations over the past 5 years have developed into anything that caters for the mainstream and remains viable. There’s especially a danger continued changes to existing services will alienate users – you only have to look at the recent autosuggest and local changes on Google.co.uk to see how the user experience is being damaged through forced extension of features.

Web 2 is a complete joke – it’s the lauding of chatter – and the more new features are built into the internet, the more confusing and inaccessible the internet becomes overall for mainstream users, and the more niche and segmented existing internet audiences become.

The liberalisation of domain names simply extends the process in which the internet is moving away from user experience because of the confusion it will generate, and the lack of importance or value everyday internet users will be able to associate with them IMO.

Brian @ internetbusiness.co.uk

Rob Watts

“I think this presents a massive opportunity for savvy marketers. Brands will have to be on their guard too as squatters and non bonafide people try to exploit this to the max.

It will also be interesting to see how the search engines interpret these in the SERPs also, will a trainers.nike domain be more relevant than say a nike.trainers domain and how will brands get a hold on this minefield generally?

With keyword variants and combinations running into huge numbers, it’s easy to see the potentials. The opportunities for affiliate marketers can’t be understated either. A nice .brand or keyword domain may also have a significant visual advantage over established brands and traditional stronghold.

Whilst ICANN have probably given this some thought, I’d still expect to read about the odd dispute or two! ”

London SEO Rob Watts

Steve Russell

Tempest in a Teacup

As a professional “White Hat Domainer” — and more importantly, a domain investor and brand builder — I do have a few comments regarding the “liberalisation” of the Internet vis-? -vis ICANN’s proposal to offer an unlimited number of new TLDs (Top Level Domains) known in the trade as “extensions”.

Firstly, for those of us in the business, the issues discussed in the report prepared by Gandi are old news. That is not to say it isn’t an important document. For the lay person it is a well-crafted and I would say an essential resource. I plan to make it a permanent part of my resource list for ready reference, and may include it in my soon-to-be-launched series of resource websites.

Whilst the impetus behind ICANN’s decision to open a plethora of new TLD’s is novel, I don’t believe it will have the impact and financial return for which ICANN hopes. There is a very high cost barrier to entry that will be out of reach to most… the USD 185k registration fee. Moreover, what the lay person doesn’t understand is that this will require the registrant to operate a Registry for the TLD, with it’s concomitant running costs — not cheap.

In this liberal Internet, the new TLDs will add to consumer confusion and will almost certainly require the use of a search engine to locate the TLD. The typical end user isn’t going to know that Coca Cola has registered the .coke TLD and won’t know to make a “type-in” request via his or her address bar in their browser. Said another way, once the 185k has been spent, who is going to spend another 500k to promote the TLD to the public, to make it a cognitive process in the mind of the consumer? Yeah, Coca-Cola might, but I aint!

Many new releases of TLDs, both general (gTLD) and country-specific (ccTLD) have flopped, regardless of the large numbers of domain registrations touted by the registries.

For instance, I have gone to tremendous expense to register thousands of domains to protect my brand; but, I would not consider taking a new TLD in my brand. Rather, I will let another entrepreneur take the TLD, and if I feel it is of benefit I will register my brand in that TLD.

Unlike most domainers or domain investors, I have gone to the trouble of trademarking my brand, and I do protect it vigorously and do not shy away from a UDRP challenge as and when cyber-squatted. I can also say that the arbitration panelists have moved ever closer to protecting trademark holders, thereby closing the foolish loophole that currently exists in ICANN’s come-one-come-all domain registration policy.

I believe that it will take years for the liberalisation to occur, if it succeeds. Personally, I feel it is a non-starter created by ICANN to glean revenues and exploit the uninformed.


Michael Gray

In most cases opening the web up with more TLD’s is just going to create confusion for consumers, for example is NewYork.NewYork where I should look or NewYork.com. of course there’s never any guarantee that the .com is the best source for information but starting from zero it’s not a bad place to make your start. While all of the good omains where registered years ago and the secondary prices can in some cases be astronomical building a business on an second tier domain isn’t a good idea either, people are always going to check the .com version of your domain first.

The one exception is movies, I think movies should have their own TLD. Too often today you’ll see a movie come out and the name of the movie with a .com on the end is taken. Studios have gone the subdomain route or add “themove.com” onto the end neither of which is intuitive. However a .movie TLD should be regulated by a film industry to only movies of a certain level, not amatuer or film school students, similar to the way .travel is only open to travel agents or travel professionals.

Michael Gray, wolf-howl.com

Chris Garrett

People will still use search, I do not see that changing, and I very much doubt people will be guessing domain extensions like .apple or .microsoft for quite a while. These new extensions will be had for vanity purposes and new web services, but ordinary folks already are unclear on .info and .mobi so the dotcom will still be prized real estate. I do not think this will alter the perception of anything other than dotcom and your local country domain being the prized asset. Expect to see a land grab, and third tier domain prices dropping in the domaining space. I feel sorry for global brands who will now have even more extensions to protect, and phishing could also be a problem if a clever authentic looking extension is found to exploit.

Will you be snapping up .cornwall ? 🙂 Who will be first to try to get .seo? 🙂

Chris Garret chrisg.com

Andy Boyd

The .com / .net / .org domain extensions are so fundamentally baked into the fabric of the web that I find it difficult to see when that will significantly change. They certainly aren’t about to keel over and die any time soon.

Having said that, ICANN’s liberalisation will create a lot of new opportunities, both positive and negative. One thing is for sure: big brands will need to broaden their domain acquisitions to protect their reputations from being undermined by yourbrand.sucks etc.

Andy Boyd, setfiremedia.com

Patrick Altoft

On the one hand I think the whole thing could lead to confusion and loads of people not understanding what your domain is (have you ever tried to explaining .uk.com as a domain over the phone?) but on the other hand I would quite like to register patrickaltoft.seo as a

Patrick Altoft, Blogstorm

Andrew Shotland

Just like de.licio.us showed us how to make the .us domain interesting, no doubt some new service will hit it big with a new gTLD. As usual I imagine we will see a lot of early innovation in this area from the porn industry as .lez and its ilk become ubiquitous.

Andrew Shotland
SEO, Local Search & Web Strategy Consulting
Read www.localseoguide.com for local search optimization tips & trends

Ruud Hein

“More than anything else the new name spaces and the cost to start them will provide opportunities for new ventures. Just like people by vanity domain names, people will want to buy vanity domain extensions. The price of those is likely not to come down too soon, which is where the opportunity for new ventures is created.

To give small to midsized companies as well as individuals or groups of individuals a chance to register a TLD extension will be one of the first services built around the liberalization.

That said, a huge amount of water still has to pass under the bridge as trust in these new domain extensions will initially be near absent and, after the first waves of low quality spamming such as seen with .info, then rapidly declining… Dot com will be with us for a long time.”

Ruud Hein, SEO consultant with Search Engine People, Toronto

Hugo Guzman

The liberalization of domain extensions is already grabbing the attention of Fortune 500 companies. One of our high profile clients recently looped us in on an internal memo amongst key mid to high-level executives.

The gist of the memo was concerning the importance of securing key branded extensions to ensure that they could continue to control their brand and protect it from potential squatters.

We recommended that they definitely secure all of their brand extensions but also suggested that .com would likely continue to be the gold standard for domain extensions. 15 years of mainstream internet sites ending in .com have made this extension a de facto standard of sorts (similar to the position of the gas and break pedals in an automobile).

Kevin Gibbons

To be honest I think it’s all a big money making scheme. For example, brands will feel that they need to secure .[company-name] and .[keyword] domains to ensure that no-one else can register these and potentially damage their online reputation.

I certainly don’t think this means the end of the .com. In my opinion, these website’s will not be trusted anywhere near as highly as .com/.net/.co.uk domains, especially in the short-term, and I wouldn’t recommend building a brand on a newly created TLD.

Domain names are very important when trying to build an online brand, so you don’t want your domain to be confused with the .com version if this is already secured. Rather than creating a new extension to grab a similar domain to what you are looking for, I would recommend trying to be more creative with the domain name you choose instead. Think digg.com, sphinn.com, stumbleupon.com or twitter.com which may not be natural choices at first. Then you can start building a brand instead of risking losing traffic to the original .com site.

Kevin Gibbons, www.seoptimise.com

Fresh Egg team

The Icaan liberalization does not necessarily seem geared towards the user.
I am cynic but I see a money-making exercise when I look at the information coming out, such as the $186,000 fee to create a custom domain extension.
You have to wonder why the offer is being offered in the coming year especially as there is still plenty of latitude in existing domain extensions such as .biz, .tv and .info. There were a number of elements we considered, including:

– Lockdown – If the BBC pays to create .bbc is it then their license or can others apply for a prefix of the domain
– Will the process precipitate the launch of a new breed of on-topic domain rich scraper sites being used for link building
– Is there any real benefit to a solicitors want xyx.solictors, when they may already have xyzsolicitors.com

Another example of where the system may play a part is in Geo Targeting.
Will Google recognize a city name within a domain extension such as .London as part of. Will this just lead to a scramble for domains such as plumbers.london or florists.london and what parameters are in place to prevent individuals and businesses snapping up domains they have no real claim for?

A further problem we can see happening is domains being typed incorrect; for example, I own domainname.com and I change this to domain.name, we can see users still adding the .com entity to the domain.

There are so many ways of looking at the liberalization of domain naming. I really have a split view, I can see pros and cons. I can also see clients becoming confused; smart agencies should be communicating with clients and appraising whether the offering is appropriate to the longevity of their online projects.

On a wider notion I have always advocated the sex industry be restricted to using .xxx or .sex domain extensions. This would be easier to police from a Net filtration perspective on family computers, it would be great if Icaan were paying more attention to helping to protect web users as well as make money from them.


Ben Jesson

“Dot Com domains won’t decline; they are valuable because of their rarity—like diamonds or designer brands.

The new extensions may have their uses, but, in terms of prestige, they’ll be the fake Rolexes and cubic zirconia.”

from Conversion Rate Experts

Dharmesh Shah

Simply providing 14,000 new colors with which to paint the prison bars does not give us freedom. What we really need to work on is connecting as many as possible and letting information flow freely between them. We’re just not there yet, and this is another distraction.

Dharmesh Shah, HubSpot.com

Daniel Scocco

“I believe that the liberalization of domain extensions was a bad move by ICAAN. It will add a great deal of confusion on the web, as the end user won’t know what extension means what. If I am not wrong companies interested in having their own extension will need to pay over $100,000 in fees, and this could have been the motivation for the whole thing.

After a while, though, I believe people will head back to the established extensions. Inside the mess of .nyc, .porn, .microsoft and .toys, people will just type .com or .org, because they know those will work. Interestingly enough, the liberalization of top level extensions could strengthen the .com majesty.

And this point raises the following question: would a company be better off spending $100,000 to buy its own extension or spending the same $100,000 to buy a premium one-word domain with a .com extension?

I would take the latter any day.”

Blogging Tips

Chris Tew

“The change makes sense to me as it will allow many businesses and individuals to have the freedom to use a domain name that matches their company, without having to worry too much that it has already been taken as they could use a different but memorable variation like joesplumbing.usa. Unfortunately, as always, spammers and domain ‘squatters’ will cause problems. Biggest problem is that they will use it to earn of other companies brand names and also use mis-spells like apple.xom. Despite the changes I still think that .com domains will remain most recognisable to consumers and therefore remain the most-sought after top level domain.”

Chris Tew, munchweb.com

Gareth Davies

Innovation and choice or a money making scheme? Either way registering your company name could be about to get a whole lot more expensive! There may be some obvious advantages on a local level to be able to register as a .nyc or .london and it’s possible to see how larger brands would welcome the opportunity to own their own top level domain (TLD).

However for the average SME the set up cost of $186,000 to register a bespoke TLD is totally prohibitive. I’d also question how many companies who have a well established, authoritative domain, currently in the form of a .com or .co.uk would be prepared to redirect their existing primary URL to a new bespoke TLD… especially when it could turn out to be a bit of a fad.

GSINC – SEO Company

4 thoughts on “What is Internet Liberalisation and Why Should you Care?”

  1. I don’t see much benefit to be honest. I can already use mod_rewrite to change my php or asp pages to “.anything I like”.
    Google and the other search engines want to provide relevant results. They use the number of links and usage of those links along with the text in them to help them determine if a site is relevant. Having a company tld just says that I can afford a tld. It says nothing about relevance.

    I work with recruitment a lot. Which is better? .jobsite.com/medical.asp or
    .jobsite.com/medical.jobs or
    .jobsite.jobs/medical.asp or

    I look at the last one and go all funny inside. I want it… but it’s getting a bit spammy in my opinion. That said isn’t all SEO spam at the end of the day? It’s about pushing things to the furthest extreme before getting penalised.

  2. I feel like this opens a lot of new doors, but it’s a lot like opening up a messy closet. Soon we’ll have way too many TLDs. I can see this really getting out of hand.

  3. Times have changed, one can not easily compare the current Internet to the Wild West days of the early Internet…

    When ICANN was formed, most people obtained their DNS resolutions from servers buried deep inside a small cartel’s data centers. The client and server software was tightly controlled by the cartel. If ISPs deviated from using the cartel’s code they were strong-armed out of business. An ISP’s traffic would be black-holed by members of the cartel.

    The cartel supported themselves via what they called “Internet Governance”. They would obtain large blocks of routable IP address space via some non-profit sham they set up and then sell/lease or transfer the address space to commercial companies for payments under the table. In some cases, the U.S. Government also funded the members of the cartel via grants to their non-profits, universities, etc. ISPs were shaken down for money when they attempted to obtain routable address space, which was tightly tied to the DNS (in-addr.ARPA).

    Some people saw the corruption. Since the Internet was growing and was viewed as “a good thing”, people assumed they could fix the corruption by buying time. ICANN was created to buy time. Many changes have been made to try to clean up some of the corruption. One of the most important changes has been education. The DNS software and protocols were studied by many people and now there are many more sources of “code”. Another change has been the establishment of corporations to help contain the corruption or help to expose it. The cartel has adapted to control those corporations.

    Technologists continue to try to come up with solutions to try to level playing fields and end the corruption. The hope has been that the free markets would adopt the improved technology and that the U.S. Government would try to keep the cartel(s) in check while new technology is tested and deployed.

    Some of the changes are:

    1. Modern DNS software does not use any root servers.

    2. TLDs can be automatically selected based on DLD** voting.

    3. The next generation Internet architecture places an intelligent “Node” at each home/office. The network simply connects the Nodes without getting in the way.

    It will be interesting to see how ICANN delays new TLDs for more changes to happen. The NSF is funding the GENI project to start over. That will take time. Also, the .COM RE-BID will take time. ICANN will likely claim nothing can be added with all of the new changes coming, that they do not control.

    The cartel continues to game mostly the IANA and RIR “tasks”. The domain names have always been used by the cartel as a source of revenue and also as a **distraction** to keep regulators from looking closely at the IP Address Spectrum Allocation corruption.

    **==== DLD Voting from 1999 ====
    10514 INC
    9264 ONLINE
    7288 NET
    6472 USA
    4481 GROUP
    4101 WEB
    3891 TECH
    3077 UK
    2762 DESIGN
    2570 SYSTEMS
    2542 IT
    2415 US

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