What is the Future of the Domain Industry?

The domain industry has been a pivotal part of the World Wide Web as we know it. After the dot-com bubble that started its surge in the 1990s, domains became the hot commodity that sprung interest from investors. Domains were the crucial pieces of the puzzle that allowed for market value, visibility, and brand identity in an otherwise intangible digital web.

Just over two decades later, there are roughly 367 million domain names registered across the globe. There are now thousands of domain registrars, each with millions of domains under their purview. Even more niche bodies like the UN’s World Intellectual Property Organization reported on the vast growth of the industry, from recording only one domain in 1999 to 4,585 in just the first half of 2024.

Today, we see millions of individuals and brands fighting for industry-specific domain names, and the domain industry has inevitably changed from that demand. So, what exactly is the future for domains?

The Rise of New Top-Level Domains

Although .com and .org are still the biggest draws in terms of top-level domains, they are no longer the only players in the game. The TLD a business chooses doesn’t even significantly impact its search engine ranking anymore.

On top of that, users aren’t as wary of websites that don’t fall into that TLD category anymore. While many online users would steer clear of any site with an unfamiliar extension just a decade ago, people are less concerned with that now as there are other factors that determine trust. 2024 sees the majority of individuals primarily using Google to search for websites rather than specifically looking for URLs.

Keywords used in domains are now simply meant to match the algorithm and become “searchable”. Even domains that originated as country TLDs have grown outside of those boxes. For example, the .io extension was supposed to be for countries in the British Indian Territory but is now often associated with gaming and tech-related websites.

Of course, this also means there needs to be increased security with the introduction of new domains. Just recently, Google introduced the .zip and .mov domains, which caused an uproar on security concerns because they match file extensions. As these moves open up more avenues for phishing and malware, daily users will have to become more aware of fake sites and scams.

Search Engines Over URLs

The fact of the matter is that people simply aren’t memorizing domain names anymore. Although they will remember key aspects of it for reference, it isn’t something users will know letter for letter all the time. This is because there are so many websites available to users now and people are generally reliant on features like AutoFill.

A lot of cybercrime is even successfully conducted because of this phenomenon. Fake sites are made to mimic real ones with just a few letters in the domain changed. About 9 in 10 surveyed Canadians have admitted to being fooled by a fake post, and 75 percent of American adults have believed false headlines.

With the repercussions this has on brand recall and security, businesses will want to secure variations of their own domain to protect their brand. This is made easier as businesses can now just use a domain name generator to see what domains and variations are available under their keywords or brand.

On top of that, artificial intelligence will also play a large role in how people use the internet and find domains. Assistants will crawl through keywords and content to help people find relevant sites based on their queries. As for businesses, AI will also become essential for domain security in an age where squatting and malicious intent are abundant.

Social Media Integration

Another factor that will change the way the domain industry works is social media. It is already a pervasive presence in the online world, with almost 60% of the global population actively using social media.

Brands will need to create a cohesive online presence by integrating socials with their domains. This includes using custom domains for social media profiles and using website domain names that can connect to their other online pages. With the multitude of popular social networking sites frequented by people, businesses will also want to incorporate cross-platform promotion and media sharing in their websites.

Finally, it’s worth noting that a majority of adults that engage in e-commerce use their smartphones and inevitably get purchase decisions from social media. This makes the intersection of domains and socials inevitable as time goes on.

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