.NYC Top-Level Domains Approved: Here’s What You Need to Know

Which lucky business will register IHeart.NYC first?

Businesses based in New York City will soon be able to register dot-nyc top-level domains. Top-level domains — such as dot-com, dot-edu and dot-gov — are tightly regulated and not often created. New York City will be the first American city to have its own GeoTLD (geographic top-level domain).

What are the benefits of a dot-nyc address?

This initiative is part of the broader NYC Digital Roadmap, which aims to connect local tech businesses with the resources they need to succeed. According to the mayor’s office, “the prestige of a New York City address or area code will extend to the digital realm”:

With the historic launch of the .nyc TLD, the City will embrace its digital future in a powerful way and bring an unprecedented level of geographic authority to the digital sphere. In addition, the City will generate revenue, help residents locate government services, encourage local businesses to thrive, market and promote tourism, and spread the dynamic image of New York City around the world.

The Internet has globalized just about everything. This is an effort to localize NYC-based businesses, with the goal of making them as successful as possible with NYC-based customers.

Who can register, and when?

The city has just been approved by ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) and expects to begin offering dot-nyc domains in late 2013. As for who can register the domains, the initiative’s website outlines the requirements:

New York City businesses and organizations with a NYC address, individuals with a primary residence in NYC, as well as those offering products or services to New Yorkers can register a .nyc domain name. Trademark holders with a NYC address, will be given priority during the application process in order to secure their intellectual property.

Chris Welch of The Verge points out that the “last subset — companies offering products or services to New Yorkers — could easily open the floodgates to any number of registrants.”

Companies from all over the world offer products to customers in New York City, so who, exactly, will be eligible? The process for getting a domain is likely to be subject to approval by the city, especially if corporations from around the world show interest.

Are there any downsides?

The first complication that comes to mind is search engine optimization (SEO). Historically, search engines, such as Google, have used top-level domains as a way to help match content with the right audience. A dot-fr domain, for example, would typically target French-speaking users. Google uses this information to serve accurate search results, although webmasters can target geographic regions within Google Webmaster Tools as well.

There are a few important questions that businesses seeking dot-nyc domains will have to consider. First, should webmasters move existing sites to the new domain? That will probably depend on whether a business only serves customers who are in the city. If it serves customers elsewhere, the business could be hurting its chances of appearing in local search results. Microsites could be a better solution, although they carry their own set of SEO risks.

Second, will sites with dot-nyc domains perform better in search results? Generally, sites with well-respected, limited-edition top-level domains, such as dot-edu and dot-gov, perform exceptionally well in search results. If this turns out to be the case for dot-nyc domains, is it the city’s responsibility to make sure that every business in the city has access to the domain?

New York City already knows it’s opening a can of worms, but hopefully businesses and consumers will benefit from the city’s innovative spirit.

What do people think?

Let’s just say the jury is still out.

Learn more about this initiative at mydotnyc.com. (Editor’s note: Shouldn’t this be on a dot-nyc top-level domain?!)

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Jul 03 2013