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Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Are Domain Names the Next Tagging Phenomenon?

Tagging is in right now.  From a network for teens to Yahoo's purchase of del.icio.us and Flickr ... everyone in the industry is betting big on tagging.  And why shouldn't they?  Search is no longer the only way to find information online. Jakob Nielson (the controversial usability guru) even categorized search engines as leeches. That may be extreme, but the fact is people are tagging their content for the very simple reason that they want it to be found.  Several years ago, one of the best ways to be found was to have a good domain name.  With large number of domains expiring these days, this is the perfect time to get the domain name you always wanted.

Despite the influx of newly expired domain names, the lesson that people are seeking new ways to categorize and tag their content has yet to catch on in the domain industry.  As a result of numerous political and regulatory reasons, the creation of new Top-Level-Domains (TLDs) has been almost stagnant in recent years.  Companies like New.net have tried to jump-start the process by working around the rules and offering domains they think people will want (like .family and .agent), but without acceptance from ICANN, there is no guarantee everyone online will be able to see sites with these domains.  Though several new domains like .travel, .museum, .pro and .jobs have become available in the past year, and ICANN made recent announcements about testing non-latin character domain names, there is still lots of room for improvement.  As adding new domain names becomes less about the fear of goverment legislating which extension a site must have, and users gaining more acceptance of domain names other than .com -- this area will continue to grow.  Smart companies (and their agencies) should start to snap-up extended versions of relevant domain names before cybersquatters take these over too

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