Aug. 21, 2010 - 2011: The Opportunity
Next year in 2011, an event will occur which will change the way the internet looks: ICANN, the international domain registry, will open up the registry for top level domains (TLDs). Right now, over 150 million domain names use the ‘.com’ TLD, but ICANN’s actions next year will make it possible for a whole new wave of top level domains—domains based on products such as ‘.IBM’ or generic groupings.
The process has been slow: During the 32nd International Public ICANN Meeting in Paris in 2008, ICANN started a new process of TLD naming policy to take a "significant step forward on the introduction of new generic top-level domains." ICANN envisions the availability of many new or already proposed domains, as well a new application and implementation process. Observers believe that the new rules will result in hundreds of new general TLDs being registered with ICANN approved organizations.
What this means is that for each new TLD that ICANN approves in 2011, new names can be adopted and registered. It’s a unique opportunity to adopt and maintain an internet marketing brand. I am personally supportive of the MLS Domains Association a group of US MLS organizations which has formed in order to make application to ICANN for the top level domain ‘.MLS’. As the association embarks on its membership drive in anticipation of the 2011 ICANN event, it has already begun the process of taking top level domain name reservations--over 120 have been approved by the MLS Domains Association.
As you can see by browsing the list of reserved names, many MLS organizations have given much thought to their selection. And that’s important: your domain name is the single most important investment in your web presence in the eyes of your members, and of the public at large.Here are some thoughts as you select your MLS Domain names:
1. First, adopt a domain name that reflects your location or business and try to make your site name and your url (address) the same. For instance, ‘ChicagoOpenHouses.mls’ is very clear about where it is, and the business featured there. Good domain names must be memorable.
2. Remember that some sites don’t even have a geographic reference—people just remember them: Yahoo, Google, Amazon, DogPile are examples. If you can’t find a domain name that suits your business, perhaps a word that conveys a feeling or quality will work, as in the previous examples.
3. Don’t expect consumers to memorize a bunch of letters which make no sense: they won’t do it. Even though your current organization name like ‘consolidated metropolitan regional residential mls’ has been shortened to CMRRMLS, most folks (including your own members) won’t find that series of letters anything they can remember after they log out.
4. Keep your domain name reasonably short and easy to type. Longer is NOT better, and hyphenated words are a pain in the neck. Practice saying the name aloud, too, and remember that you will probably have to spell it for people in the course of doing business. If you have to say “ThenospaceRecord-hypen-Eagle-dot-com” too many times, you may come to regret the excess.
5. Avoid site names to which you’ve added ‘the’, ‘my’, or a plural form to distinguish your site name that already exists (like ‘NYCopenhouses’ becomes ‘TheNYCopenhouses’. The confusion is obvious. Also, if you must use an article like ‘the’ in your name, make sure you always advertise your site name accurately: don’t leave out any words.
6. Remember that your domain name automatically becomes your brand-name, whether you intend it or not. It will forever after affect how your organization is perceived. Find domain names that also describe the purpose of the site and be creative about it. In organized real estate we are accustomed to NAR’s rather strict naming policies, but those policies don’t apply with internet domain names which are primarily marketing tools. You might get started with some helpful sites, like nameboy.com or domainfellow.com—both sites will let you play with work combinations and think about some creative alternatives.
If you’re an MLS with or without an online property search site, you’ll want to carefully consider investing in your online presence. And if you’ve inherited a domain name which is undistinguished and flat, and contributes little to your overall marketing plan, now’s the time to re-invent yourself.Further information is available at www.mlsdomains.org.
Saturday, August 21, 2010
2011: The Opportunity : Off Stage