In the next few months the new .london domain name will become available offering everyone the "exciting" and "once in a lifetime" opportunity to register domain names with the .london suffix. It is easy to get caught up in the frenzied momentum that accompanies each new domain offering and you end up with a lot of domain names that in reality you may not need or ever use. So now, before free for all registrations begin, is the time to take a step back look at the process and yourself whether you really need a .london domain name and if so how you will best use it.
First things, first, what are you going to use your new domain for? Is it going to supersede your current domain name and be used for your website and email addresses or is it going to be an add-on? Bear in mind that the more domains names your organisation appears to work under the more diluted your brand becomes and if you are looking to attract international clients then your existing domain (e.g. .com) may well have a higher status in their minds than a geographically "local" domain name.
However, if you already have or are developing a service that is specific to London then a .london domain name makes a lot of sense but you must ensure your .london website has London flavour - simply mirroring your existing website may well count against you as it goes against the principle of the .london domain.
Setting up a fully-fledged "London" website may not be possible in your case however you could create a page or section within your existing site and then redirect www.yourdomain.london visitors to that area. This also has the advantage of giving you valuable information on how often your .london domain is being visited and whether or not it is worth creating a dedicated site for visitors. And it is now, before registration starts, that you should be creating that new content so it is being picked up by the likes of Google and Bing. This will keep you one step ahead of your competitors.
Even if you don't have a service specific to London it may still be sensible to register .london domain names but only for the right reasons.
One reason commonly put forward by those with an interest in domain registrations is to prevent cybersquatting - where someone registers a domain that sensibly belongs with you. However those who manage domains such as .london take a dim view of such activities and the process of retrieving such domains isn't as onerous as it once was and this in turn discourages the practice.
Another reason often put forward is to prevent competitors from acquiring a domain name that is expected to be associated with you - again, such practices are very rare and generally this is not an issue. However there are some domain names that you may wish to consider registering and for which you can expect competition to be fierce.
Let’s say you make toothbrushes, and you have several competitors who also make toothbrushes - no one company can claim toothbrush.london as their own but there will be competition amongst you all to have the toothbrush.london domain.
And this brings us on to a fundamental aspect of domain names and the launch of a new domain - which is: registering a new domain name is to a lesser or greater extent a lottery, not a right. If you own the associated trademark then this puts you in the strongest position but as most small business don't register their trademarks, your registration requests joins everyone else's and for desirable domains such as toothbrush.london you may get it – but only if you are lucky and are prepared to pay.
Currently .london domain registrations are in the "London priority period" which runs from 29 April until 31 July and registrations open to everyone from the 9 September.
The priority period is intended to give those individuals and business based in London with the opportunity to apply for .london domain names. At the end of the period, registrations will be assessed and processed throughout August and .london domains can start to be used.
This means you can apply now for a .london domain but your registration won’t actually be confirmed until August and then only if it has been approved by the registrar.
If more than one organisation/individual applies for the same .london domain then an auction process will begin with, it seems likely, highest bidder securing the domain. We would anticipate certain domains e.g. lawyer.london or taxi.london to achieve bids well in excess of £1,000 so you should ensure your marketing budget is ready if this is the path you are wanting to go and that you have a strategy in place to see a return on that investment.
For certain domains it may well be worth the expense as securing a domain such as toothbrush.london could result in a huge increase in your business if you make toothbrushes but it doesn't apply for general business name domains where applications now, during the priority phase, should be enough to secure your required domain name - don’t forget to request common mis-spellings of your business name.
Registration charges during the London priority phase are typically around £20 to £50 - this includes the fixed registration charge of around £15 and then a pre-registration fee which will vary depending on the organisation that is undertaking the registration. If you choose to register your .london domain through us, the fee is currently £20+VAT.
Finally, it pays to think laterally and in this respect the process is identical to using search engine advertising services. The key to driving traffic to your website and so business is to find terms people are using to search for but that competitors haven't spotted - the same applies to domain names. Find a domain name that people use often but no one has registered and you can increase visitors to your website and so, depending on your website, increase your business.
You may not secure toothbrush.london but if lots of people are really using ineedatoothbrush.london then you may well find you are doing more business through that domain than the competitor who secured what you were originally after.
Each domain name you own and use requires different approach to its management, use and promotion and .london domains are no different. We can help you with the process of getting your .london name. Make sure you have read the guidance above thoroughly and understand the process. Then let us know the domain names you want to acquire and we do the rest. Should any of your domains go to an auction round we will let you known.
Finally, if you need more information visit the .london registrar’s website at http://nic.london where you can find out more details about the domain, the registration process along with news and common questions and answers.