Thinking About Getting a .blog Domain Name? Here’s What You Need to Know
So Automattic, the company behind WordPress.com, is getting into the domain business. This fall, you can register your site with a new top-level .blog domain.
But why would you want to do that?
In this post, I’ll help you decide whether it’s worthwhile picking up one of these new domains.
But First, Some History: Generic Top-Level Domains, aka TLDs
I won’t bore you with the original six TLDs since you’re way too familiar with them: COM, ORG, EDU, NET, GOV, and MIL. These were set up in 1984, long before the web was created.
When the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) took over management of the Domain Name System in 1998, it started a process allowing for new generic top-level domains to join the original six. Thus, we’ve had a bunch of other available extensions since 2001.
These domains (BIZ, COOP, JOBS, and TRAVEL, among others) existed, but never achieved the popularity of the originals. Most businesses still want a .com web address.
While not as critical as the IP address crisis, where unique IDs for every network-capable device has become a problem, the domain name issue is real. As the web expands, many of the most logical domain names for particular businesses (and people) are already taken by others.
In the 19th century, anyone could open Acme Hardware in Pascagoula, Florida and customers would not necessarily confuse this store with Acme Hardware in Seymour, Wisconsin. That’s no longer true, especially on the web.
The solution that ICANN came up with was to expand the number of domain name possibilities, bringing us to .blog, which goes live on November 21, 2016.
Before you decide what you want to do about possibly buying a .blog domain name for yourself or your business, there are a few answers to questions you need to know.
Will a .blog Domain Make Me More Findable?
This is really the most important question that you need to be answered. Why spend money on a new domain if it won’t help your customers actually find you?
Sadly, there are no guarantees; there are good reasons why Automattic believes that 250,000 .blog addresses will be created in the first year of the domain, with millions to follow.
Perhaps most importantly, Google recently updated its algorithms to better recognize the new top-level domains. That puts .blog on a level playing field with the more established domains. According to Google: “…new domain name endings are not treated any differently than traditional domain name endings like .com or .org. Domain names with new endings are shown in search just like any other domain name. For example, if you search for the business Coffee Club, you will find their URL coffee.club.”
In addition, WordPress co-founder Matt Mullenweg believes that .blog will be successful in part because Automattic and WordPress are such well-known names online. As a result, Automattic’s ownership of this domain will raise the profile of all the new generic top-level domains.
What can you personally do to make the new address more findable? Meet visitors’ expectations. Even if you have other content on your website besides your blog, ensure your blog is front-and-center when a visitor arrives at your .blog site.
What Are the Obvious Reasons You Should Get a .Blog Domain
Does someone else hold the domain that I really should have?
Let’s say that now that the former CEO of Humana Health has retired, he wants to share his thoughts on a website. He has his people run a domain search but damn! MichaelMcCallister.com is already taken by some nobody writer!
He has some options: Buy the .com domain from the writer, choose from the variety of other top-level domains, or … spend $30 on a .blog domain. That works.
The new address more closely reflects your brand
If you wanted a particular domain name when you first launched your website but had to settle for something else, this is a prime reason to get the .blog address. If waterballoons.com was taken when you went looking and you took waterballoonblog.com instead, you can fix that now.
At the other end of the spectrum, if you originally tried to be the one-stop shop for everything water balloons but only your blog attracted visitors, you might prefer waterballoons.blog
I Have a Blog on My Site. Do I Need to Get a .Blog Address?
No. But any site can have a .blog address. You might consider getting one if:
- Your blog is an essential part of your business. If you’re a content developer you might attract customers with a .blog address.
- You find that your blog topics are veering away from the site’s purpose. In this case, you could move the “off-topic” posts to a separate .blog site. This is the approach Mullenweg himself took with Matt.blog. He’s calling it “Matt on Not-WordPress.”
Can I Keep My Existing Domain?
Yes. You can choose to keep your existing site where it is and redirect traffic from your old domain to your .blog domain name to retain your existing traffic.
When you do this, make sure that you track your server logs carefully for the first couple weeks. If you’ve missed a page, visitors will get 404 Not Found errors.
If you need help with migrating, check out Migrating Your Domain and Keeping Your Search Engine Love.
Any Great Ideas on What’s Being Done on .Blog?
There’s a limited selection. In conjunction with the launch of the sunrise period, Automattic announced the first three .blog sites:
Matt.blog: Oh my, it’s Matt Mullenweg with a blog! This site appears to be redirected from somewhere else but seems completely different from his primary Ma.tt blog. Yes, the front page is all photos. The initial posts are mostly following the site’s title “Matt on Not-WordPress,” but there are exceptions. I liked when he posted that he got the same WordPress.com anniversary email that we all get.
Design.blog: Here is a group blog by the new Automattic Design team. Composed of Alice Rawsthorn, Cassidy Blackwell, Jessica Helfand, and John Maeda. Right now, they introduce themselves with lengthy essays on their lives and obsessions. They promise to continue posting every Thursday.
Dave.blog: Dave Winer is a pioneer in the blogging world (full disclosure: he wrote the first blogging program I ever used, Radio Userland), and Dave.blog promises to be an interesting experiment. The site right now is just proof that the domain runs any software.
Does This Mean I’ll Have to Get a License to Blog Someday?
No. You don’t have to get a .blog domain to write web content in the form of posts presented in chronological order. You may continue to blog on any site on the World Wide Web.
Incidentally, you won’t have to use WordPress (or any Automattic product) to maintain a .blog address. Blogging pioneer Dave Winer is using his own blogging software, 1999.io, with dave.blog.
Mullenweg said in a recent interview with Domain Name Wire that one of the reasons he decided to take part in the auction for administering .blog was the fear that if Google became the administrator, it would restrict .blog to certain platforms.
“That just felt very anti-web to us, and just the idea that something as universal as the idea of a blog, which has been one of the most democratizing forces, I think, on the open web, would be closed to a single company with a fairly mediocre product, which is Blogspot.”
OK. I Want One! When and Where Can I Register for a .blog Site?
First, the schedule:
As of August 18, 2016, registered trademark holders can apply for their .blog domain name during the “sunrise” period. You don’t have to worry about this period unless you’ve already gone through the extensive process of adding the ® symbol to your product name. Sunrise ends on October 17, 2016.
The “landrush” period begins on November 2, 2016, and runs for a week. Anyone can apply, but you have to pay a USD$220.00 application fee in addition to the $30 registration. If someone else applies for the same domain, the domain will be auctioned to the highest bidder. The loser(s) get their application fee back (but not the $30 registration).
If you’re confident that no one else will attempt to register your ideal .blog domain, wait until November 21, when the domain goes live. At this point, no extra fees are required to snag your domain.
During the landrush period, visit get.blog to apply for your domain. Automattic runs this site and will be handling all the early applications. On November 21, chances are pretty good your favorite registrar will be ready to set up your new domain. Among the choices:
If your hosting company typically handles your domain registration too, check with them soon to see if they will be offering .blog domains.
For a complete list of accredited registrars (and more information on becoming one), check out the list of .blog accredited registrars.