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.uk domains and the .dental domain. Don't all rush at once

by Liam McNaughton

There have always been a number of TLDs (that's "Top Level Domain") besides .co.uk. Obviously .com has been around forever, as has .org, .net, .org.uk, and a second wave early last decade saw .biz, .info, .coop and some others added. But nothing that's really caught the imagination for uk users more than .co.uk, for fairly obvious reasons.

So I was quite excited (actually no, I'd say reasonably interested) to see last year that Nominet - that's the organisation which manages everything under .uk - was proposing to open this up dramatically. Basically the "co" bit could disappear, and domains could be registered under .uk directly - so for example instead of parkdental.co.uk you could simply have parkdental.uk

Great! Except the whole idea met with a ton of objections from various industry stakeholders, concerns were made that a new "landrush" of domain registrations would cause confusion and much argument, so Nominet withdrew their original proposal, and came up with a new proposal to answer these (legitimate) concerns, but in doing so they have turned the whole thing into a drawn out damp squib. Their solution is to allow all current owners of a .co.uk domain "first dibs" on the .uk equivalent. So if you do have e.g. parkdental.co.uk you are entitled to register parkdental.uk. Which seems reasonable, except current owners have been given 5 years - YES THAT'S FIVE YEARS - to decide whether or not they want to take up this opportunity. The Nominet website dramatically claims "The Internet landscape is changing The newest product in the UK domain family is at the forefront of the online revolution, offering an exciting new territory for online pioneers to make their own" - followed by pages of guff about why Stephen Fry was so excited about switching to stephenfry.uk

Yawn. Wake me up in June 2019 then, when this new territory of .uk actually becomes widely available. Except it won't. Because of course nearly every .co.uk you can think of under the sun has already been taken, and those owners will be just gradually migrating to (or selling on) their .uk equivalents over the next half decade.

Cheers Nominet - spineless.uk

In other news, over the pond, they have opened up a LOT of completely new TLDs, and for our customers the most relevant is .dental. I'm not seeing it appear anywhere yet, although we have registered spinnaker.dental, and installed a forum there, to give our Spinnaker software its own home outside of the dentalit.ltd.uk website. And that's a pretty good TLD for dental practices too!

So if you have a domain name that you aren't entirely happy with (because someone got the .co.uk for your name before you) or you fancy a change of website, or you're one of the many (usually NHS) practices that haven't even bothered creating a website yet (and who can blame them, if you don't need to advertise!) then you might want to register a .dental domain and use that. If you just want to register .dental so that you have BOTH the .co.uk and the .dental equivalent because you think that gives you more coverage or something, I probably wouldn't bother. It has never been the case that having multiple domains pointing to the same website is good for your website visibility - indeed probably the reverse, as it just "dilutes" the address. I suppose there is some argument that you stop other people getting a name that's similar to yours - but really, the search algorithms work on a LOT of different criteria, only one small aspect of which is the actual domain name. Having a relevant and interesting site that people visit, is probably more important than trying to squish some competitive domain names.

Whatever you decide, don't ever let your website designer register and manage the domain for you. Unless you have a website designer that has a clue about the DNS system (and they normally don't) chances are they will register the domain in THEIR name not YOURS. Which is a bad thing, obviously, as it means they own the domain, not you - which is probably not what you intended when you asked them to register it for you. I don't think for a moment that an unscrupulous website designer would do this deliberately to tie you in. Oh no. Ask us to register it and maintain it for you.


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