If you’re looking for the perfect domain name for your photography website, you now have some new options. The people who control the internet’s addresses (ICANN, if you’re counting), have approved a several new top level domains related to photography.
The top level domains we’re most familiar with are things like .com or .gov or .org or .net. Originally .com was designed for commercial businesses (actually, government contractors before that), but because the rules were fairly relaxed it has become the defacto main top level domain used for pretty much anything. And that has made it very, very crowded. If you’ve tried to register your ideal .com domain name, there’s a good chance it’s already taken and you had to settle for your second or third choice (unless you’re blessed with a unique name).
As of February 5, there are now some new top level domains related to photography:
Because they’re new, these aren’t anywhere near as crowded as .com. So if the .com version of your ideal web address is taken, it might be available with something like .photography. And these are open to anyone, unlike some of the other new top level domain names (like .travel) that require permission to use.
Some of the obvious ones are already gone, of course. Brand names get a special window of time to reserve their trademark names before the process is opened to the general public. So you can’t register nikon.photography or canon.camera. And obvious specialties like lifestyle.photography, wedding.photography, travel.photography, stock.photography, or street.photography are already taken. Other less obvious ones, like d800.camera or nikond800.camera or eos1dx.camera are still available (Ed: at least, they were when I wrote this, quite a while ago …)
If you want to see what’s available and what’s already taken, just type the domain name into one of the domain registrars’ domain search bars, or use this one from whois.net.
So Why Not Use a .photography Domain?
That’s great. davidcoleman.photography looks neat! But should I use it? Before you jump in, there are some potential downsides to relying on the new extensions as your primary web address.
Firstly, and most importantly, people (ie. potential customers and clients) know exactly what a series of letters and numbers that ends with .com is. If someone sees “havecamerawilltravel.com” on my business card, I don’t need to explain to them that it’s my website. But “havecamerawilltravel.photography” is much newer and less familiar. Same with davidcoleman.photography. That might start to change over the next year or two as potentially thousands more top level domains are opened up and people become more accustomed to them (look what happened with bit.ly, for example), but it might not. And the whole point of a domain name, after all, is to make it easy for people to find you and your work.
Secondly, the new top level domains likely don’t start out with as much SEO weight as their .com cousins. How big the difference is, is hard to say. It’s pretty much accepted in the SEO world that the gold standard top level extensions for search engine juice are .edu and .gov, followed by .com, with the others falling below that. But working out how much difference there is isn’t possible without peering into the top-secret secret algorithms of Google or Bing. Personally, this factor alone isn’t enough to dissuade me from using one. It’s certainly something that can be overcome and might be outweighed by other marketing and branding considerations. But it is something to be aware of nonetheless.
How to Register a .photography or .camera Web Address
To register with one of the new domain names you’ll need to go through a domain registrar just as if you were registering a .com address. But in this case the options are more limited–not all domain registrars offer the full list of available top level domain extensions.
For the sake of convenience, it’s probably best to try first with the registrar you used for your existing domain name (often that’s handled by your web host). That way your domain registrations can be kept all together, making it easier when it comes to renewing them or moving websites. If your existing domain registrar doesn’t offer the new options,
GoDaddy.com, 1and1.com, and some other less-known registrars do offer them. But some of the biggest usual suspects, Register.com and NetworkSolutions.com, don’t yet offer them (presumably that will change). This search should give a list of registrars that offer them.
These new domains are generally going to be more expensive than some others. But you still might be able to get a discount. Competition is fierce amongst domain registrars, and most of the big domain name registrars offer discounts to get you into their system in the hope that you’ll keep renewing for years to come. Before you buy the domain, it’s well worth doing a quick search for coupon codes. A quick Google search for something like “coupon code godaddy” should bring up some of the sites that collect coupon codes. If the first code you try doesn’t work, try another–often the codes on those sites get superseded by new ones.
Once you’ve registered your new domain name with one of the new top level domains you have to point it to the server hosting your website. How to do that depends on the particular setup of your domain registrar and web host, but your web host or domain registrar should have instructions on how to do it. And here’s a general guide.