Sometimes I feel, (as Julian Barrett said to Noel Fielding in an old episode of The Mighty Boosh), that I have been living in a cockerill’s boot! Whilst I spend most of my waking hours on the internet, via PC, mobile, or iPad – this can be on my website, blog, Facebook, Twitter or whatever, the fact that the UK was bringing out a host of new TLDs, (they are Top Level Domains!) , completely passed me by.
I was on Facebook when my cousin, well my cousin’s wife, Katie Moore, (she owns a fab furniture shop in Chester and at the moment hosts on shared space) announced that her husband Tim has just bought her the new .UK version of her domain name. She has www.katiemoore.co.uk already and now she owns the .UK version. Blind panic ensued – of course and why not? We have all seen new TLDs being snapped up by unscrupulous individuals attempting to trade off the good name, registered, copyrighted or patented or not, of other URLs hoping to grab a bit of business. I had done it myself in the past – buying Cloggs.eu when my attempt to buy Shoes.eu failed! They ecentually appealed and I had it taken off me but for a short while Cloggs.eu pointed at us!
I was straight on to my hosting company, Fasthosts, to try and register the .UK name of the two big ones, Shoes and Footwear. Like I said I have tried to do this in the past with Shoes.eu – there was an initial mad rush to register during what was known as a ‘sunrise period’ followed by what seemed like ages then I lost it. So I was expecting for the same thing to happen and the consequences would have been disastrous. Imagine owning Shoes.co.uk and some sneaker bugger whips in and nicks the .uk!?
Well all my worries eased as I clicked away and tried to register. “Shoes.uk has been reserved for the owners of Shoes.co.uk” it said in bright bold letters at the top of the page. Two minutes later and for the princely sum of less than six quid I was the proud owner of the new domains. I have to say they look amazing but what the hell am I supposed to do with it?
The first thing I did was 301 redirect (Its a way of forwarding visitors), the .uk to the .co.uk. Then after a couple of days I got the fear – I noticed that for two searched ‘Shoes uk’ and ‘UK shoes’ we had actually fallen in SERPS (search engine results pages). PANIC! were the new new domains going to destroy all of my valiant efforts at SEO – if they were then I wasn’t going to let them. So what now? who is using them and how are they doing?
I removed the 301 to give me time to think and in the meantime slapped an Amazon affiliate store up – why not? , well I don’t want to ruin the domains reputation so maybe this is wrong as well? – research research – well you know what? there is next to nothing current out there. I found one article written on MOZ – the trusted SEO resources as well as another one from a year ago. http://moz.com/ugc/an-seos-guide-to-acquiring-new-gtlds
Basically – its fairly obvious and this is my spin on the new TLDs If you are going to use the new TLD to set up a new website then it will take just as long for the .uk to rank as any other TLD. I would say that if you are just starting out and you are writing a new UK based site then use the new TLD because I tell you now after a couple of years the old .co.uk will look old hat. Don’t believe me? do a search in Google for Site: .uk and you will see three very prominent websites at the top – www.nhs.uk, www.parliament.uk and www.bl.uk, the British Library. Then go and search ‘nhs, british library etc’ and you will see that they are number 1 – OK big extreme examples but you get my drift. All of these organisations have simply 301 redirected their whole sites to the new TLD.
So what should you do?
Well I’ll tell you what I am going to do. We aren’t the biggest shoe company in the world. Matt Cutts (Google’s Search Wizard) said in 2012 that no TLD will rank higher or lower just because of the nature of the TLD – (see the MOZ article) so you won’t be penalised by doing nothing – but I think you need a plan. So we will wait, and wait and when we see that others have moved over and have not been negatively affected we will swap over too. Its a fairly straight forward procedure – you just add some redirect code in to the htaccess file of the old site and every page get redirected to the new .uk version. After a short while all the old pages will be replaced by the new ones in SERPS and the whole place will look neat and tidy. After all what’s with the .co.uk in the first place? co for commercial? well 90% of them aren’t anyway!
So my message is – don’t panic!, oh and the meaning of life is 42 obviously!