It’s a game that many startups play when choosing a name for their business venture. Check the URL to see if the “chosen name” is available with a dot-com extension. Often times, we end up making up names out of the blue so that we can lay claim to that elusive dot com. After all, how do you think that recent startups came up with the names of their businesses, like Etsy, Pinterest or Tumblr? They weren’t necessarily the first choice for those starting their businesses, but their domain with a dot-com extension was available. But now, the domain name game is changing.

The non-profit organization that oversees the domain naming process has recently announced a change to the way that domain names are dished out. Countries that have domain extensions that hold any sort of appeal to businesses can now license the use of their domain extensions in the United States. Startups are now no longer forced to make up strange business names just so they can grab said name with a dot-com extension. The .co extension, which actually hails from Columbia, is catching on with startups. We are starting to see new businesses with extensions such as .ly, which comes from Lybia, .io, which is an Indian Ocean domain and .fm, which is a Federal States of Micronesian domain. Now, startups aren’t limited to naming their company by whatever is leftover on .com. Part of what startups like about the .co domain extension is that it alludes to “company” and small business startups can settle for their original choice for a company name.

The domain name game doesn’t stop with startups though. Larger companies such as Google purchased .google and .goog, therefore giving Google more control over its brand by sending customers to an easy to remember website with a branded domain extension.

There are drawbacks with alternative domain suffixes for small businesses, especially when it comes to SEO and Google, which is currently set to give priority to sites that end in .com, .org and .net. But as small businesses begin taking advantage of this naming structure, you can bet that Google will adapt its analytics to follow the trend. So when you’re starting your small business, you no longer have to play the domain name game. Simply name your company as you’ve originally intended, and incorporate one of the new domain suffixes to match.

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