Radix has been an active participant in ICANN’s process to expand the internet naming system, and has obtained the rights to operate over 9 new gTLDs including .ONLINE, .STORE, .TECH, .WEBSITE, .SPACE, .PRESS, .SITE, .HOST, and .FUN. In this interview, we speak with Sandeep Ramchandani, VP & Business Head at Radix to understand their story, their challenges and how they plan to overcome them. We would like to thank Sandeep for providing us with an update on the success Radix has had with its portfolio of TLDs and also sharing his insight into the exciting realm of new TLDs and how end users can take advantage of them.
Tell us Radix’s story from start to where it is now.
Radix was launched in 2012 and operates as a subsidiary of Directi, a $1.4 bn company. When ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) invited the initial applications for new domain extensions, it was a historic moment for the Internet and opened a big opportunity to make internet addresses shorter, meaningful and distinguishable. Radix committed over $50 million on the application of 31 strings comprising several generic and mass market names. Of those, Radix acquired 7 and since then has attained two more names, the latest being .FUN which was launched in April 2017. Over 3.5 mn domains have been registered on Radix domains across the world. Startups, Small businesses, global brands, official merchandise stores of popular artists and sports teams, web designers and developers have shown keen interest in our TLDs. Some of the top international brands on Radix domains include The Next Web, Emirates, Viacom, Consumer Technology Association, Meredith Group, Asgardia (world’s first space nation), Gallant (American singer and songwriter) as well as Edward Snowden’s Freedom of the Press Association.
What are the company's goals for the next 5 years?
There has been a substantial increase in the supply of new domains. The industry is at a stage where consumers have only just begun to realize the possibilities and opportunities that new domains provide. While we are already seeing higher than expected demand at this stage itself, we are aiming to trend towards the point where our TLDs are preferred over the rest in respective categories. With fantastic strings such as .ONLINE, .TECH, .STORE and .SITE, we are confident of getting there very soon.
What are some of the key industry challenges?
The biggest challenge in this space is the baggage of .COM. Until 2012, the world only knew of .COM, .NET, .ORG, etc. The new domain names came into the picture only in 2012, while others have been around for 25 years.
The other big challenge has been engaging with the end-user. Since domain names are usually bought from a registrar and not directly from a registry, connecting and communicating with the customers is difficult. Hence, creating awareness about our domain extensions and their benefits becomes challenging.
What is Radix doing in order to overcome the above-mentioned challenges?
To engage with end-users and to increase visibility for our TLDs, we have partnered with more than 150 hackathons and exhibited at tech conferences for .TECH, journalism conferences for .PRESS, retail conferences for .STORE, etc. In fact, we were at Paris Retail Week and eCommerce Expo, London last month and we are at Online News Association Conference, Washington DC this month. For businesses who are already on our domain extensions, we have launched unique programs such as the Startup League, which helps them gain booth sponsorship at events, access to investors, media and business partnerships. Through the Startup League, we have partnered with various international events such as SXSW (USA), The Next Web Conference (Netherlands), RISE Conference (Hong Kong), etc. We are headed to Web Summit, Portugal in November this year. We have recently launched a large-scale web design contest, F3.space, which is an initiative to engage with existing nTLD users, as well as to promote the usage of nTLDs among the global web design community.
What should startups keep in mind for choosing the perfect domain name for their innovative business?
Naming is a highly subjective decision, in personal life and otherwise. Hence, the properties of a good domain name can differ considerably based on the nature and purpose of the website / application.
New Domains have given users the possibility of getting the first choice and exact match name, something that would be close to impossible to find in legacy extensions. We offer great generic alternatives like .ONLINE, .SITE, .WEBSITE and .SPACE, where one has a good chance of finding their exact brand name.
If you serve a specific community or industry, then including your industry or business category, such as www.sourced.tech or www.devteam.space is a great idea as it will give your audience a clear idea of where you belong.
The domain name should be free of unnecessary words, characters, alphabets or numbers. Make it descriptive, keyword-rich and meaningful to your industry. Ensure that you don’t have any copyrighted names in your domain name. Also, choose a domain extension that adds meaning to your web address and becomes an extension of your brand identity. For example, www.breakinto.tech is a great example of a startup that helps people with non-tech background ‘break into tech’
There’s been a lot of concern about SEO and nTLDs. What’s your take on that?
As far as Google’s search results are concerned, domain names do not have any inherent impact on the SEO ranking, as was clarified by Google in a post on Google Webmaster Blog. It must be noted here that Google has a complicated algorithm that uses hundreds of search engine ranking factors however it does not treat two domain names differently. On the other hand, the users treat every domain name differently and that impacts the search engine rankings. The users can identify which domain name looks more relevant and meaningful and are likely to click on that more.
A few things that do add to higher search engine ranking are:
1) Credible links from reputed websites (Refer this study published on Search Engine Land)
2) Relevance and content quality. A good and keyword-rich domain name paired with high-quality content will get traffic
3) Use of anchor text in links play a major role. If someone links your website to words that are part of your domain name, it gives a positive signal to search engines. For example, if your website is called www.happy.tech and people link your website to ‘Happy Tech’, it adds value to your search engine ranking. This is where having a keyword-rich domain name helps.
Thus, it is safe to say that any domain name can rank well in search engines if people find useful content on it and other websites link to it for specific keywords. Having a good domain name is important because a descriptive name nudges people to click on it in the search results.
What should end-users keep in mind when making the switch to an nTLD for their branded URLs, redirects, deep-links, marketing campaigns, product launches, etc.
Keep in mind that you can use domain names as a powerful branding tool. Make sure that you choose a domain name that is as descriptive as possible. For example, if you are launching a new car called ‘Roadster’ and wish to position it as a ‘vehicle that drives fun in your life’, it’s a great idea to launch it on www.roadster.fun.
If you are looking at seasonal marketing campaigns, you can create a permanent online address for all your promotions, discounts, offers, etc and keep changing the content with every campaign. For example, you can secure www.brandoffers.online and promote that link in all your communication.
You can also create smart deep-links that make it easy for users to remember your business. A classic example here is that of Amazon’s Kindle.
While the Kindle store is at: https://www.amazon.com/gp/browse.html/ref=as_li_ss_tl?node=133141011&linkCode=sl2&tag=amznip-kindle.store-20&linkId=4cd0d831c10ebb77bbf4aeeb9b352a3a the customers only need to remember www.kindle.store to get there. So, the idea is to use creative, meaningful domain names as an extension of the brand identity to truly create an impact on the customer’s mind.
We hope you enjoyed this insightful Q&A with Sandeep as much as we did... Definitely some useful and easy to apply advice. Thanks Sandeep!