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Regional web identity – will your business take advantage?

Over the next six months of a number of new domain names are being released giving UK businesses a push by highlighting their location within the URL. This Autumn sees the launches of .LONDON and .SCOT with the New Year bringing .WALES and .CYMRU.

In a recent YouGov survey of 1001 London based SMEs 26% of respondents said they were likely to register a .London domain which would be a total of over 218,000 small firms. 48% are likely to register a .London domain reported that they were proud to be a London business and wanted to further associate their business with London.

Across the whole market, demand for geo domains is very strong.  We estimate that a total of between 50,000-100,000 .LONDON domains will be registered in the first few days following General Availability. Current pre-registrations for .WALES, .CYMRU and .SCOT are also looking healthy too.

The appeal of regional domains

More businesses are learning that regional online identity can be a real advantage for them. For example, the city of London has an incredibly strong positive image both domestically and abroad, and London’s firms can now profit from this directly from their web address. Firms will unlock huge potential for capturing traffic and developing their digital branding, and for consumers it will be a useful factor in obtaining the most useful search results.

Tony Mitchell, owner of mobile disco company A1 Discos, www.a1discos.com, says “Having a .London domain is perfect. It will assist with organic search results”.  Craig Gunthorpe, Managing Director of 0800 Sparks, www.0800sparks.com, adds, “As an electrical contractor in London, it just makes sense. We highlight our geographical location wherever we can, it will be great when we can add it to our vans”.

The .WALES domain is also generating enthusiasm. “We’re eager to add .WALES to our portfolio. Having a .WALES identity for our website would reinforce our Welsh roots and strengthen ties within our local community”, comments James Denton, owner of MGP Accountants, www.mgpaccountants.com, serving North Wales.

As awareness continues to rise steadily, it makes sense that consumers will be attracted to new regional domains and we believe that they will be very popular with both businesses and consumers – for example, Wales and Scotland both have patriotic consumers who trust in their local suppliers, and wish to support them.  .SCOT and .CYMRU are opportunities for the regions to develop their own regional identities in the Internet, and tie their internet activity into cultural and economic factors.

Are regional firms given priority to secure a domain?

Each domain has an individual launch process with its own timeline. When new domains are being assigned during a Priority Period, registries will use a priority weighting system.  They firstly look at whether there are formal rights to that domain, such as Trademarks, details of which need to be submitted to ICANN’s Trademark Clearing House database. They would then consider those applicants with a physical address in the region and then those who have expressed other types of rights such as a relevant business trading name. If a number of parties have applied for a domain with the same priority, the domain may be auctioned

All indications are that regional domains seem set to become a real mark of trust for consumers, and a great help for UK firms seeking visibility online.  For more details about .LONDON, .WALES or .SCOT domains, head to www.fasthosts.london.  The full range of Fasthosts new gTLDs available for pre-registration can be found at www.fasthosts.co.uk/domain-names/new-top-level-domains

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