Long Domain Names: How Long Is Too Long?


With the most recent count of Web sites reported to be a whopping 9 million
and growing, the demand for domain names is exploding as well. To supply
more choices to those looking to label their Web sites, a number of domain
name registrars have enabled users to register names as long as 67
characters.

The end of Network Solutions Inc.’s
monopoly
of the domain registration business opened the door for a change in the
domain registration process. The technology for long domain names was always
in place, but NSI (NSOL)
chose to limit names to a manageable 26 characters, including extensions.

It was Internet Names WorldWide, the registration arm of Australian
telecom Melbourne IT, that first
started registering domain names as long as 67 characters. The practice
began in August, when it became one of the first registrars accredited by
the Internet Corp. of Assigned Names
and Numbers
. Since then, long domain names have grown in
popularity, with more than half of ICANN-accredited registrars offering the
service in the past few months. Network Solutions, however, is not one of
them, though it has plans to offer the service in the near future.

But will users be able to remember, let alone type, a domain name with so
many characters? The owners of LongDomainNames.com hope so. The
site has registered a number of extra-long words, including
www.supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.com (from Mary Poppins fame)
as well as the longest word in the English language,
www.pneumonoultramicroscopicopicsilicovolcanokoniosis.com. According to its
Web site, this was done to show the new opportunities available because of
longer domain names.

Most of those who will take advantage of the new domain name registrations
will be companies with brands longer than the normal 26-character name, said
Richard Forman, president and chief executive officer of register.com Inc., which began offering
long domain name registration earlier this month.

“Very few people are getting all 67 characters,” he said. “The most popular
window is between 30 and 40 characters. If you have a long brand, you want
to go ahead and get a domain name for it.” He added that older versions of
browsers such as Netscape and Web hosting firms are not equipped to support
the longer domains.

Problems aside, domain names such as CreditSuisseFirstBoston.com,
NationalWestminsterBank.com and HarleyDavidsonMotorCycles.com have already
been registered through INWW. However a Welsh village is claiming the
longest .com name is history with its registration of
llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch.com.

Forman said that long domain registration also opens a market for
advertisers to register their trademarked advertising slogans. To promote
the launch of register.com’s long domain registration service, the firm
registered www.register-dot-com-introduces-long-domain-names.com.
LongDomainNames.com registered www.icantbelieveitsnotbutter.com, a trademark
owned by Unilever, to illustrate the advertising angle.

Ellen Rony, co-author of The
Domain Name Handbook: High Stakes and Strategies in Cyberspace
,
agreed that promotional items will fuel long domain name registration.

“The growing ubiquity of the suffix .com in the promotional media that
bombards us daily will lead to a cacophony of .com,” she said. “I think
that’s unfortunate, but inevitable.”

She added that overall long domain names will probably not overtake short
ones in terms of popularity, but they do have their place.

“Those corporations with recogni

zable taglines are most likely branding a
shorter domain name and would use a longer domain name to map to the shorter
one,” she said.

“People are inventive and you may see messages like
thebridescompleteplanner.com for bridal services or
iworkedallthoseyearsandhavenothingtoshow.com for business esteem planning,”
she said. “I expect that the purveyors of porn may come up with some
interesting monikers when longer domain names are available also.”

“For sites that we return to again and again, we use bookmarks and the
actual URL and domain name quickly lose relevance,” she said, adding
however, that “brevity will always be the preferable choice. Easier to type;
easier to remember.”

Some boast that long domain names will offer better search results if
specific keywords are found in the URL. Danny Sullivan, who runs Search Engine Watch (an
internet.com property), explained this is not true.

“From a search engine standpoint, the value is negligible,” he said, adding
that crawler-based services do not search for generic names in a domain, and
that keywords on a page is still the most important factor.

“It probably won’t hurt to register some long domains that contain keywords
in them. . .but don’t expect miracles from it,” he said.

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