A new top-level domain (TLD), “.CO” has recently been created as a competitor to “.COM.” While it is currently more expensive (approximately $30.00 per year versus only $10.00 per year for the standard .COM), Google and other search engines will treat websites in this domain the same as any other. This means the .CO and the .COM will be ranked the same, based on both content and reputation.
The new .CO domain has several benefits. Because it is new, there are more available domain names available for consumer registration. The higher price should help preserve this increased availability by reducing speculators’ bulk purchases and website “parking.” Also, the .CO already has a meaning for non-U.S. residents, e.g. the BBC is found at www.bbc.co.uk. In addition, the shorter length and greater availability of the .CO mean that some surprisingly short and catchy names are available and ready for purchase. Finally, people looking for a website online are changing their method of searching. Increasingly, web visitors start their search at a search engine page instead of an “address bar.” Therefore, a highly ranked site (be it a .COM or .CO) will be found regardless of its domain name or ending.
Benefits aside, a new TLD still has its drawbacks. There is currently a lack of awareness in the marketplace regarding the .CO. A .CO address may look like a typo, as if the “m” was left off unintentionally, or potential visitors to a site might not trust a .CO address as much (or as little) as they’d trust the more widely used and longer available .COM’s. Another important potential drawback that will probably unravel as time goes on is the possibility of trademark disputes between different owners of a .CO and .COM with the same leader. It is something to keep in mind if you’re currently interested in buying a .CO. Whether or not this will develop into a trademark problem, we shall see in the (likely) very near future.
Consumer awareness of .CO will grow faster overseas due to its existing recognition, thus domestic recognition should not fall far behind. In the future, at least the short-term, the .CO will become a reasonable alternative to .COM’s that are either unavailable or too expensive to buy off of others.