.london calling: What difference will it make?

By Chris Lee

London will be one of the first cities in the world to have its own domain name when the .london domain becomes available to buy in early 2014. Global internet body ICANN, based in California, approved the domain name in November 2013 after a concerted campaign from promotional agency London & Partners.

Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, said that adopting the .london domain suffix would enable the capital’s brands to take advantage of their position of the city’s “powerful global brand”.

“This is also an excellent opportunity to expand London’s digital presence, which in turn is set to generate funds to invest back into the city,” Johnson added.

Join the dots

Selfridges and Carnaby are two key London brands who have publically expressed their interest in the .london domain.

Speaking on the official MyDotLondon website, Selfridge’s Hazel Kay said: “As an iconic London retailer, Selfridges has always taken care to be at the cutting edge of innovation in order to better serve our customers. Having a selfridges.london address is an exciting new opportunity to be creative with our web presence while showcasing our strong association with London, which is a key component of our identity.”

In a similar vein, Claire Harris, Head of Marketing and Communication at Shaftesbury PLC, the company behind Carnaby, said: “It will be a great boost to know we can associate Carnaby even more closely with the capital by using the .london address. London is an incredibly strong brand in retail, fashion and lifestyle, so Carnaby is delighted to be able to promote its geographical and cultural identity across the internet in this way.”

Who will benefit from .london?

While a .london suffix may benefit staunchly London-based brands, there is a risk that organisations could lack global reach, warns tech journalist Gordon Kelly.

“Like the launch of any new domain ending there’s likely to be significant initial interest and I can see it being popular with companies where being London based is a key part of their brand,” he told NMK. “That said for many it will be largely be a novelty ending and I can’t see big business wishing to confuse users with new city specific URLs. Will it start a trend for other big cities? Probably, but I hope not.”

Paris and New York are understood to be interested in having their own domain names and others are likely to follow.

Amy Edwards of digital media recruitment site Bubble Jobs raises the point of how Google will treat .london domains in its search algorithm.

“It’ll definitely be interesting to see how Google treats these new domains when it comes to local searches. Would they place a site with a .london extension above another site which doesn’t – and only has a ‘London’ page?” she blogged. “Similarly, what about a site which already has the word ‘london’ in its existing domain? Will it still rank this well for London-related searches when the new .london domains are kicking around?”

The London Evening Standard reports that prices for .london domain names could start from as little as £20, but shoot up for high-demand domains such as “restaurants.london” or “hotels.london”.

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