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No Google boost for new gTLDs

Kevin Murphy, March 15, 2012, Domain Tech

Companies hoping to reap search engine optimization benefits from applying for keyword gTLDs related to their industries are in for a rude awakening today.

Google engineer Matt Cutts said that it’s “just not true” that relevant gTLDs will automatically rank higher than their equivalent .com domains.

In a post on Google+, Cutts wrote:

Google will attempt to rank new TLDs appropriately, but I don’t expect a new TLD to get any kind of initial preference over .com, and I wouldn’t bet on that happening in the long-term either. If you want to register an entirely new TLD for other reasons, that’s your choice, but you shouldn’t register a TLD in the mistaken belief that you’ll get some sort of boost in search engine rankings.

The post was in response to an article by ARI Registry Services CEO Adrian Kinderis, in which he postulated that dot-brand and keyword gTLDs can help build credibility, leading to SEO benefits.

Kinderis wrote:

Ultimately, the big question is: will rank higher than (for example)? All the evidence suggest the answer is yes, provided that the .insurance namespace builds value and perhaps verification into its space to ensure it is a signpost for good, trusted and authoritative content.

In response to Cutts’ post, Kinderis said he’s sticking by his opinion.

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Survey says 44% of brands to apply for gTLDs

Kevin Murphy, March 15, 2012, Domain Registries

Forty-four percent of major consumer brands plan to apply for dot-brand top-level domains, according to a survey carried out on behalf of Afilias.

The research, carried out in the UK and US by Vanson Bourne, found that only 82% companies were aware of their ability to participate in the the new gTLD program.

That’s a high number, but it still suggests that almost one in five companies are still completely oblivious about the program, despite months of media coverage and ICANN outreach.

Of those companies stating that they are aware of the program, 54% plan to apply and 40% are still thinking about it.

The survey covered 200 consumer-facing businesses with 3,000-10,000+ employees and was carried out in February.

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Hot girls land CZ.nic in hot water

Kevin Murphy, March 13, 2012, Gossip

Czech domain name registry CZ.nic has been told off by the ICANN Ombudsman for a sexist display at its booth here at the ICANN 43 meeting in Costa Rica.

The company, which will host ICANN 44 in Prague, is currently running a light-hearted promotion whereby attendees can claim a free public transport pass if they choose from a selection of postcards illustrating what they’re “most looking forward to” at the June meeting.

Options include historical sites, beer, and nightlife. And until this morning, you could also choose “girls”. There was no equivalent “boys” option.

I’m not the most tactful person in the world, but even I found the CZ.nic booth a bit icky.

So, apparently, did somebody else.

ICANN Ombudsman Chris LaHatte confirmed that he received a complaint today and stepped in to ask CZ.nic’s reps to remove the offending postcards, which they did.

LaHatte confirmed that the booth display did not meet ICANN’s longstanding Expected Standards of Behavior, which states in part that participants must:

Treat all members of the ICANN community equally, irrespective of nationality, gender, racial or ethnic origin, religion or beliefs, disability, age, or sexual orientation.

It’s no secret that ICANN meetings, like most tech conferences, can be a bit of a sausage-fest at times, but there are hundreds (probably) of women in attendance too.

At recent meetings, the DNS Women’s Breakfast has become a regular networking event.

(Which, come to think of it, is a closed session and therefore probably a bit sexist too).

UPDATE: For all the pervs demanding photographic evidence in the comments, prepare to be disappointed.


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ICANN to issue update on IANA contract

Kevin Murphy, March 12, 2012, Domain Policy

This weekend’s shock news that ICANN’s bid to renew its IANA contract with the US government failed is still without an official, detailed explanation, but ICANN may soon reveal more specifics.

The National Telecommunications and Information Administration said Saturday that no bidder for the IANA contract had met its requirements, and that it was canceling the RFP until a later date.

It extended ICANN’s management of IANA for another six months.

CEO Rod Beckstrom said at a press conference here at the public meeting in Costa Rica today that ICANN cannot comment on the reasons its bid was rejected for now.

However, it’s going to meet with the NTIA soon to discuss the matter and may issue an update later.

“We were invited to have a debriefing with them to learn more about this,” Beckstrom said. “Following that discussion we will share any information we are allowed to share.”

Here in San Jose, there are several theories floating around the show floor.

The first hypothesis, which was popular on Saturday but which since seems to have fallen out of favor, is that it was a deliberate attempt to, in the words of one attendee, “fuck with” Beckstrom.

His contract expires in early July, and it was speculated that the NTIA would prefer to deal with his successor on the IANA contract, forcing him to leave the organization on a bum note.

I don’t really buy that. I can’t see the NTIA playing personality politics to that extent, not with the future of internet governance on the line.

The other theory doing the rounds is that ICANN fell foul of some rather esoteric US procurement guidelines – that the NTIA was legally unable to approve its bid.

Others speculate that ICANN just submitted a really crappy response to the RFP, or a response that failed to take the NTIA’s requirements seriously enough.

This seems more likely.

Whatever the reason, the way the news broke – apparently catching ICANN off-guard as much as anybody else – certainly suggests that the NTIA either screwed up its communications or that it wanted to make one of its trademark pre-show sabre-rattling statements.

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ICANN has no plans to extend new gTLD window

Kevin Murphy, March 12, 2012, Domain Registries

The March 29 and April 12 deadlines to register for and submit new gTLD applications are currently not open to negotiation, according to ICANN chair Steve Crocker.

“We don’t really have any indication of sufficient reasons to change the schedule,” Crocker said at a press conference here at ICANN’s public meeting in Costa Rica this afternoon.

“We have no proposals we are actively working on to cause it to be changed at the moment,” he said. “The message needs to be understood that the application window will close April 12.”

I asked about the possibility of an extension largely because almost every registry services provider and new gTLD consultant I’ve talked to recently is expecting a mad rush of new gTLD applicants.

There are only 17 days remaining for applicants to sign up for a TLD Application System account. After March 29, applicants then have two weeks to file and pay for their applications.

Despite these pressing deadlines, many potential applicants – including dot-brands and some geographic gTLDs – have yet to make their minds up about applying.

Other confirmed applicants still haven’t selected their partners – I heard today about a city gTLD with a tender offer closing March 20, just nine days before the sign-up deadline.

ICANN said today that it has 254 registered TAS users.

A last-minute stampede for application services seems likely. With a limited number of registry back-end providers and decent consultants on the market, we could see bottlenecks.

But it seems that the ICANN board — which is the only body that could extend the schedule — has no plans to do so presently.

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