[Infographic] Which 39 cities have their own top level domain?

This post will give you an overview of which cities have their own top level domain, and when you should use city domain extensions for your website.

By now most people know that a lot of new domain extensions have come out over the last years. You might have heard about .xyz, .club or .guru. Heck, you might even have met a .london or .berlin on your way. But fewer are aware that more than 30 cities have their own domain names, and at some time in 2016 we will have 39 different city domain extensions.

We designed the infographic below to give you an easy overview of all city top level domains:

New city domain extensions (Infographic)

City domains have turned out to be extremely popular as an alternative to the classic domain extensions such as .com or the country code extensions (.fr, .de, .co.uk…).

So popular that three of them can be found in the top 20 of most popular new top level domains since 2013 (more than 500 new extensions have gone live).

CITY DOMAIN EXTENSIONS – THE STATS

Here are the registration stats (Nov. 2015).

.nyc 87,169
.london 70,131
.berlin 68,658
.tokyo 40,969
.köln 24,800
.Moscow 23,350
.hamburg 23,346
.amsterdam 22,470
.paris 21,756
.vegas 16,813
.wien 13,192
.miami 11,504
.quebec 10,969
.Melbourne 8,194
.sydney 7,368
.brussels 6,210
.cologne 5,589
.capetown 5,359
.joburg 3,887
.yokohama 3,290
.durban 2,788
.taipei 2,228

Source: nTLDStats

Many startups and existing businesses have already adopted them as their official web address, and the first year annual renewal rate has been high. E.g. the .london domain extension experienced a first year renewal rate of 75,4% for the first 40.000 domain names. For comparison the annual .com renewal rate is below 50%.

Before I explain when it makes sense to use the city domain extensions, let me just clarify what the new domain extensions can do for your business.

THIS IS THE ERA OF “MEANINGFUL DOMAINS” 

We have entered what I call the era of “Meaningful Domains”. The new breed of top level domains seen the last two years have allowed us to rethink what a domain name is.

domain name - piece of branding puzzle

Today the domain name has the potential to be an important piece of your business’ branding puzzle. This wasn’t the original plan in 1985. At that time a web adress was simply more memorable than an IP address. That’s why we accepted the usage of nonsensical domains.  No one ever questioned the WHY of such strange extensions as .net or .biz. They served as alternatives for all the ones who missed out on the preferred nonsensical extension .com.

THE STORY WE INVENTED ABOUT .COM

While being the gold standard .com makes as little sense describing your business. What does .com actually tell about your company? It says that you are a business, but that’s it. Nothing else – nada, niente, rien. With.com we seem to have invented a story, which doesn’t hold water anymore. Here is how it goes: When you launch a website your brain will go “It has to be a .com domain”. Check any random “5 tips to pick a domain name” article at Inc, and you will find that the author doesn’t even question whether it should be a .com.

We’re on autopilot…

There are usually two claims backing up why it has to be a .com domain:

Claim #1: “Everyone trusts a .com”.

Trust and .com? Try to check your spam folder and see how many .com emails and sites it contains. How can we trust an extension, which everyone is allowed to register and at a very low price? You can only trust very few domain extensions, which are restricted and has a high price tag. An example of an extension you can trust is the new .bank extension, which is restricted to banks only (and let me tell you those requirements are tough). When you land on a .bank website, you’re at a safe place. Until now 36% of banks in the US have registered a .bank, and the first banks already use them. A recent example is dollar.bank.

Source: fTLD Registry Services
Source: fTLD Registry Services


Claim #2:
“All the big brands use .com”.

Yes, all the big brands use a .com, but does it mean that you have to copy their behaviour? Most of these companies have existed for many years, when .com was the only option. While many will stick to .com, some of the big players are actually moving to a Dot Brand over the next years.  E.g. Barclays Bank (#404 on Forbes list of the world’s biggest companies) skipped .com for .barclays recently. For a big global player a .com definitely makes sense, since they need a nonsensical extension, when no other simple word clearly defines what they do.

From .com to dot brand at Barclays
Press release from Barclays changing domain name

But if you’re a startup or a SME you most likely focus on a particular niche in a specific geographic area. So don’t compare your business with world dominating brands. You need to stand out in your niche, and that is what meaningful domains are able to help you with.

Are you ready to know when a city domain extension could turn into a valuable asset for you?

SEVEN REASONS WHEN A CITY DOMAIN EXTENSION MAKES MORE SENSE THAN .COM OR A COUNTRY CODE EXTENSION.

A city web address is a meaningful domain name. The right side of the dot will assist to tell your story and connect with your audience.

Here are seven factors what city domain names are able to do and tell, which cannot be done by the classic extensions:

city domain extension to locate local business1) It can tell where your business is located.

This will help you communicate that there is a real office with real people behind your website. It builds instant trust.

2) It can explain that you serve local clients.

It will make it easier for potential clients to identify you as physically located in the given city, when they look for a local service.

 

affiliation with city domain extension

3) It signals that you are affiliated with the city.

This doesn’t have to be a physical affiliation. Think Paris and you will automatically think fashion. Your products could be made in China, your business located in Bremen, but your brand perception is closer to .paris.

 

4) It can serve as an elegant, natural “domain hack”.

With city domain extensions you can have a natural looking domain hack. The left and the right side of the dot work together. If your brand is not known, but you’re an accountant in London, you should use accounting.london as a way to build up an authoritative profile. If your city is part of the brand name, you could hack this as well. While one of the most recognized agencies in the world Mother uses motherlondon.com as their UK web address, they could show how cutting edge they are with mother.london instead.

This leads me to the next point.

5) It can support the story that you’re “cutting edge”.

Do a Google search for your service to see how many of your competitors don’t use a .com. Today it’s very few. Here’s a great way to stand out and signal that you think ahead and are not afraid to be different. Creative sectors in particular can have an easy win here: Some examples are agencies, designers, architects and other creative minds.

6) It can help you rank better locally in Google.

Google officially treats all top level domains alike. Ranking high in Google is mostly about having relevant content and backlinks. But that’s not all.

.london city domain name in Google
Google search: Hire Ferrari London

We earlier discussed SEO and new Top level domains on the blog. An early study from Searchmetrics showed that local sites in Berlin could rank better in Google on a .berlin than a .de or a .com. It was a very small study though, and maybe Google did some experiments at the time. However SEO is also about having a high click through rate. If you can get to page one, you will probably find that all your competitors use a classic domain extension.  You stand out with your city domain extension, which makes it likely that your click through rate increases. When Google sees that users also stay on your site, then it will help you rank better. Another nice feature is that your URL will be in bold if it matches the search query as in the example above.

In a recent post from the .NYC registry they featured an interview with the owner of souvenirs.nyc.  Within one week from launching they were ranking on page one in Google for “NYC souvenirs” without optimizing the site (In an earlier post on SEO and new TLDs I showed how coffee.club was able to do the same without optimizing the site). The owner of the site made a thoughtful observation:

“We believe that there is more trust from people when they see shorter name and one word. They are more likely to link to you, to cover you in a blog, to send you traffic. When people don’t trust your site, they don’t share it. With our .nyc domain, there is no need for branding. It resonates strongly, and it’s easy to remember shorter domains.”

Google is definitely not against the new domain extensions. They have invested significantly in these new options. They didn’t hesitate to throw USD 25M on the table to become the registry for .app.

7) It can boost your pay per click effort such as Google Adwords.

While Google Webmaster Tools doesn’t have the option to choose a city as your geo target, it’s possible to do it for Adwords campaigns. The use of a city domain extension can really come to its right.

city domain extensions and geo target adwords

If you only want your ads to be shown at city level you can for instance pick London as your geo target. The success of a Google ad depends on how it can reflect searcher intent. Since you have limited space the URL is therefore super important. .london supports a local search far better than  .net or .co.uk would. Especially on mobile you have so little space to do with that a city domain extension is a big win. Check the screenshot below.

Allison Chowdhury

Bill Hartzer and his team at Globe Runner has written a great case study testing this argument and proved that a new domain extension outperforms .com in Google Adwords.

EXAMPLES OF CITY DOMAIN NAMES

Let me end this post with some real life examples for further inspiration. We will continue to add new examples, so if you have a good one then leave a comment below.

Example 1: Friedrichstadt-Palast Berlin

palast-berlin.eu -> palast.berlin

new city domain extension - ,berlin

Friedrichstadt-Palast Berlin boasts the world’s biggest theatre stage and attracts nearly 700,000 visitors annually with its Grand Shows, children’s shows and guest appearances, as well as the Berlinale, and galas. But its URL www.palast-berlin.eu was less than perfect for itscommunication with Berlin visitors worldwide. Thus, the decision to switch to the new address. www.palast.berlin was easy: “The rebranding is a virtual declaration of love to Berlin. Concise, easy to remember and with a clear reference to this internationally highly attractive travel destination,” says Director Dr. Berndt Schmidt.

Example 2: Half Hitch Gin

halfhitch.co.uk -> halfhitch.london

As London as you can be. Half Hitch Gin is not only manufactured in London, but it’s also where the main store is located and founder Mark Holdsworth is a native Londoner. He says: “I was one of the first to get a .london. I am born and bred and did not want to miss it for the world”.

using a city domain name extension

Example 3: Restaurant To Beef or not To Beef

tobeefornottobeef.de -> tobeefornottobeef.berlin

To Beef or not to Beef in the Schoenberg district of Berlin is all about Italian meat. Regional classics such as Bistecca alla Fiorentina, which has matured for at least 20 days. The meat is sourced directly from Dario Cecchini, the most famous butcher in Tuscany.  Since this classy place is a favorite of the neighboring dotBERLIN crew, owner Giacomo Mannucci was quick to update the restaurant’s website to tobeefornottobeef.berlin.

Did you get inspired to use a city domain name for your business? Leave a comment below and tell me how you will use the city domain name.

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  • Komentator

    Great blog post! YOur blog is really useful!

    • http://www.europeandomaincentre.com/ Christopher Hofman

      Appreciated. Do let me know if you have any questions or comments to the post

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  • http://LinkedIn.com/in/DomainNameConsultant Joseph Peterson

    First of all, great infographic! It really helps to see city TLDs distributed the way cities ARE distributed – geographically.

    Of course, cities are distributed across another axis too: Language. So it might also be helpful to see these city TLDs grouped by German, Japanese, Arabic, English, French, etc.

    Let me beat Page Howe to the punch and suggest that .LA merits a place on the map. Even though its original function remains – i.e. as the ccTLD of Laos – Los Angeles is such an important U.S. city that I expect to hear .LA as the west coast echo to .NYC.

    I think the 2-pronged argument you’ve presented for continuing to use .COM is quite weak. That serves an understandable rhetorical purpose – to get people thinking outside the box and accentuate the value of new TLDs. Much more persuasive arguments for using .COM can be put forward. But there isn’t space for that here, and such an answer might seem combative.

    Instead, I’ll simply agree with you that nTLDs deserve to be considered, whether they’re chosen or not. City TLDs should be especially interesting for brands with local presence. Sometimes they’ll be used together with more established TLDs – ccTLDs and/or .COM, for instance. Usually that’s prudent. Some examples:

    Brand.Paris + Brand.fr + BrandParis.com
    Brand.London + Brand.co.uk + BrandLondon.com
    Brand.NYC + BrandNYC.com + Brand.com
    Brand.Miami + Brand.com + BrandMiami.com
    Brand.Dubai + BrandDubai.com + Brand.ae

    • http://www.europeandomaincentre.com/ Christopher Hofman

      Thanks Joseph.

      I think that city TLDs were designed for local businesses. If you take the example of the Ferrari renting company in London, I don’t see a more elegant way to communicate than ferrarihire.london (except hireferrari.london). ferrarihirelondon.com would still be 2nd (or 3rd choice after .uk). But this web addresss is spot on.
      Surely bigger brands should consider them for brand protection. Especially if it’s an important market for them.

      • http://LinkedIn.com/in/DomainNameConsultant Joseph Peterson

        Looking at redirects of Domain A to Domain B (or vice versa), we’d see some inconsistency – or better to say diversity of opinion and practice. Some websites will display Brand.London and forward BrandLondon.co.uk / BrandLondon.com or Brand.co.uk / Brand.com to it, while others might do the reverse.

        I don’t want to give a single generalization about which is right. Better to point out that we won’t see 100% of websites behave the same way. Under those circumstances, I think it’s best to “cover all the bases” (to use an American baseball expression).

        When affordable, I’d recommend owning the best several versions of the brand name as domains, regardless of which top choice gets displayed. That way a company is protected and can pivot from displaying 1 version of the domain to another, according to taste.

        Brand protection can be overdone. Here I’m recommending only those domains that are viable enough in their own right to be used by some other website in SERPs (possibly a direct competitor, possibly not) … along with those domains that seem similar and familiar enough to function as destinations for people who misremember or mistype the domain.

        So, for example, if “London” is part of the brand name or will be used in local marketing, the company can decide which domain suffix to highlight – .LONDON, .UK, .COM. Depending on their objectives, their identity, and the distribution of their audience, any of those 3 (or even something else) might be the best choice. But if all versions are cheap, by all means buy them all! That makes it easy to guide customers to your website, and it safeguards the uniqueness of your brand name online.

  • LA Domain Names

    Christopher your spot on on your reasons for use. Were finding with Los Angeles and .LA, Restaurants, NightClubs and Web and Style Consulting firms have had the most uptake. I didnt see us on your list, but as a shared TLD .LA is marketed for Los Angeles. We have real live use by thousands of registrants, more info at yourcompany.la, or our pinterest page shows our use cases

    https://www.pinterest.com/dnresale/la-domain-names-la-websites-and-use-cases-2015/

    and recent citywide for Innovation Week(s) went with Innovate.LA

    Next biggest trend is we have grown beyond one dominant social network (AOL, MySpace, FB) and now its hard to give out Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Linkedin, App Location and Email – so hey why not a domain to bring it all together.

    Page Howe
    iLove.LA

    • http://www.europeandomaincentre.com/ Christopher Hofman

      Thanks for your comment. We will add .la to the globe.

    • http://www.europeandomaincentre.com/ Christopher Hofman

      Hi Page, .la is added!

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  • http://kookdokoo.com/ Kookdokoo App

    nice………..