Domain Search: Adapting to New TLDs, Part 1

Here at Rightside, we spend a lot of time talking about search. You might even say some of us are a little obsessed with it. But why is search so important to the domain industry? Shouldn’t we be more focused on things like improving new top-level domain (TLD) awareness, merchandising, upselling and improving customer experience? Well, we are – and that’s why we spend so much time working on search.

If you’re selling domains, the search results page is one of the most important parts of a customer’s interaction with your site, but it can also be one of the most complicated to optimize. If you take a look at the search results pages of every registrar, hosting company, and reseller out there, the search experience could not be more varied. You’ll find a single list of domains, groupings of different types of domains, lists of categories, filters for criteria such as price and length, alphabetical listings of TLDs, dropdowns to choose a TLD – the list is endless.

A typical list of filters during a domain search
An overwhelming number of filters and categories

The release of 600+ new TLDs has thrown a serious wrench into things, which is why search results are presented in so many different ways. Moreover, everyone is still trying to figure out the best way to present new domains to their customers. Often, search experiences are either focused on a limited list of promoted TLDs, or overwhelm customers by throwing the kitchen sink at them. And this approach is understandable: You have over 600 TLDs to sell to someone and only a couple of words from their search to go on. So how do you figure out the best domains to display?

Options offered through 600+ new gTLDs
Merchandising many of the new gTLDs

This is where relevancy comes in, the core of our search obsession. Before new TLDs came along, search was predominantly focused on second-level domain (SLD) spinning. If someone was on your site buying a domain, they were probably looking for a .COM – and chances are their exact search wouldn’t be available on .COM. In this old world of domain search, it was in your best interest to spin up as many variations on their search as possible, paired with the handful of TLDs available. As you can see, the results can get ridiculous pretty quickly.

A list of returned search results from a domain spinner
More and more options, but how relevant are they?

Today, domain search is a completely different beast. It’s easier than ever for customers to find a domain that fits them perfectly – at least it should be. Where domain search before new TLDs focused on SLD spinning, domain search now has to emphasize TLD matching. Customers don’t have to settle for something similar to the domain they really want. They can get the exact domain they’re looking for with a TLD that fits their online identity. But the key to this is relevancy-based search.

We have spent over two years building a relevancy-based search solution called Domain Suggestion Service, or DSS, because we feel strongly that it’s a necessary part of selling domains in the new TLD phase of our industry. Relevancy-based search makes those hundreds of new TLDs more accessible by providing a personalized experience to your customers, and giving you the opportunity to better engage with those customers.

DSS has been powering portions of search on Name.com and Enom for over a year. We are also excited that it has gone live on two of our partner sites, Dreamhost and Dynadot, and have begun offering it to other companies, as well. In part two of this post, I’ll explain the features of DSS in more depth and outline the different ways it can be implemented as a search solution to bring the power of relevancy to your search results.

If you’re interested in learning more about DSS, please reach out to us at DSS-Info@rightside.co.

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