July 22, 2016

Healthy benefits from new domain names

A host of new domain name extensions are providing health practitioners with new branding and search marketing opportunities, as well as creating a level of trust and credibility for the overall sector.

Glenn Ruscoe, Managing Director of Phys Biz, the registry operator for .physio, the new top level domain created specifically for the global physiotherapy community, encourages healthcare practitioners to think of new domains as an investment, rather than a cost. Benefits include branding and search marketing opportunities, as well as creating a level of trust and credibility for the overall sector.

Domain names are unlikely to be at the top of the agenda for many health practitioners. However, Glenn Ruscoe, a Perth-based physiotherapist, is banking on this changing over the next couple of years.

Ruscoe is the Managing Director of Phys Biz, the registry operator for .physio, the new top level domain created specifically for the world physiotherapy community.

It is one of more than 1,400 new domain extensions approved in recent years by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), which has facilitated the expansion of the pool of available domain extensions from .com, .gov, .edu, .org, and .net to include a host of specialised sectors and brands.

Alongside .physio, the health industry has welcomed a number of new domains such as; .health, .doctor, .medical, .pharmacy, .surgery, .dental, and .fitness.

The benefits for healthcare practitioners are significant with the new generic top-level domains (gTLDs) providing branding and search engine optimisation (SEO) opportunities for businesses.

“The great opportunity from the new gTLDs is that you no longer have to have a company name and a URL, you can build it all together in one, so your brand, company name, logo and domain are all the same,” says Ruscoe.

“The advantage of .physio is that a key part of the information has been moved to the right of the dot so it intrinsically makes domain names shorter. Once this happens you realise that .com is superfluous, I mean, what is the point of having it? It says nothing about your business.”

The new domains not only provide more effective branding but also free businesses up to focus on creating short, relevant and memorable domains to drive more customers to their website. The more relevant the domain, the more traffic it will drive to your site, says Ruscoe.

“The gTLDs not only help the SEO, but they also help the ‘clickability’ of your link,” says Ruscoe.

Ruscoe says businesses that purchase a number of different domains will also ensure more targeted connections.

“In the past, you had a domain name that took you to the front page of your website,” he says. “People would arrive at the front page and then hopefully go off to explore your site. This concept flips that on its head. Now you can have multiple domain names pointing to multiple areas and specific content within your website that better targets their interests.

“It’s a bit like when you go fishing and drop multiple hooks with bait into the water. It reduces searching for customers and makes it easier for people to find you. And, just like when you are fishing with multiple hooks, you going to catch a lot of different fish.”

Protecting consumers

While the brand and marketing opportunities are clear, there is also a huge opportunity to use the new domains to build trust and credibility.

Physio’s registration process requires registrants to be eligible members of a physiotherapy association or servicing the profession and the registry operator conducts random audits to ensure all domain holders comply.

According to Marie Le Maitre, the Global Marketing Manager for CSC Digital Brand Services, which specialises in domains and online services, this level of trust and assurance is the number one benefit of the new domains.

“Having one of these domain names that is regulated and requires registration is a great opportunity, particularly for smaller businesses,” she says. “This provides a sense of confidence that everything with that domain name is trustworthy. It’s also a fantastic opportunity for consumers, particularly for the people who don’t understand the Internet all that well and get fooled by counterfeit products and services online. Obviously, when it comes to healthcare, that is extremely dangerous.

“There are fantastic opportunities, but we need to make sure the domain names are regulated and there’s robust registry criteria.”

Protecting your IP

However, both Le Maitre and Ruscoe warn that health practitioners need to get on the front foot to secure their business names and IP now before someone else does.

Le Maitre says, “It’s important for businesses to consider all aspects when it comes to new domains. They should examine what is important for the business, what needs to be registered for branding and marketing and also what needs to be registered for defensive reasons. It’s important to understand what you can register, what you should register, and equally what you don’t need.”

Ruscoe agrees, suggesting people take immediate steps to protect their intellectual property. “If your business name is something physio, for example, you should grab that domain now before someone else does. You need to think broader than just your local area, as there may be other eligible registrants around the world who have a similar business name. Domains have become a brand and that means they are big business. For example, the Hotels.com domain name sold for $USD11 million.

“It’s important that people don’t think of a new domain as a cost, they should see it as an investment into their business,” says Ruscoe.

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