“…and the name needs to be available as a .com.” We hear this one a lot. Otherwise intelligent people have dropped vowels, smashed words together, and butchered perfectly good words to register a website. After all, name.coms are the gold standard for your business’ web presence, right? Not really. In 2016, name.com URLs are small potatoes. In this article, we’ll look at why.

First, let’s consider why people want name.coms in the first place. Some of it is just inertia: In the 90s, during the heady days of the dot com boom, everybody had that flashy (or boring?) name.com. But most people want them for two reasons. The first is searchability. The second is prestige.

Anxiety over being found on the internet often convinces people that they need a certain URL. The thinking here is that people hear a name and go to name.com in hopes of finding it online. But while this may have been standard operating procedure 20 years ago, these days, Google is king. If you’re a medical technology company, most of your traffic will come from people typing [your name] + medical into a search bar without even bothering with a URL. Boom, they found you.

The prestige of name.coms isn’t quite what it used to be, either. Think about it: if you’re an ad agency, you don’t need the Madison Avenue address. A lot of Silicon Valley isn’t even in Silicon Valley. If you liken a website to an address, the implication is clear: you just don’t need the name.com anymore. After all, no one does business or builds software the same way they did twenty years ago. Why should URL conventions stay the same?

Face it: name.coms are dinosaurs, relics of a previous era. Insisting on one is like making sure your office is stocked with fax machines (better hire a secretary to run the fax machines while you’re at it. Then they can take dictation from you). At this point, enough companies are using nonstandard URLs that even the most timid CEO shouldn’t be afraid of doing the same. Video game service Steam can be found on store.steampowered.com. overstock.com is now o.co. Internet juggernaut Alphabet lives at abc.xyz. On the flipside, check out nissan.com. It’s like a parable about stubbornness and greed. And it’s not going anywhere.

 

There are all kinds of ways to make a nonstandard URL work. The simplest is to add prefixes or suffixes to a .com: an IT company might use namesystems.com or getname.com.

Then there are the other Top Level Domains: over 1200, in fact. .io is a favorite of tech companies due to its resemblance to the On/Off buttons on a device. .co and .us (for US companies) are good stand-ins for .com, as is the somewhat more dated .net. .media, .design, .financial, and .systems are your friends if you’re in those spaces. .works is a confident add-on. And .xyz telegraphs originality.

Finally, there’s domain hacking, a la del.icio.us, about.me, adf.ly, and stopspamming.us. Who knows, you might end up going with mynewna.me.

At the end of the day, your name is the most important part of your brand. At trade shows, in boardrooms, in banner ads, and at cocktail parties, it’s going to do the heavy lifting for you. Don’t let URL perfectionism get in its way.