Dot UK Domains. What does it mean for existing UK sites?
So the .co.uk domain has been the top domain for UK business for a while. However as of the June 2014 the new .uk domain suffix is now available to all UK businesses.
Many other countries have had a similar more simplified domain suffix for a while, such as .de in Germany or .fr in France. So it is a natural progression for the UK to get a similar domain option.
So why is this important? Is it not just another way for domain registration companies to make more money?
There has been demand for a while to bring the standard UK domain convention in line with most other countries (specifically within Europe). There is also an argument that it shortens and simplifies the domain name for most UK businesses.
The domain registration companies are certainly likely to make some good income from this new wave of registrations, but Nominet have certainly ensured that the handling of this change has been more carefully thought through than domain releases of the past.
What does this mean for sites that already use .co.uk?
Well luckily those sites have automatically had their .uk equivalent domain reserved for them and have until 10th June 2019 to register that domain fully with Nominet. After that point other businesses will have the right to purchase that domain legally.
So what should you do?
It feels like a good moment to get up to date with all your current domain registrations and understand what you own and when it expires. If you have a number of valuable .co.uk domains that you actively use and promote it would be wise to register your reserved .uk domain with Nominet before the cut off date. It might even be wise to do it now, lest the 10th of June 2019 comes around without having remembered to register.
Should you change your site to work on the new .uk domain?
This is where new domains and their relative popularity have to be measured. There is a large awareness for .co.uk meaning a UK business and many people may not be so familiar with the new .uk domain. There is also an element of convention and users not being sure the simplified .uk domain is right.
In short it would probably be best to wait and see the level of uptake and acceptance of this new domain and then act accordingly with regards to actually using the domain on your site.
A fairly high profile first person to switch already has been Stephen Fry. He has moved from http://www.stephenfry.com to http://www.stephenfry.uk/
The other thing to consider is that starting up afresh on a new domain also carries some risks in terms of the authority of that domain. So always consult an SEO expert before undertaking such a move.