As of October 23, you can now get a ".REALTOR" domain name for your website, thanks to the US National Association of Realtors (NAR) and CREA in Canada. It's a new top-level domain exclusively for their members and representative organizations.
So should you get one? And if you get one, what do you actually do with it? What does that do for your marketing?
Here's a look at the main questions.
What is a top-level domain?
The top-level domain (TLD) comes after the dot at the end of a web address: http.//www.your-name.tld
It can be generic, like .com, .net, .org or .biz, or it might be a country code, like the ".ca" in www.rew.ca.
Recently, brands have been allowed to get their own TLDs. The US National Association of Realtors and Canadian CREA have approval for a new TLD called ".REALTOR" and are now allowing members to claim domain names that will end with .REALTOR.
I currently don’t have a domain at all. Should I go for it?
You definitely need a domain name, and you should definitely consider getting a .REALTOR one. You can start your whole career off with consistent .REALTOR branding. The whole point of it is to let people know you have earned this trusted professional accreditation. If you get your-name.realtor, you don’t even need to explain what your site is about.
I already have an established website. Why should I apply for a .REALTOR web address?
The main reason to apply is to protect your name and branding. Otherwise someone with the same name or the same tagline might claim those domain names, and that could cause confusion. Domains with .REALTOR will be available to more than 1.1 million people in all. The sooner you apply, the better the chance that you can snag your actual name and/or a branding phrase that you're using.
As a bonus, CREA is making the first 10,000 domains free for a year. And the sooner you apply, the better your chance of getting the name(s) of your choice.
You don't ever need to use it, but no one else will be able to either.
Should I switch my website over?
This is not a decision to make lightly. Domain switch is one of biggest decisions in search engine optimization (SEO), because all the time your website is up, it's amassing SEO value, which means you are gradually bumped up the list of search engine results. That SEO value sticks to that domain (web address); it's difficult to pass it on to a different domain. If you change your domain without proper arrangements, you're basically starting from scratch and losing the value you've built up so far.
You should see this as a part of your branding. If it really boosts your branding, you could switch. However, there are risks you need to consider.
Possible SEO value loss
If you decide to switch over, make sure you have a 301 redirect to the new domain (a permanent redirect). You can transfer most of SEO juice from your old domain to a new domain. However, you will still lose some and that may affect your search engine traffic temporarily.
If you have .ca domain, you might have had a slight ranking boost on Google.ca. By dropping .ca, you might lose that.
Talk to your website consultant about how to make the changeover with the least disruption.
What domain should I get?
One major recommendation is to get the same domain name you're already using. So if your website is currently www.smithluxuryhomes.ca, it becomes www.smithluxuryhomes.REALTOR.
If you don't have a website yet, go for a short domain name with just one or two words. The best idea is to go for your area and your name, e.g., yaletownjanet.realtor.
Here are the guidelines for domain names.
To read the above rules in a PDF, click here.