Earlier this year, WordPress surpassed the 26% mark, and now it powers more than a quarter of all the websites. Last year, after an incredible acquisition of WooThemes, people speculated about many such takeovers in the future. It was no later than WooMattic turned one that Matt Mullenweg once again stepped up to the plate and officially declared Automattic's acquisition of the .blog domain name. In case you don’t already know, Automattic is the company of WordPress co-founder Matt Mullenweg which is responsible for WordPress.com. Today, in this post, I am going to talk about. Blog domain extensions and their impact on WordPress.
A Glimpse at the Past
Last year, the .blog TLDR went up for the auction and was sold to a mysterious buyer. Knock Knock Whois There LLC along with the company Primer Nivel Group arose as the final winners; partnering the rights to the .blog domain extension. The bid closed at a hefty price of around $20 million which left many people awestruck.
Several people seemed amazed because the company beat Google and a handful of other new TLD companies in the auction. But the shocking revelation which was later announced answered all such questions.
Through a post on his personal blog, Matt Mullenweg officially declared that the company behind Knock Knock Whois There LLC was Automattic, and they have sought the official registry for the new .blog TLD.
"Holly smokes!" That was my instant reaction and what was even more exciting for me was that Automattic beat other industry giants like Google and several others. Blogspot being a direct competitor of WordPress, and Automattic investing such a massive price meant something big was coming, more on that later.
Soon after the announcement, other related news which included the Nic.blog and launch plan got published. Here, domain registrars can sign up to sell the new domain extension and can participate in an incentive partnership model that rewards a higher volume of sales. It almost seemed everything was preplanned.
Blogging with WordPress
Little more than a decade ago, not many people knew what does the term “blog” meant; fast-forward to 2016 and there are more than 200 million online blogs with about 250 million bloggers.
People use WordPress, BlogSpot, Tumblr, Ghost and all kinds of blogging tools; to keep an online blog. But WordPress caters a huge market of 59.6% w.r.t. Content management systems at the time of writing. Though WordPress started as a blogging tool, it has grown into a full-fledged content management system. About a year ago, Automattic acquired WooCommerce which made people think that the company is all set to enter the eCommerce space and that WordPress.com will be no more than just a blogging medium. The debate was not yet over while a new discussion regarding .blog domain begun right when the news broke. If .blog gTLD is the next step for Automattic, then the WordPress is ready to make a massive splash into the waters of blogging niche. This will empower WordPress as a brand. I think this is an excellent step forward.
Let’s discuss the future implications this acquisition can bring in the world of blogging and to the overall WordPress community.
The WordPress Community
The newly acquired domain space is expected to be a catalyst for the existing blogging industry. The .blog domain will overall increase the number of blogs in a more centralized and connected fashion. This is a right step towards WordPress road of acquiring 50% market share in the world wide web.
An increased number of blogs will have a huge impact on the WordPress community. This means more free and open source software, more contributors, more community members, massive community, more jobs, and more WordPress.
Likewise, one can expect the readers' interest towards blogs to rise consistently. Several surveys have been conducted which reveal a remarkable increase in the number of blogs. These stats will increase many folds with the .blog domain. Even with all the AI’s being built and neural networks taking over the web design and dev industry, it’s the blogging niche that’s always going to have a more human touch than any other. People would always want to share their opinion, write reviews and random ramblings on their blogs.
Open Source Approach Upheld
I am a true open sourcerer, and I love building FOSS (free and open source software). That’s one thing that I can directly attribute to WordPress and its open source nature. The spirit has been fully taken into account when Automattic acquired the .blog domain. The domain registration will be available to everyone, irrespective of what kind of site, blogging tool, CMS or the web host you have.
.blog domains will be available to anyone around the world. A WordPress.com site is not required when registering a .blog domain. You don’t even have to use WordPress.
Automattic could have restricted the .blog domain particularly to the WordPress users similar to what I think Google would have done with Blogspot, but they have decided to keep it open for everyone. Such an approach will raise the bar of the CMS to a next level. That is why Matt Mullenweg expects to activate nearly 250,000 new domain names just in the year 2016. Likewise, the price remains uniform for everyone except for the premium domains which will be charged accordingly.
Marketing and Awareness
Users can expect additional consolidation in the domain name industry where .blog may become the next great gTLD. Chances do exist that the new domain space brings massive change in current business models and blog economics (yes, I just invented that word, but you get what I mean).
New domain name registrars may get started with their business; expanding it later to a full-fledged .blog domain service provider which inadvertently will help create more SaaS-based WordPress businesses Similarly, the marketing strategies can also witness a revolutionary boom. Commercial industries may use it exclusively to run ads, promotional campaigns, etc. Almost every corporate company has a blog/news section. But there is no consistency to any of that. Some call their blogs a blog, others call it “The Grind,” you can’t guess anything there. Let’s talk about Facebook, stop here for a moment and think about if you can guess what is the URI for Facebook’s blog? What about Google? Or maybe you want to read Apple’s blog? From the top of your head, can you guess the URI’s of their blogs? No! I bet you can’t. Some companies choose the blog.company.td structure, others go along with company.tld/blog or /news or /WTFOMGBBQ.
Not anymore, with .blog domain extension, all companies can be consistent about it. How about, Facebook.blog, Google.blog, Apple.blog, etc. Now your blog can be separated as an independent unit.
If companies opt for this approach, this would mean a lot more WordPress; this would mean massive blogging community, more jobs, more everything WordPress; see what I am getting at — you guessed it — 50% market share for WordPress.
SEO, SMM & SERP Adoption
One thing I am a bit concerned about is that how would Google treat the .Blog domain extension? Will it rank better being more niche specific? What about the social media engagement factor for Social Media Marketers? I guess, that’s something we are going to have to wait and see for ourselves.
My Clock Says It’s My Break Time
Guess that is enough for today. Automattic has announced the schedule for .blog domain registration; starting from August 2016 for trademark owners and a public release by November. The domains will be available for purchase through WordPress.com and other accredited domain registrars. The registration process has been timeframed into different phases like Sunrise (August), Landrush (October) and General Availability (November). The details are available here.
What are your views about the .blog domain extension? I'd love to hear the perspective of both new and pro bloggers. Which domain name do you plan to buy?
Finally, you can catch all of my articles on my profile page, and you can follow me or reach out at Twitter @mrahmadawais; to discuss this article. As usual, don’t hesitate to leave any questions or comments below, and I’ll aim to respond to each of them.