In 2014, hundreds of new top-level domains--the letters in a website address that come after the dot--were introduced, such as live, attorney, and news. Businesses no longer needed to come up with a company name based on whether the .com address is available. They could now create a domain name that was a truer reflection of their business identity.

Also that year, Donuts Inc., a Bellevue, Washington-based tech company was given the rights to sell more than 200 of these new top-level domains. (The Donuts name is itself a wordplay on the DNS servers that translate domain names to IP servers.) Until then, the domain name industry was dominated by one player, which focused on .com URLs. Donuts saw a chance to expand the web extension horizons. “Our founders saw a future where consumers had a choice and the opportunity to be true to their business name,” says Mina Neuberg, Donuts’ chief marketing officer.

RAISING AWARENESS

It’s taken a while for businesses to have that “aha! moment,” where they realize they have a choice in their domain name. But once companies realize they aren’t confined to one kind of address, they quickly see the benefits of having something more tailored and sector specific. “You’re able to use the left and right of the dot to tell the world what you do,” Neuberg says. “This allows you to have a short domain that’s authentic, to the point, and tells your story.”

CHEAPER AND SAFER DOMAIN EXTENSIONS

It also can be less expensive to purchase a more industry-focused domain. Countless companies have had to switch their business name because the address they wanted was already taken, while others contemplated paying current registrants thousands for their preferred address. Donuts’ domains typically cost between $5 and $50.

Donuts’ extensions also offer many security features not available with other domain names, says Neuberg. When people purchase a domain, Donuts automatically identifies and blocks a large number of potentially malicious variations of their company’s name. That helps them protect themselves and their users from phishing schemes that use names that look similar to their own, as hackers are prevented from registering false iterations of that domain name.

It won’t be long before more sector-specific, top-level domains are everywhere. “Entrepreneurs are realizing that they don’t have to compromise on their online identity because they can’t get the right domain name,” she says. “The tide is starting to turn.”