Internet domains have existed since the creation of the network itself. However, after so many years and millions of URLs created, other mechanisms have had to be used when registering a domain name with a web host. One solution could be to place a very long name like www.mulhouseisthebestcityoffrance.com, but the truth is that these long names are usually boring, and do not look good.
As a solution to this and other hosting domain problems, a technique known as Domain hack had begun to be implemented to cut out domain names and at the same time make reference to the different domain levels that a URL must-have. But what is a domain hack really?
Domain hack Definition
A domain hack, also known as a domain trick or hacked domain, is a name given to certain domain names that combine parts of the Second Level Domain (SLD) and the Top Level Domain (TLD) to establish the full name of a URL. Usually, these make up a word or phrase.
An example of domain hacks is the website www.mulhou.se, an idea from the consultant SEO Julien Di Giusto, which divides the name of the city of Mulhouse, a city in France, into two terms; “.mulhou” as SLD, and “.se” as TLD. In this case, “.se” is used as the ccTLD for Sweden, although the content of the site has nothing to do with that region.
Conventional domain names maintain a basic structure “example.com”, where “example” is the SLD, and “.com” the TLD. However, domain hacking allows you to create names like “recru.it”, where “recru” becomes the SLD, and the top-level domain would be “.it”, which refers to the domain extension of Italy. Likewise, domain hacking also allows combining sub-domains together with the SLD and the TLD as “re.cru.it”, where the sub-domain would be “re”, and the following structure is maintained as in the previous example.
Domain hacking seeks to break the tradition of domain names, but without altering their functioning. In addition, it tries to use common phrases or words that can also look creative and attractive.
Why use domain hacking?
In general, most companies and individuals resort to domain hacking because they are shorter domains. In addition, it allows you to register a word that is already conventionally registered in another way. For an example of domain hacking; let’s suppose that “excuses.com” is a conventional domain. With the domain hack, you could register “excus.es” and get the same word in another domain.
Other reasons for using domain hacking are the following:
- Better prices at the time of sale.
- Easier to remember and write.
- They have a clean and legal structure.
- They benefit the SEO of the site.
These are some examples of domain hacks:
- Amsterd.am (Amsterdam)
- Mulhou.se (Mulhouse)
- Go.al (Goal)
- Inter.net (Internet)
As we have seen, domain extensions can have different endings, although they are always classified into two types; generic top-level domains (gTLDs), and geographic top-level domains (ccTLDs). However, we can also find other groups of them, although not very common, the sponsored sLTDs, and the non-sponsored uTLDs.
Types of Top Level Domains (TLDs)
Generic Top-Level Domain (gTLD). This type of domain extension is usually the most widely used worldwide and consists of three or more letters. They do not link the domain to a specific region or country, as they are generic. Among the most common we can see “.com”, “.net”, and “.info”. They can also be divided into two groups: Sponsored Top Level Domain (sTLD) and Unsponsored Top Level Domain (uTLD).
The sTLDs are domain extensions sponsored and controlled by private organizations and companies, which set their own terms and conditions for use in their TLDs.
On the other hand, there are the uTLDs, which are non-sponsored TLD extensions. These are noted in non-profit organizations and usually end in “.org”, “.net”, etc.
These are the main generic top-level domains (TLDs):
- .com. Most used for “commercial” names.
- .net. Originally used by internet service providers, but now as generic as “.com”.
- .org. It is used by nonprofit organizations.
- .gov. is used by government institutions.
- .edu. is used exclusively by educational institutions.
- .info. This domain is designed for the information dissemination site.
- .name. This termination is used for the registration of personal names.
- .pro. This is used by licensed professionals. They are divided into sub-domains such as “med.pro”, for example.
- .coop. This termination is reserved for cooperative businesses, which are referrals from other local agencies.
- .mobi. This is designed for all those sites that are compatible with mobile devices.
- .jobs. It is used in all those sites of employment portals and job opportunities.
- .aero. It is designed for all those domains that are related to air transport.
- .travel. Used by travel agencies and/or tourist destinations.
- .asia. This termination is used by many companies and organizations that eradicate in Asian regions, Australia, and the Pacific.
- .xxx. This termination is used by sites with sexual content.
Country Code Top Level Domain (ccTLD)
These are domain extensions of only 2 letters, which correspond to a region or country independent of the rest of the world. Each of these is assigned by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) along with the Central Secretariat in Switzerland, which is responsible for coordinating the entire system.
These are some examples of ccTLD terminations:
- .se (Sweden)
- .es (Spain)
- .fr (France)
- .ru (Russia)
- .it (Italy)
- .co.uk (United Kingdom)
Each country has its established termination, and you can know each one of them by visiting the official site of ISO or by consulting through Google. However, the fact of using these terminations does not imply that a website will only work in one region.
www.mulhou.se is a clear example of this since it has as a ccTLD a domain from Sweden, but the content of the page reflects information from Mulhouse, the city of France. However, this site must adhere to all laws of the country where the domain is from, regardless of whether it reflects content from Sweden, but always respect the laws, terms, and conditions.
Many people and companies have had problems when registering or using a domain hack because they do not know how to use the same name divided into two in order to register it. Such is the case of websites like del.icio.us, which wanted to buy delicious.com, but couldn’t and had to use the domain hack, only they didn’t use it in a creative way.
Currently, there are many platforms that offer domain hacking businesses, either by registering, renewing, or both. Some people buy domain names and then resell them at a higher price when that name or brand gets more recognition and demand. There are investors who do whatever it takes to get the domain name they want no matter what they have to pay.
Similarly, knowing and using hack domains well can be really fun and creative. In addition, it can help you register a unique name, which can really be very interesting.
How does Domain Hack affect SEO?
Many people and organizations are unaware of the impact that domain hacking has on the SEO of a website. If we remember what we mentioned above about gTLDs and ccTLDs, generic domains, and geographic domains, we can deduce that generic domains such as “.com” and “.net” could belong to any site anywhere in the world, which does not make it stable in a given territory.
On the other hand, geographic domains by country, whether “.se”, “.es”, etc. can give you a positioning in the corresponding country, which will greatly affect SEO. Therefore, if you want to maintain a good SEO positioning, your first option should be a generic domain extension “.com”. However, if you only want to eradicate your site in your country of residence, then you can opt for the ccTLD. However, you can also opt for a 301 redirection and thus reserve the “.com” next to your country’s domain. See the example of a domain hack from www.mulhou.se, which although it has a Swedish ccTLD, is used to promote information and news about Mulhouse, a city located in Alsace, France, and can be opened from anywhere in the world.
Having the right domain, whether it is a conventional domain or a hacked domain, will directly influence SEO positioning. A ccTLD makes it possible to use geolocation, which indicates the territorial area to which the content of the site is oriented, thanks to the use of Webmaster Tools, Google’s tool for SEO positioning.
For those sites that have .com or .net domain names and wish to position themselves in several countries, they should consider adding a ccTLD with a /. For example princeofharlem.com/se. This simple modification will be defined in the Google tool that the site is oriented to, as well as offering a sitemap for most languages. It will also evaluate your SEO content and help you position your site better.
In general, domain hacking is becoming the way many companies and organizations are reaching levels they had not reached before. In addition, combinations of words or phrases when combining SLDs or TLDs can be a fun and creative activity.