The Internet community has been trying to figure out what sort of animal RealNames is. Is it a traffic company? A means to get high rankings on search engines?
In fact, it’s much more than that. Its purpose is to simplify web addresses to assist people in finding your site within many environments. It’s really about identity, not search terms.
To help clarify this, ask yourself: Why do we have search engines? We’ve got search engines because the original Net addressing system (DNS, or the domain name system) became obsolete once Tim Berners-Lee brought us the World Wide Web in 1989.
Before the web, the dot-com addressing system handled email, and it worked very well. When the web came along, it became necessary to deliver users to specific web pages. That’s when the universal resource locator (URL) was created for this purpose. Then, we didn’t just have “company.com,” we had “http://www.company.com/directory/directory2/file.html.”
Jerry Yang and David Filo of Yahoo saw the need to catalog these long and confusing web addresses, recognizing the difficulty of the URL addressing system from a user’s point of view. And the rest is history.
RealNames, from my point of view, has come along to help simplify the present web addressing system. It does this by using keywords that have a familiar and individual identity. A RealNames Internet keyword is akin to a phone number: Prospects can type it in and go directly to the location they want.
For instance, with RealNames, when you type in simple keywords like “Kelloggs Rice Krispies,” you are delivered to http://www.snapcracklepop.com/. Type in “Panasonic DVD,” and end up at http://www.panasonic.com/consumer_electronics/dvd/index.htm.
RealNames also has the ability to organize unique name spaces such as “The United States” or “Germany.” When a German search engine user searches for “BMW,” the user is taken to Germany’s BMW web site. A U.S. searcher using one of our engines to search for “BMW” would be taken to the U.S. BMW web site. A very cool feature. RealNames makes its Internet keyword data available for free to search and directory partners like AltaVista, Google, Looksmart and others.
RealNames Internet keywords can be in any language. Whereas URLs can use only Roman characters, RealNames Internet keywords can use Kanji characters, Chinese characters, and other alphabets and character sets.
I had the opportunity to speak with the president and CEO of RealNames, Keith Teare. He described his company as “the next-generation addressing system for the entire Internet.” This could turn out to be true, and it’s something that’s being discussed on the web. One thread I read noted: “It would be great to get some perspective on the future of Internet keywords, specifically opinions on whether or not they are being viewed as slowly replacing URLs.”
Another thread concerned branding: “If you have a widely recognized name like Coca-Cola or Pepsi, you don’t need a RealName. You already have the best “Real Name” there is! One would have to be rather slow to need help finding coca-cola.com or pepsi.com.”
The writer here missed the point. IF Coca-Cola were only interested in Coca-Cola, the soft drink, that would be one thing; however, Coca-Cola’s executive brand manager is much more interested in the integrity of the Coca-Cola brand. As Teare pointed out, how Coca-Cola is named in the digital world “coca-cola.com,” in its simplest form is different than how it’s named in the offline world. The goal is to have the brand survive without modification in the digital world.
As simple as this may seem, to type in “Coca-Cola,” not “coca-cola.com,” is a significant issue for Coca-Cola branding. The issue is not that Coca-Cola.com will be easier to find; rather, that Coca-Cola sustains its brand value, which is vital for Coca-Cola. This works well for consumers also, because there is nothing new to learn, no URL to remember. Some URLs, of course, are fairly memorable, but others aren’t.
There’s a benefit for smaller companies and lesser-known brands here, as well. RealNames lets those companies work with the engines to become discoverable. By putting their Internet keyword on their business cards, letterheads, and email signatures, these smaller companies can now easily be found in AltaVista, Google, Looksmart, GO.com and many other search engines. If users type in Company XYZ’s keyword, Company XYZ will usually be the number-one result in that search. That keyword can also be typed directly into the Microsoft Internet Explorer Browser where the URL normally goes and the company will be found, too.
I hope this helps clarify what RealNames is and how it can be integrated into your search engine optimization campaign and your branding initiative, if you are a household name. If you need any further assistance with understanding RealNames Internet keywords and proper usage, please don’t hesitate to email me.
In part one a few weeks ago, we discussed what brand TLDs (top level domains) are, which brands are applying for them and why they might be important. Today, we’ll take an in-depth look at the potential benefits for brands, and explore the challenges brand TLDs could help solve.
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