Over the past few years, you may have seen a top level domain name that was used creatively to spell out something within the URL itself.
Sites like visual.ly or for example google.it (“Google it”) are examples of novelty domains. These are pretty cool, however, there is a very important issue that these domains have. The top level domain (the .ly or .it) may be country specific. Google geotags these domains to the specific country they are thought to only be in. This means you may not actually be getting the right search traffic. Google.it may actually only get traffic from Italy and not much at all from the US.
Matt Cutts from Google answers lots of questions in this short video clip about country code top level domains. He explains that some of these top level domains ended up being generic enough that they geotagged them for the entire world after all.
Fortunately, Google will periodically go back over this list of country code top level domains to see if any of them should be used more worldwide rather than country specific. Domains like .tv and .me are actually country code top level domains. However, since they have been found to be fairly useful worldwide, Google has considered them to be generic TLDs and are not geotargeted for specific countries.
These generic top level domains would be safe to use in any novelty domain ideas you may have. However, be aware of the others that may be specific to certain countries. This will greatly affect your search results as Google won’t even know to display it, essentially removing any search traffic you might have gotten with a .com top level domain.
Next time you are thinking about a creative domain name, be sure to consider these generic top level domains rather than country specific TLDs. It might determine the overall success of your website!