New gTLDs are all the talk these days when it comes to domain names. However, how are these newly released gTLDs being treated by search engines such as Google?
In the domain name business you can’t go even a few minutes without hearing all about gTLDs. Every business wants the ‘perfect’ domain name that will effectively brand its product or service, and recently many business have begun choosing gTLDs other than the traditional .com and .net.
Related to the topic of your ‘perfect’ domain name is SEO, or Search Engine Optimization. In other words, the one question every business owner wants answered is: how easily will potential clients find my website on Google and other popular search engines?
To give you a quick refresher, gTLD stands for generic Top Level Domain. This is the last part of your domain name after the meat of your URL. For example, .com is the most widely known gTLD, with .net and .org also very prevalent around the internet.
We’re now noticing more and more gTLDs that are more synonymous with the rest of the domain name. For example, we’re now seeing .cash with finance websites, .ninja with, well, ninja websites, .guru for all those self-proclaimed experts, and hundreds more . These are part of ICANN’s new gTLD program which is releasing more and more new domain name extensions every month.
One of the frequently asked questions when it comes to new gTLDs is what effect will they have on SEO? Most businesses on the internet pay a lot of attention to their SEO. Many companies even hire SEO specialists in order to improve search engine results, so what are these SEO experts saying about new gTLDS?
Let’s start with Google.
So far, Google insists a new gTLD will not affect search engine rankings as its algorithm is based on quality and popular content. “Crawlers” are still using sources such as links and meta data to display the best results for a search.
Matt Cutts, leader of Google’s webspam team, said, “…as an engineer in the search quality team at Google, I feel the need to debunk this misconception. Google has a lot of experience in returning relevant web pages, regardless of of the top-level domain (TLD). Google will attempt to rank new TLDs appropriately, but I don’t expect a new TLD to get any kind of initial preference over .com, and I wouldn’t bet on that happening in the long-term either”.
More recently, John Mueller from Google confirmed, “There still is no inherent ranking advantage to using the new TLDs. They can perform well in search, just like any other TLD can perform well in search”.
You can decide how much you trust Google’s response, but according to them, Google still displays the most relevant result to each search.
And the Moz Blog?
Although this research was conducted a number of years ago, the results tell us a lot about Google’s future with gTLDs. SEOmoz showed that Exact-Match Domains, or EMDs, are declining in search engine results. In other words, search engines are displaying relevant results based on content much more than the actual domain name. EMDs were once considered the king of SEO, however it’s now apparent that this is declining with time.
This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t buy a closely related domain name for your business. You should do that for branding purposes and to use with your marketing strategies. However, you can’t depend solely on your domain name to produce the absolute highest search engine results.
Relating this back to gTLDs, according to SEOmoz new gTLDs will have the same effect that a .com has on search engine results: that is, minimal.
Once again, this shows that content is king.
The domains.com says…
Two reputable sources insist that gTLDs don’t affect SEO results, but try telling that to coffee.club.
Thedomains.com noted that coffee.club jumped to the first page of Google search in only a week. Coffee.club has some stiff competition against closely related sites, yet has managed to find its way to the very top. In fact, at the time of writing, coffee.club is the very first result Google displays in the US when you search ‘coffee club’.
Could the gTLD .club be the reason for instant success?
SEO expert searchmetrics.com’s study
Searchmetrics.com decided to take a more in-depth look at how new gTLDs might affect rankings. The German SEO platform researched whether .berlin would position as well in search results as .com.
The research showed an obvious increase in results with .berlin. However, it should be noted that this research was done locally within a small demographic area. With that disclaimer, the results do show that .berlin domains had a significantly higher ranking than other extensions such as .com.
Local gTLDs such as .berlin and .london have shown significantly positive results. This proves credibility and shows the visitor that the site is specialized in a certain demographic area. When it comes to SEO a localized search may be classified entirely different than a broader search.
In reality, it’s a little too early to draw an absolute conclusion. Google claims that it won’t favor certain gTLDs, but other research shows that these new extensions are improving SEO. The way we see it is that a new gTLD may be a perfect fit for your business, but your sole reason for using one shouldn’t be for SEO purposes.
For now we suggest that you choose a domain name that will market your business best. To achieve the highest SEO rankings you will most likely want to stick to the basics: relatable and popular content will attract more and more visitors.
In other words, SEO remains to be a bit of a mystery that everyone wants to crack.