Since the new batch of latest .TLD domains were released there has been a much ado among webmasters about how they might impact SEO value. Several webmasters catering to international audience saw ccTLDs (Country Code TLD) to be a lurking opportunity to rise up SERPs for local results. Similarly, webmasters who wanted to dominate a particular service/product niche found gTLDs (generic TLD) as an opportunity to establish themselves as a branded leader for their niche. As more clients become aware of this TLD expansion, more Internet Marketing Agencies & their decision makers face several mind boggling TLD related queries from clients.
To kill the mystery around TLDs and their SEO impact, today Google’s John Mueller did a short yet “juicy blogpost” on Google’s Webmaster blog regarding SEO value of TLDs.
Its apparent that there is ZERO TLD preference when it comes to rankings on Google results. Some exceptions exist, when it comes to Geo Specific TLDs.
Here are the details from the Google’s latest blogpost:-
1) Impact of Generic TLDs on Google’s Search Algorithm
John Clarified that new gTLDs do not affect search algorithms. So when it comes to domains like .guru .agency etc – it will have same impact as a .com domain
Since Google’s exact match domain update any SEO value due to keyword presence in URL has been negated. However, brands can still strategize their backlink acquisition strategies by registering such generic TLDs.
To explain better, if you sell “sports shoes”, acquiring a domains like www.americansport.shoes & then setting up branded blogs can help you climb up SERP rankings faster. Social Media value of such vanity URLs are also through the roof due to better brand recall.
2) Impact of IDN TLDs
Google considers Punycode version for each domain when it comes to caching. John recommended that webmasters use UTf-8 for both – URL parts and strings instead of Non-ascii characters for better Search Engine Vantage. Punycodes have “xn--” as a prefix & if you are working in Turkish (and similar) Geographies you might want to get more information regarding Punycode & Google Chome’s IDN Policy to understand what Google prefers.
3) Impact of Branded TLDs
John was quite blunt about it on Webmaster Blog. Google treats branded TLDs similar as others. However, if you are targeting certain geography you might need to setup your Geo-targeting settings so that you don’t lose to ccTLDs in rankings. The only impact they might have is when it comes to a “brand recall”. so if you are Hilton, you might want to go for a domain like Hilton.hotel as your central site versus Hilton.com. However, there are a few SEO conservatives out there who might still argue the wisdom of such an acrobat.
4) Impact of region TLDs & city TLD
All these domains are handeled “Same way” as other gTLDs. However, Google did hint that as the web expands, these domains might get more weightage in their algorithms. As mentioned earlier, its very important that you optimize your regional settings when it comes to geo-targeting for your website. Earlier too, at SMX 2014, Matt cutts & Duane had confirmed this.
5) Impact of ccTLDs
Google does favor ccTLDs when it comes to rankings in local geography. So if you have a .uk domain and you are a local business, you can expect a boost when it comes to rankings versus others using generic TLDs. Here is a detailed blogpost from Moz regarding ccTLD & their impact on users/eCommerce
Lastly, it was clarified that if you are considering to move your website to a new fancier TLD, it would not get an alienated treatment from Google but will be treated as any other site move. Here is Google’s site move documentation for more details.
With that being said, its noteworthy that these TLDs have also contributed to a lot of Cyber Nuances. For instance:-
1) Phishing – eCommerce niche is worst to be affected by such phishing activities. Everyday more paypay users recieve scammy emails from domains like paypal.web regarding an issue with their last payment. Such TLDs are reported to have contributed to over 25% increase in phishing attemps in past few years.
2) EMD SEO Spam – Everyday as Search Engine algorithm evolves & gets better to fight spam. These new TLDs have equipped notorious spam moneymakers with a new avenue to inflate Google’s index with lightweight backlinks.
3) Branding Troubles – Policing or intellectual property owners has got a lot more tougher. There have been a serge in the count of “pretenders” trying to hijack small brands that are doing well locally.
What are your thoughts on the latest TLD explosion? Are you a SEO who has been using TLDs to help their clients? We’d love to know more from our readers in comments below!