Does Moving To A New TLD (Top Level Domain) Boost Search Ranking?
It can be quite a bit of stress on the nerves when you plan to change your domain. This so happens as it is the first major step towards the nomenclature of a new idea- an idea on which you would be working on in the near future. Getting your domain right is considered to be one of the most important areas from the very beginning in order to boost search ranking.
During this age of digital boom, you have at your disposal thousands of top level domains. With domain names catering to almost all sorts of businesses, it won’t be much of a problem to find a domain that matches your brand. In order to promote your brand better, your website should rank high in the search results. Amateurs to this area might find it quite confusing to choose between a domain that matches the brand or go with the universal .com extension. Does moving over to these new TLDs actually boost search ranking for your website? Or does .com win hands down? To find out, read on!
The popular word-of-mouth has been that Google weighs all TLDs equally in search results, which has been doing the rounds since 2012, when Matt Cutts, Head of Webspam, used Google+ to put an end to the speculation. However, this clarification from Cutts, together with the lack of intention to rank new TLDs differently didn’t help as much as Cutts would have wanted it to. There are quite a few notable examples where websites, such as “coffee.club”, do rank lower than .com, but apparently perform better. “coffee.club” has been considered as one of the biggest success stories as far as a new TLD is concerned, as it climbed to the front page of Google US, when searches for “coffee club” were made, which is quite astonishing for a new website.
Going into details, backlinks are hugely beneficial to boost search ranking for a search query as the anchor text gets associated with the domain name through a hyperlink. “coffee.club” has over 900 such backlinks as of now. The most amusing thing here, though, is that absolutely none of the links make use of the anchor term ‘coffee club’, while 80% of them use the term ‘coffee.club’. This actually supports the very idea that Google is considering a TLD as a keyword. In this very particular case, Google would notice these backlinks- with the term coffee.club -and then interpret them as ‘coffee club’. Considering this to be true, what it means is that your website would get an SEO advantage, that is to say it will boost search ranking, than a .com if you have a TLD which contains a relevant keyword.
Due to the anomalous success of “coffee.club”, speculation started rising. Google’s Webmaster Trends Analyst, John Mueller, then took up the matter, and re-iterated the words of Cutts’ about the equal ranking of all TLDs.
Addressing the issue seven months later, Mueller told, “Our systems treat new TLDs like other TLDs (like .com & .org). Keywords in a TLD do not give any advantage or disadvantage in search.” However, unlike Cutts, Mueller agreed to the fact that there remains an advantage in using country code TLDs such as .ca or .uk. According to Mueller, Google targets the website using these ccTLDS by default. These country code TLDs tell Google about the prevalence of the website in that particular country. However, country code top level domains shouldn’t be confused with region-specific domains like .nyc, as these are not geotargeted by Google.
As of now, ignoring all the speculation that arose due to all the new TLD success cases, we can very well state that new TLDs are ranked at par with .com. This proves to be great news for domain registrants who would now be free to choose any TLD matching their brand or name, and not worry about negative implications on the SEO. And as far as the debate as to whether there is any SEO benefit that can be had from having a new TLD, it is totally upto individual guesswork and perception. Just remember that whatever be the TLD, the success of any domain name depends on the name being memorable as well as the website being fun and useful.
So, as we come to our conclusion, whether or not new TLDs benefit SEO is a debate which can’t be proven by statistics. So, if you do happen to find the best domain name coupled with a new TLD, just go for it. I bet you won’t regret the decision!