Do newer TLDs have keyword search value?

If you purchase domains based on the SEO keyword value in the TLD then you might want to reconsider your strategy. TLDs such as .dating, .live and others may have the potential to create rememberable, easy to spell domains but how much does the extension really matter when optimizing for search engines?

It may surprise the biggest dot com fans to know that Google treats all domain extensions equally except in some cases where the extension is country specific such as ccTLDs.

In a July 2015 blog post, Google says:

Overall, our systems treat new gTLDs like other gTLDs (like .com & .org). Keywords in a TLD do not give any advantage or disadvantage in search.

In case you were wondering about IDNs:

Google treats the Punycode version of a hostname as being equivalent to the unencoded version, so you don’t need to redirect or canonicalize them separately.

This debate had already been settled back in 2015 but was resparked by a Rightside sponsored post on Search Engine Land that claimed a lawyer switched from .com to .attorney and gained an increase in search rankings prompting Google’s John Mueller to clarify in a recent Google Hangout that indeed the TLD “is not something we [Google] take into account”. (at minute 12:45 below)

While the official answer is no, perhaps the bigger question is: do users trust the new TLDs?

In early 2016, NCC Group did a study in collaboration with IDG Research Services surveying 10,000 users across the UK and US.

The results were that only 9% of users feel comfortable visiting website ending in the new TLDs and showing that:

This figure is slightly higher than last year too, showing that the wider domain industry hasn’t yet done a good enough job to educate the public and organizations about the benefits on offer.

comfort-lefts

Graph provided by NCC Group 1

The document also highlights factors that users said increase their confidence in new TLDs:

  • branded logo indicating it is a safe site
  • evidence the website adheres to standards of security regulations
  • communicates steps for a user to secure their personal information

Domaining Toolkit also advises the following:

  • easy to find privacy policy and terms of service
  • easy to find contact information including address, phone and email

If users still prefer dot com or any of the older extensions over the new ones then it is likely websites on a new TLD will have less CTR even if they perform better in ranking compared to a traditional extension.

Even though TLDs do not have keyword value in the extension it is clear more work needs to be done all around in order to help boost overall trust which is essential to boosting traffic.

Post Credits & References   [ + ]

1. Trust in the Internet Survey 2016 – NCC Group – PDF Document

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