Google’s take on Generic Top Level Domains.

By Nick Papagiannis

What are gTLDs?

Things like .com, .org, .net are top-level domain extensions (TLDs) that we’ve been using for many years. ICANN, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, is the non-profit body that governs (among many internet-oriented things) domain protocols. ICANN has moved forward with additional domain options called Generic Top Level Domain (gTLDs) extensions. Examples include .technology, .investment, .careers. For a full list of gTLDs, visit the ICANN website. The gTLDs are now available for purchase on traditional domain purchasing sites like GoDaddy.com and name.com with many marketers speculating how they can be leveraged in their marketing programs. With domains and URL structures having a big impact on SEO performance, SEO teams have long wondered about gTLDs and SEO benefits.

Google finally speaks about gTLDs and their impact on search.

Last week, Google finally provided some input, via their webmaster blog, on how gTLDs may or may not impact SEO. The key takeaway for marketers and SEO program managers is that gTLDs will be treated like every other domain. SEO’ers have assumed for years that gTLDs will provide better rankings for terms in the category (e.g., a .investment gLTD will rank better for investment searches). Google said this is not the case.

gTLDs and SEO: Implications for Brands

Google announcing their policy on their Webmaster Blog indicates that gTLDs are becoming more popular and discussed. Brands should consider the following SEO principles when buying a gTLD and/or migrating their site to one.

  1. Don’t forget to redirect. Make sure your IT team or website teams set up permanent 301 redirects when you changing domains.
  2. Links will remain extremely important. Since gTLDs will be considered new domains, they have zero history in Google’s eyes and links still remain a big part of the big three search engines’ ranking algorithms. Building links and traffic to your new gTLD will be extremely important. Brands should continue to leverage offsite content as linking and traffic opportunities to their gTLD.
  3. Choose your new domain gTLD wisely. Even though Google’s statement reads, “our systems treat new gTLDs like other gTLDs (like .com & .org). Keywords in a TLD do not give any advantage or disadvantage in search.” Translation: They won’t favor gTLDs for relevant searches (i.e., .investment gTLDs rank higher for investment searches). Despite the statement, there is still some speculation and examples that these domains tend to rank higher. So when choosing a gTLD option, consider looking at search volume for the keyword in the gTLD extension. Try to choose relevant gTLDs with higher search volume, so you can capture more traffic.