It’s all in the domain name

Do the new domain name extensions (.business, .guru, .shop) help with SEO? Many of our clients and people at seminars ask us this question because most of them have been convinced to purchase 5, 10 or even 20 new domains for the “SEO benefit”.

Extensions like .guru, .shop or other such concepts that actually describe the business are being promoted as a great way to help improve your ranking and domain registrars are pushing them like candy. But do they really benefit SEO? Let’s explore this a bit more and see what we can come up with.

What Google says about these domain name extensions?

Google recently published an article on its webmaster blog explaining whether the new personalized domain extensions have an impact on ranking or not. This is the definitive answer:

“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.”

So there it is, Google treats the new domain extensions like regular extensions (like .com or .org) and does not give preference to .brand or .keyword at all. Except that the regular extensions have the added benefit that most social networking sites recognize them as links, where the new extensions are generally not.

Later, in a Google+ thread it was confirmed that keyword rich domain extensions have no effect or value for SEO. In the thread a UK marketer said that TLDs surely provided a little bit of increase in relevance, to which Gary Illyes (a Google analyst) simply replied: “It doesn’t.”

It is clear that Google has no intention of giving any value to custom domain name extensions.

Country vs. City TLDs

Country or city domain name extensionsDomains with country specific extension (ccTLDs) like .ca, .mx or .uk still carry more value for the specific country than generic domain extensions (like .net, .biz or .com). Country specific domain name extensions do give an advantage and help for SEO, but only in the country they are aimed at.

Lastly, there are new city specific domains such as .toronto or .guelph that may seem a good opportunity to rank locally, however, we submit to Google’s article again:

“Even if they look region-specific, we will treat them as gTLDs. This is consistent with our handling of regional TLDs like .eu and .asia. There may be exceptions at some point down the line, as we see how they’re used in practice. See our help center for more information on multi-regional and multilingual sites, and set geotargeting in Search Console where relevant.”

Worth noting that city or region specific domain extensions may benefit your SEO in the future (as per the quote above), but currently they do not have any benefit.

Keywords in the domain name

Google does give more value to doman names with the keywords in them. For example, would be a great domain to have for a website design Guelph business. There is a local competitor whose domain name is SEO Guelph and has even made his business name such. It is very difficult to push him out of first spot on that keyword because of the domain name AND the little bit of SEO he actually does.

Similarly, if you have a legal office business, having or would help you with regard to Google Rankings. It may not be the best from the branding perspective, unless you change your business name to Guelph Lawyer, LLC!

Money Wise

In any case, it is much more valuable to have the keywords in the domain name itself as that is a strong ranking factor that Google still takes into consideration. So, don’t buy ten domains because the registrar says they are the hot trend, save your money and use it in something real like hiring an SEO or paying some PPC ads that actually benefit your business!

In summary

When choosing a domain name for your business, choose one that makes sense or that will have an impact, do not worry about the SEO benefits. If anything, domains with the target keyword phrase in them do have more value, but having as your domain may not work for your brand. Yet again, it might.

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