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Five years ago, there weren’t many options when it comes to domain name extensions. You could only register a domain with a .com, .org, or .net extension – and good luck if the name you wanted was already in use! More recently, however, domain name registrars have expanded the list of options, thanks to the growing demand for URLs.
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You now have dozens of other options for top-level domains, including .car, .business, and .app. And while it may be tempting to consider investing in one of these extensions in order to get yourself a premium name, it’s important to consider the impact these extensions will have on your website’s SEO before you go. take this step.
Is using a new domain extension harming your SEO?
The general consensus has been that .com, .edu, and .org tend to rank top in search engines. Therefore, many SEOs have argued that using new domain name extensions is a bad idea due to the risk of damaging your search engine rankings.
However, there hasn’t been a lot of research to support this belief. Daniel Negari, CEO of .xyz – a domain registry operator that manages URLs with a variety of new extensions, such as .car, .auto, and .theater – expressed his belief that much of the hype about problems with the new top-level domains is incorrect. Negari even set out to conduct his own case study to determine whether or not there was some truth in this claim.
Negari case study results
Negari wanted to prove that the .car extension could rank as well as a TLD like .com. To test his hypothesis, he worked with Lucra Cars, an automaker in Southern California, who replaced his old domain, Lucra.com, with Lucra.cars. All Lucra.com URLs have been redirected to the new domain and the site structure has been kept intact to eliminate other factors that could affect Lucra’s SERPs.
Although the domain initially lost its search rankings, it then rebounded, and the company has since regained its number one rank for its own domain name. Negari says this case study proves that new domain name extensions don’t hurt SEO.
Limitations of the case study
The Negari case study shows that it’s entirely possible for a brand to rank at the top of Google’s SERPs (search engine results pages) with a new domain name extension. However, there are some limitations to the study:
- This is obviously anecdotal, not scientific. A more formal study with a larger sample of sites would be necessary to draw concrete conclusions.
- Negari evaluated Lucra’s only rankings for his own brand. It is obviously much easier to classify a brand term than a more competitive term such as “branded car manufacturer”. Since Negari did not analyze the impact on the industry’s keywords, it is difficult to determine how Lucra would have ranked for the specific keywords that other brands were actively optimizing for.
Negari pointed out that other domains using its extension fall under more general terms. For example, abc.xyz appears on the first page for the term “alphabet”, even surpassing Wikipedia. Of course, “alphabet” isn’t exactly a very focused term, but it’s even stronger proof that brands can still rank well with new domain extensions.
Although the results of the study are far from conclusive, they suggest that brands using new extensions may still rank well. More research is needed, although Negari’s evidence at least encourages brands not to automatically reject new domain extensions for fear of SEO.
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Google’s algorithm could change to reflect new domain extensions
Even though Google’s current algorithm Is penalizing domains using these new top-level domains (TLDs), the company could change its algorithm in the future. Jennifer Wolfe of Search Engine Watch made a very interesting point earlier this month while discussing the Negari case study. She said she believed search engine users would prefer shorter, more relevant domains over time, and that Google could respond by changing its algorithm to give preference to these domains over traditional TLDs.
While the jury is still out on whether or not these new domain extensions will have a significant effect on your rankings, it appears that the expected negative impact is actually lower than expected by the SEO community.
What do you think? Does your business use these new domain extensions? Share your opinion by leaving a comment below:
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