Will new domain extensions negatively impact your SEO?


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Five years ago, there weren’t many options when it came to domain name extensions. You could only register a domain with a Extension .com, .org or .net — 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.


Related: Guess Which Domain Name Google Just Bought?

You now have dozens of other options for top-level domains, including .car, .business and .app. And while it might be tempting to consider investing in one of these extensions in order to secure a premium name, it’s important to consider the impact these extensions will have on your website’s SEO before you take this step.

Is using a new domain extension hurting your SEO?

The general consensus is that .com, .edu and .org tend to rank the best 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 has not been much research to support this belief. Daniel Negari, CEO of .xyz – a domain registry operator that handles URLs with a variety of new extensions, such as .car, .auto and .theater – expressed his belief that a lot of hype about issues with new top-level domains is incorrect. Negari even undertook to conduct your own case study to determine whether or not there was any truth to the allegation.

Negari Case Study Findings

Negari wanted to prove that the .car extension could rank as well as a TLD like .com. To test his hypothesis, he collaborated with Lucra Cars, a Southern California automaker, which replaced its old domain, Lucra.com, with Lucra.cars. All Lucra.com URLs were redirected to the new domain, and the site structure remained intact to eliminate other factors that could affect Lucra’s SERPs.

Although the domain initially lost search rankings, they later rebounded and the company has since regained its number one ranking 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

by Negari case study shows that it’s entirely possible for a brand to rank high on 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 needed to draw concrete conclusions.
  • Negari assessed Lucra’s ranking alone for its own brand. It’s obviously a lot easier to rank for a brand name term than a more competitive term like “luxury car manufacturer.” Since Negari did not analyze the impact on industry 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 his extension rank for more general terms. For example, abc.xyz appears on the homepage for the term “alphabet” – same Wikipedia override. Sure, “alphabet” isn’t exactly a highly targeted 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 be able to rank well. More research is needed, though Negari’s evidence at least encourages brands not to automatically reject new domain extensions for fear of SEO.

Related: It’s Time to Rethink Your SEO Approach for 2016

Google’s algorithm may change to reflect new domain extensions

Even though Google’s current algorithm Is penalize domains using these new top-level domains (TLDs), the company may change its algorithm in the future. Jennifer Wolfe of Search Engine Watch did a very interesting point earlier this month when discussing Negari’s case study. She said she believes search engine users will eventually prefer shorter, more relevant domains, and that Google may respond by changing its algorithm to give preference to such 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 less than the SEO community predicted.

What do you think? Does your company use these new domain extensions? Share your opinion by leaving a comment below:

Related: Uping Its Small Business Game, Google Expands Its Domain Registration Offering


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