A lot of new top-level domains have been created over the past year or two, and more are on the way. For example, .lol, .dog and .movie are all launching this month - creators of funny dog videos will soon spoiled for choice!
The popularity of newly-established domains such as .brand, .london and .wales may have you wondering if you ought to get with the times and snap up one of these snazzy new TLDs while the iron is hot. In particular, a lot of our clients have asked if using a more unique TLD will help their website's rankings on Google and other search engines.
Or, to put it another way...
Will a new TLD help my website's SEO?
The short answer? No - Google themselves have said that the new gTLDs (generic top-level domains) do not have any special advantage over the ones we're more familiar with:
"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 that's Google's position on the matter (the above quote is taken from the official Google Webmasters blog
). Unfortunately, it looks like your choice of TLD won't have much of an impact on your website's keyword rankings; for example, your cookery blog won't have any more chance of conquering the foodie SERPs if you change your URL from www.grub-with-gwen.co.uk
. Sorry about that.
However, this doesn't mean that purchasing yourself a new gTLD is completely pointless. The really good thing about some of these new gTLDs is that they give users a little more information about your site than the ultra-vague likes of .com and .org. For example, it's impossible to guess what kind of website www.samsonswan.com might be from its URL alone, but we can reasonably assume that www.samsonswan.cymru is owned by a Welsh company, or that www.samsonswan.music belongs to a musician or band.
And that can be useful for search engine bots as well as for humans. Let's say you own a second-hand car dealership in London called Marvellous Motors Ltd. Your customers are Googling 'used cars London' and you want to show up on the first page of results for that term. Purchasing a domain name like www.marvellousmotors.london will make it more obvious (both to human users and to Google's spiders) that you're a London-based business, and this may well improve your chances of ranking locally.
The new TLDs may also come in handy if you share your brand name with somebody else from a totally different field. Imagine, for instance, that you've just opened a new pub called The Branch & Blossom, but - shock horror! - it turns out that there's a popular indie-folk band by that name already. Anybody attempting to Google your new business will end up on TB&B's SoundCloud page or browsing a list of their upcoming gigs, and since they're already using the domain name you wanted (www.branchandblossom.com), you're going to have to pick a different one instead.
So what'll it be? Your instinct might be to simply pick the closest available domain to what you originally wanted (www.branchandblossom.co.uk or www.branchandblossom.org), but it may be a better idea to register www.branchandblossom.pub or www.branchandblossom.bar instead. This will let everyone know that you're a bar, not a band, and people searching for your business will find it easier to spot which Branch & Blossom website is the one they're after. This also works if you're on the other side of the equation; newly-formed bands can use TLDs like .music or .rocks to differentiate themselves from established businesses who share their name.
So while an unusual TLD won't necessarily help you to scale the SERPs, there are other ways in which it can help you. If you want to make your website's URL more descriptive of who you are and what you're about, using one of the many new gTLDs that have been available recently may well be a good choice for you.
Of course, if you already have a website with a standard TLD (such as .com or .uk), it would be foolish to discard your established URL in favour of a trendy new domain name with no history. This will break any links to your current website, and erase the reputation that you've built for yourself with the search engines (they put a lot of stock in domain age and history!)
Instead, we recommend using 301 redirects to ensure that users and bots trying to reach your old domain are automatically sent to the new one instead; this will allow you to switch to a nicer domain name whilst retaining all the positive SEO 'juice' that you accumulated before the changeover.