There have recently been questions about TLD’s when starting a website, or transfering a website to a new TLD and I wanted to address this and also provide some answers that Google has given recently to others that have had similar questions.
So first off, lets define TLD. That may be an unfamiliar term to most so let’s explain what that means. TLD stands for Top Level Domain, which is your standard .com, .net, .org, etc. Those are the most common domains that are used on the internet and have been around for about as long as the internet has been around. Recently the ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers), who maintains the domains of the internet, has started to release new TLDs which give people more options for their websites.
There are TLDs such as .xyz, .catering, .cleaning, along with some weird ones like .booger, .website, and .ninja that are now available if you want to spend the extra money to have them. Each of these new TLDs are more expensive than a standard TLD since they are more customized. So, what many people have been wondering recently is what Google thinks of these new TLD’s and how they are factored into the ranking algorithm of a Google search.
John Mueller who is a Google Webmaster Analyst recently addressed this question and to summarize his answer know that there are no TLDs that Google finds better than another. All of them are treated equally in their ranking factors.
Now keep in mind that there are some Geo-specific TLDs that Google will default to certain countries like .london, which of course will go for England. But other than that there is nothing that will give you a benefit over your competitors with a .com over a .net domain when algorithmic factors are involved. As far as a user experience you will want to try and go for a .com domain if you can as it is the most recognizable TLD and easiest for your customers to remember. But, if you want to try one of these new TLD’s then know that it isn’t going to change anything in rankings as far as Google is concerend.
Below I have copied some of the other questions that John also answered, and if you need more clarification or have questions about any of this please give us a call and we’ll be happy to help you.
FAQ on TLDs:
Q: How will new gTLDs affect search? Is Google changing the search algorithm to favor these TLDs? How important are they really in search?
A: Overall, our systems treat new gTLDs like other gTLDs (like .com and .org). Keywords in a TLD do not give any advantage or disadvantage in search.
Q: What about IDN TLDs such as .みんな? Can Googlebot crawl and index them, so that they can be used in search?
A: Yes. These TLDs can be used the same as other TLDs (It’s easy to check with a query like [site:みんな]). Google treats the Punycode version of a hostname as being equivalent to the unencoded version, so you don’t need to redirect or canonicalize them separately. For the rest of the URL, remember to use UTF-8 for the path and query-string in the URL, when using non-ASCII characters.
Q: Will a .BRAND TLD be given any more or less weight than a .com?
A: No. Those TLDs will be treated the same as a other gTLDs. They will require the same geotargeting settings and configuration, and they won’t have more weight or influence in the way we crawl, index, or rank URLs.
Q: How are the new region or city TLDs (like .london or .bayern) handled?
A: 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.
Q: What about real ccTLDs (country code top-level domains) : will Google favor ccTLDs (like .uk, .ae, etc.) as a local domain for people searching in those countries?
A: By default, most ccTLDs (with exceptions) result in Google using these to geotarget the website; it tells us that the website is probably more relevant in the appropriate country. Again, see our help center for more information on multi-regional and multilingual sites.
Q: Will Google support my SEO efforts to move my domain from .com to a new TLD? How do I move my website without losing any search ranking or history?
A: We have extensive site move documentation in our Help Center. We treat these moves the same as any other site move. That said, domain changes can take time to be processed for search (and outside of search, users expect email addresses to remain valid over a longer period of time), so it’s generally best to choose a domain that will fit your long-term needs.