Case study: will new domain extensions provide an SEO boost?

While many in the SEO community debunk the myths that the new domain extensions will have any impact on SEO status, others have proven otherwise.

Date published
November 09, 2015 Categories

While many in the SEO community debunk the myths that the new domain extensions will have any impact on SEO status, others have proven otherwise. 

I had the opportunity to speak with Daniel Negari, the CEO of .XYZ who is also operating .CARS along with .CAR, .AUTO, .COLLEGE, .RENT, .SECURITY, .PROTECTION and .THEATRE.

You may recall that Google chose to launch its new parent company Alphabet using Negari’s .XYZ top-level domain ABC.XYZ. Daniel shared the results of his latest test to prove the value of the new domains and offered words of advice for SEO strategists and web masters.

Negari recently proved a successful SEO test in using new domains with his soon-to-be available .CARS. “First and foremost, we’re establishing the foundation of .CARS as an authoritative namespace that search algorithms will quickly recognize,” said Negari.

With .CARS, domain registrars will charge a premium of $2,500 – $3,000 per domain registration. That may sound like a lot, but according to Negari it comes with large benefits for auto dealers, manufacturers and related industry suppliers.

“It is paramount for us to ensure a clean and secure namespace in .CARS. We are implementing security scans and monitoring to prevent cybersquatting, phishing, or other malicious activities by bad actors. By doing this we provide a clear signal to internet users and to Google’s search algorithm to trust the .CARS top level domain. This aligns perfectly with all companies within the automotive industry to further their digital marketing efforts.”

To prove his point, he wanted to ensure that the .CARS top level domain would not cause an SEO blip for companies so before launching he put out a test case.

Working with a boutique supercar manufacturer out of Southern California, Lucra Cars, he carefully followed Google’s webmaster guidelines for moving to a new domain name.

“We focused on end user transition, followed the simple rules set out by Google, and it worked,” said Negari. “We notified Google of the new URL, made it a permanent redirect and the new site was live instantly.”

They took and permanently redirected to Lucra.Cars. “Initially, if you Googled ‘Lucra’ or ‘Lucra cars’ it would still show the .COM even though it linked to the new site Lucra.Cars. Today, Lucra.Cars ranks number one organically, which means they don’t have to buy ads for that premium placement.”

“It’s great to have seen the Google search engine respond so quickly. These new naming options are great news for companies that didn’t have the chance to get the premium .COM they wanted due to unavailability.

I have long since believed that one of the benefits of the new domains in SEO is that the vast new categories and names allow a domain name that is more semantically or categorically tied to natural language of how people search.

For example, if you were looking for Lucra cars, that’s what you would type into a search engine. Now there is an exact match domain name at the top level instead of just adding .COM to it.”

Negari added, “It’s definitely going to be important. It’s not the only factor, but it’s one of many factors in SEO. What we are trying to do is to establish the groundwork for an authoritative space related to the top-level domain. With .College we are working with colleges and universities to create a safe and authoritative space where that makes sense for them to build their online presence.”

Many have questioned if Google’s algorithm will adjust to the new top level domains. They formally stated that using a new TLDs will not give an advantage or disadvantage. But Negari’s test seems to prove otherwise.

If Google’s algorithm recognized Lucra.Cars in just a couple of days and now it’s number one in organic search, it certainly gives pause to SEO experts to question if this could be one additional piece to the SEO puzzle, particularly with hundreds of new top level domain options available that could more directly align with your business and its associated key words.

This is all in stark contrast to the hit that Barclays took when it launched HOME.BARCLAYS. Barclays did not follow Google’s guidelines and therefore didn’t permanently redirect but rather replicated its BARCLAYS.COM and HOME.BARCLAYS simultaneously, creating confusion for the algorithms.

This really comes down to understanding how the algorithms work and how the new top-level domains work. It also depends upon who owns the top-level domain and what they are doing with it.

If the owner of the top-level domain does not actively prevent malware, phishing, cybersquatting or other bad activities from occurring in the top-level domain space, the algorithm will pick up on this. Whereas if the top-level domain provides additional security, the algorithms will come to recognize it as a signal of authority and trust.

For brands like Barclays and the hundreds of other Fortune 500 companies that now own their own top level domain, they can fully use this long-term SEO benefit by building out their digital spaces in a trusted and authoritative namespace.

“We want to work with our customers in the new spaces to ensure they don’t transition and run into problems like the Barclays situation. We plan on publishing our own best practices guides to eliminate common mistakes,” said Negari.

When asked about the future of search and these new name spaces, Negari is bullish on what lies ahead. “This is really exciting to create these new industry-specific namespaces. We may only have 10,000 – 20,000 registrations in .CARS, but almost all of these web addresses will be used by high quality customers. Even though we charge a premium, our customers will have benefits that far outweigh that price.”

When asked about the value of the exact match domain name, Negari believes it plays a part, “.COM is not dead. I myself have a portfolio of .COMs and believe there is still value. It’s just now there are new opportunities. Because .COM is so saturated it’s hard to newly acquire a really good domain name, but in these new spaces the opportunities are there to boost the SEO value of premium names.”

He cited examples such as Denver.Cars or SaltLakeCity.Cars, which will likely be picked up by auto dealers and developed into websites. Any highly coveted keywords will be sought after new domain names because of the value they provide. It’s a fantastic exact match opportunity. But he cautions, it is still valuable to have

When asked about Google’s unprecedented move out of .COM and into .XYZ, Negari can’t comment. But when asked where ABC.XYZ ranks in organic search, there’s no denying, it now ranks number one for the term ‘alphabet’. Don’t forget that Google applied for 101 new top-level domains including key categories like .HOW, .SOY, .DAD or .LOL, to name just a few.

According to Negari, a key lesson for digital marketers wondering if they should jump in: keep in mind that much of this depends upon how the TLD operators set their policies to create that authority and if you follow the redirect guidelines correctly.

As new internet users come online and the next generation begins their digital life, they will drive this revolution and demand shorter, more memorable domain names. This will become the new normal.

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