There’s a lot of new top level domains (TLDs) coming our way – almost 2,000 in all. The hope is that people and companies that couldn’t get the domain name they wanted with a .com or other common TLD will not only be able to get the one they want, but will also get one with a more relevant extension. For example, vegan.recipes or internet.news.
In addition to people simply wanting a better domain name, the new TLDs are also creating a new gold rush of sorts. Domainers – people who buy, park and sell domains for profit – are purchasing these new TLDs in droves.
While all of these new TLDs sound exciting, there are very real problems that many site owners and domainers may be ignoring.
The sobering reality of new TLDs
Simply put, the new TLDs have issues.
Consider the TLDs that came before these new ones. The .info TLD was never well accepted and is now considered spammy by many people. Also, the .co TLD – with some rare exceptions – is associated with the mistyping of the .com TLD and it’s also confusing.
Now consider all of the Internet users that still think you have to type the www. prefix before every domain name. These will be the same people who won’t understand that vegan.recipes or internet.news as a valid domain name, and who will also most likely append .com to the end of it. If anything, these new TLDs provide an opportunity for those with domain names that have the .com TLD. For example, news.com (which redirects to cnet.com/news) has an opportunity with people typing internet.news.com.
Another reason people are excited about the new name centric TLDs is because they think it will help them rank better in search engines. This line of thinking is a carry over from the days of exact match domains (EMDs). EMDs used to provide a strong signal to algorithms, but like all scalable search engine optimization (SEO) techniques, its emphasis was eventually reduced or removed as a significant signal to search engines. That means the new TLD‘s keyword-centric extension won’t mean much, if anything, to search engines.
Where the new TLDs win
It’s not all doom and gloom though.
The first and most obvious win is that people can now have a domain name that they couldn’t have with the more popular TLDs, regardless of the issues I previously described.
However, the less obvious, and quite possibly the most important win, is how the new TLDs will perform in the search engine result pages (SERPs). I’m not talking about signals, I’m talking about user experience (UX).
When a user does a search on Google or Bing, the SERP always highlights the matching keywords by making them bold. It does this for both paid and organic results. That means if you own the domain running.shoes, both running and shoes will be bolded in the SERP. Search engines bold these keywords because it improves the UX and increases clicks. Here’s an example of how it might look:
Now, consider the new TLDs in relation to just organic SERPs. One of the many ranking factors search engines use to test the validity of a site’s content is to randomly display it on the first page of a SERP. That’s why you often see keywords and pages ranking highly in Google Webmaster Tools, but when you do the search yourself, you don’t see your page.
During these tests, if users notice and click on your results more often than the other results, their algorithm may then push your page (over time) to the first page of the SERPs.
Tips for using a new TLD
Knowing the limitations of the new TLDs is a good thing, because you can apply that knowledge to your marketing. Here are 5 tips for marketing your site:
- If you typically just focus on organic and social traffic, try running paid campaigns too. It may perform better than you think, since the TLD‘s extension will be highlighted in the SERP.
- When people write about your site, encourage authors to also mention the unique TLD you’re using. It can be newsworthy and also educate the reader at the same time.
- Consider incorporating the TLD into your brand. For example, naming it Running dot Shoes
- When you mention your site in print, put a slash at the end of the URL or include a subfolder (e.g. http://running.shoes/adidas/). You can also consider using a familiar URL shortener like bit.ly. That way you can also include Campaign Variables for tracking the success of the print campaign.
- Build up trust and authority for the site like you would for any other site. The same rules that apply to a .com apply to the new TLDs.