If you're not aware, over the last twelve to eighteen months, many domain name registrars have been pushing out a variety of new top level domains - some generic, some location-based.
There has been much speculation over how these new gTLDs will fair in search engines, and today John Mueller, the Webmaster Trends Analyst from Google's Webmaster team have given us a little insight.
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 & .org). Keywords in a TLD do not give any advantage or disadvantage in search.
Q: What about IDN TLDs such as .???? 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:???]). 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 & 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.
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.
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 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.
What does this mean?
So in conclusion, Google won't treat any new gTLDs any different from existing gTLDs like .com or .net. That means that if you're using a .news extension for your website, you won't do any worse or better than someone offering a similar service on a .com. This also goes for the new region/city based gTLDs such as .london and .nyc - these will be treated as standard gTLDs and not favoured based on location, though we predict that this will change at some point in the future and go with a more geotargeted approach like the real ccTLDs such as .co.uk and .de.
If you have any questions about domain names or are interested in finding out more about the hundreds of new gTLDs that are becoming available, give our friendly team a call on 0845 094 6108, e-mail us to [email protected] or tweet us at @Cosmic_UK!