The InterNetX Blog provides you with news and background information on innovations concerning domains, servers, SSL and other industry-related topics.
Better ranking with the right names
A digital presence is more attractive for visitors if it has a domain that's easy to remember. With the introduction of new domain endings, Internet addresses may become more relevant for positioning in search engine results.
Location is essential for anybody opening up a store. A boutique hidden away in a backyard is likely to reach far fewer customers than a store in a prominent shopping mile. Although the store owner will have to compete with hundreds of others to grab the attention of customers, he can attract consumers with a stylish shop window.
On the Internet, the shop window is the website content and the location is the Internet address where it can be found. The customer finds the address by using a search engine. For a long time, the domain name played an important role for search engine optimization. In the meantime, other factors – for example the content – have a stronger influence on the position in search engine results. However, the domain name should not be underestimated for the "overall package". Being easy to find is not always enough to draw customers to your website.
More than 700 new addresses
A domain that "speaks" makes a website more attractive for users. Search engine operators are aware of this too. According to a study by Google, users first look at the titles and the related Internet addresses listed in the search results before clicking. This shows that hit rates can certainly be influenced positively if the Internet address includes the most important keyword or the brand name – even if this has no lasting influence on the position in the search results.
What about choosing the right location? .com is the most popular top-level domain with over 100 million registered addresses. Due to their high penetration, established addresses like .com, .de or .net are often seen as the first (and only) choice. In practice however, addresses under these TLDs are usually already taken. With the introduction of new generic domain endings (new gTLDs), this situation should be eased: From 2014, more than 700 new address endings will start going online bit by bit.
It still remains to be seen what role the new domain endings will play in terms of seach engine results. It seems likely that they will not be insignificant - after all, Google has applied for more than 100 endings, making it the largest new gTLD applicant worldwide.
When selecting the most suitable top-level domain, website operators should think about who the content of the site is targeting. A brewery located in downtown Copenhagen will probably get better search results with a .dk domain than a .com, due to the strong regional interest. If the brewery wants to export its beer to all corners of the world, a .com is probably the better choice. If all suitable addresses are already gone, the brewery could also go for .beer under the new gTLDs and still reach target customers around the world.
Some ccTLDs can also be used generically
Country-code TLDs are naturally primarily meant for users from the respective countries. Search engines take this into consideration in search results. A user from Germany will seldom see a search result with the country ending .vu (Vanuatu).
From time to time however, Google allows country-code domains to be handled like generic endings. For example, the ccTLD from Colombia .co has been marketed as an abbreviation for "company" since its launch and provides an alternative to an overly stretched .com. Google supports the strategy by not primarily connecting .co to search enquiries from and related to Columbia. Other well-known examples for these "generic country-code domains" are .me (Montenegro) or .tv (Tuvlau).