Search engine optimization: A topic that keeps many companies busy at the moment. After all, everybody wants to lead their website to success and a good Google ranking is an important factor. The goal of SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is to achieve better ranking positions in search engines like Google, Bing, Yahoo and others. In regards to SEO, a website should be designed in such a manner that search engines can parse and analyze it easily. In the best case a website will rank among the top ten search results – that is to say on the first page. More than 200 different factors determine the ranking in search results. Some of these criteria have been publicly revealed, while others are kept secret in order to avoid manipulation. But ranking factors are not constant: what was true one year ago might be outdated today. New criteria is added constantly, while others become obsolete or loose importance. This allows Google to continuously optimize search results.
Success factor: keywords
If webmasters want to be appear in the top search results for certain search terms, they have to optimize their web content for those queries. But simply having the keywords appear on your website is not enough. Search engines have become very good at analyzing a website and its relevancy for a certain keyword. And Google doesn’t only rely on a website’s popularity. The search engine can even judge content quality by checking for factors such as grammatical correctness, readability and keyword density. A text that consists almost exclusively of certain keywords will be deemed untrustworthy. So simply stringing together keywords does not make sense, because Google also considers the context. A well-structured, informative text can help improve a websites standing with search engines.
The hidden advantages of a relevant keyword domain
The Domain Name Association commissioned a study that is supposed to clarify whether or not domain extensions affect the search engine ranking. Although generic TLDs such as .org and .com still score best, this particular study focuses on the rising new TLDs. Chris Boggs, founder of Web Traffic Advisors, was in charge of the study in order to measure and determine the success of customer-oriented new gTLDs in the organic Google search.
New Top Level Domains – top or flop?
The study revealed that all domains could rank well in each of the analyzed categories in competitive market segments and including those that use topic-specific nTLDs. Domains with brand extensions or business-specific TLDs were found to have good chances to appear on the first page of search results if the following criteria are met:
- Searches for company names that are included as a brand in the domain
- So-called „non-branded“ searches that include the respective content as keywords in the domain name
- Search terms with high search volume and qualified content, that are relevant for certain geographic regions or industries, but for which no keyword appears in the domain
There have been two search engine updates during the seven-week research. Both affected the ranking of all domain extensions. An update affecting rankings through new criteria can happen any day. All in all many non-.com domains tend to rank worse than .com domains for the same keywords. But the research suggests that new domain extensions generally need a lower domain authority to rank well compared to .com domains. According to Chris Biggs there is evidence that suggests that frequently used search terms in the domain name, the TLD or the individual URL can help websites rank better for certain keywords. And there is no evidence hinting at a possible negative effect on the ranking. So to resume the good news: all TLDs are equal regarding SEO.
What does Google say about the new domain extensions?
Although .com and .de still do their job as domain extensions, many domains are already taken. In this case it can make sense to take a look at matching new TLDs instead. But you should not expect a simple ranking boost: last year Google Webmaster Trends analyst John Mueller posted on Twitter that Keywords in the TLD would not bring any ranking benefits. Google treats nTLDs just like any other TLD – for now. But a specific domain extension could benefit organic searches in a local context. Combined with Google Places a website will be displayed in the search results. This requires a registration and verification through Google Business. Companies should view nTLDs as part of the SEO strategy, but not solely rely on them for success.
Establishment or breath of fresh air?
In case the desired domain name is already taken, it might not be the best choice to pick a complicated domain name just to secure a .com domain or ccTLD. The domain name should not be optimized only for SEO, but with users in mind. Simple and memorable domain names will benefit users and search rankings alike. Switching domains can make sense if the new domain is more memorable and catchy for users. But changing from a successful domain under a generic TLD to a new extension is not advisable and should only be considered as additional domain.
Besides finding the right domain name, content and technical factors are other important ranking factors. InterNetX offers a new SEO tool for AutoDNS customers to help optimize these factors: in cooperation with OnPage.org AutoDNS users can carry out onpage analyses for any URL. The feature checks website content for the most important onpage factors and lists all errors in practical checklists. These can then be specifically optimized for better rankings. The SEO overview is a great source on positive and negative ranking factors that can influence the search engine ranking of a URL or website.