Early Data Suggests New gTLDs Perform Well in Search Environment
By Paul Stahura
Internet addresses registered in new gTLDs are holding their own against—and in some cases outperforming—comparable addresses registered in legacy domains like .COM, according to new data that provides the best window yet into the operational functionality of new gTLD addresses.
A question on everyone’s mind in the run up to new gTLDs was: how would new domains perform in the wild against legacy domains on the key criteria of search? Even though Donuts bet on the hypothesis that new gTLDs would be better than their limited and outdated legacy counterparts by virtually every measure, we could not be sure how new domains would perform in search until we began to see them in use. Now, less than a year after the public availability of the first-launched gTLDs, we’re getting early indications of just how effective new gTLDs can be.
Several recent studies and data analyses by search experts and domain investors studying new gTLD performance suggest that the first generation of new gTLD addresses are either matching or outperforming legacy gTLDs and ccTLDs in search performance.
Search company Total Websites published the results of a series of targeted case studies on keyword-rich domains registered in new gTLDs and found “it’s clear to see that new gTLD domains do boost SEO rankings.”
In an interview on Reddit, Globerunner’s SEO Expert Bill Hartzer remarked on his own qualitative and quantitative analysis of new domain performance:
“Based on the New gTLD vs. Dot Com research that I did, Google tends to prefer the new gTLDs versus the .com, at least in Google AdWords. In fact, they gave the new gTLDs we tested more impressions for less money. And new gTLDs convert just as well as a traditional .com domain.”
Finally, German SEO pros Searchmetrics conducted an apples-to-apples comparison of new domain addresses vs. legacy ccTLD addresses and found that, on average, .BERLIN addresses show up 1.18 spots higher in search results than comparable .de addresses.
And supporting this research we see additional marketplace evidence that new gTLDs perform well:
Early-mover brand TLDs score highly in search: www.newgtld.report
Coffee.club races up Google’s rankings: www.thedomains.com
More and more new domains enter Alexa’s Top 1M: www.domainpunch.com/tlds
Obviously it’s still early in the life cycle of new domains to make definitive statements about their performance, and reading Google’s SEO tea leaves is notoriously difficult, but the data so far paints a very encouraging picture for the millions of users who have already registered new gTLD names, and the millions more that are soon to follow.
It’s also encouraging to us that Amazon and Google applied to operate almost 200 new gTLDs. These are savvy Internet companies who obviously understand search and have concluded that new gTLDs will perform very well.
Virtually all of the researchers noted that the current crop of new gTLD names is extremely keyword rich—both before and after the dot—a factor that no doubt plays a pivotal role in their search boost. But while that keyword richness may be one of several major drivers in the success of early adopter new domains, it is also a factor that won’t change anytime soon.
The value proposition of new gTLDs is that they provide real semantic value and relieve the artificial scarcity that has stultified the legacy namespace for more than a decade. Even as new gTLDs grow exponentially in popularity, we are many years away from any scenario in which registrants have difficulty finding available, keyword-rich names in the new gTLD space.
One thing is clear though, if these search engine trends continue, even before the most appealing of the new gTLDs hit the market, 2015 shapes up to be a record-breaking year for the global Domain Name System.