ICANN will be releasing a whole host of new generic top level domain names in the summer of 2014, however we want to warn companies who may feel that buying them will have an impact on increasing rankings: 99.99% chance they will not.
KPMG’s Chief of Digital Marketing was reported to have said this week that they were investing in a new .kpmg domain which will be rolled out during a phased migration from their current domain. He went on to say that they domain should have a higher ranking as a result. Some people have interpreted this as SEO rankings although the comment was not specific to SEO, there is a chance that he could have meant overall brand perception as he was also talking about the impact that this new domain will have on the relevance of the website for people searching for them.
Nonetheless, it’s wise now to make a statement before there are mixed messages in the industry next year about mythical rankings that can be achieved with these domains. We saw during the 2000s when .mobi, .co, .eu domains etc were launched there were companies jumping on the bandwagon thinking this would send them to internet stardom and achieve rankings overnight. Fact is they are toothless.
I remember working with a client during 2008 who was insistent upon using a his .eu domain and wanted to rank for multiple markets across Europe, for website content written in English, for search terms in English, but did not want to achieve rankings on google.co.uk. The team managed to achieve some results but it was very patchy. Google found it difficult to understand which country we wanted to target primarily when all it had to go on was a target location in Google Webmaster Tools. Without a country specific ccTLD it was near on impossible.
I think many companies have also fallen prey to the other domains like .travel and .mobi, thinking these were good investments but in fact they aren’t. At the end of the day the business needs to have a prominent website and that means good visibility in Google organic rankings, and .mobi or .co domains just don’t add any value to that mission. How many times have you done a search on Google.co.uk and see a .info or .co domain ranking? I can count the number of occurrences on one hand.
Additionally, 70% of consumers are looking for recognised brands in the search results – so these domains again are likely to pale into insignificance from a consumer perspective if what they are focusing on are recognised retailers.
ICANN is the Internet Corporation for Assigning Names and Numbers. They have recently decided that the 22 generic top level domains that we have at the moment are insufficient. Corporations can now apply to ICANN to turn their own brand name into a gTLD, for a “reasonable” sum of $185,000…
However you never know that Google may change it’s ranking criteria in the future to give more weighting to these gTLDs. Exact Match Domains, that include high search volume phrases within the domain names, were very popular and successful in organic search 3 years ago before Google made some notable changes to the algorithm. So it is possible that if these domains are becoming popular with big companies that do house high quality content but Google are not giving enough weighting to the new domain names, they may change the algorithm so that they do rank higher.
A word on exact match domains also, we have seen over the years that these are not as effective as they once were, however there is still definite mileage in these domains in niche industry verticals.