How Google Treats New Top Level DomainsAugust 13th, 2015 by Viviane Carter
With the release of hundreds of new generic top level domains (gTLDs) over the past year you may be wondering whether these are treated any differently from previously existing TLDs. Well, no need to wonder anymore as Google released a blog post at the end of July detailing answers to the most frequent questions regarding these new top level domains such as .how or .BRAND (e.g. .samsung).
The short version is that the new generic top level domains will be treated the same as any other gTLD (e.g. .com), they don’t hold any advantage or disadvantage over the previously existing TLDs. But let’s delve into the details a little.
So we now know that the new gTLDs will be treated no different by Google than a generic TLD like .com. Keywords used within a TLD will also not have a positive or negative effect on how you rank in search.
Region and city TLDs
While ccTLDs (country code top level domains) are used by Google for geo-targeting, regional and city TLDs are not. This means that while a .de TLD will tell Google that the website may be more relevant to users in Germany, a regional TLD like .bayern will currently not be used for geo-targeting of users in Bavaria. The same is valid for a city TLD like .london – these are treated no different than any other generic top level domain. Google does however also mention that they may make exceptions from this in the future after evaluating how these region and city TLDs are used in practice.
One might think that software.microsoft might be given preferential treatment over Microsoft.com – however Google confirms that this is not the case. Again, any .BRAND TLDs are treated the same way as older generic TLDs like .com.
International domain name TLDs which use non-Latin characters, e.g. .みんな can be crawled and indexed by Googlebox and are also treated the same as any other generic TLDs. Google treats the Punycode version of a hostname as being equivalent to the unencoded version, so there is no need to redirect or canonicalise them separately. Remember to use UTF-8 for the path & query-string in the rest of the URL, when using non-ASCII characters.
So, should you go for one of the new gTLDs?
This is good news for anyone who was considering buying a new gTLD. Google won’t penalise you for using a .how instead of a .com domain and since these gTLDs are so new, you are much more likely to be able to register a short and meaningful name. Especially short .com domains can be very expensive whereas you might be able to snag up a short .tech domain name for much cheaper.
By using a shorter URL you can also improve brand recall, for example, the new parent company of Google after its restructuring, Alphabet, can be found at the very clever and memorable URL abc.xyz.
A region or city TLD can identify you as a local business, e.g. the famous Café Savoy in Vienna can now be found at savoy.wien (previously savoy.at).
It may also make sense for your business to register domain names relevant to your business before someone else does.
There are of course some negative points to consider when moving to a new domain name. At least initially, your new domain name may not seem as memorable to internet users as a .com would – simply because for a long time, generic TLDs were limited to a few well-known ones.
Moving your website to a new gTLD
The main concern is that of moving over a website to a new domain without losing much link juice. You will encounter this issue whenever you move your website to a new domain and even when moving from http:// to https:// – if you want to move your website to a new TLD you want to ensure that you won’t lose any search ranking or history. The best way to do this is by using 301 redirects, which pass on 90-99% of link juice. Because it is not possible to guarantee no loss of link juice and because domain changes take time to be processed for search, it is best to choose a domain that will fit your needs in the long term.
If you are interested in moving your website over to one of the new generic top level domains or generally need help with moving to a new domain name in a way that is optimised for search engines, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.