How Do the New Top Level Domains Affect Your SEO Ranking?

New generic Top Level Domains (TLDs) such as “.finance”, “.help” or “.eat” have been introduced this year.

The graphic below shows the current market share of each new generic TLD.

Market Share new gTLDs

So far it has been unclear how these new TLDs influence SEO rankings. According to Google the new TLDs are not favored over the traditional TLDs such as “.com” or “.org”. Thus they should have no impact – positive or negative – on the SEO ranking of your website.

Recently a first study on this topic has been released. The study compared the rankings of two .com domains with the positioning of equivalent domains with a new TLD in Google AdWords. According to the study Google AdWords favored the new TLDs: They benefited from more impressions, lower click prices and better positions.

Impressions new vs old gTLDs

However, for conversions the traditional .com domains have achieved better results.

Conversions new vs old gTLDs

This might lead to the conclusion that there are similar effects in organic search. But we have to wait for more studies in order to draw a reliable conclusion.

So what does this mean for your domain choice? If you have an established website we do not recommend a domain change for now. If you are currently looking for a domain, you should keep the following in mind:

  • If you have a clear geographic targeting we recommend using a country specific TLD (for example “.ch” for Switzerland). Although geotargeting in Google Webmaster Tools is available for a lot of the new generic TLDs, it can be assumed that country specific TLDs give search engines a strong additional signal.
  • If your website audience is international you can use one of the new generic TLDs. Since it is currently hard to predict how the new TLDs will develop in the future, we recommend to buy – if available – a “.com” domain AND a new TLD. Like this you are well prepared in case future studies may reveal that search engines really favor one option over the other.