Registering a domain name is the first thing to do when starting a website. And yet even here we come across a very controversial issue: which TLD to choose? We do not want to make a mistake at the very start, so we should consider each point.
1. Does Google pay any attention to a top level domain when ranking websites?
When talking about regionally specific TLDs, the answer is yes of course. Like we have already agreed, a country code top level domain is the most effective tool for geo targeting.
But what about non-country-specific domains? Do they matter with Google Algorithm? Quite an easy question and yet there is no definitive answer.
Historically, a generic top level domain (a wiki link) shows which type of organization a website belongs to:
- .com = ‘commercial’ (an open TLD)
- .edu = ‘educational’ (limited)
- .gov = ‘governmental’ (limited)
- .mil = ‘military’ (limited)
- .org = ‘(non-profit) organization’ (an open TLD)
- .name = ‘individuals, by name’ (an open TLD)
- .net = ‘network’ (an open TLD)
- .biz = ‘business’ (an open TLD), etc
So ideally a TLD should mean something and it does no matter how much Googlers are trying to persuade us that a link from .gov or .edu link is worth no more than a link from a .com site; in practice we see that this is not completely true. However while webmasters are getting even smarter at manipulating TLD meaning (even that are not open for registering), search engines are forced to reduce to minimum the impact of a top level domain on the algorithm.
Now let’s have a look at what experienced SEOs have to say:
- Google does seem to perceive a top level domain as a separate word: for example, searching for [fishing net] we get more .net domains on the first page than when searching for [fishing netting].
- Google seems to be biased against .info domains and the reason for that is a very low price for .info domains and hence its abuse by spammers.
2. What other points to consider when choosing a TLD?
- Even despite the fact that more and more people search for a brand name in Google instead of typing a domain name in the browser address field, dot-com TLD still remains a traditional choice. (how many times did you attempt to type in ‘problogger.com‘ instead of ‘problogger.net‘?) So no matter what’s your choice it is better to register and redirect a dot-com version in order not to miss the direct traffic.
- Rumors might be true. If you keep hearing that .com TLDs are given more weight but you are perfectly sure this can’t be true, you still should consider this when choosing a domain name. Being on the safe side is never a bad thing to do; so stand your ground but act carefully.
And what’s your golden rule for choosing a TLD? Do you register .net domain if the dot-com version is already taken? Do you prefer any TLD over others?