While browsing my favorite webmaster forums (Digital Point, Namepros and others), I have noticed many people asking whether a domain extension (also called a TLD) does matter and especially whether it has any effect on search engine rankings. I have been quite surprised by an amount of misinformation and myths flowing around. Moreover, there isn’t really much of credible information on this matter on the Web and that’s why I am writing this article.
Domain Extensions And SEO
Long story short – domain extensions has absolutely no effect on SEO (see SEO Explained). They are simply categories of Internet domain names. An Sk domain (a country specific TLD for Slovakia) with great content can rank just as high or even higher as a Com domain with the same amount of good content. The same is true for all extensions.
Only possible exceptions are country specific extensions (.sk, .cz, .de etc) that might have a little effect on geotargeting (i.e. targeting a smaller market segment divided by geography – usually country specific). Sk domain will rank slightly better when a search query comes from Slovakia. However, the difference is more or less negligible. The golden SEO rule Content is king is still the most important factor.
Why Are Some TLDs Better Than Others?
Even though from a SEO perspective all extensions are equal, there are still few very good reasons why some are better in certain cases.
Firstly, it is reasonable to suppose that if your business caters to the local community (such as a pizza delivery business), a country specific domain will suit you the best. In addition, you might even benefit from a geotargeted TLD because people looking to order a pizza will logically choose their local domain. They won’t order pizza from a Com website for sure.
But what if an international audience would benefit you? In that case, it seems to be a wide agreement that Com domain is the best choice.
The fact is that Com domains have been around for a very long time and they have gained much authority and reputation. For example, it is a common observation that when a first search result is a website with relatively new extension (e.g. .info) and next two results are Com domains, most people will subconsciously follow the second or the third link. Secondly, since Com domains are the oldest ones, they tend to have many quality aged backlinks and that gives them a sound advantage. Finally, Com TLDs sometimes refer to “commercial” websites and therefor are ideal for business or brand sites.
Another important factor is a financial value of Com domains. Unfortunately, all good Com domains have been already taken which is one of reasons why they are by far the most expensive ones. Some of them (especially one word keyword domains) were sold for millions. And if a company is willing to pay such a huge amount of money for a domain name, they also spend some terrific amounts on a website development and advertising, too. This means that Com websites tend to be of a higher quality and much more popular.
Finally, people forget URLs on a regular basis. From time to time they will just guess the URL and type it into a browser instead of using a search engine. Obviously, their first guess will be the Com domain.
Net And Org Domains?
When starting a new business, one must often consider other TLDs. Next best thing after Com would be either Net or Org. They aren’t as old as Com domains but they have still been around for a longer time than other TLDs. Keep in mind that Org domains are not suitable for business or commercial sites as they usually refer to non-profit organizations (e.g. Mozilla.org, Apache.org etc). If planning to earn money with your website, you should rather go for Net domain.
Let me reiterate few main points of this post. First, domain extensions do not matter for SEO purposes at all. Second, there are other reasons why they matter. That said, you should always get a domain before you start a website. Changing the domain in the middle of the run will only cause a huge hassle and it will cost you visitors and position in SERPs.